Sunday, 16 October 2011

An October Medley

Ordinarily, we plan the Dobies blog content three months in advance, but felt that such a method was too constraining when something  interesting or particularly exciting pops up. And even though the schedule was devised only around three weeks ago, such is the case already.

Campaign to Save our Countryside. Politics aside, do you recall the time we asked for readers’ help to “save our woodlands”? (See post of 20th April.) Those of you who kindly signed the petition organized by 38 Degrees helped achieve the goal of reaching half a million signatures and the government agreed to drop the planned sell-off. Everyone counts, and now your help is sought again; viz:

The government is trying to push through massive changes to the way the planning system works. Swathes of pristine countryside and vital green fields around our towns and cities could be put in jeopardy. If these plans are rushed through they could put the interests of big developers ahead of the local people. We can’t let that happen. Our planning system should ensure local voices are heard and work to protect our green areas for future generations. Once we lose our countryside, we lose it forever.”

So you are asked to a) sign the petition, and b) if you feel so inclined, to email or write to your MP. Suggested text for doing so is also given by 38 degrees on the website.

The walnuts fall over three
weeks and at first have to be 

'hulled' from their green casing
A fruitful harvest: in our north Cotswold orchard, we’ve had a glut of apples and pears this year, and so many walnuts the usual platter was overflowing; we’ve resorted to keeping them in wooden boxes and enjoying them at every meal. They are nothing like the desiccated varieties bought in the supermarket but soft and creamy. Chop them and sprinkle over home-made cheese straws for a pre-supper treat. (Click on any of the highlighted links to discover fruit and nut varieties listed by Dobies.)






a single quince with downy skin




Even more remarkable has been our crop of quinces. Not the golden globes that appear on the vermillion-flowered shrub of the same name, but those akin to pears – indeed one wonders whether the nursery rhyme “I had a silver nutmeg and a golden pear” was in fact a quince. Best variety for our UK climate is ‘Vranja’ which can be grown as a lax bush or fan-trained on a wall. As to what to do with quinces: make quince jelly or ‘cheese’ in slabs – or just leave them in a pretty bowl where they will scent a room.

Golden quinces picked today scent the whole living room


And whilst I’m discussing our prolific harvest due to a remarkably hot, dry summer well into early autumn, I receive a copy of ‘The Fruit Tree Handbook’ by Ben Pike (published this week by Green Books). Ben is head gardener on the Sharpham Estate in Devon, where he looks after the walled fruit and vegetable garden as well as two orchards containing 150 fruit trees. No matter how small your garden, if you want to grow fruit, this guide will help you on your way with excellent photos and clear diagrams.

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