Saturday 22 September 2012

First crop of Apple 'Charles Ross'

Very pleased with the first crop

I am very excited as today as I finally got my first crop off Apple 'Charles Ross'*. I first planted it as a 1-year old maiden in 2006, so it's been six years to get to the first crop. And yes, those of you who know apples will be thinking "it should have cropped before now". This is true, but I think because we moved in 2009, and I dug up the tree to bring it with me, it then needed time to settle in to it's new home at Gwenfar's Lottie.

Apple 'Charles Ross', 6 y.o. tree

I did actually get a couple of fruits growing on it last year, but they fell off before they were ready for picking.  As you can see from the photo of the tree above, the poor thing has taken on a bit of a lean to one side. Yes, I need to stake it! I should have done this before now, and the above is proof why staking is important.

I thinned the tree in June, when it had more fruit than the above photo, so I did something right... It clearly worked as the apples are a good medium-large size, as expected for this variety.

Fine specimen on the tree

Charles Ross is a dual purpose variety, so can be used for both eating and cooking. We have done an eating test and did enjoy it. It has a sweet-tart flavour and is a crunchy, solid apple. We concluded that you can eat it fresh, but thought it would taste even better cooked.

Inside the apple

So Kevin threw together a really simple dessert. Sliced apples (with skin), cooked in butter and golden syrup  until the apples are soft and the butter/syrup is bubbly, then serve. Add some cream to be extra decadent. The result - delish!

Kevin's golden apple dessert

Although a dual purpose apple, I suspect we will mainly use this as a cooking apple. It held together well when cooking, and its sweet-slightly-tart flavour makes an excellent dessert.

So, was it worth the 6-year wait? You bet!

*1-yr maiden, on M26 rootstock, purchased from Walcot Organic Nursery.

Monday 17 September 2012

Garlic offer

Those who know me are aware that I have a bit of an obsession with garlic. This is in part, due to the fact that I love garlic, but also because I'm allergic to onion, so use garlic as a substitute in cooking.

I was fortunate to be given some unusual varieties of hardnecks several years ago, by Patrick of Bifurcated Carrots (on a visit to Oxford from The Netherlands) and have been keeping the best each year to sow again each autumn. During this period I have whittled down some of the choices from the original collection of 15 varieties (Garlic varieties 2010). One, Irkutsk, was so very very very strong (add more verys) that the flavour 1/4 of a clove in an omelet stayed in our mouths for 3 days!

Garlic drying in the sun at the allotment

Garlic Varieties 2012 (pdf)
In updating the Garlic document I have also updated the URLs for each variety that I could find, and added personal comments about growing the individual variety. I've kept the info about the garlics that I'm no longer growing in case they are of use to others. Please remember that what I like and grow, and how it grows, will be different to your experience and tastes. So for the ones I no longer grow, the reasons are specific to me.

Garlic prefers drier weather than we have had this year in the UK and I noticed that the bulbs were not as big this year compared to other years. Some varieties did better than others, ie. Persian Star and Georgia Fire did well, whereas some of the Susan Delafield bulbs rotted from all the rain (though those that did well were good).

Garlic offer
I've been asked by a couple of people if I would consider sharing some of the unusual garlic, including the lovely Dennis & Teresa from @HortusLudi. These are all Hardneck varieties. Hardneck garlic does not store as long as softneck garlic does. In my experience, hardnecks have a stronger taste, but don't store as long, whereas softnecks have a mild-medium flavour, but can store for more than 6 months.

Due to the smaller size of the bulbs this year, I have only kept the very best for each variety to plant and pass on, so I'm unable to give away whole bulbs. There are 3-4 cloves in each packet. Here is a list of those I'm making available:

Estonian Red (3 packets)
Georgia Fire (4 packets)
Music (4 packets)
Persian Star (4 packets)
Rosewood (2 packets)
Silver Rose (4 packets)
Susan Delafield (3 packets)

This offer is available to people in the UK only* (due to postage costs) and will be available on a first come first served basis. You can ask for several packets of different varieties, but note that if I get a lot of people asking, I may have to limit how many people can have, so put your choices in order of preference.

If you would like to receive some of these garlics, leave a comment below with your contact email and your garlic preferences. You can also contact me via Twitter @GwenfarsLottie.

UPDATE 18:15pm: blogger comments playing up, so if it doesn't work, email me jgp [at]

Finally, I'm no expert on growing garlic, just very enthusiastic! So ask me questions if you like and I'll do my best to answer. Useful information on growing garlic in the UK can be found on the Garlic Farm (Isle of Wight) website.

*If you live in Oxford, I'd be grateful if you could pick them up direct from me.