Food-wise, the garden’s a bit quiet now, but I have harvested a few beetroot over the last few days. I did a late sowing in early October on the basis that I had free space in the raised beds and some old seed from magazine covers. Most didn’t grow much and are still pea sized, but a few grew big enough to be worth harvesting.
The other thing we’ve been eating are apples from the garden. Of the two more established trees we have, it was the Fiesta that yielded well this year. This was its fourth year and after a lot of thinning it produced around thirty decent sized apples.
I chose the Fiesta because my priorities were high yield, regular yield, good storage, and disease resistance. Fiesta scores well in those categories in theory, although its flavour is mostly just sweet in a Gala kind of way. Unfortunately it’s already developed a bit of a habit for biennial bearing despite regular thinning, which goes to show that advice from suppliers isn’t always accurate.
The other apple we’ve been eating is the Spartans. My grandparents have a tree that produces enough apples for them, us and my sister’s family, with plenty of windfall left over for the birds. And what apples they are.
If left on the tree until late October, until the skin turns a deep red, they have a lovely sweet taste, soft low-acid fresh, and hints of strawberry to my taste. I do like crumbly fleshed, low-acid apples – russets are another favourite of mine for the mild nutty flavour. If sweet apples are to your taste and flavour is your number 1 criterion, I think Spartan is a better pick than Fiesta.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the new Cockle Pippin tastes like in a few years time. Not being a common variety anymore, it’s hard to find samples or even good descriptions, and I picked it mostly for being a late, upright growing tree with fruit that stores well. It is russeted and words like ‘rich’ and ‘aromatic’ are used by Joan Morgan in her book of apples, so I’m hopeful.