We picked the last of the apples a few weeks' ago; pulling off the nets and stripping the trees bare. There weren't as many as last year, but we are getting a feel for when to cover the trees and when the fruit is ripe. Our first autumn in this garden we got over enthusiastic and picked most of the fruit before it was at its sweetest. I left the box of fruit sitting near the back door and every time Quinn walked past it he must have grabbed an apple, taken a bite or two and then discarded it somewhere (under the couch usually). Excited by the food storage potential of the cellar beneath our kitchen I stowed a box down there, only to pull it up again and find half the fruit had spoiled with the damp.
This year I decided to enjoy what we had while it lasted, and save the work of storing our produce for another, more bountiful season. We cancelled our weekly box of organic fruit from a local farm and we ate apples instead. We chopped them up and dipped them in hommus. We baked apple pie, apple bread, apple muffins and our favourite Italian apple cake. I added an armful of rhubarb from the garden to make apple and rhubarb tart. And we roasted the fruit with homegrown pumpkins then blitzed the lot into a pot of roasted pumpkin and apple soup. I am left with just a small handful of fruit, which I am going to take to our organic farmer to see if she can identify them for me.
Thea's Granny Smith, which I planted in an old wine barrel as her birth tree, yielded just two apples this year. I caught the boys throwing green apples around the yard at the end of summer and had stern words with them. The ring necked parrots, which are the bane of every fruit growers' life in this part of the world, chewed up the rest. After that I wrapped her sapling tree in an old lace curtain and nurtured the last two apples for her, and her alone.