August’s Bounty – Hail the Apple?

We’ve been quiet online last month, an indication of frenetic activity in the garden and kitchen, as harvest season started to kick in.

It all started with apples. Which may seem odd. Our main apple orchard harvest occurs in mid-September and October after all. But up by the house we have a Beauty of Bath apple tree, a variety cultivated to crop very early in August, which resulted in it being awarded a Royal Horticultural Society First Class Certificate in 1887 no less. Continue reading

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Here we go Round the Mulberry Twig

Here we go round the Mulberry twig probably wouldn’t have made such a catchy nursery rhyme.

Everybody knows it’s a mulberry bush. And they can eventually grow to a whopping 10m across.

The trouble is those bushes of nursery rhyme fame start off life as, well… a tiny tree twig sapling. Continue reading

The March to Spring

And then there were three. I’m still not quite sure how it’s happened. We had always envisaged space for three veg beds. But after the great effort made by an army of friends to get the first one going, I’d assumed numbers two and three would have to wait a while yet. Continue reading

Apple Day

2016-apple-day-4Last month didn’t just mark our anniversary of moving to The Secret Acre, it was of course also harvest time.

The UK’s national Apple Day (yes, there is one) is actually on 21st October.

And so during October community groups up and down the country hold a range of apple pressing and harvest celebration events. Continue reading

Getting Fruity

gg_logoThe guerrilla growing movement has taken off in cities across the globe in recent years as citizens reclaim unloved urban spaces for veg growing.

Most city authorities now embrace and support these movements, recognising the positive contribution thy make in creating healthier, happier, edible cities.

So it was intriguing to read a ‘weak signal from the future’ via Forum for the Future, about the work of the Guerrilla Grafters in San Francisco. Continue reading

Turning Apples into Food

311020154813It might not sound as impressive as turning water into wine, apples are basically already food after all, but tuck into the delicious apple cake at The Canteen in Nailsworth, or enjoy the apple sauce with your pork at The Hog in Horsley, and you may have eaten apples from The Secret Acre.

Last year we turned our apples into test batches of juice and cider, with a view to scaling up production this year. But despite getting an industrial size press, the timing of our moving into The Secret Acre meant that our cider empire had to be largely put on hold for 12 months. Continue reading

The Orchard Man Cometh

Martin pruning the Bath Beauty 2015A decade and more ago, the Government were paying grants to grub up and destroy orchards. Today there are loads of Government grants and projects to protect, save and replant orchards, which apparently had been disappearing at an alarming rate. It’s what politicians like to call joined up thinking.

So, blessed with a small old orchard at the Secret Acre, prolific in apples and plums, we decided to do the responsible thing and joined the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust, to add our heritage varieties to the County’s register. Continue reading