Getting the best from your bumper crop of apples

Ripe Red Falstaff apples.
Ripe Red Falstaff apples.
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It seems the stars have aligned and I’m getting a bumper crop of apples this year from my old tree and Red Falstaff.

Actually, it’s probably a case of the old tree finally recovering from restorative pruning, followed by a mass of non-fruit-bearing water shoots, which have taken four years to get rid of (note: never remove more than a quarter of the canopy in one go).

Fruit ripening on my old tree - a Cox's Orange type apple.

Fruit ripening on my old tree - a Cox's Orange type apple.

Maybe they’ve relished the cold winter followed by a hot summer, and now we are getting steady rainfall to swell and ripen the fruit.

Anyhow, I’m inclined not to question why too much and just be thankful for them!

If you end up with a glut of fruit, most apples will store for at least a month in the right conditions, some until well after Christmas – check your variety.

Here’s what to do

Apples on the wall-trained Red Falstaff tree.

Apples on the wall-trained Red Falstaff tree.

l Try a garage, shed or cellar, as long as it is cool (2.8°C-7°C) for apples and cooler for pears, which can be stored in the salad compartment of the fridge.

l The storage place needs to be frost free, well-ventilated, dark, slightly humid and free from mice.

l Suitable containers are crates, slatted shelves, polystyrene trays or shallow wooden boxes. Good air movement is crucial.

l Choose blemish-free, medium-sized fruits, with stalk intact. Under-ripe fruit stores best.

l Lay fruits in a single layer not touching each other. Thes must be handled carefully to avoid bruising the fruit.

l Keep different varieties separate.

l Keep fruit away from strong scents, such as paint, fertilisers and onions.

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l For more information, plus cook what you grow, recipes, environmental news and more, log on to the website at www.mandycanudigit.com – which is also now smartphone friendly. You can also follow Mandy on Twitter @MandyCanUDigIt or you can like me on my Facebook page at Mandycanudigit

JOBS TO DO THIS BANK HOLIDAY WEEKEND

Prune lavender to maintain its shape, and take lavender cuttings by pulling off side shoots and inserting them in trays of gritty compost.

Keep picking autumn-fruiting raspberries and prune out fruited canes on summer-cropping varieties.

Summer prune apple and pear trees to encourage more fruiting spurs. Put grease bands on fruit trees to catch wingless winter moths.

Sow hardy annuals to provide early spring blooms – pull up hardy annual plants if you don’t want them to set seed everywhere.

Harvest cucumbers regularly to promote further flower development.

Stop watering begonias and Gloxinia so they die down after flowering.

Start watering dormant cyclamen to bring them back into growth after their summer rest.

Prune rambling roses, removing shoots that have finished flowering.

Plant conifers, shrubs and hedging.

Remove suckers from roses, shrubs and around the base of trees.

Trim box topiary and hedging.

Hoe and hand weed borders.

Pinch out the tips of wallflowers to promote bushier growth.

Buy spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, crocuses, narcissus and fritillaries.