Monday, October 31, 2011

Ted and the City

Monday morning means back to work for most people and today was no different for Ted and Bobble.

It was straight in at the deep end at the office - the markets were going crazy! Ted was hoping to get on the right side of some Footsie futures.

Despite being a junior intern, Ted somehow managed to get a desk with an enviable view. Hold my calls please Miss Jones, Bobble and I are heading off for lunch and a gossip a meeting.

On the way back to the train station, Ted was intrigued by the activity going on around St Paul's Cathedral. Having listened to all the issues, Ted is still considering his position on the situation.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Garden revision

Ted and Bobble were a bit tired today - both from their Royal Mail journey here and from their efforts with the fruit harvest yesterday - so they had a chilled out Sunday afternoon on the sofa after a big lie in.
I told Ted that we'd be doing some more gardening this week and he looked a bit apprehensive. What's that Ted? You want to do a bit of research before we hit the veg plot? Not a problem!

Pear storage

Now that the pears have been harvested and the pear tree pruned (in accordance with instructions in my trusty DK/RHS Pruning and Training book) it's time to try out my new pear storage trays. Purchased via eBay from a farm in Peterborough, the trays are very rustic and authentic but needed only a quick spray down with the jet washer before being ready to be put into use.

I spread the harvest out quite thinly over the trays, and wrapped the pears in one level in newspaper to see if that makes any difference to their rate of ripening. The trays have been put in a spare bedroom that we use very rarely so with no heating in there and the blind kept closed, it should be perfect storage conditions.

Not the prettiest of pears, I'll grant you. But hopefully a tasty one for Pear Tarte Tatin come Christmas!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Welcome Ted and Bobble

So, Ted and Bobble have arrived safely at the Suburban Veg Plot. Unfortunately though, they did have to spend last night in the local sorting office as they wouldn't fit through the letterbox...

Hello Ted and Bobble! I hope the bubble wrap kept you warm last night. And what a lovely sparkly t-shirt you're sporting Ted. I'm not sure my Irish husband likes it as much as I do though...

Ted and Bobble were barely out of their box when we set them to work outside. First on the weekend 'to do' list was harvesting the Winter Nelis pears. As Ted isn't very tall, he wasn't much help at getting the pears off the tree but he was very good at piling them carefully in the trug. Bobble was a bit useless on both counts to be honest.

Ted, not being one to shy away from danger, decided that if someone helped him up into the pear tree, he could give us a hand with the pruning. Mind yourself with that pruning saw Ted – it's very sharp and looks to be quite close to your face!

Gosh, thought Ted, if this is what we've managed in only one day here who knows what we'll be up to the rest of the week.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Awaiting the visitors

The Suburban Veg Plot will shortly be playing host to Ted and Bobble. If you haven't yet come across these names in the blogosphere, then head over to the Daisy Donut blog here for a briefing. And while you're there, make a donation via Jane's lovely blog to her admirable fundraising efforts for Macmillan Cancer Support. Hopefully Ted and Bobble aren't too tired out from their recent holiday in Menorca as we've lots of things planned for their time here.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

ID parade

I recently took advantage of a Fruit Identification Day at RHS Wisley in Surrey. Laden with samples from my apple and pear trees, I headed off to meet Jim Arbury, renowned fruit specialist for the RHS. He started with the easy ones first - my long smooth pears were quickly identified as Conference and the apples as Golden Delicious.The latter has produced a very poor harvest this year. In fact, to my inexperienced eyes, the whole tree has been looking a trifle below par all season. We did a bit of pruning last winter, but I'm fairly confident that hasn't caused its current woes. Early in the year it developed powdery mildew on much of the new growth. This could be explained by the early season hot/dry weather, causing water stress to the tree making it susceptible to infection. Then many of the blossoms were hit by the late frosts in May and resulted in only a handful of apples making it through to harvest time.
Conference pears

My second pear variety caused Jim a little further deliberation as reference books were consulted and samples were cut open. He soon identified it as a late pear - which sounds about right given that they've always been hard, even when they're falling off the tree. A few more comparisons later and we had a name - Winter Nelis. A variety with its origins in Belgium in the early 1800s, it's a small squat fruit, heavy with russet and not particularly attractive (a pear only a mother could love). But armed with Jim's advice, I shall be harvesting them at the end of October, putting them into storage and then enjoying beautifully ripe pears at Christmas.
Now, can anyone lend me a dozen apple storage trays??