Sunday 28 September 2008

No sloes but lots of pears

Yesterday morning I went down to an old, abandoned orchard near our village of Sunniside which my family has used for decades. There is a number of rather old pear trees and a couple of crab apple trees. In the space of less than an hour I had picked a large carrier bag full of apples, about 5-6kg in weight. There are still plenty left on the trees but they are out of my reach.

In the afternoon, I went out to pick sloes in a hedgerow alongside a field on the edge of Sunniside. Last year I picked bag loads of sloes and ended up freezing them. These were eventually used for making sloe gin. My intention was to use the sloes to make sloe jelly, some more gin and hedgerow jelly. Yet when I got there, there was no fruit in sight. It wasn't that someone had got there before me, it was simply that none of the bushes had produced any fruit at all. I chatted to other people who were out picking blackberries and they said they had experienced the same problem with the sloes growing in Sunniside Park, on the other side of the village. So perhaps the awful weather prevented any fruit growing.

And it is possible that the same problem affected the crab apple trees in the orchard I use. There was no fruit at all and again it was not a case of people having beaten me to them. Other trees I use on the Tanfield Railway footpath also have very little fruit. Thankfully, I have a good supply of wild apples which I am using is cooking and jam and chutney making. Let's hope the crop improves next year.

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