I’ve been here six months now. Time flies when you’re having fun I guess, but harvest time has come in a rush….. just ask Matt next door who’s been picking apples with his merry band of workers all last week. I even spotted the first truck leaving with a full load on its way to Willie Smith’s cidery……
I recently ‘broke in’ the apple crushing gear that Werner left us as a thank you for the trailer load of apples they harvested last year, and which he turned into excellent cider. I also discovered it takes an overflowing bucket of apples to make just two litres of apple juice. So when Matt invited me to join him in a cider making working bee, I knew I had my work cut out to fill a 60L fermenter with Fanny juice. That’s Geeveston Fannies of course…..
Matt loaned me an apple bin (which he said to only fill 1/3 of the way to the top) and a picking bag.
Kari, one of the previous owners, had told me they had left two rows of Fannies on the far Eastern side of the block, but I had never walked over that section of the farm. I now call it the Far East. I could have called it the Wild East, because it’s quite overgrown with blackberries, especially down the steep bit towards the main road outside which is not only organic, but probably untouched by human hands for a very long time! When I thinned the orchard last year, I didn’t even go near that area, and as a consequence, the apples look more like grapes than apples. I decided to just strip the trees, no matter how small the fruit was. It really doesn’t matter if you’re crushing for juice. Just those two rows of neglected trees yielded almost enough apples to make my share of the cider, even though not all the trees there were Geeveston Fannies. I will need another hundred kilos or so, and so will have to get more fruit from the main orchard.
I backed the ute into the two rows, and started harvesting. It’s quite fun really; being surrounded by nature in paradise is awe inspiring, and I can use the exercise. It turns out the blackberries there are the fattest, sweetest, and juiciest of any other patch on the property; why I have no idea, maybe apples and blackberries are good companion plants… needless to say they were delicious, and I got my fill….
It’s interesting how, unlike the other varieties on the farm (mostly Galas I believe), the Fannies were literally untouched by Coddling Moth, though it was obvious the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos had a field day…. but they left plenty for me, so I’m OK with that. Matt reckons it must be a question of timing, with the Fannies ripening later than the Galas and the young Fannies being too hard for the moth to lay its eggs in the fruit and preferring to attack the softer Galas. Sounds like a good theory to me. I have to say though, that I’m finding it hard to not think ‘if you’re on a good thing’ and all that……. so it’s tempting to plan converting the rest of the orchard to Fannies with future grafting efforts. If I can have an orchard that needs zero spraying as a result, it must surely be a good thing?
Some of the trees had such overladen branches, that it was easier to just pick up the branch, drop it in the harvest bag, and strip the fruit off that branch.
Walking back up the hill to the ute with a full bag was hard going for an old fart like me, but I managed, and I’m pretty happy with the result so far. Watch this space for the crushing and juicing photos, which will get posted next week, all thing being equal…..