Following on from David’s post about the harvest, I thought I’d share with you Primrose’s top tips for keeping your fruit fresh all winter.
Throw away bruisers. Despite the old saying, the truth is one bad apple really can spoil the bunch. Segregate any apples with bruises or rot on them. Storing them with healthy apples can lead to the good apples rotting as well.
Space the apples out. Another way to prevent rot spreading is to space your apples out so they are not touching. It also helps to keep different varieties of apples on different shelves, as they tend to decay at different rates and you don’t want your faster spoiling golden delicious apples spoiling your long lasting cox apples, for instance.
Wrap your apples. Following on from this, one piece of advice is to wrap your apples in newspaper – this will prevent contact and stop any rot from spreading between apples. Be sure to use plain black and white newspaper or paper as coloured ink contains poisonous elements that you don’t want in prolonged contact with your apples.
Don’t let your apples freeze. Frozen apples are spoiled apples. This is why it’s best to store apples in a cool cellar, but don’t worry, you can always bring your apples into your conservatory or kitchen for a few nights if you know it’s going to be below freezing for extended periods.
Don’t forget – here at Primrose we have a great range of fruit storage solutions. Check out our range of fruit racks here. They’re perfect for keeping out rodents and other pests and keeping your fruit off the ground and fresh through the autumn.
And that’s our top five tips for keeping apples fresh. But what to do with those rotten apples I mentioned? Well they’re perfect for making cider…
Charlie works in the Primrose marketing team, mainly in online marketing.
When not writing for the Primrose Blog, Charlie likes nothing more than a good book and a cool cider.
With summer coming to a close and autumn fast approaching, many farmers and gardeners are starting to plan and carry out their harvests. To ensure an abundant yield of optimal produce, it’s important to pick fruits and vegetables at the right time, handle them properly during the post-harvest phase, and store them in a way that preserves the nutritional content as much as possible. In this guide, you’ll learn the basics of how and when to harvest the most common summer crops.
Harvesting Times and Tips for Popular Summer Fruits and Vegetables
Due to the wide variety of produce types and cultivars that are typically grown in a well-rounded summer garden, there is no “perfect” time to pick anything. In fact, you’ve probably noticed that many of your plants have already started producing edible goodness. Since harvesting times vary greatly, it’s better to go based on ripeness rather than the exact date or time of season. Here’s a basic list of ideal harvesting conditions for seven of the most popular summer produce types currently being grown at Carpenters Nursery:
• Tomatoes – These are worth mentioning first because it is imperative to harvest these while they’re still orange and let them ripen into a vibrant red after being picked. Picking them after they’ve turned red well leave you with overripe, soggy tomatoes.
• Lettuce – Most varieties reach peak ripeness about 50-75 days after being planted. You can tell when lettuce is coming into maturity, as the colours will become richer, the heads will feel full and firm, and the leaves will be densely packed together.
• Cucumbers – Being that these fruits ripen throughout the summer, and have a bitter, undesirable taste when overripe, you should be picking them gradually as each fruit comes into maturity. Pick them when they meet the expected size specifications for the cultivar you’re growing, but don’t take them early because they won’t ripen after being picked. Avoid letting them turn yellow and pick them in the morning for best results.
• Broccoli – Broccoli is ripe when the heads reach approximately 4-8 inches in diameter and the entire flower cluster (the green stuff you eat) has densely filled in.
• Spinach – Typically ripe within 37 to 45 days and can be harvested as soon as 5-6 fully formed leaves are present for baby spinach. Leaves should be removed within a week of being fully formed to prevent yellowing.
• Potatoes – Potatoes are usually ready to harvest after about 10 weeks, or in early July, and more will continue to ripen throughout the summer. They need to be harvested before the vines die in late August or the potatoes will rot, and care needs to be taken when lifting them out of the ground.
• Peppers – Peppers can be harvested at different stages depending on taste preference. Bell types are typically harvested when they’re firm and between 3 1/2 to 4 inches. Almost all varieties will transform from green and bitter to sweeter and more colourful the longer you leave them to ripen on the plant. Try to pick before they start to soften.
Preserving Crops with Proper Storage
In closing, don’t forget to research proper picking, canning, and storing techniques for the crops you’re growing. Nothing is more disappointing than having a sizable portion of a harvest go to waste due to poor preparation.
David is a professional writer with a keen interest in gardening. He currently contributes written articles to various gardening websites such as Carpenters Nursery & Farm Shop.
We all want to make the most of the brief moments of sun we get, with few things more satisfying than a nice meal outside. Here are some outdoor dining tips to make your alfresco eating a success!
1. Keep the insects away
Flies buzzing around your food are one thing, but mosquitos and biting insects are quite another. Ward them off as the night closes in with citronella candles.
2. Clean up your mess
Another vital tip for keeping the bugs at bay is to quickly mop up any spilled food or drink. This will stop it attracting unwanted flies to your table.
3. Counter the evening chill
Even on the most baking hot days, once the sun goes down your patio can begin to get a little nippy. Prolong your evening with some added warmth from an outdoor heater.
4. Light it up
Chances are you want to see what you’re eating. Create an intimate illumination with some tealights or candles on the table to keep things visible long into the night.
5. Turn the power on
If you’re eating out past sundown on a regular basis, think about installing some permanent lighting. Hanging LED lights in your parasol or floodlights on the wall are perfect.
6. Add a little greenery
Planting around your seating area can provide both natural shade and the warmth that comes form an enclosed space. Trail some climbing plants around a pergola for an easy dining enclave.
7. Shelter from the heat
Sunshine is great but too much can spoil food and bring about a few burnt heads. Cover your table with an awning or shade sail for instant shade whenever you need it.
We hope these tips can help you make the most of eating outdoors this summer. Do let us know if you have any more advice!
George works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.
George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!
He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.
Britain’s climate allows us to grow the very best grass in the world so wouldn’t it be a shame if we didn’t make the most of this wonderful opportunity? Start by removing all the dead leaves, sticks and any other unwanted debris to give your lawn a chance to breathe. Then it’s time to get your rake out, dethatch the lawn and remove all the dead roots and grasses.This process will clear the way for watering, mowing and planting seeds. For larger areas you can seek a scarifier with a motor. The debris will still have to be raked up and removed. Now if you want your lawn to have the best drainage system then a good old fashioned forking wouldn’t go amiss. Simply push the fork into the lawn every 12 centimetres and wiggle it around to break the soil and reduce the compaction.
Alternatively, if forking isn’t for you, an aerator can be used instead. This is a very simple tool that pushes into the lawn like a fork and will remove small plugs of soil which can then have lawn sand brushed into them. Your final step is to add lawn feed and place seeds wherever there are bare patches. I’m sure it goes without saying but it is vital you stay off your lawn as much as possible until your lawn has finished its growth period to give your grass the best chance to prosper.
Sadly your soil just isn’t the same as it was a half a year ago. Months of rain and numbing temperatures will inevitably take their toll. Now you’ll need to really show your ruthless characteristics at the start of this process. Give your beds a thorough cleaning, remove everything except for perennial plants. This will make it easier to maintain your soil and help you to determine what to plant this year.
The next step is to test your soil. Get a baseline of your soil’s PH by using a testing kit. Test several places in your garden as results can differ across different areas. The ideal P.H is between 6-6.5, if it’s below that then your plants will have a hard time absorbing nutrients. If the P.H is below the magical 6.5, then add some garden lime and use according to the packaging directions. It is unlikely it will be above this, but if it is then add some pure sufler to these alkaline areas or alternatively you can just plant alkaline loving flowers. Finally add an inch or 2 of compost, either homemade or purchased. I would recommend commercial compost as it has a finer texture than homemade, and then simply rake over the surface of soil to even it out across your bed.
Ponds provide a beautiful sense of sound, movement and reflection in the summer months which many of us like to exhibit to our close friends and families. If you ignore your pond however, then the urge to boast this potentially beautiful spectacle might disappear and regret will sink in. Now (unfortunately for some) it’s time to clean your pond and work that elbow grease. If your pond is murky with no sign of life, start by giving it a good clean. Bail out the water with a bucket and remove any plants, standing them in bowls of water in a shady spot. Scrape the sludge off the bottom of the pond with a spade, being careful not to damage the liner, then scrub the sides and floor with a stiff brush.
I would then recommend supplying yourself with a pond vacuum. This neat mechanism attaches to your hose. The water pressure creates a vacuum venturi effect which sucks up any dirt and debris, collecting in a reusable bag allowing the clean water to pass through. The brush attachment then has special rollers which glide easily over the pond bottom, gently removing the dirt whilst protecting pondlife and fish.
By following all of these steps your garden should have all the essentials to produce the frameworks for an aesthetically pleasing garden ready to show off to all your fellow friends and family. Happy gardening everyone!
Callum is currently on his placement year here at Primrose with his parents being huge garden enthusiasts.
In the time he has free from his parents rambling on about the garden, he is being a typical university student experiencing life to the full and supporting his beloved Reading FC.