We have been working with green-fingered-duo Rich and Nick, AKA Two Thirsty Gardeners, for some time now – the pair began making their own cider in 2008, and with a passion for all things garden and outdoors, they have written a suitably appley blog for us in time for Christmas…
On my council run site, allotment inspection times run from March to November, and are fearfully strict. Any tenant caught with an untidy plot can look forward to a stern letter, with a ‘three strikes and out policy’ for serial offenders. Now my plot isn’t looking particularly ship shape at the moment, but I’m going to take full advantage of the councils lack of patrols over the next few weeks and reward myself with a bit of ‘down time’ before resuming post–Christmas allotment duties. In fact, the most strenuous thing I intend to do over the next couple of weeks is leaning from sofa to Quality Street tin, interspersed with visits to the fridge for a beery top-up. In December, swigging and pigging shall take priority over digging.
But before this period of slothfulness can commence, I tasked myself to clean my collection of gardening tools in preparation for the new season ahead. It’s a simple enough job, but a job worth doing to keep tools in tip top condition. This involves wiping off any grime with a damp cloth, oiling metal cutting edges and moving parts, and rubbing linseed oil into wooden handles.
On heading into my shed to perform said task, I was greeted by a drip, drip, dripping sound. The shed roof has seen better days, and does tend to leak during particularly persistent West Country downpours, but this was the sound of something much more agreeable – the sound of the airlocks on my cider demijohns releasing CO2, indicating that the fermentation of October’s apple juice was well under way. Fermentation had been slow to start, but now they were chuffing away merrily, with the once murky brown juice inside each demijohn turning an aesthetically pleasing, golden orange hue.
I make cider every year using a mixture of apples grown on the allotment, supplemented by sacks of fruit collected from a couple of local orchards. Up until this Autumn, my harvesting method had remained crude but effective: First, spread out a tarpaulin under the desired tree, then clamber up into the branches and thrash around like a crazed ape until the fruits start to fall.
This year, however, I employed a more elegant solution, aided considerably by a couple of items from the Wolf Garten tool catalogue – namely the multi-change telescopic handle along with the branch hook attachment. With this combo, branches can be shook with both feet planted firmly on the ground – the only danger being struck on the bonce by the odd apple. An acceptable hazard, and much preferable than slipping from the boughs and lying in a broken heap amongst damp grass and sheep droppings.
I’ve also got a couple of additional attachments for my extendable pole – an apple picking attachment for plucking individual fruity specimens, and a rather fearsome branch saw for lofty branch surgery. These tools will see me right for many apple picking seasons to come, but for now, the handle and hook have been assigned a rather unorthodox task. The task of dragging the Quality Street tin closer to the sofa.
Two Thirsty Gardeners