Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Apples and Pears

Do you know what Cockney Rhyming Slang is? This is what Wikipedia says:-

Rhyming slang is a form of phrase construction in the English language that is especially prevalent in dialectal English from the East End of London; hence the alternative name, Cockney rhyming slang. The construction involves replacing a common word with a rhyming phrase of two or three words and then, in almost all cases, omitting the secondary rhyming word (which is thereafter implied), in a process called hemiteleia, making the origin and meaning of the phrase elusive to listeners not in the know.
One example is replacing the word "stairs" with the rhyming phrase "apples and pears". Following the pattern of omission, "and pears" is dropped, thus the spoken phrase "I'm going up the apples" means "I'm going up the stairs".

Well, here's some stairs...

This apple is a windfall from a tree in my next-door neighbour's garden. It came down very awkwardly. Ouch!

The thing it landed on is the big plastic container in which my Sweet Potatoes are growing.

I'm very eager to find out whether those plants have produced any tubers, but I'm going to exercise restraint and wait as long as possible. When the weather turns cold the foliage will die down and that will be the time to lift them.

My solitary "Concorde" pear tree has precisely two fruits on it this year.

They look quite good, but they are not ready for picking just yet. Still rock-hard and very green.

This one is a really classic pear shape.

This one on the other hand, is not...

I wonder what makes a pear decide to do that?

I haven't had much success with fruit trees. Some years ago I bought a collection of three trees that were all Minarettes, which are very slender and thus allegedly suitable for small gardens. I planted them in a row along the side of my garden that gets most sunlight, but this site has proved to be very bad for them. The soil is very thin and sandy around here, and the subsoil is incredibly dense, so the trees never did well. The Plum lasted 3 years before getting seriously diseased (and hence dug up!), and the "Scrumptious" Apple had one decent year before lapsing into a succession of failures caused by Bitter Pit (itself the result of the tree being unable to take up sufficient calcium from the soil). So it came up too. Now I just have the Pear. In its best year it produced 11 fruit, but it's normally only 3 or 4, and some years none at all.

In 2013 I planted a new apple tree - a small specimen of "Bramley", acquired from the Aldi supermarket for the princely sum of £3.99. I have no great expectations of success with this tree, but it looks all right at present - though still very small of course. What I really ought to do is grow some miniature fruit trees in big containers, like I do with the Bay trees.

Bay tree - photo from October 2013

That would certainly solve the problem of poor soil. I think I'll keep my eyes open for suitable specimens... (Any recommendations?)


  1. Boy, that is one bizarre bit of slang. My sweet potatoes are looking similar to yours, although not as lush - I haven't been that diligent in watering their container over the summer I guess. Mine are similarly speckled with holes and the culprit seems to be tiny green worms which look suspiciously like cabbage worms. Your bay tree looks incredible - many years ago I had a bay "twig" (much too small to call it a tree) but it didn't grow much at all and then it up and died on me.

  2. Self pollinating pears often produce misformed fruit without a pollinator, I had Concorde and Beth in my last garden. I have 3 apples and a young Victoria plum here and plan on planting another plum this year. The sweet potatoes are looking good, I really should try some here, in Lincs I was forever watering them.

    1. Maybe that's where I have gone wrong - not having a pollinator. Perhaps I should get another pear tree and see if it makes a difference.

  3. Hi Mark I have just come across your blog, I cannot wait to have a good browse this evening, I am cooking dinner and just had a quick peek and noticed your post on your French beans, do you blanch them before you freeze them?

    1. Until recently I use do blanch beans before freezing them, but just the other day (following advice from Twitter friends) I tried omitting the blanching. We have subsequently eaten the beans (about a week after freezing them) and felt that they were much better unblanched. They were definitely firmer in texture.

  4. Pear varieties have 'group' numbers so they can be matched to other suitable varieties for pollination - the RHS has info on getting the right combinations.

  5. That bay tree is so pretty. I'm making my apple trees small by espaliering them. Well that and they are all dwarf trees. They really do want to go UP though. I'm constantly taking off shoots.

  6. I've planted out two apple trees, a plum tree and a cherry tree this year. I'm hoping that they do better in the ground than they did in containers. Your bay tree is a lovely specimen.

  7. Mark both my pear trees are from Aldi & there is a huge crop on both of them this year they are also in large tubs. To be fair all my fruit trees have performed splendidly this year apart from the greengage with its one fruit!

  8. I've read about Cockney Rhyming Slang but I don't think I'll ever understand it! Slender trees like your Concorde pear seem just right for small gardens.

  9. Those two pears will be all the more special because there are just two of them. In our experience pears seem to be a lot harder to grow than apples. We rarely get a good crop from the pears on the plot although the C onference tree in the garden does okay.


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