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Scrumping time

It's autumn of the end of my first year of hard core gardening, I miss my dad's wisdom and life is more complex with a stroppy yet lovable teen, and ill husband and mother. My energy resources are low and I haven't been about much this summer due to home commitments.

The garden remains overgrown, despite my hopes to reclaim it from nature life has got in the way and my work has not made any visible progress. Despite the weed whacking and tree hacking, everything grows back so much faster than I can keep up with my intermittent work on It, around all my other commitments. I wonder if I've taken on a beast I will never win.



I am so familiar with the property and I know where the rare wild plants are, even if I don't recall what they look like anymore. There are so many wild bees and honey bees as well as other insects. I want to allow the wild flowers to flourish for the wildlife and insects. I want to be able to have organic fruits.

I wanted to remove everything organically as the plot has been untouched for so long it's probably pretty organic now. I don't like noisy power tools, the sound stresses me. I prefer to hear and observe nature as I work.



The family met at Dads house for the day and most of us decided to go scrumping.

It was long sleeves and wellies to get up to the orchard, the nettles are shoulder height so we tag team kicking down grass nettles and brambles to get to the orchard. When we get there we have to be careful of trip hazards of stumps and trees, which were cut down last year. We have to navigate paths using memory of what we left where last year, using existing trees as points of reference

There are loads of cooking apples, an excellent crop, there are a few pears but most are inaccessible. The eating apples have fungus. Only Charles Ross remains from about 5 eater trees.

We do battle across to the plum trees, the trees look none the worse for a prune last year but there is a lot of branches higher up needing thinning out. There are mummified plums hanging everywhere. I need to look up what causes this but surely having so many twigs and leaves so close together can't help.

We decide to go all the way up and look at the damson trees, it’s a long way to battle but once we are past the entrance to the field it clears to grass and brambles

The trees are over grown around the out buildings and need managing before they undermine the footings, job to do another day

The damsons cannot be seen for a pile of red autumn colour brambles, very beautiful but killing the trees, I need to take these back ASAP.

We decided to go through the out building on the way back. It was dry and smelt of dry earth. The only issue was rabbit damage to the floor and one beam for the ceiling which will need to be repaired- carpentry is not a skill I possess but by the look of it I may do at some point in the future.

The end of the building has animal bays, the roof is missing from this. Trees and brambles have invaded and need clearing, if the buildings are to be used in future.

The amount to do is huge and overwhelming for one person who has no idea what she’s doing and no skills for gardening and DIY. I can’t even commit full days to this when I’m here because I have to stop for meals, as a carer I’m responsible for this, as well as coordinating other day to day things.



I have to consider a harsher regime to clear the worst things, I may have to get things under a measure of control and consider the environment later.

I really am concerned about the pollinators in particular, so I need to make minimal impact. I have decided to put root killer on the stumps I have once they have been cut back again and if possible drill those I need to leave at waist height, close to their roots and put in root killer.



Additionally we need to clear a space for a fire pit to burn all the brambles, then dig them up and burn everything. This will take months at my current rate but hopefully I may see some small progress.



At times like this I have to consider forgetting eco friendly and just bulldoze the lot. But I really can't do that. I have to keep chipping onward.

For now though I can enjoy the apples and pears I have. Apple and pork casserole with cider. Apple crumble with custard as the nights draw in and the days get cooler. There’s something special about home-made crumble, with cooker and eater apples mixed with minimal sugar so that the eaters collapse and give a beautiful sweetness, while the cookers give a sharp texture, so different to over sweetened mush you get in shop bought pies and apples which never quite reach that depth of sharpness or sweetness they do if picked ripe.

I can’t eat them without remembering my Dad and so many years of hard work to allow me such pleasures.

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