The Month of Apples is upon us.  Some early varieties (Beauty of Bath, Exeter Cross ...) have been and gone but the cider apples and most of the cookers and eaters are just beginning to ripen here.  One variety that I've never known to fail is the cooker Bramley's Seedling. It seems that the 180 year old original tree is still surviving

Its genetic makeup seems to make it particularly vigourous and productive.  Bramley has a triploid chromosome structure. This means that it requires at least 2 other pollinators in order to be fertile. The fruits are usually very large compared to the standard dessert apple.  Bramley cooks to a fluffy texture that works well in many dishes. In a way it's a shame that other variety of cookers are not better known as they surely have their own quailities, particularly those that have a 'waxiness' that keep them more solid when cooked. 

My favourite recipe is the upside down French Apple Tart (Tarte Tatin). Always a bit tricky and certainly a recipe that benefits from a more waxy apple than a Bramley.   One recent arrival at home is the apple cake shown below, coming from my neighbours 2 doors down.  This is the result of a bit of barter - I think I gave them some potatoes when they had somehow run out.  I generally approve of barter.  It's particularly good when you give away something that you have in surplus or glut (and is therefore effectively worthless) and receive in return something that you don't have at all.

There are other fruits on the trees - acorns and cobnuts being reasonable plentiful this year locally.

I like to grow a few of these each year - for planting out in hedges locally or where I am working. Acorns do not ned any stratification or other special treatment to get them to germinate.  I think they send down a tap root as soon as they can.  I plant acorns and cobs in 3 inch deep seed trays.

It's essential to protect against mice because these trays are just going to sit in the polytunnel and their contents would be a welcome feast for winter rodents.  Mice not only eat acorns and nuts they create potential new woodlands by making stashes of nuts to store. In spring there should be a tray full oif seedlings which can be planted into a nursery bed next autuimn.

I was recently amusing myself chopping up some lovely wood by seeing how little force was needed.  If you get the axe right on the pith or some other weak point the wood seems to fly apart.  It almost seems sometimes that with some sort of mental preparation you can command the wood to split - a strange feeling about what appears to be a very physical task.  So I wondered whether there was any link between meditation and woodchopping.  A quick question to Mr Google produced this result.  The author writes : "The axe must be balanced carefully in the hands, the feel of the wooden handle transmitting itself to the woodchopper’s mind, as the sight of the chosen piece of wood transmits itself to his brain. He must see every line of grain in the wood, try and separate them with his mind, before entering them with the axe. As the axe is lifted over the shoulder, ready to swing, the woodchopper, the axe, the wood, must all come together as one. As the axe swings through the air, the woodchopper must drive all thoughts from his mind, save the one thought of splitting the wood. He must see the axe passing right through the wood, he must feel it as the axe head feels it, slicing hard through the splitting wood, he must feel it as the wood feels it, split asunder by the cold hard metal of the axe, split and free with three as one – man, axe and wood. The woodchopper frees his mind of frustration, removes all obstacles to clear thought and action with this meditation."   The phrase about separating the wood in your mind, before using the axe, puts my feelings perfectly.  Maybe there is something to this meditation malarkey.