Victoria Hawkins' harvest delight

For a modest garden, and we are talking modest here, the harvest this year at the House of Hawkins has been somewhat mixed. On the plus side, to date we have had a zillion Victoria plums off a little espalier tree, which has really gone for it in this, its first fruiting season chez nous.

For a modest garden, and we are talking modest here, the harvest this year at the House of Hawkins has been somewhat mixed. On the plus side, to date we have had a zillion Victoria plums off a little espalier tree, which has really gone for it in this, its first fruiting season chez nous.

Meanwhile the espalier Golden Delicious (I said the garden was small, ergo we have flat trees growing up the walls) has gone equally ape with 60-odd apples as its 2006 offering - not bad as it was half price in the first place and only managed a total two fruits in its first year. They were, incidentally, seriously delicious.

Then we have, much to our surprise, rogue tomato plants growing in the front garden. I have absolutely no idea where they came from having not bought a tomato plant in a decade, but these green squatters suddenly magically made themselves known. But it was rather late in the season, so we don't quite know if they are going to make it.

Finally there's a wigwam of runner beans, growing in pot on the terrace, which to date have provided Mr H and myself with four servings each - not really worth the combined cost of the compost and plants themselves, but always greeted with a fanfare of trumpets and a great degree of tra-la-la-ness when they appear on our table.


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That sums up the pluses. On the minus side the third espalier apple, which was supposed to be sporting beautiful red rosy apples (didn't care so much about the eating qualities as the colour with this one) is completely blind. Due, we now know, to a zealous early pruning by the Head Gardener, now known as one Mad Chopper Hawkins, who cut off “some side branches” for which read all the emerging fruits back in the spring!!

But the Fruit and Veg booby prize this year goes to one of my work mates. We were talking personally grown produce, as you do, and he told me that they had a tree that once yielded one solitary apple. A bit like us and our beans, his wife decided to make a meal of it, literally, and announced baked apple for one, coming up. Unfortunately it exploded in the oven.

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