Feast on offer as fruit and veg ripen

A variety of crops are reaching ripeness at the moment.
A variety of crops are reaching ripeness at the moment.
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Apples, plums, grapes, blackberries, tomatoes, aubergine and chilli peppers are all reaching maturity together.

Runner beans show no sign of ceasing production, and cobs of sweetcorn are telling us they’re ready for the kitchen. The garden is offering a proverbial feast at the moment.

Rosy-red Discovery apples are always first to ripen in this garden, and the sight of foraging wasps tunnelling into one of them last week was hint enough to start picking – but not all of them at once. They need to pass the ripeness test first.

Hold a fruit in the palm of your hand, which should be facing upwards, then tilt it gently towards you. If ready, the apple will come.

Surprisingly, the wasps have not started on our Victoria plums yet. The crop is much heavier than anticipated, and, just like the apples, all fruits do not ripen at once.

The tree has never failed to crop, and in some years, branches bend under the sheer weight of fruit.

Grafted onto the Pixie dwarfing rootstock, the height has levelled out at four metres, three decades on from planting.

Greenhouse vine Madeleine Angevine has served us well for a similar length of time, offering heavy crops of white dessert grapes. A `Black Hamburg` also chips in with very tasty bunches which ripen in early September. But the one fault with both is that they contain seeds. Oh for a seedless variety!

Rrather than replace such successful plants immediately, last year a grafted specimen was introduced, which is red, goes by the name of Flame and is seedless.

As it develops, space can be created by reducing the other two via winter pruning, but only if it proves its worth.

A generous helping of weathered horse manure went under the roots when it was planted in the greenhouse border, and vigorous growth has followed.

Surprisingly, a single bunch with eight grapes has formed. I hope it lives up to expectation.

In garden and countryside, the blackberries are ready. When growing your own, you can try thornless varieties such as Loch Ness.

There is also greater control over the size and quality of fruits. They thrive in organic-rich soil which holds ample moisture, so after the initial planting, it pays to offer annual back-up with mulch.

Greenhouse tomatoes took an age to start ripening but now they’re on the menu almost daily.

The lower two-thirds of the leaves have been removed from all plants to facilitate a flow of air and encourage more daylight.

Cooler nights are a sign to stop feeding and ease back on watering.

Soon we will have a choice of turning some green tomatoes into chutney or encouraging them all to ripen.

Spread newspaper on the greenhouse staging and lay them out so they’re not touching, in full light.

Surprisingly, even the smallest will ripen, given time.