Saturday, 28 January 2012

An apple a day ...

Or should that be two apples?  I heard the other day that eating two apples per day can keep migraines away.  Excellent news for migraine sufferers, who happen to be partial to the odd apple!  Fortunately for me I do like to indulge and even my research hasn't put me off.  I don't often talk about my work on here (and it won't be a regular feature so no need to fear) but I wanted to show you some photographs and talk about planting apple trees.  Yes, I study apple trees.  It isn't quite as idyllic as you are imagining (let me guess, you're thinking about me sitting in pleasant orchards for hours on end with the sun shining and the birds singing), although there were a few occasions where that was an accurate view!  

The orchard can be a lovely place, particularly when there is a river running through it and you haven't lost your keys in the grass.  One hot day I did manage to lose the department car keys in the long sward!  It was only after four and a half hours of desperately searching on my hands and knees, through blinding tears, that I found them.  Hallelujah, I wouldn't have to spend the night sleeping under the stars, next to the car in a strange orchard in the middle of nowhere!  
When you're not fearing being shot by a mad gamekeeper, you're usually battling through rain to write down measurements and take soil (or is that mud?) samples.  Don't even get me started on the lab work!  I do enjoy the days when I can read my book amongst the trees, but they are very few and far between, particularly now that thesis writing is upon me.  Somehow, I have to collate, analyse and try to understand (this may be a tall order) three years worth of work.  Information on soil, wood, apples, biochar and carbon footprints will be brought together to give us a picture on just how good UK orchards are for the environment.  

Trees will be photographed and have their starring role.  Do you have any apple trees?  Now is the perfect time to plant some.  Why not give one a good home this winter and nurture it through to giving you some lovely apples in the autumn (I'll provide some recipes of what to use them for...).  Try and find a small tree, just a tiddler about the size that you are and watch it grow.  It will settle in, growing much better than if you go for a strapping one in the first place and will give you a spectacular display of blossom in spring.

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