Roadside harvesting has upside
Some of the tastiest apples are those growing without fanfare alongside our country roads. Process those ‘‘wilding’’ fruits that have survived the tests of time and decisions of roading managers into whatever form you think will best warm your heart over winter.
Cider’s a sure-fire cheer-youup and so is the tangy, flavoursome pulp that roadside apples produce when cooked.
It’s surprising how many people already collect apples from the ‘‘commons’’, driving out into the countryside every autumn to gather the unnamed treats decorating the wilding trees. It’s also becoming popular to plant trees in areas that otherwise grow only rank grasses so that others can collect from the wild. Most roadside trees produce generous, healthy crops of apples even without pruning or spraying. would benefit greatly from those who don’t becoming those who do. Many trees grow easily from seed and there’s no shortage of seeds, if you know where to look. Oaks are perhaps the simplest trees to grow from seed – acorns in their case – and require no preparation other than setting them into the soil. The seeds of many other exotic trees need a little more done to them before they’ll sprout and grow, but the processes are simple and the likelihood of success, high.
I’m growing hawthorns this winter. The hawthorn is a tree that I’ve not taken much heed of until now, but having noticed their beautiful blossoms over the past couple of years and learning of the healing powers of their haws (hearts respond well to the fruits of the hawthorn, according to both modern medicine and traditional herbal practices), I’ve wanted to see more of them and the best way to do that, is grow them.
Ripe haws are very easy to collect. They are easily stripped from the tree, aren’t messy or smelly, and are simple to prepare for planting. Just soak them overnight in water, mush them up, rinse off the pulp and you’re ready to go! Cleaned hawthorn seed sown straight into open ground, or at least a bed out of doors, and left exposed to the elements will sprout and grow without attention. Each will be slightly different from the parent tree, giving them some insurance against disease that might affect them all were they a cloned monoculture. Where you plant them is up to you, but they suit both a hedgerow format, or standing alone in a field. That’s if you’re lucky enough to have it. The tangy, lemony leaves of French sorrel are a treat to nibble on while you are out in your garden and when picked and brought inside for preparation, make a flavoursome addition to salads and soups. Grown easily enough from seed, French sorrel can be even more effortlessly multiplied by dividing existing plants. Find those vegetables that were planted in summer and are lingering somewhere out of sight and mind. Our mixed garden/ orchard system provides plenty of places where broccoli can hide, silverbeet can pass unnoticed and lettuces can linger, unseen. Late-season vegetables tucked in among the This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get growing, from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For gardening advice delivered to your inbox every Friday, sign up for Get Growing at: getgrowing.co.nz shrubbery can be slowergrowing than those in full sunlight and provide a lovely surprise when uncovered. Hidden gems, and here I’m thinking of brassicas, can look especially healthy when they emerge from hiding, having kept out of the way of the white butterflies that spoiled more exposed members of the brassica family earlier in the season. Presently, I’m watching a small colony of beetroot. I’ll wait as long as I can before the frosts come, and pluck those leaves and roots for amidwinter soup!