We picked apples in « le jardin de Saint Simon » yesterday. We look at what we did well and could have done better, and provide a link for further guidance on when and how to harvest all kinds of garden fruit.
« Le jardin de Saint Simon » belongs to my father and my aunt and is located six kilometers away from the city of Aurillac in the Auvergne region of France. Yesterday we picked fruit from one of the seven apple trees in the garden and gathered windfalls.
What we did well
First, we picked perfectly ripe apples.
Second, we took care of windfalls:
What we could have done better
First, we could have started gathering and giving windfalls to make cider a month ago. There were lots of apples on the trees this year and many of them got infested and dropped during this particularly hot and sunny summer. Bugs have a strong taste for ripeness, these early windfalls were already suitable for cider.
Second, we could have started to pick some of the apples in the past fortnight, as healthy apples had begun to fall off the tree. In particular we could have tested the ripeness of the fruit within reach by holding it in the palm of the hand and slightly lifting it. The apples easily coming out of the spur would have been saved from dropping to the ground and getting bruised.
Overall, we were quite pleased with our harvesting day. Finding the perfect timing to harvest is not an obvious thing to do, and one may be tempted to just wait until the first frost so that the fruit ripens even more on the tree.
In fact it is a trade-off between picking perfectly ripe fruit from the tree and an increasing amount of healthy fruit falling off, unless checking ripeness and picking the ripe fruit is carried out on an ongoing basis. We must also take the weather into account, as picking on a dry day is an other requirement for good harvesting.
I hope this is helpful. Further guidance on how and when to harvest is available on the UK Royal Horticultural Society website. The information is located in the page “Fruit: harvesting“. From cherries and soft fruit to autumn fruit, the article provides simple and clear advice, as ever, which should be of great help.