Apples, apples and more apples

I am very fond of apples and always enjoy this time of year when I can select a different variety from our trees every day to enjoy with my lunch…….Well, up to a point. Like every harvest glut, the novelty can soon wear a little thin and the enthusiasm for finding new ‘ways with apples’ becomes sorely tested. But a fresh apple picked straight from the tree, with so much juice it is hard to keep it all in, is a treat not to be missed. For information about the varieties we grow, see our page about the orchard.

Some apples

Some more apples

And yet more bags and bags of apples. Everywhere you look there are apples!

The fruit harvest this year seems particularly bountiful and it’s all hands to the task on volunteer days, just to keep up with the windfalls, let alone pick off the trees.

And they all need sorting and grading and putting into trays to be kept until APPLE DAY ON 22nd OCTOBER. Anyone with a few spare hours to help out would be very welcome on Tuesdays or Thursday mornings for the next few weeks and of course you could take a few bags home with you. We have a heavy crop of bullace plums too, which make a heavenly jam.

In collecting the harvest, things don’t always run smoothly: Here we are, all loaded up and ready to deliver another buggy full for storage and….ooops suddenly our precious haul was left on the tarmac. That will teach us not to lean back on the tipper switch!

Of course this bumper crop is thanks to the busy work of our bees earlier in the year, pollinating all those blossoms. Without them there would be no apple harvest so well done to our bees. And congratulations are also due to them for producing award winning honey this year.

Ok, so it was first out of three, but I am assured no prizes are awarded for undeserving entries so we can be very pleased with this result. Chuffed with our success we are going to enter some jars in the National Honey Show this year too. I will let you know how we get on. In the meantime, if you are keen on tasting some  award winning honey, come along to APPLE DAY on 22nd OCTOBER to claim a jar. We have just jarred another 55lbs and this will be the last batch of the year.

Cressing Temple is a great place to spot wildlife as you can see from our record of what has been spotted on site since May this year. Nice to see we are a local hotspot for wildlife of all kinds. Please let us know if you see anything to add to our list.

The Buzzard (Buteo buteo) was almost extinct at the start of the 20th century after years of persecution but now it is one of the most commonly seen hawks, after the kestrel. They have a long history of unpopularity.  James I of Scotland ordered their  destruction in 1457, Henry VIII excluded them from his law forbidding egg stealing and they were persecuted in the nineteenth century in a desire to preserve game. With the myxomatosis outbreak of 1952-55 seriously depleting rabbit numbers, which are a major source of prey, it is amazing how well they are doing today. But then, judging by the number of rabbits we have at Cressing Temple, perhaps I can understand why!

Buzzards were thought to foretell rain, as John Clare in his ‘Village Minstrel’ recounts:

Slow o’er the wood the puttock(buzzard) sails;

And mournful, as the storms arise,

His feeble hole of sorrow wails,

To the unpitying, frowning skies.

I spent an enjoyable day last weekend with four keen people who wanted to know more about propagating plants, in one of our craft and rural skills workshops. It looks like serious concentration was needed as the cuttings collected from the walled garden were trimmed and potted up.

Followed by a drink in the water bath to stop them drying out. It’s not too late to take cuttings of things like lavender and sage and they will make good plants to go in your garden by next spring. There is nothing quite so satisfying as making a new plants from old – recycling at its best!

The next workshop we are offering is garden design on Saturday 7th October, lead by an experienced  garden designer, Karen Chamberlain . If you fancy giving your garden a makeover this winter, maybe this course can help.  Contact Gemma Clayton on 03330132738 if you would like to book a place.

The community garden harvest is still going strong and the stall is still well stocked with produce on a Tuesday, with runner beans, beetroot, carrots, summer squash and, of course, apples, in plentiful supply.  Eager to try something different, I  enjoyed a tasty meal of stuffed summer squash  last weekend, made with Turks Turban and Flat white custard squash from the plot.

Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Rachel Demuth’s Green Seasons Cookbook.


Autumn Roasted Baby Squash with Haloumi Quinoa

4 Small squashes

1 tbs olive oil

100g quinoa

225ml boiling water

1/2 lemon, zest and juice

pinch of sea salt

125g haloumi, cubed and dry fried until golden

60g cashews, dry roasted for 5 mins in oven

20g pumpkin seeds, dry roasted for 5 mins in oven

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/2 tsp paprika

2 tbsps flat parsley, roughly chopped

Pre-heat oven to 200C

Cut the tops off the squash, remove the seeds and rub the inside with olive oil. Roast for 30-40 mins until they are soft but not collapsed.

Rinse the quinoa in a sieve. Heat 1tbsp olive oil in a saucepan, add the quinoa, stir to coat the grains and stir fry for 1 min. Add the water, lemon juice and zest and pinch of salt. Simmer for about 15mins until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa grain has burst.

Stir in the fried haloumi, roasted cashews and pumpkin seeds, cayenne, paprika and parsley. Season to taste.

Fill the squash with the quinoa mix, replace the tops and reheat in the oven until warmed through. We made a roasted red pepper and tomato sauce to go with it.


There will be an opportunity to visit the community garden and find out more about our community projects at Cressing Temple on 21st October. As part of the Art of the Possible Festival, we will be hosting a ‘Garden Soup’ at the community garden and workshop. Other community projects will be represented and it will be a chance to celebrate their success and publicise what is going on in Essex in the way of community groups.

See below for more details of the event.

GardenSOUP: celebrating community gardens and growing


Green fingers?  Interested in community gardening? Keen to learn more?

GardenSOUP is a chance to mix with others who love gardening, from enthusiastic amateurs to horticultural experts.  There’s more than that, though – explore a new community garden, created by local people for local people; help with the harvest; and explore the new Men’s Shed that is also on site – whether you consider it day care for dads, or garden for gramps we can guarantee fun for all.

We close with the chance to be part of a SOUP. SOUP is a global microfunding phenomenon – donate on the door, eat soup, hear from local people with good horticultural ideas and vote for the idea you like best.  The winning schemes can take the money and start making a difference there and then!

Dust off your wellies, and come explore the community garden at Cressing Temple.


Saturday Oct 21st


Cressing Temple Community Garden

You never know, there could be a pot of gold at the end of it!

The medlars (Mespilus germanicus) are plumping up nicely with all the recent rain.

The Medlar is a native of Europe and Asia Minor but has been growing in the Uk since ancient times. It is a member of the Rosaceae family and is closely related to the Hawthorn (Crataegus app). The fruits are like large brown rose-hips which can be eaten straight off the tree in the Mediterranean region but in our climate they only become edible once ‘bletted’ – made soft and half-rotten by frost. They used to be made into jellies, preserves and fillings for pies or were baked and eaten directly out of their skins with a spoon. Anyone wanting to try, come and see us sometime in October and we will be happy to give you a bag full.

The European Woodworking show is on at Cressing Temple this weekend. It may be the last time this event runs, so if you like all things made from wood and the wood working skills that create them, why not visit us this weekend and pop into the walled garden while you are there.


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