YY Gardening

How to compost unripe apples

Apple trees always want to produce as much fruit as possible. During the ‘June drop’ each tree releases the small fruitlets it knows it cannot ripen to maturity. If the pollination was good, it may continue dropping more immature fruit through July and August.

Early varieties of apples (eg Discovery) are ripe now in August but other varieties of trees are dropping apples that aren’t ripe yet. There are different ways to test whether an apple is fully ripe – falling to the ground is no guarantee. Obviously the taste, sweet & flavoursome is good, overly sharp & floury (the starch) needs more time; the best test is to cut in half and look at the colour of the pips; dark brown is good & ready, light green means leave for later.

The only productive outcome for fallen, small and immature fruit could be to bulk out the compost. Ripe apples rot quickly but hard unripe ones take longer; just throwing them straight on the heap is not advised.

Chop the unripe apples up first somehow – for instance with a spade in a bucket or borrow a garden shredder or go over a pile with your lawn mower.  Layer the chopped fruit evenly across the compost and cover with leaves, grass, sawdust, cardboard – even some soil – but no extra water unless the whole pile is very dry. The recommended ratio is 1 part green (nitrogen) ie apples to 2 parts brown (carbon) ie leaves etc.

If planting a hedge or to bolster your veg patch – you could dig a deep trench & cover the apples with 8 -12 ins of soil for slow nutrient release. Otherwise you could find someone rearing pigs and offer to ‘pre-flavour’ their pork?

Richard Paget

My Apple Juice

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