Weekend work: Time to pick apples


What to do

Early apples such as 'Discovery' and 'George Cave' should be picked as soon as the stems part easily from the branches. Do not leave peaches to ripen fully on the tree or they may drop. A day in a warm kitchen will finish the job.

Do not be tempted to cut back lily stems when they have flowered. Like daffodils, the lily bulbs suck down all the life left in the stem and leaves above in order to build themselves up for flowering next year. Take off the top bit of stem.

This is a good time to start preparing sites for new lawns, for sowing later in September. The earth should be well raked and all clods knocked down with a fork to get a fine, even tilth.

Clear away peas and broad beans that have finished cropping and compost the haulms. Clear out bolted lettuce and dog-eared radish. Pull onions and leave them to ripen on top of the ground until the green tops have withered away.

What to buy

Giacomo Castelvetro came as a refugee to England early in the 17thC and shortly after wrote The Fruit, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy. The manuscript has just been translated into English, by Gillian Riley, author of the Oxford Companion to Italian Food. You'd have difficulty now dressing your asparagus bed with "fragments of horn left over from the manufacture of combs or posthorns", but the book, available from Prospect Books (£12), is a complete delight