The storage of apples and pears is an important matter to the amateur fruit grower. Some dessert apples are not ready to eat until spring, and a good many apples are better stored a few weeks before they are ready to eat.
The proper storage trays sold by almost all horticultural nurseries are ideal for the purpose. They are made, as a rule, of narrow pieces of wood, between which air circulates freely and the fruits are laid on these in such a manner that they do not touch each other, and are kept in perfect condition.
The storage shed should be from 32-35° in winter; it also should be as dark as possible. A cellar is a useful place in which to store fruits in the average household. An attic is sometimes used, but is likely to be less equable in temperature.
If apples are stored for a long period they frequently become rather shrivelled. To prevent this, the apples (after the first week or so, ie. after they finish “sweating”) can be wrapped separately in pieces of oiled paper, which can be bought from any nursery nursery. This paper is an added advantage in that it prevents decay spreading from one fruit to its neighbour.
Pears, like apples, should be spread out on shallow trays. Pears are notorious in passing rapidly from the ripe stage to decay. As old farmers used to say, “You have to sit up all night with the pears so as to eat them when they are ripe.” In other words, pears in store must be examined more frequently than the apples, to make sure that they are not over-ripe.
EXHIBITING YOUR HOMEGROWN FRUIT
When the amateur gardener intends to show fruit at his local Show, he is not always certain how to stage his exhibit. The following hints may be of assistance in this matter.
All fruits shown should be a little above the average size of the particular variety, and of good colour and form.
Dessert fruits should not be too large, as this is regarded as a fault. Cooking fruits can be very large.
No fruit should be polished before staging, as this rubs off the bloom, Some judges would disqualify polished fruits altogether.
Badly formed fruits, fruits with scab marks, or marks of insects, or other blemishes, should not be staged.
Dessert apples and pears can be staged on dishes, and each variety should be labelled with the name. They can be staged either ripe or unripe, unless otherwise stated in the schedule.
Apricots should be highly coloured, and peaches and nectarines should also be well coloured, according to the variety.
Grapes should be of uniform size all over the bunch, and should be firm and not either shrivelled or loose on the bunches. The bloom should be dense and undamaged.
Plums should also carry a good bloom and the size should be large for the variety.
Cherries, which should be staged with the stalks, should be fresh; and the stalks also should look fresh on the show-dish.
Black currants can be shown gathered from the bunches or with the bunches intact. Red and white currants should always be shown on the bunches, which should be large, while the berries should be clear and brilliant.
Strawberries and raspberries, loganberries and blackberries should always be shown with the stalk attached.
Tomatoes, if included in fruit classes, should be shown either as single fruits, each with the stalk attached, or can be shown in bunches.
If a mixed collection of fruit is asked for, it is worthwhile for the amateur to remember that certain fruits carry more weight in the opinion of the judges than others, if the condition of the fruit is identical in each case. The Royal Horticultural Society has laid down the following scale of points to be allowed in each case to a perfect dish of the fruit named. These points would be varied slightly if a mixed collection is asked for, by the fact that some points are given for good arrangement: Grapes, from 10 to 12 points, according to variety. Peaches and nectarines, 8 points. Figs and apricots, 7 points. Pears, apples, plums, strawberries, and cherries, 6 points. Gooseberries, 4 points. Raspberries, 5 points. Nuts, 3 points.