Alan Chadwick a Gardener of Souls

Lecture by Alan Chadwick in Saratoga, May 23, 1972


Lecture 4, Part 4.2

An Introduction to Alan Chadwick's Lectures and a Glossary of Terms

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Contents of this Segment:

Fruits not suitable for human consumption until acids are turned to sugar in natural ripening process; Most fruits must be eaten very fresh; Harvesting of pears; Early fruit crops must be eaten immediately, middle crops may be kept briefly, late bearers should be picked a bit unripe, then stored in a cool place with plenty of fresh air; Storage of nut crops; Vegetable clamps for storage of root crops.


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Villa Montalvo Lecture Series

Saratoga, California, 1972, Lecture 4,

The Totality of the Garden, Part 2


Now in all cases, except pears and late apples and late crops of certain fruits, any fruit collected before that acidity starts to change into sugars... It will not, cannot, and does not, take place. And the whole matter, as I was taught in my youth not only by Steiner but by a great many growing thinkers and intelligent philosophic attitudes of people on this matter, are that all those fruits, including bananas, pineapples, pawpaw, strawberries, raspberries, apples, oranges, peaches particularly, figs absolutely totally, are not suitable for human consumption until they are fully sugared and ripe. And in most cases that literally means that handling the fruit from underneath, it should remove itself into your hand very easily. No pull, no twist should be necessary.

This does not entirely apply to such fruit as the tomato, but it does apply to those other fruits. And it cannot be overstated that today practically all fruit is picked unripe, even in complete acid states. And most people will know and realize that a plum, certainly all the stone fruits, including cherries, peaches, nectarines, will not ripen at all after they are picked. There is no change; there is merely a dehydration in these fruits after they are collected. And that that fruit should be eaten that day or the next day. I’m positive that practically everybody here must realize the enormous difference between eating a really fresh, ripe fresh fruit, or a kept fruit. I’m sure that you know the huge delight of picking a really ripe strawberry off the plant and eating it, or a really ripe raspberry, or even more obvious, a really ripe beautiful tomato picked and eaten at that moment. It’s quite different to eating it six hours or a day later. There is definitely a dehydration that takes place and a flavor and aroma goes out of this fruit very definitely.

Now, this brings me to refer to certain matters of cropping. And then I am going to talk about cropping of vegetables and keeping of vegetables. You must excuse all this jumping about, but I want to deal with a whole lot of intensely interesting and important subjects of the garden and its provision.

It is generally to be assessed among the pip fruits and the stone fruits, that there are three periods: the early, the middle, and the late.  And Nature plays a very fascinating game in this. You will find that all the early apples, all the early peaches, the green gages, the plums, and even the pears on which there is always a variation: The pear ripens from inside to out. The apple ripens from outside to in. There is a great variation in fruits on this theme, and it must be noted. And the only way in which you may ever and should ever test a pear for ripeness is using your thumb on the lobe at the top where the stalk enters. And if there is the least give, that pear is ripe.

And the shaking of an apple, especially all the pippins, to your ear. If you hear the seed beginning to rattle, is a sign of ripeness. These are just incidental matters, but the pear… It is indefatigable. And do not keep a pear until it is soft because it will be sleepy and rotten inside, for certain. Now, all pears do ripen slightly off the tree. It is a variation on a theme, and the pear is unique, especially the keeping pear.

Now I go back to these three periods. And the interesting matter of Nature is that with all the early fruits, they must be eaten at once. They are ripe… It’s almost as though nature has said, “Well, I kept you waiting six months for this treat. Now get on with it and enjoy it.” This pear, this William von Kressien, or this James Greeve apple is ripe now. You must eat it at once. And what’s more, you will find that all the early fruits, all the early apples, all the early pears, all the early plums, will not keep. They’ll go bad terribly quickly.

Now, the middle crops are different. They will run over a period of two months. And you can use these, and you may keep them probably for three weeks or a month, if you want to. And they will keep, and the earlies won’t. And here is again the more interesting matter still. And it’s almost as though nature is aware of the essentiality of her supplies. And this is the late crops. All the late apples, the really late plums, and certainly the late pears beyond all, should be collected, what you would call a fraction unripe. They should not fall into your hand. They should be removed after the first indications or touches of frosts. And don’t forget that frost sweetens and ripens with sugars just as the sun does in the summer. The frost will ripen your celery and your Brussels sprouts exquisitely. And you should not eat parsnips, Brussels sprouts, leeks, or celery until they’ve had a frost, which is no good talking of in California.

Now the late fruits are collected like that and will keep ad lib in a good fruit store. They should all be placed on slats in a good fruit store that has an air current going through it, and that is kept at an equilibriate, low temperature.  The lower, the better. From 35 to 45 is ideal. But that there should be good air current always with your greenhouses, your frames, your fruit stores. Air currents should enter at the base, rise right through everything, and go out at the top. That is the proper method, and no other method is adequate.

Out of the whole world of fruit are the characteristics of their keeping capacities. And it is a huge delight to realize that you can grow orchards in your small garden or your small holding, and you may have fruit, literally, apples and pears, almost until the new crops come in. And it’s a great delight to maneuver this and to manage it. And that there are many varieties of character. Now it is in this vision the great tragedy has taken place today of commercialism and the aspect of “perpetual croppings.” Now a great many fruits, as you know, fruit superbly one year and not very greatly the next. And some of the more especially beautiful cultured fruits will only give a really good crop once in three years. This is part of their characteristic. And how full of character this matter is with human beings. That a great prima donna will only sing in an opera once every six months, and then have a tantrum. And it’s much in line.

But that in planting your orchard, one should always assess these three periods of growth of ripening. And that in this way you can manipulate your larder to the best and most beautiful extent. And don’t forget that one of the choice ways of keeping nuts, of walnuts and filberts and so on, and almonds, is to either put them down an old well, in containers, or to actually bury them in the ground in a container with lime around it so that rodents don’t get to it. They keep much better this way.

And this leads me into the version of clamping of vegetables. Now, if you have carrots, beet, turnips, root crops, and you want to keep them... Supposing you’ve had a big bed, and it’s been running, a French Intensive bed that’s been running for two or three months. And now you’ve decided that it’s had its day, and that the vegetables have really got to their full growth, and will not be any good left in the ground. Then you can take the whole crop up, and you can store it in a clamp. And that clamp will keep good for three or four months. And the preparation of a clamp is very simple. You should really have a roughage of sticks, real rough sticks at the bottom over a bed of fine lime. That lime it to stop insects and rodents from entering from underneath. Onto those sticks, you should place soil. And onto that soil you should place dry, clean straw, not hay, clean straw. The difference between straw and hay, as you know, is that straw is the stalks of cereal, and hay is the stalks of grasses…



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