It might feel a bit early for Harvest Festival, but the windfall apples are already starting to drop, so it's time to get out there and rake them up.
If you leave fallen apples on your lawn, they will very quickly kill the grass underneath them, while also attracting wasps. No, they don't add nutrients to the soil - well, not in the short term, they just kill the grass.
Furthermore, you won't be able to mow, as the mower will either bump and grind over the fresh ones, or squash the rotten ones into a horrible brown soggy mash: this means the grass will grow even longer around them, making it really hard to pick them up, and making the grass coarser - which is, by the way, the reason behind the myth that fallen apples fertilise the grass: as the owner is unable to mow, the grass around each fallen fruit has a chance to grow taller and lusher-looking than normal.
But picking up apples is a back-breaking task - and raking them up is not much better, as a Spring Rake (which we use in Autumn, ha! Ha! Gardeners' Joke!) is too light, and the usual garden rake or soil rake “bites” into the grass, making it really hard work.
So what should you do?
Firstly, keep the grass under your fruit trees kept short at this time of year - it makes raking up the fallen fruit massively easier. This applies to apples, pears, and crab-apples, by the way.
To make it easier to rake them up, take your normal garden rake, and spear one fruit on to each end of it. These act like little wheels, allowing the rake to glide over the grass, and the loose apples bobble about in front of it in a very satisfying manner. Having corralled them into heaps, it's a much simpler job to shuffle them into a bucket or trug, tip them into the wheelbarrow, and off to the compost heap they go.
And if the “wheels” start to disintegrate, just stab a couple more!
I've written about this before, last year I think, but that Apple Roller was only Mark I - now I've discovered that one at each end works even better! And it's worth reminding everyone that this year, the apples are already falling, so don't let your grass grow too long, and don't let the fruit remain on the grass; and to prove it, the photos above show how quickly the grass can die - in less than a week.
You can, of course, buy fun little gadgets to help you rake up the fruit, but they cost £70 or more, and this way is quick, costs nothing, is biodegradable, and you don't end up with a piece of specialised kit to be stored for 11 months of the year!