This section is from the book "Commercial Gardening Vol3", by John Weathers (the Editor). Also available from Amazon: Commercial Gardening, A Practical & Scientific Treatise For Market Gardeners.
The hard and later-ripening varieties of Apples lend themselves well for storing. In many market gardens neither sufficient care nor attention is given to picking the fruit carefully, and storing it properly; the result is a considerable loss on the crop, when a profit might have been the result.
Fig. 334. - Bunyard's Fruit Ttoom (exterior).
Fig. 335. - Bun yard's Fruit Room (interior).
It has been demonstrated over and over again that British apples, properly cared for, will keep well until the April and May following the season of picking. But this desirable result cannot be achieved by picking the fruit roughly and throwing it in heaps on to a barn or shed floor covered with a slight layer of straw. The bruises caused by rough handling and treatment soon cause decay to set in, and one bad apple will soon infect others if not taken away.
The illustrations show an exterior view (fig. 334) of Bunyard's fruit room, and an interior view of the same (fig. 335). This fruit room is 30 ft. long, 12 ft. wide, and will hold 300 bus. of apples. The cost is about £30, which may be spread over say twenty or thirty years - not an expensive item even considered from a market gardener's point of view. Indeed, many market growers already have fine cool sheds or barns that could be readily converted into a fruit room, and the cost would probably be repaid the first or second season.
From the interior view it will be seen that shelves, 3 to 4 ft. wide, run down each side, and are divided from the central range by a pathway. Wooden battens, about 3 in. wide, are used, and about 1/2 in. of space is left between them to permit of free circulation of air. The fruits are placed in a single layer on the shelves, and these may be 1 ft. or 18 in. above or below each other, being supported at intervals by strong upright posts and horizontal struts. As may be seen, the fruits are packed into baskets when ready for market. The subjoined plan will give one an idea of the dimensions of the fruit room at Foxbury Gardens, Chiselhurst (fig. 336).
Fig. 336. - Section and Ground Plan of Fruit Room at Foxbury.
The main point about a fruit room is to build it so as to secure an equable temperature always, from 45° to 50° F. The walls are usually built of matchboarding with a layer of reeds 7 to 8 in. thick outside. The reeds are kept in place by horizontal strips of wood securely nailed to the uprights. The roof is thickly thatched, and a ventilator covered with wire netting is placed at each end at the apex of the gable over the doorway. The floor is generally cemented over, so that too much moisture shall not ascend from the soil.
Of course the fruit will require examination from time to time, for no matter how carefully it has been picked and handled, some specimens are sure to show signs of decay. These should be removed at the earliest moment.
Where it may be inconvenient to fix up a fruit room proper, trays made of wooden battens might be used with advantage for storing fruit. The illustration (fig. 337) shows how these trays are used, and quite a large quantity of fruit can be stored away in single layers in a comparatively small space, by placing one tray over the other, [j. w.]