Category Archives: Orchard

Sowing this week

This week we got our main crop onions, garlic, and shallots planted. Usually, we would have an autumn sown crop running along the side beds of the polytunnel, where they produce well, especially the garlic. As we did little in the garden last year, we are missing out on this crop, but have planted two beds outdoors from spring sown sorts. March is a good time of year to do this and we have been waiting for the last couple of weeks for the weather to turn; the weekend weather was good so we got this task done. It is quite a big job as some three hundred or so sets needed to go in. Continue reading

First planting of our newly grafted apple trees

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Young graft of the mystery apple tree

It is now some four months since we made five grafts from our mystery apple tree. Although we did not expect them all to develop – especially as I was wasting time taking photographs for the blog instead of making the grafts with the normal haste – all five have survived and are growing away happily. Our neighbours have recently finished construction work on their property and had a beautiful baby boy. It seemed an excellent time for tree planting, so baby Max was the first to receive one of the newly grafted trees. Continue reading

Encouraging signs from the grafts

We recently grafted some wood from our mystery apple tree onto MM106 rootstocks. Although too early to be sure about the quality of the grafts, there are some encouraging indications, with all five showing signs of life and some with good new shoots developing. The scions clearly had a number of fruit buds developed, which have burst into flower. These have now been pinched off, as we do not want any effort being wasted on them. So far so good. Continue reading

Grafting the mystery apple tree

I have written before about our mystery apple tree and our attempts to identify it. Every now and then I look at the tree and wonder whether it might be worth rejuvenating it with some serious pruning. However, long before we moved into the house, the tree had evidently been hacked back to the main trunk and few large stubs of the original head. As often happens, this was followed by rampant but poorly formed growth. The structure that was left just does not offer many options for rejuvenation. Thus, every time I consider it, I invariably decide to leave it to its decrepitude. However, the apples are quite delicious. On this scrappy old tree, few, if any, develop without blemishes, and most are pretty rough specimens, but the flavour and texture are wonderful. It is a fairly early apple with a short season of use, but during that time we have nothing to compete with it. Continue reading

Planting out the orchard

It was many weeks ago when the last of our orchard trees arrived. As the planting site was not ready and the weather was poor, we healed them in, in one of the vegetable beds. Before we ordered the trees we had found somebody to give us a hand preparing the planting sites, as this is quite a big job with 18 trees to deal with, but we were let down and it took a while to find somebody else to help us out. Last week, though, we finished moving them from their temporary site to the orchard. I am sure that the healing in is not detrimental, and it is, or at least was, a common enough practice, but one ought to plant out whilst the trees are still dormant. Thanks to the mild spring, they broke into growth early this year, and it was rather late to move them. We had no choice, however, so moved them with as much care as possible, aiming to minimise the disturbance of the new root growth. Continue reading

Quince Claire

It is entirely reasonable to name one’s chickens, entirely infeasible to name one’s bees, and entirely silly to name one’s trees. Nonetheless, today we planted a quince tree in the orchard site and named it. We have eighteen fruit trees ready for planting out, but a shortage of hard labour needed to remove turf and dig holes, break up the compacted ground, improve the soil, and so on, has delayed moving them to the orchard from their temporary location, where we heeled them in a few weeks ago. One would normally plant these whilst they are still dormant, typically between December and March. However, we are behind, and with the mild weather our quince had already started to shoot. Today, our neighbour, Claire, volunteered for gardening duty, so we set about getting this first tree moved to the orchard. Continue reading

The nuttery and truffière

This is the final article in the series looking at our selection of varieties for our mixed orchard. Along with the various fruits, we are also planting a few nut trees. We began this last winter by planting a sweet chestnut, Marron de Lyon, and walnut, Broadview, and this year are adding almond and hazel trees. Along with the nuts, we are also experimenting with a small truffière. As hazel is one of the trees commonly used for the cultivation of various truffles, we can combine the nut harvest with the possibility of finding, in some years’ time, a few precious truffles. Continue reading

Healing in the fruit trees

Package of bare root fruit and nut trees

The traditional time for planting various trees, especially fruit trees, is in the winter dormant period. Specialist suppliers generally provide bare root specimens, which can be dug and shipped whenever the ground allows, but only in this dormant period. Bare root trees are said to establish more readily, whereas I have noted pot grown root balls be somewhat reluctant to spread out. They are certainly cheaper than container grown specimens, but whatever the merits or otherwise of bare root trees, many of the varieties that I am interested in are only readily available in this form. Continue reading

Orchard oddities

Yet another article looking at varieties of fruit for our small orchard, this time examining a few orchard oddities. A mixed orchard such as ours is composed primarily of apples, pears, and plums, but there are other fruits that one might consider, four of which we have picked out for planting this winter: crab apple, medlar, quince, and mulberry. None could be called rare, by any means, yet aside from the crab apple, they do not seem to be planted so often now and I am keen to grow at least one of each. Continue reading

Plum varieties for the orchard

This article examines our selection of plum varieties, continuing the short series of orchard related posts. We have various plums and gages growing around the border fence of the kitchen garden and being gradually developed as fans: Coe’s Golden Drop, Kirke’s Blue, Reine Claude Violette, Oullin’s Gage, Transparent Gage, and Bryanston Gage. These have been slow to develop, and will not bear much fruit for some time. Eventually, though, I suspect they will bear plenty of fruit. Nonetheless, in our mixed orchard I would still like to plant one plum, one gage, and one damson, which will give plenty of fruit for jam, compotes, and so on. Continue reading