Tag Archives: apples


A tree laden with a full crop of developing fruit is a wonderful sight, but there can be too much of a good thing. Our pear cordons are putting on a great show this year. I had thinned some out, but still they are groaning under the weight of the crop. Except one. It tried groaning, but gave up. The top couple of feet broke away under the weight, snapping the cane it was tied to for training purposes, and dragging the supporting wire down. Continue reading

First planting of our newly grafted apple trees


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

Busy bees

Our bees have been busy working on the spring blossom, first the pears, which flower early in the warmest part of the garden, and then the cherries, and soon the apple blossom. Temperatures last week were high enough to allow a brief inspection of the hives. Of the four that went through the winter, three have survived in excellent condition. They still have plenty of stores left and look to be in good health and particularly large numbers, so we added the supers and everything looks good for a decent harvest this year. The one colony that died out was rather weak going into the winter, so not a loss we are overly worried about. 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

Winter pruning of the cordon apples and pears

Our cordon apples and pears are pruned largely during late summer. However, there is usually some work to do in winter, cutting back secondary growth and thinning spur systems. The latter is not easy to do until after leaf fall, when the structure is more readily observed. With spring around the corner, it was definitely time to check them over. Continue reading

Finnish Christmas recipes – rosolli

Rosolli is the classic salad accompaniment to the Finnish Christmas meal, going particularly well with the cured herrings. Some add herring to the rosolli, when it is then known as sillisalaatti – herring salad. This variant is particularly common in Sweden. We, though, prefer to serve the salad without adding herring, and serve several different side dishes of herring that one can pick from. Continue reading

St Edmund’s Pippin


Amongst our collection of traditional apple varieties, St Edmund’s Pippin has done particularly well this year. It is an early to mid season russet that keeps for just a couple of weeks. During that period, it is a remarkably fine dessert apple. It takes its name from Bury St Edmunds, where it was raised by a Mr Harvey. The exact date appears not to be known, but it is reckoned to be shortly before 1875, in which year it was introduced and received a first class certificate from the RHS. That makes it one of the youngest of our varieties, but it is doubtless one of the finest. Rather more recently, in 1993, it was awarded an AGM, so a good indicator of its generally reliable characteristics. Continue reading

Tidying up the fruit

Over the last couple of weeks we have been tidying up some of the fruit in the kitchen garden. Whilst our orchard trees will be grown as bushes or half standards, along with full sized specimens of chestnut, walnut, and mulberry, all of the fruit in the kitchen garden is trained in some sort of restricted form. Various fruits were in need of attention – the cordon apples and pears were overdue for their summer pruning, the figs in the glasshouse had become rather large and unlikely to be productive next year, and training wires, which should have been in place before planting, are missing in various parts of the garden, some of which we have now fixed. 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