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
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
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
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
Continuing the series of articles on our selection of orchard fruits for planting this winter, this article looks at our pear collection. Within the kitchen garden we have nine cordon trained pears: Doyenne d’Ete, Louise Bonne of Jersey, Duchess of Angouleme, Beurre Diel, Easter Beurre, Beurre Hardy, Marie Louise, Bonchrétien d’Hiver, Doyenne Blanc. These cover much of the season, from the earliest summer pear to late winter sorts, but in relatively small quantities. In the orchard, I wanted to add three full size pear trees to the collection. Continue reading
In a recent article, I discussed some general considerations when selecting fruit trees for a small orchard. This article considers our choice of apple varieties in more detail. We already have a few gnarly old trees around the house, two of which are Bramley’s Seedling, the others of unknown sorts, and nine young trees trained as oblique cordons within the kitchen garden: Beauty of Bath, Saint Edmund’s Pippin, Hubbard’s Pearmain, Ribston Pippin, Nonpareil, Court of Wick Pippin, Reine des Reinettes, Ashmead’s Kernel, and Cornish Aromatic. Continue reading
Things are quiet in the kitchen garden – and on the blog – at the moment, not so much because there is nothing to do, but rather because we are in the middle of some major renovations to the house and short of time. One matter that we have been attending to, though, is the selection and purchase of young trees for the prospective orchard. Over the next couple of weeks, I will write a few articles on our selection of varieties and preparations for planting.
Whilst inspecting the bee hives today, we noticed that one of the nut trees planted recently had been savaged, with all of the young growth eaten. Given the height and nature of the damage, it seems almost certain that deer are the culprits. Something will need to be done to try to exclude them from this future orchard site. There is certainly no point in planting further trees until the deer can be effectively excluded. It is not obvious where they are gaining entry, as we have a particularly large and thick privet hedge running along the open side, yet we have in the past seen deer force their way through the hedge. The chestnut may regrow reasonable shoots, in which case we will keep it, otherwise it will be replaced. Some chicken wire was placed temporarily around the tree to deter further damage. Interestingly, the walnut, planted at the same time, was not touched. It is always so disappointing when plants are lost to pests, especially permanent planting such as fruit and nut trees.
The planting of the orchard, planned for the coming winter, all being well, had a headstart today with the addition of two new trees at the far end of the plot: a walnut and a chestnut. It is not the ideal time for planting, but these trees were bought during the winter and heeled in in one of the vegetable borders. They should have been planted out several months ago and had to be moved now because the recently planted winter squash plants will soon taken over that bed. Continue reading