News from the Orchard
Last year we had a bumper crop of apples on most of the trees, much to everyone’s delight. There are some excellent flavours amongst the different types, including the old favourite Worcester Pearmain, as well as some slightly more unusual such as Jonagold, Pinova and Howgate Wonder. The Howgate Wonder is an enormous apple, generally used for cooking, and also favoured by some apple juice makers because of its sweet flavour.
In September last year, I took several unidentified apple varieties to the Wisley apple day, and the lovely man there told me what they were. All the fruit trees now have an identification label. Because we try to be plastic free, these are tied on with string and occasionally fall off as the string has rotted, so please could I ask if you see this has happened that you make your way to the shed for a new bit of string and tie it back on.
Last autumn Clare and Gary from COPSE (Community Orchard Project South East) visited the orchard and gave me some hints and tips about orchard care. Overall they were quite impressed, and it was nice to hear they didn’t think we were doing anything wrong.
The trees have all been pruned this winter, some of them quite hard as they had been left for a while, but apples are very forgiving so all will be ok. Work continues to clear the ground beneath each tree out to the extent of its canopy, and once that is done, to mulch each tree. It is important to clear the ground around younger trees especially, so that they do not have too much competition for water in their early years. I am also still popping hazel trees and suckers from around the edge of the orchard, to keep them at bay.
We have planted three new trees in the last few months – at the January wassail a Pixie apple tree, donated by COPSE, was planted, and a few months before that we had a Sunset apple and a St Julian Greengage, both of which were a donation. These three trees will need watering through the coming months to ensure they establish well. Hopefully we will get enough rain this year not to have to water the entire orchard like I did last summer!