Archive for November, 2009

Our new Orchard

I’m really keen to have as many permanent plantings as possible – I don’t want to be dependant on my year-in, year-out digging skills – so we’re putting in a nice compact orchard. This should give us most of our fruit once it gets going, and then I just have to worry about the veg.

After much deliberation, we’ve finally ordered the trees, and they’ll be here in early December – plenty of time for us to dig their new beds. We’ve ordered them from the excellent Agroforestry Research Trust and here’s what we’re getting:

Apple Trees

These are £14.30 each, and are all on M26 rootstock except for the Sanspareil, which is on the smaller M27. The Semi-Dwarfing M26 should produce trees 2.5-3.5m high, and the Dwarfing M27 only 1.5-2m.

The descriptions from Agroforestry are excellent, so I’ve reproduced them below so that I don’t forget! I tried to get a mix of good-keeping eating & cooking apples plus apples for cider and juice.

  • Ashmeads Kernel: Dessert apple. Pick October, use Dec-Feb+. Flower group D. Fruit medium-sized, greenish-yellow with some russet. Flesh aromatic, excellent flavour. Tree moderately vigorous. Also used for cider & juice.
  • Braeburn: Dessert apple. Pick Oct, use Oct-Feb. Flower group D. Good crisp flavour – new clone suitable for planting in the UK. Good crops of medium size red fruits.
  • Dabinett: Cider apple. Very reliable, producing a high quality juice.
  • Golden Harvey: Dessert apple. Pick October, use Dec-Mar. Flower group D. Fruit round, golden; flesh aromatic with an intense rich flavour. Tree vigorous, good cropper. Good cider & juice apple.
  • Howgate Wonder: Cooking apple. Pick October, use Nov-March. Flower group C. Large fruits, good for juice & cider. Vigorous tree, heavy cropping.
  • Keswick Codlin: Cooking apple. Pick & use Aug-Sept. Flower group B. Medium sized greenish-yellow fruit, cooks to a good puree. Tree has ornamental flowers. Part self fertile.
  • Sanspareil: Dual purpose apple. Pick October, use Nov-April. Flower group C. Large fruit flushed & streaked scarlet. Flesh juicy, crisp, aromatic, good balanced fruity flavour. Also used cooked. Heavy cropper with ornamental flowers.
  • Saturn: Dual purpose apple. Pick & use Sept-Oct. Flower group C. Large fruit with crisp juicy flesh of good refreshing flavour. Good for juice. Tree heavy cropping,

Pear Trees

Also £14.30 each, the Concorde on Quince A (4.5m high) rootstock, and the Williams Bon Chretien on Quince C (4m high).

  • Concorde: Dessert pear. Pick October, use Oct-Jan. Flower group E. Fruit medium-large, pale green turning yellow. Flesh pale yellow, sweet and juicy. Very heavy cropping, compact grower. Quince A rootstock produces trees about 15 ft (4.5m) high.
  • Williams Bon Chretien: Dessert pear. Pick & use Aug-Sept. Flower group D. Fruit medium-large, pale green turning golden yellow. Flesh very juicy and sweet. Self-fertile.

Plums & Gages

Again, £14.30 each, all on Pixy rootstock, which’ll limit them to 3.5-4m.

  • Marjorie’s Seedling: September-October. Flower group E (psf). Fruit large, flesh firm, juicy, quite sweet, good flavour, hangs well on tree, good cooked. Tree vigorous, upright, heavy cropping.
  • Victoria: August-September. Flower group C (sf). Large fruit of good flavour fresh or cooked. Tree very heavy cropping, hardy, vigorous, a good pollinator.
  • Oullins Golden Gage: August. Flower group D (psf). Yellow fruit, flesh firm, sweet, good flavour, also good cooked. Tree large, vigorous, upright, fair cropper, good pollinator.

Peach

Grown on St Julian A rootstock, it’ll get to 3.5-4m high, and cost – £14.30!

  • Redwing:  Fruits very dark red, superb flavour, late flowering, bears good crops. This variety has some resistance to peach leaf curl. The late flowering means it’s more suitable to our northerly climate!

Raspberry

Not strictly for the orchard, but we’ll be planting them at the same time. They are sold at £12.65 for a pack of 10. We’ve tried to go for a good range of fruiting times so that we have the longest possible season – I love raspberries!

  • Autumn Bliss: Ripens mid-August onwards. Heavy crops of large red fruits. Canes medium high – easy to support.
  • Allgold: Autumn fruiting. Recent variety with yellow fruits – less likely to be eaten by the birds!
  • Glen Moy: Early season. Canes erect, spineless. Bears good crops of easily picked large fruits of good flavour.
  • Tulameen: Mid and late season. Fruits very large, good quality. Canes with few spines.

So that gives you a flavour of what we’ll be planting in early December – at the moment the places they’ll be planted are full of grass or ornamental shrubs. If anyone want a free mature shrub, come down and bring a spade!

    Redwing / St Julian

    Fruits very dark red, superb flavour, late flowering, bears good crops. This variety has some resistance to peach leaf curl.

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    First frost in Manchester

    This morning we awoke to the first frost of the season, which probably means it’s our first frost for about six years. I just thought it was worth recording the date so we can use it to plan next year’s planting and harvesting.

    For the record, the forecast was 2°C !