Posts Tagged ‘Fruit’

Planting our orchard

This post has been a long time coming – I think I’ve been looking at trees for a couple of years, and planning this particular orchard for about 9 months! Finally, the trees have arrived and are in! We’ve beaten the weather (finding a two-day slot in between heavy coverings of snow) and here are the pictures to prove it.

First, the “before” pictures, including large piles of ex-shrubs that had to come out to make space. Here’s where the apples, a plum and gage are going, on the north side of the Aquaponic Polytunnel:

And here’s where the pears, and a plum are going:

Not a witch’s broomstick – here’s how the trees arrived from Agroforestry:

And here they are unwrapped:

Quite cool, minimal packaging really – especially the flax used as a tie and the green bamboo used as a reinforcing pole:

It took us a couple of days to get them all in, including digging the new holes in the ex-lawn, and then the snow was back. Here’s what it all looked like just after the thaw. First the Apples, Plum and Gage:

And then the two pears and remaining plum:

I haven’t got any pics of the raspberries or the peach yet – I’ll post them when I can.

Guides to Making Cider and Apple Juice

delicious apple juiceI’ve had a few questions from people following the Cider-Making workshop that I went to a week ago, and while doing a bit more research I came across Vigo Presses “Suppliers of juicing equipment to HM the Queen” no less. They have a good range of the things we’ll need – bottles, presses, and other preserving supplies. And also, they have two really clear guides to apple juice and cider making. These are nice simple flowcharts showing what to do, and in what order. More details are required in some areas – how do you know when your cider has stopped fermenting? – but they are a good introduction and make it all look very easy. I particularly like the guidance on preserving juice – that’s something I really want to do, particularly after tasting the delicious juice we got from the workshop!

You can get the guides from the link here but just in case the link dies I have kept a copy of them below.

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Eat Seasonably – save money and the earth

Eat Seasonable Fruit & veg

Eating seasonable fruit and veg can be a great way to save yourself money, and reduce your impact on the environment. It can be hard though to work out what really is in season now that you can get pretty much anything at any time of year.

Luckily there’s a great new website – EatSeasonably.co.uk – that tells you what to eat now, and even what to grow. It’s all presented in a great format and can be printed out and stuck to the fridge. We’re going to try it out and see!

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.

    Growing Dwarf Bananas in the UK

    musa-super-dwarfNo, I’m not joking. We used to grow bananas, in our Brisbane garden, and had a fair bit of success. Those plants were about 4m high though – and the climate was sub-tropical!

    Imagine my surprise then when I saw that one of Monty Don’s favourite fruits to grow is a banana! Admittedly a dwarf banana, but even so – growing bananas in Britain! I had expected those to be one of the items that would become unavailable, or an expensive luxury, in a post-peak-oil world but it turns out we might be able to grow them in a conservatory or greenhouse in our back garden. The variety Monty recommended was a Dwarf Cavendish, which gets to 6-7ft before fruiting, with leaves 2ft long and 6″ wide. It’s a lot smaller than our Lady Finger bananas in Brisbane, but still pretty big for a greenhouse or polytunnel. 

    There is an even smaller version avalable though – the Musa Cavendish Super Dwarf Banana. These fruit when they are only 4ft tall – and look like a much better candidate for a greenhouse or polytunnel, as long as you can keep them above 3°c. Might make it onto my planting list if I have the space!

    Suppliers

    More inspiration from Bean Sprouts

    Amazing how the littlest things can mean so much . . . I opened today’s post from Melanie over at Bean Sprouts where she’s getting ready to plant for this year. She’s already planting raspberries – probably my favourite fruit, and her rhubarb is just starting to come up.

    I’m so jealous I even failed to notice her comments about how dreadful the weather has been 😀 I love the North West!

    Mmmmm. I’d better dig out my rhubarb crumble recipe – a great family favourite!

    Scribbled Planting Wishlist for our Vege Patch

    Need to empty my head of this, my first thoughts on what I want to find out more about for our vege patch:

    • Globe Artichokes
    • Golden & normal Beetroot
    • Potatoes – preferably something a little special, maybe low GI, or heritage varieties
    • Mushrooms – Chestnut, Morels, Shiitake, Oyster
    • Garlic
    • No green beans! (request from my wife)
    • Beans for Cassoulet?
    • Mange Tout
    • Red Onions (and some brown?)
    • Tomatoes – probably cherry/sweetheart
    • Sweet Potatoes
    • Parsnips
    • Pumpkin
    • Peppers?

    Plus some fruit:

    • Rhubarb
    • Raspberries
    • Strawberries (a few for the kids)

    And the herbs:

    • Rosemary
    • Sage – varied
    • Mints
    • Thyme
    • Oregano/Marjoram
    • Chives
    • Flat-leaf parsley
    • Bay Tree

    There – a nice simple wish list 🙂 – I wonder how this will evolve over the next year, as I realise that we don’t have 10 acres to plant!