APPLE TASTING 5: 23 Nov 2015 - More Winter Keepers Varieties: Eden Crab, MM106, M26 (rootstock apples), Winter Banana, Spencer Seedless, Crimson Gold, West Virginia Beauty, Webster Pinkmeat, Bramley, High Cross, Martin's Custard, Burford Red and Potters Marston Apple. This year, some of these varieties have come off the tree early without ripening properly, perhaps because of the cool summer and a lack of sun. This has had an effect on fruit quality. West Virginia Beauty, usually a beautifully-flavoured apple, and Spencer Seedless, usually firm and sweet, were badly affected; they were were not pleasant eating. However the Potters Marston apple has provided a welcome surprise; newly discovered, it is sweet, of attractive appearance, and seems to be of good eating quality. We will be grafting some trees.
23 Nov 2015
APPLE TASTING 4: 14 Nov 2015 - Winter Keepers The varieties: Chapman's Colossus, Margil, Braeburn, Christmas Pink, Lord Hindlip, Blackjack, Bumble Bee Lane, Durrant's Apple, Annie Elizabeth, Mere Pippin, Croft Late and Wibtoft Pippin. Apart from the first two, these are all high-sugar late winter keeping apples. When first picked (like this) they are often rather tart but unlike early apples they become sweeter on keeping. They often have unusual flavours which become more pronounced as the acid levels drop.
Six of the varieties were found in hedgerows over the last 20 years; they illustrate the point that that apples from pips can be as good as (or better) than registered varieties. This should not be surprising; many of our well-known apples (e.g. Cox, Braeburn, Ribston, Granny Smith) were not bred; they arose as chance seedlings.
14 Nov 2015
APPLE COLOURS Mid and late-season apples colouring up very well this year: here are (l to r) Golden Noble, Monarch, May Queen, Potters Marston apple, then (front row) Grenadine, Braeburn, an almost-black redfleshed apple and Mere Pippin. Flavours are also good this year though some of them are ripening a little too quickly. (This means that they may not store as well as usual).
13 Nov 2015
APPLE TASTING 3: 7 Nov 2015 - Late Midseason Varieties: Burford Redflesh, Golden Noble, Suttonelms, Leicester Burton Pippin, Maloni Lilly, Yellow Ingestrie, Huonville Crab, Rubaiyat, Pink Pearmain, May Queen, James Grieve and Wyken Pippin.
APPLE TASTING 2: 31 Oct 2015 - Midseason Varieties: Wickson, Grenadine, Red Sauce, Claygate Pearmain, Hidden Rose, Suttonelms, Weirouge, Zorza, West Virginia Sweet (Bill Mullins' name for an apple found on an abandoned farmstead in WV), Surprize (sic), Darcy Spice and Ribston Pippin.
1 Nov 2015
APPLE TASTING 1: 21 Sep 2015 - Earlies The varieties: Wyggeston Pippin, Langton Nonesuch, Belvoir Seedling, Croft Cider,Rosette, Hall's Pink, Breunsdorfer, Pendragon, Golden Noble, Purple Radish, Bieinrode, Laxton's Fortune and Weirouge (German; pronounced Vye-rouge).
21 Sep 2015
CIDERMAKING WITHOUT AN APPLE PRESS Those of you who have access to surplus apples may be interested in doing something useful with them. One option is cidermaking - surprisingly easy if you have access to a deep freeze with a bit of space in it ... see (on my other website) the cidermaking page.
21 Aug 2015
PRINCE CHARLES' APPLE COLLECTION Summarised from the Sunday Times, 2 Aug 2015 Prince Charles is growing 1000 varieties of apples at Highgrove. He is concerned at the dominance of the supermarket apple trade by just a handful of varieties. The manager of Home Farm, David Wilson, said that the main reason for planting was conetic conservation and that we depend on a very narrow genetic mix for our food because of control of breeding programmes by global companies.
Charles obtained the apple trees through grafts taken by Frank Matthews Ltd from the National fruit Collection at Brogdale. Matt Ordridge, scientific curator at Brogdale, said that a large proportion of apples were bred from a handful of parent varieties - Cox, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Jonathan and McIntosh. (looks like he's been reading our translation of H-J. Bannier's paper - though he's missed out James Grieve - Ed). Charles cited the Irish potato famine and current problems with banana production as illustrations of what may happen when we rely on too few varieties.
Tesco has said that it is testing six lesser known varieties, one of which is Reinette Gris du Canada, a giant triploid russet, with the view to selling them in its stores. John Worth, a fruit technologist at Tesco, said that they were looking at whether certain lesser-known varieties could be grown on a commercial scale. Joan Morgan, apple enthusiast and writer, said that there was now more interest among gardeners in planting local varieties in their own counties, such as Ashmead's Kernel in Gloucestershire and the aniseed-flavoured Ellison's Orange in Lincolnshire.
Charles singled out three apples for special mention: Ananas Reinette, which has a pineapple flavour when fully ripe, Beauty of Bath, which was an important commercial variety in England many years ago, and Flower of Kent, which is believed to be the same as the Isaac Newton apple from Woolthorpe Manor near Grantham.
Janet Garrett said that private collections such as Charles' were important as backups which could exist independently of official collections like Brogdale, where the funding is dependent on Government policy.
Charles has decided that the orchard will be managed organically.
Whether organic control is a good idea for a 'gene bank' remains to be seen. I've yet to see effective organic control of woolly aphis or canker - ND.
11 Aug 2015
EARLY-SEASON APPLE VIDEO Julie Drake has filmed another video as a follow-up to the ones done in the blossom season, where I talk about early, mid and late season apples, family apple trees, training a mulberry tree, and other bits and pieces. Click on Early apple season video to see it.
27 Jun 2015
THE BIGGEST KILLER OF APPLE TREES IN THE UK Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project has been going for many years, and we have introduced a large number of Leicestershire apple trees into Leicestershire gardens. We have also supplied trees for new orchards, in public places, schools, National Trust properties, and elsewhere.
During this time we have become aware of the main cause of death of young apple trees.
So - a question for you - is it rabbits, or virus, or aphids, or fireblight, or bacterial canker, or bad rootstocks, or something else which I've not listed?
Over the years we have planted probably 400 Leicestershire trees. About thirty have been lost. All but two have died in the same way.
TESTING A REDFLESHED APPLE It occurred to me today to test the cooking quality of a redfleshed apple. Webster Pinkmeat is a variety with astonishing keeping quality, and at the end of each Spring, I usually have a tray of them in pristine condition, which I throw away. When uncooked, their flavour is appalling; a slight sweetness and low acidity completely swamped by a taste rather like quinine. Perhaps this is what keeps the bugs away.
What the variety has going for it is that it always has a crop; it never misses a year, so it may be useful as a parent. It also looks stunning; the blossom is crimson, and it is usually the first tree in the orchard to flower.
My mother gave a favourable report on cooking fresh apples of this variety a couple of years ago. However my sample had been kept since mid-October, which is about 28 weeks ago.
The raw taste had faded to a residual bitterness and the flesh, offwhite this year, resembled cardboard.
On making a crumble with a few of them, there was a big surprise; all bitterness had gone, and a well-balanced apple flavour had appeared; low-acid, slightly sweet, and pleasant. The flesh had softened but retained its shape.
24 May 2015
ALLOTMENT ADVENTURES Julie Drake is a keen allotment grower. She raises strawberries and rhubarb from seed, is an expert in the use of polytunnels, and grows a wide range of allotment crops and flowers. Here are a few of her many videos. You may be interested in subscribing to her channel.
RAISING NEW VARIETIES OF APPLE Here's a short video filmed by my friend Julie Drake showing how apples are crossed to
make new varieties. She has also produced an
apple blossom video illustrating some of the varieties photographed below. Many thanks, Julie.
27 Apr 2015
APPLE BLOSSOM The season is about a fortnight later than last year. The date above each picture shows approximate time of flowering. I am putting the pictures in sequence, with the most recent at the top. Bieinrode is very brightly coloured this year.
4th May: Geneva, Baya Marisa and Sweetings.
27th April: Bieinrode, West Virginia Beauty and Wickson.
27th April: MM106 (rootstock apple), Zorza (from Poland) and Tom Putt (Devon).
27th April: Grenadine, Huonville Crab and an apple found locally which we call 'Croft Red Devil'.
26th April: Blackjack, Roter Mond and Weirouge.
25th April: mixed blossoms: Burfords Redflesh, Mott's Pink, West Virginia Sweet; Hidden Rose, Christmas Pink (lighter) and Grenadine in the background.
25th April: Mott's Pink, Witney Deerpark apple and Rubaiyat
25th April: Crinkly blossom of Mott's Pink and brilliant colour of Burford Redflesh.
24th April: Breunsdorfer (better picture), Pendragon and Dubbelman's apple.
22nd April: Durrant, Purple Radish, George's Red.
22nd April: Asian cooking pear, Norfolk Rattlebox and Burford Yellow.
20th April: Scarlet Surprise, Breunsdorfer and Pink Pearl.
20th April: Jim Bastian's apple, Burford Redflesh and Almata.
INTERESTING BLOG SITE More interesting articles on fruit and nut growing, grafting, etc. I didn't realise why stone fruit are more difficult to graft than apples and pears. It's all explained here by a person we know ...
TRIPLOID APPLES AND POLLINATION This note appeared on the 2014 page but I'm putting it here again because it's important.
Brogdale has had its apple tested to see which ones are triploid (51 chromosomes) and which are diploid (34 chromosomes).
What follows is not a complete list of triploids, but it includes the common and a few of the not-so-common triploids likely to be found in gardens in England.
If you have one of these, it will usually improve the crop if a pollinator is present.
Some of the triploids below, e.g. Bramley, will set a reasonable crop on their own. The effectiveness of triploid pollens on some triploid and diploid trees is shown here and here .
Another interesting observation: the apple variety 'Cobra', was bred by Hugh Ermen using Bramley pollen to pollinate a Cox; in fact Hugh Ermen made the observation many years ago that Bramley can be quite a good pollinator for Cox.
There are several short pieces on pollination listed on the articles page.
Belle de Boskoop
Bramley & Crimson Bramley
Beauty of Kent
Isaac Newton's Tree
Morgan Sweet (cider)
Reinette du Canada
Reinette Gris du Canada