It is well worth a walk around the orchard at this time of year. Many of our trees are covered in apples and it is so easy to see how many different varieties of apples we are growning. The apples are all different colours, sizes, shapes and taste! Many are heritage apple trees and most of the apples would not be found on sale in a supermarket!
Despite the damp, rainy October we have been experiencing, we were lucky to have a sunny morning for our annual apple picking and juicing day. Despite the poor crop of apples we were able to pick enough to share with the orchard members and produce some bottles of juice.
Although the apple crop may have been disappointing this year we have had a bumper crop of hazel and cob nuts.
We have several ‘historic’ fruit trees thriving in the Orchard.
We are all familiar with the children’s nursery rhyme ‘Here we go round the mulberry bush.’ However, the mulberry bush is actually a tree and once grew in gardens around the country. They were brought to the UK in the seventeenth centuary to provide food for silkworms in the hope that the country could establish a silk industry.
The mulberry fruit grows straight from the branches and turns a dark purple when ripe. They have a sweet, fresh flavour and are very juicy.
This is the first crop of mulberries the orchard has produced.
Quine have been mentioned throughout history and were first recorded in England in 1275, when King Edward I planted four at the Tower of London.We’re probably more familiar with quince from Edward Lears famous poem ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ when they ‘dined on mince and slices of quince’. Quince can be made into a sweet, rosey yellow jelly or jam or baked or roasted to make into puddings.
The medlar tree is another ancient fruit tree mentioned in historical documents from Roman times. Medlars are an unusual fruit because once they have been picked they have to be left to sofen and ripen before eating. This process is called bletting. The fruit make a beautiful jelly.
A few weeks ago, horticulturalist, Chris Beardshaw presented a programme devoted to apples. He uncovers the British contribution to the history of our most iconic fruit and sees how 20th-century British scientists helped create the modern mass-market apple. If you missed this or would like to watch this again then please click on this link. BBC 4 Apples: British to the core.
You can also read an article based on this programme if you click on this link, British to the core
Over the last 12 months, a lot of effort has gone into plotting the location of each tree using GPS. The map is now complete and a copy can be seen on the shed door. Each tree is now plotted on the map, its number corresponds to the number on the tree label. This should enable us to track the well being of each tree and the yield from year to year.