Chilly evenings and dewy mornings, my favourite time of year is fast approaching. The mature fruit trees in our garden were planted many years ago in rows, giving the appearance of an orchard. We’ve always wanted our very own orchard and that’s how we refer to our wonderful old trees.
Dripping with fruit in shades of green, purple, red and yellow, the garden has never looked so colourful since moving here late January. Greengage and early plums are finishing now, tipsy wasps litter the lawn, feasting on fallen fermented plums alongside occasional Red Admiral butterflies.
The garden is very wide and therefore open in most places, fruit trees are a great way to provide cover to free-ranging chickens from aerial predators. We have a few more fruit trees to plant this autumn; Scrumptious apple will replace a small ornamental cherry that isn’t doing very well, Cox’s Orange Pippin and a Bramley apple. It’s almost time to release them from their temporary containers where they’ve lived happily since moving here.
I’m jam making again with gorgeous Victoria plums, it’s unbelievable the amount of fruit the Victoria tree has produced.
A pretty Comma butterfly seemed to watch me from one of the pear trees, it stayed quite still while I snapped away with the camera.
There are two pear varieties and three apple varieties in the orchard that we need help with identifying, along with an early plum (mid July fruiting). If you recognise a variety from the photos please do leave a comment.
This weekend we added 2 new trees to our mini orchard. We now have 3 different varieties of apple – Scrumptious, Bramley’s Seedling and Cox Orange Pippin, a Marjorie’s Seedling plum and a Williams’ Bon Chretien pear. Our Scrumptious and Cox produced good-sized fruit last season but the plum skipped fruiting altogether. However, it is now smothered in blossom so fingers crossed for plums this year.
All our trees are on a semi vigorous rootstock because we have the space, so I have been learning how to prune fruit trees paying attention to the way in which each of our chosen trees produce their fruit. For example, the Bramley’s Seedling is partial tip bearer, which means that most of the fruit is borne on the ends of the branches. For this reason it is wise not to throw caution to the wind while pruning, otherwise you may end up with no fruit for quite some time.
All our fruit and vegetable harvests have been pretty scrumptious to be honest, but this post is mainly about our Scrumptious apple harvest. This year was the first year of fruiting for our young Scrumptious tree and I’m very pleased with the quality and taste of the fruit. In all we managed to harvest 15 good size apples after a great deal of thinning to prevent the tree from trying to produce more. Also, like everyone else I imagine, the wasps got to some of the fruit.
The wasps have been a real pest this year due to the warm spring, we had a nest of them in a conifer tree and I received my first sting ever this year from a wasp. Ouch! I’m not ashamed to say it bl**dy well hurt too! Now they are becoming lethargic and seeking sugary energy, fruit trees and autumn fruiting bushes / canes are taking a battering. I spotted some hornets near our vegetable garden yesterday, oh dear. I know they are good pollinators but they do drive me potty.
Our other apple tree, a young Cox has also produced some lovely looking fruit, probably ready to harvest towards the end of next month. Provided the wasps leave them alone of course.
Our young apple Scrumptious tree produced more young fruit than we expected it to. This variety of apple are quite large and with the tree being very young, we felt the tree would benefit from being a little less top heavy.
To be honest, we assume the tree felt the same way as removing some of the young fruit was not hard to do at all. We left each fruiting branch with either 1, 2 or 3 young apples, depending on how strong the branch was. Got to say, very impressed with this young tree so far. Hope the taste of the fruit lives up to its name.
We have been looking around for more apple trees to join our young Cox’s Orange Pippin. After some research we decided on Discovery, still debating on a few others.
Discovery was proving difficult to get on the rootstock that we wanted, so we had a chat with the fruit buyer at our local garden centre. He pointed out a tree that we had not heard of before. Scrumptious, a modern early variety. Its parentage includes Discovery, the fruit it produces are red which ticks the box for fruit colour that we wished for. As its name suggests, the fruit is said to excel on flavour. A self fertile tree with good disease resistance as well as frost resistant blossom. We were told to expect some fruit this year from this young tree so we shall see how it does.
After a few days of researching endless varieties of apples and other tree fruit we have at last made a choice of two apple trees, for the time being anyway! We have so far chosen Cox’s Orange Pippin and Discovery. The Cox is self fertile so it does not require another tree to produce a crop, but it could produce a better crop with a pollinator nearby. Discovery on the other hand does need a pollinator, the Cox should fit the bill nicely as they are both in the same pollination group.
We are aware that Cox’s Orange Pippin is known to be temperamental, but because the flavour is so highly praised its got to be worth a try……besides Rich would sulk like a girl if a Cox did not make the final wish list. A variety of plum called Marjorie’s Seedling has also made it onto our wish list, a culinary and dessert plum of rich purple. We did think about a Victoria but decided we would prefer a purple plum instead – a personal preference of ours. We are still undecided about a pear tree but Conference looks like the most likely choice so far. It is a partially self fertile tree so we should really plant a suitable pollinator, but our neighbours garden (which exceeds half an acre) is planted with numerous plums and apples so we should get away with just the one tree. Well thats the plan anyway.
A large section of our garden which is particially overgrown at present (due to be cleared in spring) is where our micro orchard and large vegetable garden will finally reside. Cant wait!