Wordless Wednesday

apple tree garden hen ex battery hen eggs in a wicker basket hens in a garden light sussex veg patchImages from our garden smallholding.




Planting Fruit Trees

Planting Fruit Trees Collage

Yesterday we planted new fruit trees in the orchard, much later than we’d planned due to weather conditions making the ground too boggy to dig. There are 9 mature fruit trees that make our orchard so enchanting (especially now, as the blossom starts to show), but we wanted to add a few trees of our own.

We planted Granny Smith apple, Scrumptious apple, Cox’s Orange Pippin apple and my absolute favourite, Bramley’s Seedling apple. This will become a very large tree and who knows, perhaps our future grandchildren will climb it someday! We have space for another Greengage or two which we are looking to buy soon, sadly our old Greengage tree is leaning dangerously and crumbling away at the base, so this will probably have to be removed at some point due to it being a potential hazard.

Fruit Garden · Orchard

Pecking Apples

apple harvest

The apple trees in the orchard are feeling the strain from the weight of fruit on their branches, I guess it’s time to stock the larder cupboard.


Armed with my ladder and apple crates, I’ve started to pick apples to use for cooking. And I had company. The hens enjoyed the sunshine and wandered off under the safety of the trees, the rescue girls stuck to me like glue as usual. However, they were great ‘quality control inspectors’, jumping in and out of the apple crates, pecking apples. They just have to be involved in everything I do, from harvesting fruit to sweeping leaves.

chicken orchard


hen orchard

We have plenty of fruit from our orchard to make warm crumbles, delicious pies and tarts, thanks to a wonderful summer. Did your fruit trees produce plenty of fruit this year?

Fruit Garden · Orchard

Our Very Own Orchard

apple tree

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.

Bramley apples
Bramley apples

Victoria plum tree

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.

fallen apples

Early plums
Early plums
One of the pear trees
Wasps gorging on fruit
Wasps gorging on fruit

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.

Apple tree, possibly a Cox?
Apple tree, possibly a Cox?
Another apple, not sure of this one
Another pear tree
Another pear tree
Bramley apple tree
Bramley apple tree
Again, not sure of this variety of apple

I’m jam making again with gorgeous Victoria plums, it’s unbelievable the amount of fruit the Victoria tree has produced.

Victoria Plum
Victoria plums
Our lovely Victoria plum tree

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.

comma butterfly on a pear tree

underside of a comma butterfly

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.

Fruit Garden · Uncategorized

Our Very First Baby Pears

I’m so excited! Our new William’s Bon Chrétien pear tree has baby pears, aren’t they amazing? You can really see the shape formation already. I adore pears and cannot wait to sample our very own home-grown ones which should be ready to pick by September, ripening a week or so later. It’s self fertile but pollination by another pear will maximise yield, the neighbouring garden to the rear of ours has a mixed orchard on half an acre so hopefully this will help.

Fruit Garden

A Weekend of Planting Fruit Trees

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.
Fruit Garden

An Underground Surprise


Not a nice surprise at that.

On attempting to get our mini orchard off to a flying start by planting some of the fruit trees recently purchased, (including our rather lovely Scrumptious apple) we hit something hard with our spades, lurking just below the lawn. “Oh, it’s just a large stone” I said in hope. Surely it couldn’t be anymore loose bricks and rubble? We have already dug up enough of those from the vegetable garden plot to build a small house. OK maybe a slight exaggeration, but there are rather a lot of them.

On attempting to dig a little to the left, then a little to the right of the offending hard mass, we still hit it. We kept trying by going a lot further from the area but it was no good. “More bricks here then Rich, better get these out”.

Easier said than done. On further investigation which generally involved lots of probing and prodding with our forks whilst pulling very miserable looking faces, frowning and generally looking fed up, we had no choice but to keep trying to dig around the area until we found a way down and into the soil to lift the bricks out. At last we managed to find some soft ground and started to dig down, only to find the hidden foundations of a previous outbuilding. Oh no!

Looks like an earthquake

It all started to make sense. Whoever pulled down this building obviously buried all the bricks into what is now our vegetable garden, then chose to leave the foundations, fill them in, turf and forget about it. The foundations go down at least four bricks deep, on top of a thick layer of cement in a trench. We have removed the first two layers of bricks but we have to remove it all. Trouble is it gets more difficult the further down you go. Starting to see why they were buried and forgotten. Grrrrrr.

At least our kids had fun sitting on the foundations!  So, we soldier on with this setback and hope to get the trees planted very soon.

J & J playing on foundations as kids do

Bring back bramble roots, all is forgiven!!

Fruit Garden · Kitchen Garden

The Vegetable Garden and Orchard -Well Eventually!

Apologies to The Garden Smallholder readers lately (especially Do What You Love) for my lack of posts. Aside from my love of the outdoors, gardening and our small scale smallholding, I am in fact a dab hand at decorating. I can now be found most days head to toe in dust, paint and old wallpaper scraps. Attractive huh?

Our bedroom was crying out to be redecorated. I thought I could live with the way it was for at least a little while longer than I have, but my hands started getting that itchy feeling. I could not help myself, before I knew it I had grabbed the stripping knife and the hideous wallpaper was no more. All the walls have been stripped and I am in the process of getting them prepped. The other chore was to removed the polystyrene ceiling tiles. I have aches and pains in the muscles of my arms that I never knew existed. The ceiling is in a bit of a mess now so it needs to be skimmed over by a plasterer at some point when we are feeling a bit flush. Its going to cost a fair few pounds but the end result should look great and far safer than having a fire hazard above our heads! Trouble is I have started eyeing up our sons bedroom. OK, I have gone past the eyeing up stage and whipped the wallpaper from the walls of that room too, but you already guessed that right?

Anyway, on to the garden smallholding which im sure is far more interesting than my decorating woes. I grabbed my camera from its dusty shelf on Sunday and took some snap shots of how the vegetable garden and mini orchard looks now. As you can see its all very messy indeed. I would dearly love to get the ground cleared but im so afraid of disturbing hibernating animals. That would never sit easy with me, the death of a hedgehog or some other poor creature from my doings would really upset me. Good things come to those that wait as they say, so wait I shall.




I think its hard to visualise from these photos and angles how large this area is, it will take some back breaking to get it looking anything like a vegetable garden and orchard let alone plant anything. I guess that’s all part of the excitement. In a strange sort of way I am glad that we did not inherit a beautifully planned, planted and well tendered vegetable plot when we bought the house, because then it would not really feel like ours. Its not all doom and gloom out there though, the main garden is beautiful and has been very well cared for over the years, but there is still plenty of room for us to stamp our wellies all over which is nice. No, its the last section of the garden that we have dedicated our little dream of the good life to that needs all the help it can get.

The sheer hard work, passion and determination to get at least something in the form of a vegetable or fruit tree in the ground this year is all there, bubbling away inside of me. I pray it will be possible, the photos shout “You need a miracle!”

The good news is I have managed to secure offers of help from some big strong lads in the form of my father, brother and of course Richie so roll on late spring I say! Im not work shy, I shall be pulling my sleeves up and mucking in just as much as them. Cannot wait.

Fruit Garden

Fruit Trees For A Micro Orchard


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!