Pruning a variety, but which one? (Juliet’s Orchard Blog January 2024 #2)

Shepperdine Silt

Come the first agreeable afternoon this month I intend to start pruning the apple trees. Pruning is not difficult and whatever you do you are not likely to kill the tree, but good pruning results in higher production and better quality fruit. The mantra is start with dead, damaged, diseased, and crossing but I would prefix that with “why am I going to the effort of pruning it at all”. In my experimental orchard of about 100 varieties I’ve had them long enough to know that there are some I can hardly be bothered with. Result – they don’t get touched until they are overcrowding a variety I like and then they get a severe chop for firewood – Shepperdine Silt was the first to get this honour, a highly vigorous tree with large quantities of disgusting little fruit going rotten before they dropped. Cut at about knee height three years ago it has resprouted vigorously. Remember, I said I cut it off at knee height. Had I done it at ankle height it would still probably have regrown, but it would be from the rootstock below the graft union so it would no-longer be a Shepperdine Silt.

I don’t want to lose any variety in my collection. It is entirely possible that I haven’t discovered the best use for this variety yet. It took me years to discover that Green Two Year Old becomes edible after Christmas and currently is a nice crisp tart green eater, and will go on well for several months eventually becoming yellow. It is fine for cooking too.

All the varieties I planted were thought to be Gloucestershire varieties at the time. Thanks to DNA analysis, where GOT is sending off “our varieties” for testing, we now know that Green Two Year Old matches the variety held in the National Fruit Collection as French Crab, and Shepperdine Silt is Lord Lambourne. All credit to the pioneers of varietal conservation in Gloucestershire, Charles Martell, Richard Fawcett and Alan Watson; without their work more than 20 years ago we wouldn’t have the luxury of testing the varieties which they secured against possible extinction to find out how unique each one really is. Though my Green Two Year Old matches the description of French Crab fine, my Shepperdine Silt can’t be the same high-quality dessert fruit as Lord Lambourne. Summat wrong somewhere

Diary dates for 2024 – pruning workshops and other events

Saturday 13th January, from 10:00 Pruning workshop at Longney

Saturday 10th February, from 10:00 Pruning workshop at Longney

Saturday 9th March, from 10:00 Pruning workshop at Hartpury

Saturday 13th April:  Location and activity to be confirmed

Saturday 11th May:  Location and activity to be confirmed

Saturday 6th June;  Location and activity to be confirmed

We levy a small fee of £5 for the pruning workshops from our supporters; the sessions are also open to the general public for a fee of £25.

If you’d like to sign up to a pruning workshop then please email martin.hayes@glosorchards.org and treasurer@glosorchards.org

Longney Workshops throughout 2023

GOT orchardist Martin Hayes is running a series of workshops at GOT’s lovely Longney Orchard, south of Gloucester.

Date will be (many not yet confirmed):

  • Friday Feb 17th Pruning, mature apple trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • Wednesday Mar 22nd Pruning, young apple & pear trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • Wednesday Apr 12th Pruning, young apple & pear trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • Wednesday 10th May Pruning, mature plum trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • Wednesday 14th June Pruning, young plum trees (10:00 to 15:00)
  • July, date tbc General maintenance
  • Aug, date tbc General maintenance
  • Aug, date tbc Pick your own plums
  • Sept, date tbc Pick your own plums (and apples, if any are ripe)
  • Oct, date tbc Fruit picking for Trust Juice
We are hoping that a regular work-party will be able to help with general maintenance, but no commitment if you just want to attend a pruning workshop.
There is a barn (with interpretation signage), chairs, composting loo and running cold water. Have your lunch in the barn!
Martin is very knowledgeable; so much to learn/share. He will go through health and safety with you. He is first aid trained and we have a first aid kit in the store. The ground is uneven, there are some brambles and low hanging branches.
Tools will be provided, but do bring your own saws, secateurs and gloves if you can. Please bring own refreshments and appropriate footwear and weather attire.
No dogs please; there are sheep and please keep gates closed.
No vehicular access, so please park at or near the white railings on the road, being mindful of neighbours.
If anyone is able to take a couple of photos on the day (if no one objects) for the GOT website, please let us know, thank you via info@glosorchards.org
First orchard is Long Tyning (long and thin) then Bollow. Also on site are Middle & Lower Orchards which have been planted up with heritage apple and plum trees of regional/national importance.
Please book (essential) via info@glosorchards.org and on the day please bring emergency contact details for Martin.
£5 for GOT members for just the workshops (and £20 for non members, which includes a year’s membership).
You can pay through the Donate button on the GOT website at https://glosorchards.org/home/join-us-got-membership/
(non members can also join on that page).

Longney Workshop News

The first of our planned monthly workshops at Longney Orchard took place on 18th January.

A small team of energetic (and young) people pruned about 8 to 10 trees at the far end of the Long Tyning part of the orchard.

The prunings have been gathered into piles, but some limbs are rather big for manhandling so there are several piles of wood.

These will be tackled and sorted, and tidying up pruned wood at a later date.

More Longney workshops are planned – details will be posted on the website.

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Thornbury Orchard Group Work Party 4th Jan 2023

Wednesday 4 January 2023 at 9.30am at the Orchard.

The Orchard is in the valley between Swallow Park and Finch Close; nearest post code is BS35 1LT.

There will be another event on Wednesday 18 January 2023 between 10:45am and 11:45am at the Orchard.

For more details contact the orchard via the website at https://www.sustainablethornbury.org/orchard/index.php?mylink=orchardcontactus

Pruning workshop at GOT’s Longney Orchard 18th January 2023

For GOT Members only:
Orchardist Martin Hayes is running a pruning workshop at GOT’s Longney Orchard on this coming Wednesday 18th January between 10am and 3pm.
Tools will be provided, but do bring your own saws, secateurs and gloves if you can.
Please bring own refreshments and appropriate footwear and weather attire.
The track is very muddy but the orchards are lovely and we’ve been blessed with fieldfares feasting on fallen fruit.
No dogs please; there are sheep and please keep gates closed.
No vehicular access, so please park at or near the white railings on the road, being mindful of neighbours.
No charge but GOT members only – (you can join at https://glosorchards.org/home/join-us-got-membership/)
There is a barn (with interpretation signage), chairs, composting loo and running cold water. Have your lunch in the barn!
Martin is very knowledgeable; so much to learn/share.
He will go through health and safety with you. He is first aid trained and we have a first aid kit in the store.
The ground is uneven, there are some brambles and low hanging branches. The river Severn is fenced off.
Please leave prunings in designated piles.
If anyone is able to take a couple of photos on the day (if no one objects) for the GOT website and newsletter, please let me know, thank you!
First orchard is Long Tyning (long and thin) then Bollow. Also on site are Middle & Lower Orchards which have been planted up with heritage apple and plum trees of regional/national importance.
Please book through Martin on 07900 985679 or martin.hayes9@yahoo.com
and on the day please bring emergency contact details.  2022/12/21 at 12:26

Orchard Revival pruning workshop Thursday 19th January

Come help look after traditional orchards across Gloucestershire.
This month Orchard Revival will be holding pruning workshops at Halmore and North Nibley.
Friday 13th January – Halmore. Led by Tim Andrews restoring old apple trees that needs lots of love and attention. Supported by CPRE Gloucestershire, The Ernest Cook Trust and Severn Trent
Tuesday 17th January CHANGE OF DATE – now Thursday 19th January – North Nibley. Led by orchardist Martin Hayes (The Apple Man Can). Formative pruning of over 350 young apple trees. Perfect for those that want to learn how to prune trees they have recently planted in their own gardens.
Contact Tim Andrews via Orchard Revival (facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/OrchardRevivalCider, website here: Orchard Revival for more details.

Orchard Revival pruning workshop Friday 13th January

Come help look after traditional orchards across Gloucestershire.
This month Orchard Revival will be holding pruning workshops at Halmore and North Nibley.
Friday 13th January – Halmore. Led by Tim Andrews restoring old apple trees that needs lots of love and attention. Supported by CPRE Gloucestershire, The Ernest Cook Trust and Severn Trent
Tuesday 17th January – North Nibley. Led by orchardist Martin Hayes (The Apple Man Can). Formative pruning of over 350 young apple trees. Perfect for those that want to learn how to prune trees they have recently planted in their own gardens.
Contact Tim Andrews via Orchard Revival (facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/OrchardRevivalCider, website here: Orchard Revival for more details.

Orchard Learning Programme 2023 at Horfield Organic Community Orchard

Pruning in winter

Horfield Organic Community Orchard (HOCO) is celebrating 25 years as a community and fruit-growing project. Since 1998 hundreds of volunteer members have cared for nearly a hundred fruiting trees. HOCO is also raising an urban orchard for community education and horticultural experimentation. The Orchard Learning Programme, developed in 2018, is a hands-on and holistic adventure in community orcharding that guides participants over a growing season at HOCO.

The 9-month course (see dates summary below) is designed to deepen the knowledge and sharpen the skills of those involved in the close care of fruit trees. It is ideal for growers with previous fruit growing experience, and highly recommended for anyone starting up, or involved with, an orchard. Participants work with less-than-perfect trees and learn by doing.

Programme content and structure are always evolving – driven by climate chaos, and shaped by the experiences and needs of participants. The blend of group learning days and one-to-one sessions was a great success when introduced last year. All sessions take place outdoors in the example-rich Horfield Organic Community Orchard. They are led by Shannon Smith – an experienced community orchard grower and educator.

Successful applicants are partnered with a fruit tree – their Tree Buddy – for the year. They join with other HOCO members to help organise orchard working meetings and community events.

Places are limited. Deadline for applications is Sunday 29 January 2023.

More information on the HOCO website: www.community-orchard.org.uk

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