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

Grafting Workshops at Days Cottage 2023

Grafting Workshops at Days Cottage 2023

  • Thursday 30th March 10.00am – 1.00pm
  • Thursday 6th April 10.00am – 1.00pm

Learn the ancient skill of propagating fruit trees by inserting a scion of your chosen variety into a rootstock. Take your tree home at the end of the session.

Rootstocks and a range of heritage variety scions provided. Includes refreshments and homemade flapjacks in our cosy yurt. £45.00

To book please contact applejuice@dayscottage.co.uk or 01452 813602

New Longney plantings

News sent in by Stuart Smith:

Newly planted in the apple collection at Longney are two Upright French, propagated for us by John Teiser from Bulmer’s Adam’s Hill Orchard. These are grafted onto crab stock, whereas most of the apples are M25.

Another difference which you can see in one of the photos is that the guards are scaled down from the original design – the posts are about 1.35m, the sides about 84cm.

The trees are planted in ground that has not had trees before so there is no risk of replant disease, but because space is limited it might be necessary to plant a replacement in the same position.

John told me that there are rootstocks that have been shown to overcome the inhibitory effect – such as the Geneva® (G) range.

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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

Grafting Workshop, Winterbourne Barn, 18th February 2023

Winterbourne Barn’s annual grafting workshop will take place on Saturday 18th February 2023 from 10am to 4pm.

Come and learn how to graft apple trees on this course under the tuition of Ben Raskin, a previous commercial fruit grower and an enthusiastic, effective and very knowledgeable teacher, now Head of Horticulture at The Soil Association.

Visit www.winterbournebarn.org.uk/events and scroll through until you come to Apple Grafting for details.

Or, to see booking information, go to https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/winterbourne-medieval-barn-trust/t-avvoeav

Bud-Grafting Workshops with Tim Andrews, 12th July and 13th August

Learn how to propagate apple and pear fruit trees by budding, in a practical workshop.

These skills are useful to anyone who wishes to propagate fruit and ornamental trees in their garden or allotment. We discuss the technical theory behind budding to propagate onto a variety of rootstocks and also go through the practical elements step by step, led by GOT’s committee member and Orchard Revival’s Tim Andrews.

Tuesday 12 July 2022 evening – North Nibley chapel

Saturday 13 August 2022 morning – with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust at Fromebridge at Pocketts Orchard.

These are run by Tim Andrews in association with Farming in Protected Landscapes/Orchard Revival/GOT.

For these workshops, please book via Tim: tim@orchardrevival.co.uk

Bud-Grafting Workshop at Longney, 9th July 2022

Learn how to propagate apple and pear fruit trees by budding, in a practical workshop.

These skills are useful to anyone who wishes to propagate fruit and ornamental trees in their garden or allotment. We discuss the technical theory behind budding to propagate onto a variety of rootstocks and also go through the practical elements step by step.10am-1pm at the barn, led by GOT’s committee member and Orchard Revival’s Tim Andrews.

Participants will be able to take home their own grafted tree.

Cost £30 (funds will help support Longney Orchard and the charity of GOT).

To book (essential), please contact Ann Smith: ann@smithcovell.co.uk who will advise on payment methods (please pay in advance), directions/parking etc.

You can also pay via this PayPal button:


If you pay by PayPal please also email Ann with your details.

For GOT members only. To join, please click here.

Grafting courses at Days Cottage, March 6th and 17th 2022

Days Cottage are running two grafting courses in March:

– Sunday 6th March 10.00am – 1.00pm
– Thursday 17th March 10.00am – 1.00pm

Learn the skill of propagating fruit trees by inserting a scion of your chosen variety into a rootstock.

Take your tree home at the end of the session.

Booking essential.

Cost £40.00

To book please contact applejuice@dayscottage.co.uk or 01452 813602

More info at http://dayscottage.co.uk/courses

Grafting Workshop at North Nibley, 1st March 2022

Come along to a Grafting Workshop at North Nibley, 6.30pm to 9pm on 1st March 2022 at North Nibley Chapel, Barrs Lane GL11 6DT.

Cost £20 per person.

Learn to graft fruit trees in this practical hands-on session led by experts from the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust.

Participants will learn the theory before putting it into practice on their very own tree, that can be taken home to plant in the garden.

All tools and trees provided.

For further information contact Martin Hayes via martin@glosorchards.org or on 07900985679

Supported by Farming in Protected Landscapes funding.

Tree Planting at the Ionian Farmshop, Berkeley 19th Feb 2022

The Ionian Farmshop and Kitchen on the A38 near Berkeley have a tree planting event on 19th February to design and make your community orchard.  With our own Tim Andrews to show them how.

They say:

“Give back and volunteer at The Ionian as we embark on our ambition to design and make your community orchard! Aiming to provide vital green space where you can interact with nature have space to learn skills such as planting, pruning and grafting. We can all do our bit in the battle against climate change, help wildlife and our own well being!
We’ll be collaborating with the amazing Tim Andrews who will share his knowledge with us on reviving traditional orchards. We need as many volunteers as possible for this project, any help will very much appreciated. To get involved, please email theionian.a38@gmail.com.  We are so proud to attract and make people from all walks of life and every background feel welcome at The Ionian, we encourage you to roll up your sleeves, lets work together on creating a sustainable future! ”

 

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