realenglishfruit

Top fruit tree growing advice and information from Real English Fruit

Tag Archives: apple

How to stop foxes and deer from raiding your apple trees

A reader and customer wrote to Dan a few days ago, about the first crop on his two new trees. The trees supplied by Suffolk Fruit & Trees are always 2-3 years old and so they dutifully flowered in the first season after fruiting. Dan advised to grow just two apples on each tree for their first crop in the garden, and so the owner removed all surplus fruitlets towards the end of May. His first two Cox apples grew to maturity, but the Fiesta apples were raided by foxes. And so what will happen in subsequent seasons when the Fiesta tree is in full production?

Dan said, “In the next and following seasons, when the fruit is beginning to ripen, you could try this method. It is often effective to hang a small, highly scented piece of soap using a metal S-hook. This often deters foxes and deer. Once the piece of soap loses its scent, it is no longer effective. Check and replace it if this is the case.”

Fox in a garden, photo Mike Holloway/flickr.com

Fox in a garden, photo courtesy of Mike Holloway/flickr.com

Special feature trees

We are often asked about trees with certain characteristics, such as highly flavoured apples, red crisp apples, green eating apples and so forth. Here are some suggestions for trees of specific characteristics:

Highly flavoured apples
Ashmead Kernel, Egremont Russet, Herefordshire Russet, Winter Wonder, Suntan, Winter Gem

Green eating apples, sweet
Greensleeves, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith.

Green eating apples, sharp
James Grieve, Sturmer Pippin, Darcy Spice.

Green cooking apples
Genadier, Lord Derby, Warner King, Bramley, Bountiful, Arthur Turner, Reverend Wilks, Annie Elisabeth.

Red and partially coloured eating apples
Spartan, Worcester Pearmain, Fiesta, Red Pippin, Lord Lambourne, Red Windsor, Red Falstaff, Discovery, Royal Gala, Kidd’s Orange Red, Chiver’s Delight, Laxton Superb, Laxton Fortune, Sunset, Winston, Cox Orange Pippin ,Scrumptious, Winter Gem, Braeburn

Russet apples, whole or partial russet
Egremont Russet, Ashmead Kernel, Rosemary Russet, Duke of Devonshire, Suntan, Winter Wonder, Ellison’s Orange, Orlean’s Reinette.

General purpose apples, large
Howgate Wonder, Charles Ross, Blenheim Orange, Peasgood Nonsuch, Tom Put, Jonagold.

Mild cider apples
Katy, Greensleeves, Tom Putt

White blossom crab apples
Malus Everest

Red berry crab apples
Malus Robusta.

Crab apples for pots
Sun Rival

Crab apple jelly trees
John Downie

To find out more about the varieties that we can deliver, just visit our variety index and click on the links.

If you’d like to make a provisional order, just choose the varieties and fill out the web form on our Tree Variety page.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact us if you need more information.

Malus John Downie

Malus John Downie, photo courtesy of Andy/Andrew Fogg/flickr.com

Restoring a problematic apple tree to health

We received an enquiry from a reader who has an apple tree with a double trunk. This is how she described the problem.

Apple tree requiring treatment

“I inherited a badly pruned apple tree that has been left with two equal large trunks. I have reduced its size over a four year period, but now I am stuck with one trunk that has only two fruiting branches above ladder height. I would like to remove that trunk and would be left with a more graceful single trunk with multiple fruiting branches. Would it be so detrimental to remove the less producing trunk which be probably reducing its size by 4-45%?”

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Dan Neuteboom’s first answer:

1) Remove the second trunk. Timing is important! Remove it during the 2nd or 3rd week of August and not before.
2) Seal the wound with Arbrex or Heal and Seal , obtainable on line or from a good garden centre.
3) The trunk which is left with the good branches should not be pruned in winter 2017. The tree will then be resettled.

The owner provided further information:

“I would like to ask your father for further clarification. The tree and the others have experienced the stress of reduction of size (no more than a third each year for four years) plus a recent drought and one season of a severe infestation of tent caterpillars. This tree is unfortunately placed in front of my house, so the appearance is a priority with this specific tree.

“Second, I need to be able to prune these trees myself, and am trying to take this tree permanently lower over all by about 12-18 inches. I could reach the top then with less risk that I will fall off the ladder. Another reason the tree is oddly shaped is because the deer raid this tree from both levels.

“Your suggestions make good sense to me, but I would like to ask if because the tree has been stressed four years in a row, would it be less traumatic if I took off only part of the selected trunk, plus one top branch of the preferred trunk this year, and then remove the full selected trunk (as instructed by your father) one year later?” This possible gentler approach is shown in the diagram below.

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Dan Neuteboom replies:

Certainly the gentler approach is fine. However now I have seen the state of the tree, I am quite sure the tree is suffering of malnutrition! Ideally it would need, on a 2 square metre area around the trunk, the application of quality manure, ideally organic chicken manure (such as Super Dug), dried and stabilized. This will feed the tree over a 6-month period. Secondly WATER on a weekly basis as soon as rain fall is lacking. Extra feeding without watering is useless!! Finally the lower part of the trunk looks in a poor state. The vascular system has been damaged. To help the tree to overcome this problem, it will need to make new cambium cells in the outer layers of the trunk. Wrapping the lower part of the trunk with a wide enough black plastic “waste bag” will do the trick.

SUMMARISING; REGULAR WATERING PLUS ORGANIC FEEDING PLUS TREE TRUNK CARE WILL BE A POSITIVE WAY TO PROCEED.

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Which are the best fruit trees for the UK?

A good crop on a well-tended apple tree

A good crop on a well-tended apple tree

Which type of tree fruit carries the least risk and is successful on most soils in the UK? Undoubtedly this is apple. Choice of variety is important, as normally it is colder in the north of England. Temperature during blossom time is of great importance in order to secure a good fruit set. Also in the northerly counties the type of pollinator will have to be chosen carefully. If you would like to plant some fruit trees, in any particular area of the UK, then we are happy to advise which varieties need to be in the Orchard Pack.

A second question of importance is this; which type of fruit is more able to cope with areas of high rain fall? Plums and pears, provided the soil is not too acid, usually do well in the higher rainfall areas. Pears in particular are very sensitive to droughty conditions and thin soils. Cherries love deep soils. Greengages need the right companion in order to crop well. Cherries and greengages are more suited to central and southern counties. This does not apply to Morello cherries as these trees flower later.

What about peaches, nectarines and apricots? These fruits have a much higher demand of warmth and hours of sunshine during the growing season. However, if grown on the right rootstock and placed against a wall facing south, with sufficient t.l.c. and regular watering during dry and warm periods, during the summer months, the net result often is excellent. Click here to see a list of varieties available to purchase.

Frame for fleece on an espalier tree

Weekly update for the fruit garden – fourth week of August 2015

Wasps have been a real hindrance all round, due to the changes in weather patterns. As a result, fruit which has been damaged by wasps or birds is now showing the usual signs of brown rot developing. It is very important to remove this fruit and dispose of it. Irrespective of whether the fruit still is hanging on in the trees or has already fallen on the ground, if it is left there, the spores of the fungus may be developing on the remaining fruits. Orchard hygiene at this stage needs to be taken seriously.

If the trees have been growing strongly, this is the right time to carry out summer pruning. Details of the summer pruning technique are explained in the Pruning Section on the website www.realenglishfruit.co.uk

This is also the right time to prune away surplus growth on trees which are being trained as cordons, fan or espaliers or step-over trees.

Photo courtesy of LHG Creative Photography/flickr.com

Photo courtesy of LHG Creative Photography/flickr.com

The cooking apple Doctor Harvey

Doctor Harvey cooking apple

Doctor Harvey cooking apple

If there is one cooking apple which I took to very much in my younger days it is this apple. In the late Fifties we had a small orchard in East Suffolk. The village was quite isolated in the depth of rural Suffolk. At that time close to us lived a wheelright, well in his eighties. He had an ancient workshop full of magnificent old tools. He never had electricity or running water. Just his own pond on the side of his garden. Next to this pond was a very old cooking apple tree, Doctor Harvey. During the winter months he would bake these apples. This was his sweet and it would keep for a week, without the use of a fridge, which he never had the use of. I saw a lot of him during the winter months as the land work was restricted to the short daylight hours. In the evening, by the light of an oil lamp, we would enjoy eating this apple together during the cold winter months right up to the end of March. He was a bachelor all his life and was very dedicated to keep this old tree in good condition as long as he lived. He passed on to me what he knew about the history of this apple. According to him this variety was already well known for many years in Suffolk and its origin was in Cambridgeshire. In that county Doctor Harvey was a master of Trinity Hall. Gabriel Harvey owned an estate at around 1630, in which the tree had been bearing fruit for many years. It is therefore one of the oldest known English cooking/baking apples. It is a regular bearer of good sized fruit, totally green in colour. Best harvested in late October. It has a very good shelf life and as all apples do it will become sweeter as the days go by. Nowadays with the aid of a fridge or a cold store, it will retain its original flavour much longer when stored at 3 degrees Celsius. A most wonderful baking/cooking apple. Delicious apple pies as I remember it well. Definitely worth planting particularly on rootstock MM106.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties with a provisional order

The British cooking apple

Bramley's Seedling

Bramley's Seedling

The value of cooking apples is greatly underestimated. There is no dispute that by and large we do appreciate the specific flavours of the traditional eating apples. There is always a place to be found in the garden, however large or small, for a good eating apple, particularly if it has, apart from a good flavour, good keeping qualities. Due to mass production and the fact that it may have been transported from far and wide, the flavour of supermarket fruit is always suspect. It is good to see that many people have started to plant young fruit trees in their own gardens.

But what about cooking apples? At this time of the year, during all the cold winter months, over the centuries it has been recognized by many chefs and people who love to cook, that the sharpness of a good cooking apple makes a great addition for various dishes, warm or cold, which otherwise would be too sweet on their own. Years gone by, cooking apples were transported from all over the country to London, as their taste and flavour were greatly appreciated by top London restaurants. Take for example Norfolk Beefing, a splendid flavoursome apple: the price paid for these apples was the highest during the winter months. Then there is Dr. Harvey, a long-lasting good winter cooking apple from Suffolk. In fact many counties championed their own cooking apple as the best of the lot. I will be writing about a a fair number of cooking apples, which all are splendid, each in its own way. Of course, Bramley is well known and is in no danger of fading away. However it is a real pity that supermarket culture has led us to believe that a good cooking apple needs to be green. This is way off the mark, as many excellent cooking apples are coloured. Even Bramley! The real Suffolk Bramley has a good deal of colour on its cheeks.

When you think of planting some apple trees in your garden, do give some thought to planting a good cooking apple that keeps well. It will be particularly useful to you during the winter months. I can recommend the following from experience:

Annie Elizabeth
Arthur Turner
Bramley’s Seedling
Bountiful
Dr. Harvey
Dumelow’s Seedling
Edward VII
Howgate Wonder
Lane Prince Albert
Newton Wonder
Norfolk Beefing
Sops in Wine

It is as well to order these varieties in advance, as numbers available are limited.

Fiesta

Also known as Red Pippin. We have a lot of experience in growing this apple variety. I even remember the time when it was first introduced. This is one of the apples which is greatly undervalued. It was introduced in 1972 by Dr. Alston, at that time the breeder at East Malling Research Station in Kent. The mark that I would give to this apple is 9 out of 10. It eats well, it keeps well and it looks attractive. It doesn’t shrivel easily. The fruit is crisp and of decent size. One of the parents is Cox’s Orange Pippin. Irrespective of weather conditions it crops every year. It is a partially self-fertile diploid variety, so it will produce a crop as a single tree, though it benefits from a pollination partner. It is very easy to grow, and it is suitable for all parts of the UK. It is a super pollinator and does not need a lot of room. By January it still has a very good flavour. Primarily an eating apple, it also produces an excellent apple juice.The perfect apple to train as an espalier or grow on M26 as a cordon.

Click here to go to the Tree Varieties page, where you can select this and other varieties with a provisional order

Fiesta, photo courtesy of Bob Franklin/flickr.com

Fiesta, photo courtesy of Bob Franklin/flickr.com