Juicing is a great way of processing plenty of apples and enjoying them long after the eating season is over. At our purpose-built juicing facility in Herefordshire we are able to produce apple juice to retail standards, so whether you want juice for your own consumption or intend to sell it on you can rest assured that our juicing and bottling service is of the highest quality. Continue reading
You may well be thinking that life is too short to spend time in the orchard thinning fruit. In our view, any time spent in an orchard is a bonus. There are, though, some good reasons to thin fruit particularly if your trees are heavy croppers. The main one is that the tree will produce better quality and size fruit – albeit fewer of them – but there are other benefits
- heavy crops can cause limb damage
- fruit will ripen more evenly as more light and air can penetrate the branches
- it may help reduce the spread of pests and diseases
- heavy cropping in young trees can set them back
Sourcing specific apple varieties or discovering new ones can be difficult and very time-consuming. Garden centres tend to stock only the popular varieties and more specialist nurseries are few and far between. Help is at hand. The People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is launching the first online database which lists every known UK-grown variety of orchard fruit from apples and pears to medlars and mulberries providing a way for gardeners, cider-makers and orchard owners to find nurseries that sell them. Continue reading
Losing a branch through storm damage or from the weight of too much fruit can create unwanted gaps in the canopy. Cut Three in our Guide To Best Pruning Practice, is useful when you want to stimulate the growth of new shoots so that the tree can develop a replacement limb. This particular cut needs to come with a health warning, though, as it is the most misunderstood and misused pruning cut. Unlike Cut One, you will be pruning two-year or older wood so it is important to understand how the tree will respond. Continue reading
Correct pruning keeps fruit trees healthy. Trees with few overlapping or competing limbs have a better chance of a long fruitful life. In young and mature trees, allowing more sunlight and air to penetrate the canopy aids tree health and fruit production. Older and veteran trees can be kept in balance, or even rebalanced to prevent them from falling. However, the very act of pruning is causing a wound to the tree. Using the right pruning technique, a tree will seal the wound using its own mechanisms and little harm will come to the tree.
Young trees if not pruned develop weak branches bearing excessive fruit early in their lives, but reduced crops as they mature. They develop their own shape, rather than the one the orchard owner wants, usually with an excess of crowded, vertical material. With correct pruning in the early years, the tree will develop a strong structure of framework branches that will crop well and be easier to manage in the future. In our last blog, we introduced our Guide to Best Pruning Practice in Four Cuts. These are the four essential pruning cuts that once mastered will provide you with the tools to manage your fruit trees throughout their life. This blog will look at Cut One which is used to promote strong, new growth. Continue reading
Why do we prune a tree? The simplest answer is to give the tree the best chance of a long, productive life. There are, though, many reasons for pruning. For fruit, we want light and air penetrating the centre of the tree; to benefit wildlife, we may want to rebalance a tree that is no longer productive so that it remains standing; or we may just want to create an attractive shape.
Most pruning guides get very complicated very quickly. We will show you 4 cuts and how the tree will respond to them. Each pruning cut has a specific purpose such as controlling growth, removing damaged or badly placed branches or stimulating the formation of flowers and fruits. Once you understand how a tree will react to being cut in these 4 ways, you have the tools to manage your fruit trees. Of course, you can choose to get into the complicated stuff – but start here. Continue reading
Pruning an apple tree can be a daunting prospect, but try not to give into your fear. Planting a tree and walking away to leave it to its own devices is not advisable. Trees that are not pruned will produce less fruit over time and the branches will become congested and diseased. Pruning does not need to be complicated. Taking time to understand the theory behind it certainly helps. It’s also useful to bear in mind the number 3. You’ll be surprised how often it turns up when you are making your pruning decisions. Continue reading
It’s official. December was the warmest since records began in 1910. It was also one of the wettest. This unseasonable weather put our schedule for picking and processing apples in a constant state of flux. We began picking dessert fruit to press for apple juice a good three weeks earlier than in previous years. By the middle of December, cider apples, that last year we were harvesting in January, were already beginning to rot on the ground. Despite this, we bottled nearly three thousand litres of apple juice and our first batch of cider is fermenting nicely.
Cider is one of the oldest fermented beverages in the world. No-one knows when cider production first began, but it has provided humans with a safe drink for centuries.
As autumn flows seamlessly into winter, our orchards are still full of activity. Windfalls provide a vital source of late food for many species of birds and mammals. Fieldfares, redwings, mistle and song thrushes, blackbirds, jays all have a liking for ripe apples, as do badgers, foxes, hedgehogs and hares. Continue reading