Storing apples for the winter
Now is the time to pick the last varieties of apples that are still hanging on the trees. The last apples to be picked usually have the best storage life.
Put them in single layers, not touching each other, in a dark, cold, vermin-proof place. Some cooking and eating apples are of such good storage quality that you can keep them in good condition until the next lot of apples are ready in 2013!
Apricot, espalier-trained. The trellis in front of the tree is not for training, but just for fastening the fleece when required
This growing season has not been easy at all for many types of fruit to produce a good crop. Believe it or not one crop, with us, was outstanding, taking in consideration fruit size and flavour. It was the Moorpark apricot. The variety is as old as the hills, has been around and grown for hundreds of years and yet it came up with the most delicious fruits. The espalier trained tree, grown on a South to South Eastern positioned wall, flowered quite early, during March of this year. We covered it up with a double layer of garden fleece, to stop the frosts killing the flowers and took the fleece off when the bumble bees wanted to visit the blossoms. This created a good fruit set. From then on it was a question of watering the tree during the very few occurring dry spells of this season. By the end of May we thinned the fruit to a spacing of approx. 5 inches apart and that was it. No pests or diseases to deal with and it grew on producing those fabulous fruits by the middle of August. Apple, pear or plum, none of them came up with a similar quality crop.
Having thought about it quite a lot, it must have been the fact that apricots tend to flower so early and set fruit early gave them such a good start. There were good warm days when the apricot was in flower. This was not the case when the plums and apples were in blossom. So this proves the point that a factor which was thought of as a disadvantage, the very early flowering, this year turned out to be an advantage. The moral of this story is, early flowering of almonds, apricots, peaches and nectarines is no problem. Always of course we make sure that when they begin to blossom the trees are covered at night with a double layer of garden fleece when the weatherman tells us a night frost is expected.
Click here to visit our main website’s varieties page, scroll down to find the Apricot varieties available
A good crop on a well-tended apple tree
There is a lot of confusion around the topic about which is the best time to plant. Many people believe that March to May is the best time to plant. In fact in most cases it is the opposite! By far the best time to plant trees is in the period from early December to the middle of March. And in that period it is most important to choose the right moment to plant, soil wise and weather wise. It is a mistake to delay the planting to the last moment. The weather is very variable and unpredictable. The best way of doing it is to have the trees on site, from early January onwards. When you receive the trees, heel them in, near the house, in a trench 8 inches wide and 8 inches deep, cover the roots totally with soil, and leave them until that moment when weather and time are opportune for planting. These moments of ideal planting conditions may only last for a day. If the trees are on the site one can make use of these ideal opportunities , which occur spasmodically during the winter months.
Now, why is it so important to plant early? It is a mistake to think that when the trees are put in the soil they start to grow from that moment. Trees need time to adjust and closely associate with the soil, in order to rebuild the micro-feeding roots. This process can take as much as from 3 weeks to a month, depending on soil temperature. Without these roots being functional, the trees are totally dependent on the reserves stored in the thicker roots and in the woody parts of the tree above ground . Once those reserved are used up, the tree, if not planted early enough, starves, and will look miserable for the rest of the season.
Finally, don’t put big lumps of soil on top of the tree roots. Micro roots cannot grow in this. Instead, visit your garden centre, and buy some of the best tree planting compost such as John Innes compost number three. Cover all the roots with it, move the tree gently up and down to enable the crumbly soil to filter in between the roots, then secure the tree to the stake or the wire or the fence and make sure the union of the tree is 5 cm above the soil. Apply a mulch around the tree and water weekly with 5 litres of water once growth has begun around April time.