Nearly all my outdoor figs, which were still green, were stripped off. There was no trace of them on the ground.

This is the first time this has happened, so I don’t think it’s squirrels as they’ve been around for years.

There has been an explosion of parakeets recently.

Any ideas? I’m thinking of putting fleece over them next year.

Dan Kelly

I am looking for advice on the true identity of an apple variety once known and celebrated in West Cornwall: the Allan Apple. It is associated with the festival of Allantide, October 31st – Halloween, of course, elsewhere, and there is now a resurgence of interest in both the feast and the apple variety. There are various legends associated with the Allan Apple, but the one remembered from my childhood was that the Allan Apple was given to young ladies who would put it under their pillow (uneaten!) that night in order to dream of their future sweetheart or lover. The apples are described as large, red and sweetly scented – but no-one nowadays seems to know the variety. My son runs an orchard, and I would love to be able to rediscover this – any suggestions?

Sue Ellery

'Belgian Fence'

‘Belgian Fence’

I would like to get some feedback on my plans for a ‘Belgian Fence’ (interwoven double cordon) of apples. I want to create small single intersecting diamond forms as shown in my diagram.

My shortlist for varieties (with pollination groups shown in brackets) is:
Red Windsor (2)
Scrumptious (3)
Egremont Russet (2)
Herefordshire Russet (3)

After a lot of tastings – I attended three different apple days this year – and getting very interested in some other older varieties that have wonderful flavour – Ashmead’s Kernel, Blenheim Orange, Orleans Reinette – I am close to settling on the varieties above. Three of which are newer improved varieties, and seem like they might be a bit more productive. My space is very limited so I want to maximise productivity (without sacrificing flavour). However I have not managed to taste Scrumptious or Herefordshire Russet – can anyone report on flavour? And productivity or suitability for such restricted training?

Situation is a small garden in central London, very sheltered indeed, but probably slightly sub-optimum levels of direct sunlight. Garden is SSE facing with the cordon to run along the left hand fence (running NNW – SSE). The fence is a picket fence around 120cm high so allows some of the early morning direct sunlight through. Then as the sun moves around the row will get direct sunlight from mid-morning to mid-late afternoon. So not full sun all day, but my tomatoes did OK in that position this year, not the best crop I have had, but acceptable. Existing soil is about 18″ to 2ft of clay over building rubble. It is not heavy clay – bit loamy, but has been under paving for many years. I plan to double dig in the next few weeks and add about 25% Veoila soil improver, which I can get from our local tip and seems like good dark stuff – hopefully giving that a month before planting..

I plan to concrete in some angle iron about 8” from the existing fence. Posts to be spaced 2.4m (8ft) apart with galvanised wire and tensioners for support, with canes and ties as generally recommended. Tree spacing 60cm (2ft). Eventual tree height 180cm (6ft). The larger tree on the right in the diagram is to be a Spindle Bush Conference Pear. I am looking at bare-root M9 rootstock from Keeper’s nursery. Apparently due to the warm October the trees are still growing so it is likely to be the New Year before most are lifted.

Any experience anyone could bring to bear on any of this would be much appreciated.

Richard Galpin

Tomorrow – Sunday 26 October – a thousand different varieties of apples will be on display in London’s Borough Market marking a millennium of trading on this site. Apples are the one food that exists in a thousand different varieties and so perfect for this historic anniversary. It all happens tomorrow when the market stages its Apple Day Festival.

The apples come from the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale in Kent where over two thousand different varieties are grown. For more information see: Borough Market

Vietnamese 'Apple'

Vietnamese ‘Apple’

I send you a picture of our small Vietnamese apple. You see the coin they put next to them to show the size of the fruits. It has only one seed. Literally translated from Vietnamese, its name means apple, but it is not an apple but another type of fruit? Can anyone tell me what kind of fruit it is and why it is called an ‘apple’?

Trang Pham

Ames apple

Ames apple

I would be interested in hearing if anyone knows of the existence of the American apple Ames, other than the trees held in National Fruit Collection at  Brogdale, Kent  and at Royal Horticultural Society garden at Wisley, Surrey. I think this cultivar might be extinct in the USA, and possibly everywhere except Brogdale and Wisley.

Bob Lever

Photograph kindly supplied by Peter Laws and Fruit ID

Dutch Morello cherry in blossom

Dutch Morello cherry in blossom

I planted a morello cherry (free standing) on the top corner of my front lawn, in Spring of this year (2014). There are now quite a few straggly ‘branches’, which I am tempted to cut back but I’m sure this is not what I should do. I believe this tree should not be pruned for the first year or so. Also what is the best way to enrich to soil around it over winter. Advice please.

Sandra Bury


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