Archive for January, 2008

As visitors to Fruit Forum will know Defra has decided that the National Fruit Collections will remain at Brogdale. Defra awarded the management contract for the Collections from April 2008 to the University of Reading, who will work in partnership with FAST (Farm Advisory Service Team) now based at Brogdale and Brogdale Collections, the social enterprise company set up by the landlord to manage the visitors.

There were five bidders for the Defra management contract, three of whom wished to retain the Collections at Brogdale and two that wished to move them to another site. The latter included the bid from Imperial College, East Malling Research and the Brogdale Horticultural Trust who wanted to relocate the Collections to East Malling, some twenty miles away.

Followers of this subject may like to listen to an interview with the chief executive of East Malling Research and his comments on the decision, which are posted on Kent TV, the county’s on-line television service.

To watch the video go to: http://www.kenttv.com/programmes.php?PID=669

Fruit Forum

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Having purchased a bag of Royal Gala French apples from my local supermarket about 10 days ago, I was surprised to find what appears to be a double variety apple otherwise known as a chimera. The apple is half flushed and half striped, a perfect half as though it had been dipped in dye, truly amazing.

Has anyone else come across one of these?

John Caesar


Royal Gala apple

More Examples of Apple Chimeras

Red Miller’s Seedling

Red Miller’s Seedling


Queen Cox


See comment below from Naomi Orsillo

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During the late winter last year, I planted a bare rooted tree of a new variety of apple, Herefordshire Russet. The tree that came from Frank Matthew’s Nursery was the perfect shape for training as a pyramid and this was my plan. The ground around the tree was mulched and the tree watered during the very dry spring. I had the basis for a superbly shaped and balanced pyramid, that is until the week before Christmas.

I could not help notice that the tree was swaying around and on close examination found that the bark has been totally eaten away all around the tree and for several inches above ground. The stem of the tree had actually reamed a wide hole in the ground, doubtless due to the wind. But what were the roots doing, I asked myself? Grasping the tree to test how fast it was in the ground, I was astonished when it came out with no effort whatsoever. All the roots had gone and all the bark right down to the remains of the tap root. I could not believe my eyes!

The tree was protected by a chicken wire surround, so rabbits were ruled out, but what was obvious was a one inch diameter tunnel, eighteen inches away from the tree. I thought it well worth while placing a mouse trap in front of the entrance and put down a dried currant as bait. In fact, I placed several traps around other trees.

The next day I inspected the traps and low and behold the culprit was caught and later identified as a field vole. An expensive little pest to say the least and another tree, Finkwerder Prinz, has similarly been damaged above ground, but no more voles have been caught.

I have known for some time that voles and mice use mole runs extensively, but as to who nibbled or gnawed the roots I can only speculate; perhaps it was a joint effort. It was quite noticeable this year that the neighbour’s cats were catching many small rabbits and this was possibly something to do with the wet summer, which had perhaps also affected the vole population.

All ground cover vegetation should be removed or kept down around very young trees to discourage mouse and vole activity, and, although I have suffered damage in the past, this has never been to the extent of destroying a whole tree. Has anyone else suffered similar damage?

Adrian Baggaley

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Friends of the Brogdale Horticultural Trust may be interested to read the article in today’s issue of the Daily Telegraph – Saturday 12 January – in the Gardening Section. You can read it on line at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/main.jhtml;jsessionid=J13GGA0IPTVOHQFIQMGSFFWAVCBQWIV0?xml=/gardening/2008/01/11/garden-fruit-collection111.xml&page=1

Fruit Forum

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A few years ago I needed a fruit tree for my small front garden in a market town in Suffollk. The garden is south facing and the soil dry and stony, but most plants grow well. I chose a tree that I hoped would fruit and was self fertile. My Sobu quince tree fulfilled all of my expectations. I was enchanted by the small pink flowers that were quickly hidden by the developing leaves – dark green, slightly leathery and soft to touch on the underneath and quite large, approximately six inches long. The fruit resembled a fully grown up-side down goblet, about five inches long and generally ripens enough to pick in late October to sometime in November. I do not usually harvest them until I can smell the wonderful scent of a ripe quince. The fruits are of interest to passers by in the street and I am happy to try and explain that they are easy to grow and have a very special fruit.

On moving to Wales, I took my young tree with me and moved three times, each time with the tree. So I know that it will grow in a valley, near to the sea and in a town. It remained well and fruited each season. I returned to Suffolk without my quince and purchased another Sobu, which is now seven years old and well established. Normally it will produce between 40-50 lbs of fruit every year, depending on the rainfall. I give it a bucket of water when ever I think of it in the dry weather. Other than that the only attention it gets is a bucket of manure in the spring and autumn and necessary pruning to keep it at about 7-8ft high so that I can reach the fruit.

I cook the quinces into jelly and paste or cheese every year; the quince has a soft downy covering that needs to be wiped and washed before cooking. It is rich burgundy red food, strongly flavoured and can be made sweet or more astringent to eat with game and dark meats. It can be flavoured with other fruits, such as apple and pear, and also lemon and orange for a more savoury type. I sometimes put rose petals or rose water in a dessert made with quinces stewed in honey or sugar. These all make a good contribution to both the store cupboard and gift list at Christmas time. Also some quinces placed in a bowl or basket will perfume a large room.

I would be interested to know if there are Sobu quinces bearing fruit in other people’s gardens. I bought the tree by mail order from a Cambridgeshire company, who no longer stock quinces in their catalogue and most nurseries local to me have only the more commonly grown varieties. Only one nursery listed in the RHS Plant Book 2006/7 has some of the rare varieties. If anyone has some useful tips for propagating, harvesting, storing or cooking this fascinating and less well known fruit, I should be very pleased to hear from you.

Lynne Brixius

PS. The Sobu quince is stocked by Keepers Nursery: http://www.keepers-nursery.co.uk/product.aspx?id=SOBU

Sobu quince

Sobu quince; reproduced with permission from Keepers Nursery

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