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Archive for December, 2008

I am a volunteer with the Home Orchard Society , who is lurking around the USDA’s pear germplasm respository in Corvallis, Oregon.

I have a particularly keen personal interest in the winter storage of fruit. I am also working off the hypothesis that one of the very biggest brakes on the uptake of pear diversity by grassroots growers relates to endemic uncertainty surrounding pear ripening in non-refrigerated/non-controlled atmosphere environments. Put another way, getting a handle on the long-term homestead/home-based storage of pears will be an absolutely critical milestone, I sense, in saving/restoring pear diversity  in this neck of the woods, at least.

I am uncovering useful turn-of-the-last-century information about how to create and manage non-refrigerated physical spaces for the winter storage of fruit (hereabouts, we have a Mediterranean climate with winters not dissimilar from the UK’s) but I am having the devil of a time striking a motherlode of gnosis relating to pear storage in particular. Varietal specifics for anything other than the commercial mainstays is thin on the ground, to put it mildly. I have a sense such knowhow may be closer to the surface your side of the Pond. Would anyone be able to give me some relevant intelligence in the UK or elsewhere in Europe?

Nick Routledge

Bunyard Fruit Store

Bunyard Fruit Store

The fruit store mentioned in the comments below is an example of a Bunyard Fruit Store. This picture is of the first store built by the Bunyard Nursery in 1885, which the Nursery continued to use until the 1930s; probably a few still remain today in gardens. (J.M)

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Centenarian Bramley Trees

Bramley orchard in Wisbech

Bramley orchard in Wisbech

The first large scale commercial plantings of Bramley’s Seedling apple trees took place in the 1890s on a farm at Loddington, outside Maidstone in Kent, a time when the foundations of our modern fruit industry were being laid.  Thousands of apple trees were planted all over the country, old orchards rejuvenated and areas that had previously not grown fruit to any extent invested in orchards. These  included East Anglia and the Wisbech area where Bramley apple trees planted around the early 1900s continue to crop. Now monuments to Bramley’s long popularity, Bob Lever has given us an account of these giants and the particular way in which the trees are pruned on our main web-site. You can also read about the Wisbech orchards in an account by Mark Shirley on his Rockingham Forest Cider blog: here

We would love to have news of veteran Bramley’s still fruiting around the country; there must be hundreds?

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