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Archive for September, 2009

Where can I find a website (or book) that is a definitive guide to distinguishing wild fruit you can eat from stuff you should not eat.

I am particularly interested in plums, sloes etc as where I live I pass a number of trees which have plum like looking fruit on them but I would like to formally identify it before I risk all!

Tony Fairhall

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We have just purchased 2 hectares of North Shropshire grass land and wish to plant 1 hectare of apple trees and have been looking at a mixed bag of culinary, dessert and cider apples, expecting to be able to sell to the cider market.

We would like trees that are around 10-12 ft and are also conscious that we need to make sure that our trees will pollinate either themselves or each other.

We are not farmers and have very little (no) experience, and are very aware that we could get this horribly wrong, and any advice regarding varieties, rootstock, spacing and suppliers would be very much appreciated.

Ian and Philomena Smith

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I have a serious red spider mite problem in polytunnels containing about 4000 maiden fruit trees. Has anyone experience using sulphur vapourizers and can anyone recommend a systemic acaricide ?

And a further question: why do commercial apple growers use the replacement method of pruning?

Ian Sturrock

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Bramley's Seedling grown in California

Bramley's Seedling grown in California

Kevin Hauser, a pioneer in growing apples in a warm climate – Riverside, near Los Angeles – recounted his experiences on our main web-site some time ago. Many of the varieties he grows originated in England; he even grows Bramley’s Seedling! Click  here to read his article. Now he  brings us up-to-date with the situation  this year.

It has  been over 40 degrees C here in Southern California all last week (43 on Monday) and there is a fine snow of ashes raining down from the wildfires burning in the foothills. I am walking down my apple tree row sampling failures; Lord Lamborne – cracked and split, Ashmead’s Kernel – wrinkled and rubbery, Pitmaston Pineapple- sweet, dense, a bit dry, pretty bland. I picked up a Bramley that had been sitting on the ground all day in the brutal sun, and WOW! Crisp, juicy, very tart and very sweet, with citrus overtones – definitely something going on here.

The Bramleys were starting to fall, so we picked the rest of them last evening and since it was way too hot to bake a pie, we made apple sauce from the dozen or so apples we ended up with this year.  I was surprised how quickly they fell apart when cooking, much more so than the Rome Beauty we are accustomed to.  The applesauce was quite tart, even after adding copious amounts of sugar and cinnamon.  My wife liked it only lightly sweetened, but I could not stand it that way and had to dress it up more.  We had it with whipped cream. Everyone agreed that we liked the brisk taste, very refreshing on a late summer evening.  Store-bought applesauce seems insipid and tasteless compared to Bramley.  About the only apple we have with the same tartness is Lady Williams, which will not ripen until four months from now in February.

In February of 2006 when I first planted our Bramley tree it was a 1 cm bench graft on M7 rootstock.  It grew like a rocket the first year, getting as thick as a shovel handle by October.  This greatly alarmed me, as I had visions of it overtaking our house in a few years; but in the ensuing years it has slowed down considerably. I speculate that our lack of chill greatly stunts its growth, since it only requires moderate summer pruning to keep it small enough to pick without a ladder.

Kevin Hauser

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