Archive for November, 2009

I am in Virginia, US. My father, who is 82 years old, remembers an apple from his childhood called Cotton Apple. It is green to yellow in colour and ripens in the summer. I have located a source for this heirloom variety and am trying now to find out more about its history. Mr. Calhoun, in his 1995 book Old Southern Apples, says the Cotton apple was brought over to America by Welsh immigrants settling in North Carolina. It was documented in the 1800s, but we don’t know when it was actually brought here. So I am curious to know if you have any further information about our Cotton apple before it crossed the pond. I will be most appreciative of even the tiniest bit of information.

David Fowlkes

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Scott’s of Merriott dates back to the middle of the 19th century when John Scott, born in Perth, settled in Somerset to establish a nursery famous for its wide range of fruit varieties. This reputation continued right up to recent years. Scott’s could be relied upon to stock the good old fashioned varieties and to graft specific varieties for you.

Scott’s catalogues of the past will be remembered also for the beautiful line drawings of Robin Tanner, the artist, engraver and print maker, seen here in the cover for 1967-68.

As Nick Mann explains below the nursery has now closed, but there may be another opportunity to buy some of its last remaining stocks.

Following the tragic closure of Scotts of Merriott there was a liquidation sale last week which left a large number of trees unsold. These include a wide selection of unusual traditional fruit tree varieties. I am very concerned that this may lead to a number just disappearing, as they were their sole supplier. I understand that the liquidator is re-organizing and categorizing the trees for another sale in January.

Nick Mann

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I am currently trying to find out more about the origin and history of the apple variety ‘Lady Hollendale’.

If anyone knows anything other than the records published in ‘The National Apple Register’ and the ‘New Book of Apples’, I would love to know.

Incidentally, there is no ‘Hollendale’ recorded in Burke’s ‘Peerage and Gentry’!

Bob Lever

(Lady Hollendale is a bright red flushed, early season apple that was grown in the Wisbech area for market in 1920-30s. J.M.)

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raspberries 2

Autumn Biss raspberry reproduced with permission from East Malling Research

I live in Edinburgh and am wanting to plant autumn raspberries this year. Which is the best variety for east coast Scotland?

Roisin Farrington

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red Discovery:nfcP1020071

Discovery apple, which has some natural resistance to scab and mildew

It has been my practice to control mildews and pear and apple scab with fortnightly sprays of dithane 945 and it has always been successful. I read of commercial growers success with Aston’s, garlic/seaweed/citrus, Tree Wash, in the ‘East of England Apples and Orchards Spring Newsletter’ and decided to test it for myself and ceased to used dithane for trace elements and fungus protection.

My regime for apple, pears, cold house and outdoor vines was a fortnightly wash with Tree Wash diluted 1;100 and sprayed to run off. I noticed an improvement in leaf colour and sheen and the spray appears to have maintained a good grip, despite the wet summer. I discovered the beginnings of powdery mildew on outdoor Müller Thurgau, Septimer and Perle on 7 August and so I terminated the trial for all outdoor grapes until after winter training, when I will begin the 2009/2010 programme with a winter spray at 1:250 dilution.

There is, as yet, no sign of mildew under glass where the vines look glossy and well. All apples and pears are similarly well with the exception of one very scabby Williams’ pear.

I read of the efficacy of neem oil in a letter written to the ‘National Auricula and Primula Yearbook’ by Heidi Dixon. The gist of her letter is as follows: neem oil is extracted from Azadirachta indica, native to India and known there as ‘village pharmacy’ because it acts as an insect repellent. It has been subject to much grower and university research and has been shown to be effective against aphids, thrips, white fly, mealy bug, weevils, fruit fly, slugs, snails and other plant pests. The active ingredient azaridachtin and other bitter compounds repel insects. The writer reports that it dealt speedily with red spider mite infestation with lasting effect and that it can prevent powdery mildew.

I cannot test the efficacy of neem oil for myself as I have an ongoing trial using Ashton Tree Wash but others may wish to test it.

Alan Rowe

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The number of new vineyards planted in Sussex led me to look up the statistics kept by the English Wine Producers – the trade body for English vineyards – recording the number of hectares planted for commercial scale wine production county by county. For anyone interested in vines, wines and grapes the figures for the leading counties are as follows: West Sussex, 208 hectares (1 hectare equals 2.47 acres); Kent, 144 hectares; Surrey, 107; East Sussex, 91; Hampshire, 88; Essex, 79; Devon, 52, Suffolk, 38; Gloucestershire, 35; Cornwall, 30; Isle of Wight, 29; Oxfordshire, 23. Some 55% of grapes harvested go into the making of white wine, 25% to sparkling, 10% to rosé and 10% to red wine.

While investment and planting had slowed by the millennium, it has now regained new impetus. Through practise in the 1970s-1980s the industry came to realise that selection of varieties associated with the cooler wine-growing region of Germany, for example, Müller Thurgau, Bacchus, Reichensteiner, were not necessarily best suited to the climate of what is broadly termed the south-east. Selection instead from varieties associated with the climate and soils of the Champagne region, just over the English Channel, has not only led to success but provided the spur to renewed acquisition of land and the planting of yet larger vineyards.

One gold medal wining organic grower I know, working in an old walled garden on the High Weald, regretted planting Müller Thurgau in times previous, which, yes, has won him gold, but, were highly susceptible to mildew. Combating mildew required spraying with copper which kills earthworms and in the long term disrupts the relationship between plants and the life of the soil they grow in. Now, with hindsight he wishes he had planted Seyre-Villard, Seyval Blanc, ironically dubbed ‘Save-All’ because of its capacity to produce crops when other varieties fail.

Climate and soil side though, the commercial scale wine-producer in these islands is severely disadvantaged by cheap subsidised imports from abroad.

Ian Harrison

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