COSBY APPLE GRAFTING COURSE (5hr)
Will run next on Sat 17th Feb and (depending on numbers) also on Sat 24 Feb 2018; cost £28.
The course makes an excellent Xmas present for orchard / horticulture enthusiasts.
FUTURE EVENTS 2017 Sun 9 Jul, Foxton, 2pm: meeting to discuss maintenance of the Foxton orchard
Wed 27 Sep 9.30am - 2pm Waterloo Farm Cottage Garden: apple juicing day
Sat 30 Sep 11am-4pm: Botcheston orchard tidy-up day
Sun 8 Oct Woodhouse Eaves Apple Day 10am - 4pm
Wed 11 Oct 2017, talk (nd/ad), Earl Shilton Loc Hist Gp, Meth Church 7.30pm
EVENTS & NEWS
DONISTHORPE APPLE DAY Donisthorpe Orchard, 14 Oct 2017, 12.00-4pm. Nigel and Alison of Leicestershire Heritage Apples were at the event, with an entry for the cidermaking competition (we came 5th out of 9) and another apple tasting with 14 apple varieties on show; thirteen Heritage apples from around the world and one variety, Royal Gala, from the supermarket. Each person who went through the tasting was asked to sample all fourteen varieties and to indicate their favourite on the tally board. Fifty-four people of all ages (aged 3-90) took part.
Rubaiyat, a sweet-tart fruity apple from America with spectacular red flesh, easily came top, followed by Grenadine (a powerful fruit-punch flavour), Blackjack (a concentrated earthy taste) and Huonville crab (another sweet-sour apple with spectacular colouring). The Durrant apple also received many favourable comments, as did May Queen.
It was interesting to see an 18-month old child eating all fourteen of these without a murmer, including the dryish-bitter Burford's Redflesh.
Pictures and tally board below; click for a bigger picture.
Votes for favourite apple: 17 Rubaiyat
5 Huonville Crab
4 Durrant's Seedling
4 May Queen
3 King of the Pippins
2 Wyken Pippin
2 Marriage Maker
1 Golden Noble
1 Royal Gala
0 West Virginia Sweet
0 Burford's Redflesh
14 Oct 2017
BROOMBRIGGS FARM COMMUNITY ORCHARD OPEN DAY 8 Oct 2017; 10-4; a busy Apple Day at the community orchard next to Woodhouse Eaves; Leicestershire Heritage Apples was represented by Nigel and Alison, and we took along some rare apple varieties for people to taste, to add to those supplied by Malcolm Whitmore. We were visited by about 250 people, 170 of which tasted the 14 varieties on display and voted for their favourite. There were lots of other apple events too, including apple juicing and some very pleasant live folk music.
The apple tasting: varieties on offer were: Cox, Jumbo, Ribston, James Grieve, Charles Ross, Lord Lambourne, Fiesta, King of the Pippins, Grenadine, Weirouge, Golden Noble, Wyken Pippin, Durrant and Wickson. We were pleased to make a new contact who has a Packington apple tree and who brought along some fruit.
FAVOURITE APPLES: VOTES
17 Lord Lambourne
17 Charles Ross
15 Durrant's Seedling
9 James Grieve
9 King of the Pippins
6 Wyken Pippin
5 Golden Noble
1 Packington (not shown on photo)
Pictures below; click the thumbnails for more detail.
8 Oct 2017
EARL SHILTON LOCAL HISTORY GROUP Nigel and Alison spoke about Leicestershire Heritage Apples on 11 Oct 17 to an audience of about 45 people at Earl Shilton Methodist Church, and followed this with an apple tasting of 12 varieties: Golden Noble, Rubaiyat, Sops-in-Wine, Ribston, Durrant's Seedling, Wickson, King of the Pippins, Claygate, Burford Redflesh, Wyken Pippin, Grenadine and the Wibtoft seedling. Golden Noble was popular, along with Wickson ('magnificent flavour' from one taster) and the Durrant apple. One unusual thing about the tasting: the yellow light in the church made the redfleshed apples look very peculiar - more brown than red.
Many thanks to the History Society for making us so welcome.
12 Oct 2017
BOTCHESTON FARM OPEN DAY Sat 30 Sept; Botcheston Farm was open all day and a steady stream of visitors came to see the largest organic growers' site in Leicestershire. Some volunteers worked all morning on clearing weeds from around the trees in the new orchard. Nigel from Leicestershire Heritage Apples talked about the trees; Sarah gave tours around the polytunnels and supplied tea and cakes.
The new fruit trees have grown well in their first season, and some of them had a few fruit. We will post further updates here from time to time.
1 Oct 2017
WATERLOO FARM COTTAGE GARDEN: APPLE JUICING This took place on Wed 27 Sept at Waterloo Cottage Farm. Several batches were pressed and some were pasteurised; each gallon of juice required about 20lbs of fruit.
LHAP also organised an apple tasting where we sampled Golden Noble, Laxton's Fortune, West Virginia Sweet, Purple Radish (an interesting bitter-sweet apple), West Virginia Sweet, Malus Geneva, Baya Marisa, Wickson, Huonville Crab, Weirouge, Lord Lambourne and Ribston. A few pictures are shown below. Click on the thumbnails for better photos.
27 Sep 2017
MORE VITAMIN C DETERMINATIONS Some interesting apples analysed this time, inclusing a Polish variety (Kosztela, a beautiful warm-tasting eating apple), the Ukrainian apples Amulet, Eccentric and Matrioska (the last two are seedless) and the Belgian redfleshed eating apple Roter Dries. Laxton's Fortune was done as a check.
mg vitC /100g fruit
slightly under- ripe
fresh off the tree
past its best
old but edible
I also analysed two apples identified recently using DNA analysis; apparently Lord Lamborne and Worcester Pearmain.
However they are coming out at 21.2mg and 15.8mg. The figures seem too high, especially the Worcester. Perhaps there's been a labelling error somewhere.
Does anyone living locally have a Worcester Pearmain apple they could drop in, please? I should be able to find a known Lord Lamborne.
27 Aug 2017
- I have obtained a known Lord Lamborne and this is giving a result of 14.7mg.
28 Aug 2017
APPLE TASTING, EARLY VARIETIES
Apples featured: a mixture of the earliest of the season: Leicestershire Sweetings, Scarlet Surprise, Almata, own seedling 110 (a redfleshed cross), Hall's Pink, Discovery, Rosette. We missed Norfolk Rattlebox and Irish Peach: not many apples this year and ripened three weeks ago. We'll do Devonshire Quarrenden next time.
Leicestershire Sweetings was well-rated, and Hall's Pink, but the pick of the bunch were Discovery and Rosette (fresh from the tree). More soon.
10 Aug 2017
EARLY & LATE Here, pictured on 14 July 2017, are extreme examples of early and late apples. The first picture shows the Parkway apple, picked in January 2017 and stored in a cellar, still edible (though the flavour was somewhat weak). The second picture shows Leicestershire Sweetings fresh from the tree which were sampled on the same day.
19 Jul 2017
SUMMER PRUNING AT COTESBACH HALL We spent an enjoyable Saturday on 15 July at Cotesbach Hall summer pruning the younger apple trees. We began with a half-hour session in the Educational Centre talking about the reasons for summer pruning (essentially, good tree health and better ripening), and examined photographs of the main summer pests of apple trees: mites, apple sawfly, codling moth, etc, along with methods of controlling them. Then we proceeded to the orchard to sort out the trees. We left a few scions on each tree to enable us to use them for grafting in February.
A few pictures of 'before' and 'after' are shown below; click on the thumbnails for the detail. Sophy provided an excellent lunch of home-grown produce - many thanks!
16 Jul 2017
EARLY VARIETY - LEICESTERSHIRE SWEETINGS This is proving to be one of the earliest-ripening varieties. This year we have had ripe apples on the following dates:
FOXTON ORCHARD A meeting was held on 9 July to discuss maintenance of the new orchard and public area. LHAP was represented.
10 Jul 2017
APPLE TREE ORDERS Our grower Graeme reports that he is now able to offer bare root trees in addition to trees in pots. In the winter, of course. Packington and Sweetings are not yet available but we are working on them. On of the lessons of horticulture is that nature cannot be rushed.
2 Jul 2017
BOTANICAL GARDEN FAMILY & PLANT DAY Sun 2 Jul 2-17, 11am-4pm. Nigel and Alison attended the Family and Plant Day at the Botanical Garden with the Leicestershire Heritage Apples display. The new information we had prepared on apple pests was popular. We also saw several of our grafting students from earlier in the year who reported favourably on their trees. There were other interesting stands: one on the many types of bumble bee (thanks for the tour, Maggie), another on basketweaving, others on spinning and weaving, and live music outside in the sunshine. An excellent day out for the family.
2 Jul 2017
GRAFTING COURSES 2018 We are intending to run four grafting sessions next year:
1. Sat 17 Feb 2018. A full-day grafting course at Cosby. (Nigel & Alison)
2. Sat 24 Feb 2018. Another full-day course at Cosby, if the above is full, depending on numbers: (Nigel & Alison)
3. Sat 3 March 2018. A shorter 2-3hr grafting workshop, in North Leicestershire. (Mel & David)
4. A Sunday in Feb 2018; probably 25th. Market Harborough 2-hour grafting workshop, usual venue, private group. Date to be confirmed. (Mel & Nigel)
Please email us if interested. Bookings and payments to be made by mid- December so we can order the rootstocks before Christmas. Price details soon.
28 Jun 2017
FACEBOOK PAGE There is now a Facebook page for Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project, run by Mel Wilson, to accompany my 'Diversity' apples Facebook page.
27 Jun 2017
TALK: ALLESTREE, DERBYSHIRE Mel Wilson gave a talk on Leicestershire Heritage Apples to Allestree Gardening Club, 26 Jun 17 to an interested audience of about 85 people. There was some enthusiasm for setting up a similar apples group in Derbyshire.
27 Jun 2017
LEICESTER UNIVERSITY BOTANICAL GARDEN - BULLETIN Leicestershire Heritage Apples Project featured on the cover of the latest bulletin from the Botanical Garden, where there was an account of the recent planting of apples trees which took place in mid-March (see lower down this page). An extract from the bulletin is shown below.
27 May 2017
LHAP ON RADIO LEICESTER Mel Wilson appeared on the Ben Jackson programme on 24 May, talking about the advantages of Heritage apples, seasonality, and the importance of genetic diversity in a world where we sometimes tend to take food for granted. The interview can be heard here.
27 May 2017
COLLECTING POLLEN FOR APPLE CROSSES Part of the work of raising new apple varieties is to collect pollen for doinng the cross-pollinations. Here is a picture of the discarded petals when the pollen has been removed, after an afternoon's pollinating. Click the thumbnail for a better picture.
22 Apr 2017
GRAFTING COURSES FEEDBACK 2017 Twelve people have now contacted me regarding the grafting workshops held during February; it seems that it has been a good year for callusing and the vast majority of grafts has been successful. If any others would like to contact me, feel free ... and if you can, attach photographs. Well done, students!
22 Apr 2017
APPLE BLOSSOM 2017 The blossom this year has been early but very good; not just apples. It looks as if it will be a good plum and cherry year too. Here are a few pictures; left to right and reading down the page the first 8 varieties are: George's Red, Mott's Pink, Purple Radish, Redlove Circe, Amulet, Barnack Orange, Huonville Crab and Breunsdorfer. Click on the thumbnails for better pictures.
Below - the best red apple blossom I've seen - Huonville Crab.
22 Apr 2017
APPLE BLOSSOM Apple blossom is very early this year; about three weeks earlier than in 2016. This may create pollination problems because there's a higher probability of cold night temperatures in April than there is in May. However we are hoping that frosts and cold weather hold off for a while so that we get a decent fruit set.
Hand pollination for our apple crosses is now under way, using (for the early varieties) stored pollen from last year.
12 Apr 2017
ENCOURAGING EARLY FRUITING A problem with some young trees, especially vigorous ones, is that can be reluctant to fruit. One way to speed up the formation of fruiting wood is to loop the trees over. This slows down the growth to some extent, and encourages the formation of fruit buds.
The trees in the picture are actually seedlings (grown from pips), but the method will also work with grafted trees which have not yet fruited. Click on the thumbnail for a more detailed picture.
12 Apr 2017
MARKET HARBOROUGH ORCHARD First batch of Leicestershire Heritage Apple trees planted at the Harborough orchard. Pictures below:
Click on the thumbnails for more detail.
25 Mar 2017
MARKET HARBOROUGH ORCHARD More time spent at the new Market Harborough orchard site this afternoon with Judith and Cee, digging holes for the first batch of Leicestershire apples trees. They will be planted in a few days.
20 Mar 2017
APPLE RARITIES A few more trees grafted today, using rare redfleshed scions (five more varieties) from a friend in Belgium.
19 Mar 2017
BOTANICAL GARDEN 15 Mar: Today we spent some time planting Leicestershire Heritage Apples at the Botanical Garden with Richard and Gareth. It is important to have reference collections of local apples, to help protect genetic diversity and to ensure that the rediscovered varieties are available for future generations.
It is disconcerting to note that almost all commercial varieties of apple introduced since the 1920s are descended from the same six varieties: Golden Delicious, Cox's Orange Pippin, Jonathan, McIntosh, Red Delicious or James Grieve.
This means they have at least one of these apples in their family tree, as a parent, grandparent or great-grandparent. See our translation of Hans-Joachim Bannier's article for more on this.
Some pictures are shown below.
15 Mar 2017
BOTCHESTON ORCHARD More apple trees are being grafted for the Botcheston orchard; mainly those where scions were not available last year.
If you would like to see the Botcheston Orchard planting video from November, click the link below:
14 Mar 2017
GRAFTERS AND GROWERS, LUBENHAM
Helping Judith and Paul graft more apples trees for Judith's Virtual Orchard project on a quiet day in March 2017.
5 Mar 2017
GRAFTING COURSE 4, COSBY (MIXED GROUP) About a dozen people were gathered together by Judith Egan for another enjoyable grafting workshop session in St. Hugh's Hall, Market Harborough. The workshop was run by Mel and Nigel, who introduced the session with a brief talk based on audience responses to a few questions about apples, starting with 'why do we graft'? The main purpose of the worshop was to construct more trees towards Judith's target of getting a hundred new Leicestershire Heritage apple trees out into the community into her 'Virtual Orchard'. Each participant grafted two trees.
26 Feb 2017
GRAFTING COURSE 3, COSBY (MIXED GROUP) Another varied group of students today (25 Feb) including some people involved in the Master Composters' scheme and other local people involved in horticulture, including the setting up of orchards. Two of our students were repeating the course as a 'refresher' and were pleased to increase their stock of unusual trees.
There was a choice of thirty-four varieties in the same three categories as before ('Heritage', 'Leicestershire' and 'Other'). The Spencer Seedless proved to be popular, as did Pink Pearl and Leicester-Burton Pippin. George's Red, an apple from Roundbush, Essex with hints of strawberry in the flavour, was chosen by three people.
Alison provided yet another apple cake and we sampled late winter apples over lunch. Christmas Pink and Pink Pearl were popular, and most were surprised at the pleasant flavour of the apple MM106. I grow one of these, ungrafted, just for its fruit.
25 Feb 2017
CHRISTMAS PINK A number of people have emailed, asking me for a photo of the Christmas Pink apple. Here it is; almost as dark as Grenadine, but keeps for much longer. They have a flavour close to Braeburn but more berry-like and not quite as sweet.
FAMILY APPLE TREE
Spent the morning completing the grafting on the family apple tree. This was a tree which produced unpalatable apples; a year ago most of the branches were cut back to stubs, and this produced lots of water shoots, which were allowed to grow uninterrupted for the whole of 2016.
Twenty-five out-pointing shoots were kept; the rest were cut off. Into each shoot was grafted a new scion. Five main varieties were grafted first, each variety arranged symmetrically in a triangle to prevent the tree getting lopsided. The remaining ten shoots were grafted with one new variety each.
Here's the tree immediately after grafting. I'm hoping the framework tree isn't too vigorous, otherwise it may take several years for any fruit to appear.
If you wish to see this tree being grafted, please have a look at the video link:
19 Feb 2017
GRAFTING COURSE 2, COSBY (MIXED GROUP) A varied group of students today; three young people from Manchester interested in learning to graft, and some local people involved in horticulture and growing.
Students were given a choice of thirty varieties in three categories: 'Heritage' (courtesy of a friend in Tenbury), 'Leicestershire' and "Other", which included some rarities - Spencer Seedless, a remarkable apple which has petals with no flowers and does not need bees for pollination; also Mere Pippin, a very late dessert apple found growing wild near Mere, Wiltshire, along with Pendragon, Pink Pearl and Whitwick Pippin.
One person brought her own Leicestershire scions to graft. Alison provided another large apple cake and we sampled some late winter apples over lunch. Christmas Pink again attracted attention - an excellent apple with spectacular internal colour.
19 Feb 2017
GRAFTING COURSE 1, COSBY (SAFFRON ACRES GROUP) Saffron Acres group attended our session today; 9.30-4pm, and grafted a large selection of Leicestershire apples and some other heritage varieties. Here are members of the group hard at work. Alison provided a large apple cake and we sampled a dozen late winter apples. Christmas Pink was noteworthy - an excellent flavour, and spectacular internal colour - deep crimson (first apple on the second row). Click the thumbnails for more detail. Pictured: Nic, Jacca, Laura, Alex, Sarah.
14 Feb 2017
BROCK'S HILL, TREE PRUNING WORKSHOP This took place on 22 Jan, 10.30-3.30. The course began with a brief talk on the reasons for tree pruning: maintaining tree health, ensuring a regular supply of fruit, and keeping trees at a manageable size. Then we proceeded to the orchard and worked on about twenty trees (some of them rather large). Thanks to Libby G for organising the event. The participants were Su, Sheila, James, Ceska, Andrew, and Jamie from Brock's Hill. Nigel ran the workshop with assistance from Gabriella, and Alison took the opportunity to collect some scions.
Here's a tree, before and after pruning (click thumbnail for detail):