Page Topic: Advice on Fruit and Vegetables

    Local Knowledge from the Experience of Members:

                             Our first contribution is from our Secretary, Alan Hamilton, and it’s all about  APPLES

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During the last 15 years I have planted a number of fruit trees. These have included about 15 apple trees from Dobies or Marshalls catalogues.. The trees were on dwarf rootstock and I initially grew the trees in large pots but they gradually became too large for the pots and I moved them into the garden. The following points  may be useful


I use bare rooted trees on dwarf rooting stock (usually M9)  The tree is planted in fertile well drained soil in a sunny spot. As they are dwarf it is important not to allow grass to grow around the base of the tree during their lifetime. Keep the graft union above the soil level and stake them. Tees on M9 rootstock are very dwarfing and grow to about 8 ft. They should be planted 8 ft apart.  Plant the tree so it is on a 6 inch high mound about 3 ft across and if possible add a little wood ash. The best time to plant is when the trees are dormant in November or in early Spring in March before the Winter is over. Do not plant when the ground is frozen.


It is recommended not to allow any fruit to form during year one to ensure the plant can become established. Thinning of the fruit is vital in later years.  Natural shedding takes place during June and early July and after this remove other fruit to leave a gap of 4 to 6 inches between each fruit.

To improve the soil put 2 fork full of well rotted farmyard manure around the tree but not touching the bark. Also add 2 handfuls of fish/bone meal.

Summer pruning takes place during July and is used to remove some of the fresh growth. Winter prune to shape the tree.

Some varieties are self pollinating but most require another apple tree close at hand to maximise the fruit yield.


When choosing a variety for your garden it is important to find one that will crop well in our local climate. From my experience the following have worked well for me but a lot can depend on your soil type, moisture and amount of sunshine available,


    eating apples - Discovery (crops in August/ Sept), James Grieve, Red Falstaff, Scrumpious, Egmont Russet

    cooking apples - Bramley Seedling, Belle de Boskoff

    crab apple - John Downie (this variety is not bitter and my grandchildren enjoy the taste)


Although I have not grown them the following varieties have been recommended - 'Katy'  and 'Winston'.


I recently visited  the The Irish Seed Saver Association garden located nean Scaniff in West Clare. There is large orchard set up to save old varieties grown throughout Ireland. On the website there are 75 varieties available for sale and I plan to order 'Beauty of Bath' and 'Ballyartan'. This does mean that some of my existing trees which have not been a success will have to go.


I have also visited the GB National Fruit Collection at Brogdale Farm near Canterbury in Kent. There are over 2,200 varieties of apple trees and many other types of fruit trees. It is very impressive and well worth a visit.


A small apple tree can be grown in most gardens. Why not try one in a large pot like I did?. In this note I could only provide you with some basic information and if you would like more there are many books and websites. Your local garden centre can also assist.


I would be happy to provide additional practical details and feel free to speak to me anytime if you think I could help.

Alan…        

20 November 2016

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