Slowly our Discovery are becoming sweeter and less hard towards the core (which is the last area to ripen).

August rains have been most helpful for both the fruit and our vegetables. The lower temperatures, particularly overnight, are helping to enhance the colour of the apples. Seeing is a bit deceiving just now as when I have sampled various varieties  which are often  approaching readiness at this end of August, there is a distinct distastefulness indicating that the ripening season is slowing down and that  some patience  is needed.

Our Quince have definitely responded to some dampness, their fluffy forms showing beneath the leaves. These can be expected around the end of September.

Culinary apple  varieties are obviously in very short supply here this season.

As for the Ribston Pippin. The 14th September, being a usual date to pick these, falls on a Friday. At the moment I have a hunch they will be staying on their trees until Monday 17th.

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It being the 9th of August. The last time we had a day so wet all day was the 30th April.

Fortuneately most of the fruit here is still immature enough not to be adversley affected by this welcome change in the weather, particularly as the temperature is so much reduced on that we have grudgingly become accustomed to.

Our very first Discovery are expected at the end of next week – 17th August . By now we have a list of requests for apples to be sent all over the British Isles so it won’t be long now for you all to be enjoying a munch. Not just apples can be sent but anything we grow here can accompany them either in the same box or a companion box. Beetroot, Onions and Tomatoes are the favourites – they all happen to be round!

So, it looks like our ‘average’ dates for the apple varieties are to be expected this season. As in previous years all eyes are on the Ribston Pippin row as being a firm indicator to guide us through picking dates for the later apples. My father planted this row in 1966 using M26 rootstock. The end of this row is walked past  more than most as it is by our yard.

Contact us for fruit and vegetable availability strictly direct to private individuals  – tannandrew@gmail.com.

A welcome one at that and with no dramatic consequences in the form of hail.

We will be ending July with a little measurable rainfall and with lower temperatures than this last week, particularly.

We still expect our Discovery to be edible around the 15th August and all will flow from there.

Obviously we may encounter some russetting of the fruit of some varieties – reflecting the recent stress, also fruit size may well be compromised downwards.

We now  have most of the equation for a flavoursome apple with abundant light and warmth – just need some regular top ups on the moisture to  complete the process!

Further to my most recent post, an update  to reflect the current dry spell is relevant.

Three observations to be acknowledged:

a)  Our soil was at field capacity as of 30th April (not far off being waterlogged).

b)  The apple trees are still making new leaves – the silvery shimmer, early in the morning, of the freshly unfolding leaves in the tip of the shoots proves that, at present, the tree root systems are happy.

c)  Apple bearing branches are gradually lowering within the tree indicating that the apples are gaining weight. Again, moisture is available for this.

We look to either the North Sea or the English Channel to stimulate a break in the weather here in Essex at this time of the year. Enough rain to recover your front lawns would be useful, not only for root systems, but also to feed some thermal currents for future useful showers from the dampened environment.

It is preferable to remain dry rather than to suffer from monsoons or, worse still, hail storms.

As for the apple crop itself – ‘Enough’ is plenty!

At the moment, the answer would seem –  ‘enough’.

May saw a rapid recoovery in temperatures both during the day and, unusually, during most nights too. The chilly and wet end to April will have delayed the pollinating insect population from establishing, not that we rely on them, but look on the pollinating period as a time when insects of all types , including bees, can bee seen and heard during the day, foraging and transporting.

Trees blossoming on the 30th April are showing very few apples indeed as the wind chill was detrimental to  insects and devastating to pollen tube growth. Some trees sheltered immediately inside a northern hedge have set well while a few trees further down the row are empty where the shelter from cold was less. Corners bounded by hedges or human habitation have set well – my theory is that our resident  Bumble bee population have been working close to their nests.

The June drop has begun early this year and will be particularly useful  with Discovery, Worcester Pearmain, Spartan and Tydeman’s Late Orange.

Orleans Reinette and Kidd’s Orange Red look good. A hopeful eye is being kept on our Ribston Pippin and D’arcy Spice. Cox are grown here on four different rootstocks on a wide range of aged tree. They are visible and very scattered – but they are there!

Cooking apples generally are looking light. No Suntan or Blenheim Orange in quantity to be expected.

Our variety ‘collection’ seem to be showing a good range.

Victoria plums are now dropping, fortuneately. Few gages to be seen.

Weather wise  some occassional rain would not be amiss. A repeat of the scorching sun of the last two Julys will not be welcomed. Last season many fruit were spoiled by two particularly hot days during mid July. Discovery and Worcester Pearmain which we noticed at picking but also Cox which displayed similar skin softness on the exposed cheek some weeks after picking.

Enough is enough.  ‘Bumper’ crops have their own downside.

 

 

We will draw a veil over the bitter end to April, which has left its mark in that the earliest flowering apple varieties – including our Egremont Russet –  have set  very, very lightly.  Also some other rows which were exposed show few fruitlets. May has turned out to be much more satisfactory.

Daytime and most night time temperatures have been as good as we could have hoped for. Rainfall has held off through the middle part of the month , allowing the high water table of earlier to gradually lower. Everything is growing  and a good start for those tiny fruitlets which are apparent through much of the orchard.

A time of waiting, traditionally by Derby Day (during the first week of June)  a reasonable idea of how the fruit trees have set a crop can be expected. Even so, the annual June drop a few weeks later can  make a dent in initial over optomistic assessments.

Recently we had a live visit by the presenters of BBC Essex Quest. Crapes Fruit Farm held the answer to a clue!

Shortly  we will be compiling our annual brochure of the fruit we expect to have available to send out in a range of small packs. This scheme has been operating for over thirty years with some original customers in Yorkshire and Shetland still munching! To join our mailing list please advise us. Details can be sent either electronically or by snail mail.

I haven’t mentioned vegetables for a while. Yes, they are growing well – white and red onions beetroot, cabbage, leeks etc. Being planted now , squash, tomato, runner beans. If you are local to us here at CO6 3RR then we should have produce available at the farm at the beginning of July with plums following before August . By then our weekly delivery round in the Colchester area will be operating.

In case you are wondering. Derby Day is a popular horse racing event in England – of no interest to the author!

 

Hopefully we have seen the last of the miserably cold and wet weather which rounded off April. Fortuneately the apple bloom date  is still behind average and most of our varieties are showing  buds of varying degrees  of pink amongst the young leaves.

For once, there is  a favourable weather prediction for this,  our U.K. May bank holiday week end, and , timed nicely as the apple blossom will be well out for the 12th May.

A busy week ahead for bees !!

 

3rd May 2018