Warwickshire College - Growing your own apples

PUBLISHED: 10:10 17 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:43 20 February 2013

Warwickshire College - Growing your own apples

Warwickshire College - Growing your own apples

If you're growing your own apples it's worth trying some varieties that aren't readily available in the shops, says Bob Hares.

Apples that are widely available in the shops are more often chosen on the basis of colour, shape and thickness of skin. The gardener has much more choice. There are many new cultivars of apples on the market, and whilst some may be very good, it would be wise to plant a good proportion of the tried and tested ones. For a succession of apples here are my suggestions.

Early September
Fortune is one of the first apples to ripen. It is crisp, sweet and aromatic, and always a favourite with children, and if you have room for another of the same season, James Grieve is always hard to beat for flavour.

Late September to mid-November
Lord Lambourne makes a compact tree, and the fruit has fairly soft texture, again with a sweet and pleasant flavour. Sunset (October to December) is a first class apple for any garden, and is much like a small Coxs Orange Pippin, without the difficulties in growing!

October to Christmas
I would never want to be without Pitmaston Pineapple (one which Im sure we never see on the supermarket shelves, because it is too small) but its flavour will knock your socks off, as will its sweet, slight taste of pineapples.

November to January
Kidds Orange Red (with its excellent parentage of Coxs Orange Pippin and Golden Delicious) has a lovely aroma and sweet, rich flavour. If you have a sheltered and warm spot in the garden or orchard, do include Sturmer Pippin, which is a hard and juicy apple with a rich flavour, and is an apple not ready to picked until November, ready in January, but one which will keep until April in normal conditions.

Cooking apples
Bramleys Seedling is excellent, but readily available in the shops, so why not grow George Neal (late August to early October), which has excellent cooking qualities, remains pale yellow with intact slices, and is sweet and juicy with a little acidity. (Some say it should be more widely grown, but that it would not sell because of its red colour, and many think a cooking apple should be green!) For an October to December apple, Golden Noble is arguably the finest cooker of all, but it is not a heavy yielder. It breaks up completely on cooking, it is creamy white, and with an acid sweet and fruity flavour.

There are of course many hundreds to choose from, and if in doubt, you could always plant those with an RHS Award of Garden Merit, but I will mention one last one called Alfriston, still available from one
or two nurseries, and is one which will keep until April or May. It is a high quality cooking apple that keeps so well it used to be taken on long sea voyages!
There are many Apple Days being held in the region and on Saturday 2nd October Pershore College will be having a lecture on the history of the apple, together with a display of apples and advice on suitable trees to choose. There will also be a tasting of the apple juice produced at the College. Phone 01386 554609 for further details.

Next month Bob has advice on treating diseased apple trees and storing your apple harvest


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