Growing your own Apple Trees can be fun

We are constantly reading on a daily basis about how the world is always changing in ways we can’t control. The world may change, become faster and more digital but something’s remain stable in the British garden. The opportunity to grow your own fruit is one which as a country we can’t seem to resist and one which brings endless joy when the harvest comes later in the summer and autumn.

Apple-Spartan
Apple Spartan

Sitting in late summer, overlooking a beautiful and colourful garden (fingers crossed of course) we can think of few things better than enjoying some warm apple pie, smothered in custard and accompanied with fresh blueberries. Simply divine! Oh and the extra special treat is knowing we will have grown them ourselves, the fruits of our own labour (excuse the pun).

Both ornamental and practical benefits

So if your garden needs a fresh look and feel then why not also make these changes productive by planting your very own fruit trees. Their striking spring blossoms are a valuable bonus, but ultimately it is the crop from this mini fruit orchard that is appealing. The idea of going organic is one that has been around for a long time and provides many economic and health benefits. Getting back in touch with nature, while also saving you a little money can’t be bad at all.

Choose the right variety for you

While choosing the right apple tree may seem daunting because of the large variety available, we recommend you follow one simple rule – choose to grow the ones you like to eat! Many varieties have a popularity stemming back over 100 years, while other (possibly more unknown varieties) are more recent introductions.

Apple-Bramley-Seedling
Apple Bramley Seedling

The crop you will harvest from your fruit trees in late summer or early autumn, can generally be classified as either dessert or cooking. This will help indicate the use of the fruit and will ultimately help gauge which one is correct for you. Popular dessert varieties include Apple Discovery, Apple Fiesta, Apple James Grieves and Apple Laxton’s Superb.

Popular cooking varieties include Apple Bountiful, Apple Sunset and Apple Bramley Seedling (who can resist a lovely Bramley Apple Pie?).

Pollination – will it need a partner?

Most urban gardens will not require a pollination partner as partners are usually found in close proximity. For people in rural areas it is advised that you choose two varieties from either the same pollination group or one above or one below. Pollination will occur when the beautiful spring blossom appears on the trees and usually is carried out by garden insects and bees. The pollination process will help to encourage a larger crop of fruit and helps with the creation of fresh, nutritional apples.

We have chosen to sell only group B and C varieties to help with this, so each one will cross pollinate with another from our apple range. It’s important when choosing to grow your own fruit trees that you choose good quality, established trees. We supply hardy two year old trees, grafted onto dwarf root stock called M26. Many cheaper alternatives supply the smaller M27 root stock, which is unreliable and will only produce a fraction of the fruit that the M26 will.

How to plant apple trees

– On arrival first thing you need to do is soak the roots in a bucket of water for two hours or overnight if possible, to ensure that prior to planting the roots will soak up as much moisture as possible to get them started.

Apple_Pixie
Apple Pixie

– Choose a location that has access to full sun as the more sun they get, the healthier the tree will grow. It is also best to plant in areas with good shelter to reduce damage from winds.

– Dig out a hole large enough to hold the roots fully, without cramping them. Apple trees will tolerate most types of well drained, fertile soil. It is highly recommended that you add a little manure or a little multi-purpose compost when planting.

– Place the two year old tree into the hole and start to fill in around the roots. Fill in firmly and make sure that no air gaps exist.

– Stake the tree to make sure it is kept stable and that it won’t be damaged by any unexpected winds. Always tie the tree to the stake low down so the tree can move in the wind but the roots will still be firmly held.

– You can also grow individually in large pots but it will reduce the fruiting of them slightly.

 

Aftercare

– Apple Trees can grow as high as 12m but you don’t have to have it that high, you can prune each year to keep at a more manageable height. Each year, usually in late winter or early spring, bring the top crown down and keep to a nice height about 6/8 foot.

– Young trees must be watered thoroughly and you can sprinkle with fertilizer each spring.

– You can also mulch in April with rotted manure or compost around the base of the trunk.

-They will blossom and flower in spring and fruit is normally ready to be picked throughout late summer or early autumn. Don’t be tempted to pick your fruit too early. You can gauge their ripeness by gently twisting them as a ripe apple will easily part from the spur.

Top five recommended apple trees by J Parkers Ducthh Bulbs Ltd.

1. Apple Bramley Seedling – The best known cooking apple. Large green fruit, tinted red. Fruit is ripe October and keeps well into the spring.

 Apple_Laxtons_Superb
Apple Laxton’s Superb

2. Apple Laxton’s Superb –One of the most popular dessert varieties, a really good cropper and frost resistant. Pale green, flushed red fruit which is excellent for storing. Illustrated opposite.

3. Apple Blenheim Orange – Traditional yet still the best dual purpose (cooking and dessert) variety. Golden flushed red fruit, excellent flavour. A heavy cropper and disease resistant.

4. Apple James Grieves –Excellent hardy variety with an early harvest in September. Produces juicy and tangy yellow, speckled orange fruit.

5. Apple Pixie –A quite rare and highly sought after dessert apple. Pale green, flushed red fruit. Highly recommended

Autumn Apple and Fruit Sale -You can view our comprehensive range of apples, pears, plums, apricots and cherries online now. Within this selected group you can order any of these two year old trees for £15.99 each. Please note the offer excludes Apple Api Noir and Apple Red Devil. If you order any three from within this selected group, they will be reduced to only £12.99 each – a saving of £3.00 per tree.

 

 

Grow Your Own: Blueberries, a modern ‘Super Food’

Fruit_BlueberryIt’s inevitable that each New Year we will constantly read and see ways in which we must improve our lifestyle and become healthier all around. In gardening terms this often means going “organic” and what can be more organic than growing your own fruit and vegetables. There are of course many wonderful choices of fruit and vegetables to get you started, and personal choice should always be the best reasoning for choice. Reading through the usual Sunday papers in early January got me thinking about my own personal favourites, and right up there on top of my list has to be the Blueberry, or Vaccinium to give them their proper name.Great tasting fruit to give you a health kick

The deliciously sweet tasting fruit grown from the Blueberry bush is the most appealing part of this summer fruit. The lovely small, round and colourful fruit appears in abundance throughout the summer, into autumn, providing months and months of enjoyment. Almost all Blueberry shrubs are self-fertile, but to enhance production and yield then why not try growing with partners/pairs. By planting with multiple varieties and various harvesting dates, this allows you to extend the season and allow for more wonderful fruit. Once established and properly cared for they will fruit easily year on year. By growing fruit yourself you can allow them to fully ripen on the vine prior to harvesting for a sweeter taste, a luxury that many large scale growers cannot achieve due to economic restrictions.

We have all come to refer to the Blueberry has one of the most healthy fruits around and it’s easy to see why. Recent research have helped shine light on the high levels of antioxidants, minerals and vitamin C present within Blueberries and often sees this labelled as a modern day ‘Super Food’. By growing your own fruit you control the level of pesticides used within your product, a major concern for many when buying mass produced products.


Blueberry_DixiHow to grow your own Blueberries

Blueberries are versatile enough to accommodate growing in the ground or in containers spread out around the patio. Planting in acidic soil is vital to the success of Blueberries, with a PH level of four/five. Make sure the soil is well aerated and rich in humus. If planting in containers then make sure they are large enough to allow the roots to fully spread, and add a handful of crocs or pebbles to the bottom of the container.

Looking after Blueberries is relatively easy and suitable for all skill levels. Make sure the soil is kept moist throughout, but never allowed to become waterlogged. Many organic gardeners choice to use recycled or rain water instead of tap water, to save the environment and in fact this should help keep PH level of the soil a little more balanced. We suggest applying a liquid feed once a month to help encourage larger and more successful fruit.


Soft-Fruit---BlueberryTop Varieties to try

1. Blueberry Top Hat – A popular dwarf variety, superb for growing in pots.

2. Blueberry Pink Lemonade – Blush white flowers are followed by sweetly flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. Although self-fertile, you can plant in pairs to achieve a greater crop. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamental shrub with all year round interest. Height 1.5m.

3. Blueberry Spartan (Early season Flowering) –Blueberry Spartan is a popular early fruiting variety, reaching heights of 1m. The fruit is high in Vitamin C and can be eaten fresh of the tree or for culinary purposes such as creating a pie or tart. Pot grown plants supplied.

4. Blueberry Dixi (Late season flowering) – A late flowering variety, best for harvesting in August/September.

5. Blueberry Giant Patriot – The largest and juiciest of all blueberry shrubs, Patriot fruits July/August.

Fruit & Veg: What to grow in your allotment this year

AllotmentAs more and more people are actively taking an interest in looking after their health and the food that they eat, the UK is rapidly seeing an increase in the use of allotments in urban areas. These little pieces of oasis in built up, often highly populated areas offer a superb way of getting back in touch with nature, growing your own fruit and vegetables and creating an area which allows you relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.Allotments are often allocated to people by their local councils, and one of their key benefits is that they bring people together, allow people to enjoy a shared space and also to share ideas/tips. I love the thought, at the end of the week watching people locally escape to their allotment, getting stuck in and trying to create (and maintain) something wonderful. The maintenance can at times be time consuming and hard work (especially trying to keep on top of those dreaded weeds), but the rewards really can be worth the effort.

Allotment 2What to grow in the allotment this year?

Now summer is almost here, there is still the opportunity to get the allotment into shape and start to transform the area. Don’t worry if the area is small, you can still grow many varieties of fruit and vegetables in even the smallest of sections.Walking past the allotments near my house recently I stopped and began to chat to a local lady who had made such a lovely, open planned display of her own space. She had Strawberry plants growing in almost perfectly controlled rows, raised beds with Potatoes growing from seed, Blueberry and Blackberry plants growing in containers by a bench, Vegetables on show in garden shed (almost ready to come outside) and she also had a penned in area for her own chickens (seven of them no less).This got me thinking about what would be worth a try this year if you have the space available and here are some top suggestions and tips:1. Grow some Strawberry Pineberry in multiple rows. Supplied as 7cm pot plants for easy planting, try growing in rows for a successful large crop. Each plant should be space around 40cm apart in a straight line, with around 60-70cm between each row. Strawberry Pineberry is a real novelty, with the look and feel of a white Strawberry but with a smell and taste more closely associated with a pineapple. Expensive to buy in supermarkets but yours at a fraction of the costs, only £12.98 for 15 plants. Trim back annually after flowering has finished to encourage healthy plant development.2. So if your garden needs a fresh look and feel then why not also make these changes productive by planting your very own Apple Trees. Their striking spring blossoms are a valuable bonus to the allotment, but ultimately it is the crop from this mini fruit orchard that is appealing. While most trees are self fertile, try planting a couple together from the same pollination group to increase the yield. Plant your Apple trees in an area with has as much sun as possible, as the more sun they get the healthier the tree will grow. My personal favourite is Apple James Grieve, because of the juicy taste. Grow the varieties you like, that’s the best advice anyone can offer when growing fruit and vegetables.

Asparagus3. Asparagus are becoming all the rage in Britain and a beautiful vegetable to accompany most dishes. Although a little intensive to grow, and require some attention they are worth the wait. Plant in a trench approx 5-6inches deep with the crowns covered by 2inches of fine soil. As the plants grow, the trench should be filtered gradually and should be level by the autumn. You can choose from three varieties to cover the full season, the early yielding Gijnlim, mid season yielding ‘Herkolim’ and the late season yielding ‘Backlim’.

4. Create your own Herb Garden in containers and pots. By growing your own herbs you can easily improve your culinary skills and become more creative. Growing herbs is easy and low maintenance and because you can grow them in containers they can easily be moved around the allotment. Basil ‘Wild Magic’ really caught our eye last summer as a standout new variety to try. Not only is it extremely tasty and heavily scented, but it makes a fantastic ornamental plant with extremely dark green leaves tinged with purple and purple flowers throughout summer.5. Miniature Plum ‘Black Amber’ can be grown in containers or in the ground. Smaller than your average Plum trees, they are ideal for an allotment where space can be at a premium. Growing in pairs will add effective spring blossom in spring and dark-purple thick skinned fruit will pop up in late summer and early autumn. Miniature Plum Trees are a must for lovers of plum trees.

6. Blueberry ‘Pink Lemonade’ are another unusual twist to a popular soft fruit. Blush white flowers are followed by sweetly flavoured and good textured Pink Blueberries in August. A real garden novelty, equally effective as an ornamental shrub with all year round interest.Fig Ficus carica Panachée nr 3

7. Striped Tiger Fig is a reliable cropping dwarf fruit tree that produce unusually striped figs on miniature stems. They love fertile, humus rich soil or if planting up into containers you can use a loam based potting compost.

8. Goji Berry (The Miracle Berry), or Lycium Barbarum, to give it its full name can be introduce because of the incredibly high levels of vitamin C and antioxidants found within each berry produced. A very easy plant to succeed with, they will fruit from their second season onwards with a significantly higher yield year after year. A very popular, pleasant tasting fruit that can be eaten straight of the vine, with an almost herbal scent. Originating in the Himalaya, it can easily be added to breakfast cereal, yoghurts, fruit salads.