Saturday, 21 November 2009

Book review-'Grow Your Own Fruit' by Carol Klein & RHS

Here's a book review I have just added to my page of fruit and cider book reviews on my web site, which I am gradually rebuilding after a provider problem. I intend to add reviews of Ciderland by James Crowden, Cider by CAMRA and Craft Cider by Andrew Lea when I find time.

Grow your Own Fruit (Carol Klein and Royal Horticultural Society)
Mitchell Beazley, ISBN 978-1-84533-434-5
hard back 224 pages

I borrowed this book from the library to have a look. It aims to be a comprehensive guide to all sort of fruit growing in the garden, headed up by the popular presenter Carol Klein from BBC's 'Gardener's World' which we usually watch when its on, although I've never really enjoyed it so much since Geoff Hamilton died. Partly nostalgia, partly other reasons I won't bore you with. Its a perfectly decent modern version of that old staple 'The General Purpose Fruit Growing Book' for the average gardener, covering everything from strawberries to melons, and although I prefer the Fruit Garden Displayed, this is a very decent substitute, especially if you like lots (I mean LOTS) of atmospheric colour photographs to look at, and of course if you're a fan of Carol. I'm not particularly, I mention for balance, but I mean no offence and its a decent book.

I haven't read every word, but where I have checked details against my knowledge, it's at least OK. On Quince and Medlars for example, she gets it right about culture, varieties, and how to store and use these somewhat unusual (but worthwhile) fruits. The advice on planting and pruning apples, pears, plums, bush fruit etc are fine (apart from one photo on page 79 showing a very protuberant angled pruning cut which I would never accept) details like removing water shoots, how to hold the secateurs (blade side nearest the tree) are 'industry standard' correct. There is a very acceptable section on pests and diseases which, unusually for anything associated with the 'organic'-fundamentalist BBC, actually mentions specific chemical pesticides necessary to achieve clean fruit. I don't agree with her choice of featured apples, for example I think Discovery is rubbish and she omits many of my top favourites, but that's perfectly normal-long live personal preference in such matters! And none of us knows it all, which is why its good to read more than one account and compare and contrast different writers.

Critical details about rootstocks, training restricted forms, pollination times, the (often neglected) need to thin fruits etc are present and correct. Grafting is not covered, but this is a populist BBC spin off book and most people don't graft, so that's not a major criticism. She does mention a number of old and new apple varieties and, importantly, draws attention to their faults, for example biennial cropping and large size of Blenheim Orange, short shelf life of the otherwise excellent cooker Grenadier, Cox's sickliness (like me, she more or less says 'great flavour, but best avoided'), the need to thin Sunset to avoid tiny fruits, etc. This is a good point-never trust a fruit book that heaps unstinting praise on every variety. Apples like Sunset are worth growing, just remember to thin them, etc. Apple faults are OK, up to a point, as long as you KNOW about them.

This is a comprehensive book which covers nearly all aspects of fruit gardening. I could have enjoyed it as much, possibly more, with fewer pictures of Carol smiling and posing for the camera and a few more of, for example, how prune fruit trees. There are 8 pages on gooseberries (8 pages? Almost nobody can RECOGNISE a gooseberry these days!)-there could have been a decent overview of cider in 8 whole pages. Most likely any reasonable person approaching fruit growing for the first time or wanting to gain more understanding, try some new sorts of fruit and generally do better will find this a pleasant fireside or bedtime book. Its certainly easy reading with so many pretty pictures. I think it might have been a better book for less detail on minor fruits like citrus, melons, gooseberries etc, and the space saved used for recipes for processing surpus fruit into goodies like chutney, cider and jam. But thats only a personal opinion.

VERDICT Certainly worth getting out of the library, although I don't think I'll be buying a copy, but then I do have a large collection of fruit books already. Priced at a very reasonable £16.99, this would make a very acceptable Christmas present for almost any gardener, and is certain better than many of the comparable older 'general purpose fruit grower' books in my collection. But I still prefer the Fruit Garden Displayed.

November 2009.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

cider video from Sheppey's and Burrow Hill

I have just seen this quite nice video with accompanying text on the Daily Mail online, looking at my 2 favourite cider makers, Sheppeys and Burrow Hill. do have a browse.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

FINAL 2009 MARKET-WInchester 8th November

STOP PRESS yesterday we carried out an assessment and sorting of the fruit in store and were left with just 30 boxes of sound fruit , mainly Sunset and Egremont Russet with also some Suntan, Kidd's Orange Red and Winter King. We need 10 boxes for a Fareham and 20 for a Winchester, so today Julia telephoned to pull us out of all markets for 2009 bar the Fareham this Saturday and Winchester on Sunday. We'll lose money on this, its too bad, you have to bid for places at the markets a year in advance and fruit yields can't be predicted so far ahead.

We'll be sorry to say goodbye to our friends until next July when we are hopefully back with the plums and earliest apples, but its been a hard year for various reasons and we're thrashed so we'll be glad of a temporary rest until pruning begins. I'll say a bit more about the ups and downs of the 2009 season later, but for now, just to advise folks of our inevitable decision, we can't sell fruit we don't have.

Basically, the Kidd's Orange red and a few other varieties were diminished by fungal dsease and bitter pit largely due to weather, and the Lord Lambourne crop (about 15% of our total and our main early autumn apple)failed abysmally, so to serve October markets we had to offer our Winter King, which we normally keep until later, but its been so warm this autumn that we had to bring them forward in any event as nothing has been keeping as well as usual. Fruit quality has been very good, with high sugar levels due to the warm late summer and autumn, but here we are out of fruit, I think earlier than every before.

We are begining to reflect on the season gone by and think about future plans, which may have to include refrigeration if we want to trade up to and beyond Christmas.

Anyway, good cheer to all and lets try to enjoy the autumn, despite the miserable prospect of a General Election next year in which either David Cameron or Gordon Brown will become Prime Minister. Nothing we can do about it so lets try to think about happy things, like the autumn leaves, bonfires, friends and the new cider.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


For various reasons, we are all but out of fruit and so have to pull out off all remaining markets this year except Sunnyfields this coming Saturday, the next 2 Winchesters and the next 2 Farehams. This is due to a somewhat low 2009 crop (Lord Lambourne failed dismally) fruit ripening quickly and not keeping well due to the very warm autumn, and extremely good sales with a lot of repeat customers.

we're really sorry, but had to make this decision as frankly we only just have enough apples for the above markets. We had hoped to have some Sturmer Pippin for the later markets but when we picked these yesterday it became clear that more than half of them suffered with bitter pit. This is a physiological disorder caused by trace element deficiency and irregular rainfall which makes the fruit taste bitter from brown spots in the flesh.
I may put up a video about bitter pit later, but for now it means we don't have any Sturmer Pippins, which means a premature end to our season. We would have held back our Winter Kings for later markets, but people really seem to like this on free tastings in October, so we are almost sold out of our late apples since we lost the mid season Lord Lambourne.
Very high specific gravities on the juice, due to warm autumn and reasonable summer sun levels, so there should be some good cider later. High sugar levels obviously can mean high alcohol levels, but also could mean some very naturally sweet ciders and also hopefully high flavour levels. I am only making 40 gallons for our own use and parties etc and wont be selling any cider, but I know someone who will be! A friend has taken most of our windfalls and half a ton of bittersweet west country cider apples and these are being made into cider which will be sold in 2010 under his own brand as a single orchard boutique cider from our apples. Contact details will go up later.

more later

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Work continues on web site rebuild

Our Apple Day event is past, I have pressed most of the cider I am going to press this year, and I am finding a little time to slowly rebuild the web site. The new Yahoo web builder is reasonably easy to use. I am concentrating on putting back up most of the old informative content with little editing, not least to help folks who are thinking about planting trees this coming planting season. I have just put up sections on varieties, pest and diseases, and brief notes on grafting. These, and my notes on pruning, have been largely superceded by my YouTube videos, which have now received over 420,000 views. Its now of course much easier to blend all these elements all but seamlessly. I'll work on it, and also add as many related links as I can.
As I have said before, I share from the heart and mind but I'm still only an enthusiastic amateur and my word isn't Gospel-check out what I've written, and check out whatever else you can find before deciding what to plant.
If you are after planting West Country style cider apples, and a lot of people are this year, Dabinett is the 'nobody got fired for buying' favourite, a regular cropper and compact tree which has a fairly strong bitter sweet juice, as does its cousin Harry Master's Jersey, and these 2 must be the first choices for the beginner who wants to make some 'proper zider'. I advise beginenrs to avoid the famously delectable but very fickle growing cider apple Kingston Black, for the same reason I would avoid Cox's Orange Pippin as a dessert apple-great quality, but very difficult to grow and crop reliably. But do consider other apples such as the lovely Yarlington Mill. It doesn't crop every single year, but see the picture of the back of my mate Jez's car taken in the orchard yesterday (he ran out of boxes!). That is about half the crop from ONE TREE. Admittedly a 20 year old big spreading tree, and it didn't crop at all last year, but WHAT A GENEROUS TREE! Great medium bittersweet cider variety which will enhance any cider.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Apple Day

Julia trying to identify an apple using one of our books.
Right now I am trying to stress down after much too busy a day in too busy a month in too busy a year, and prepare myself mentally for our Apple Day tomorow. Julia's Mum has come doewn from Essex for a few days and is helping Julia make some apple cakes. I think I am going to ignore the fact that my diet has gone to pot after some considerable success this year and go pour a pint of new season's cider.
Hope to see some of you at Durley Memorial Hall tomorrow between 10.30 (note later start, we cannot get the hall ready by 10.00) and 15.00. We are allowed to sell cider there is a licence and I have got some cloudy but fresh and good new season cider, a full 3 weeks before the Beaujolais Nouveau and probably better tasting. I will be there with my books and will attempt to identifty apples. I don't charge for this as I am so bad at it! Well, we only grow 60 or so apple varieties, there are another 2,000 or so known in England, and despite the advice of myself and others who know something, people will continue to grow apples from pips.
Sowing pips from selected apples to try to raise new disease resistant or otherwise worthy new varieties as aprt of a research programme is a very good thing, but sowing a pip in your garden or a pot to try to raise an apple from seed is a TERRIBLE idea. It will almost never give you a new apple worth having, and by the time you realise you have raised a sour, boring, green apple which doesn't crop well and grows too small or too big to be practical, you will have invested 5 years or so of hope and care and just won't want to believe the harsh truth that your new apple variety is worthless. And then you move house, and someone finds the apple in your garden and tries to get it identified and of course nobody can put a name to it as its a nameless new variety. Don't do it, it's MUCH better to spend a few pounds at a nursery and help keep a tried and tested worthy old variety going.
Happy Apple Day (it's actually 21st October but mostly people celebrate it on any Saturday from mid September to mid November). And ours is tomorrow. Well, it is if you read this in the next few hours, otherwise it'll be the day before yesterday or whatever. Another event this weekend is at Burley (not to be confused with Durley) where there is a cider event at New Forest Cider, you can find them easily enough on Google. I might possibly be there on Sunday afternoon, my mate Jez and a few others from the cider workshop will be there tomorrow.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Books for Apple Day and a rare complaint

We had a very busy market at Winchester yesterday, not least as Blackmoor's fruit stall wasn't there. We should have anticipated this as of course it was their Apple Day event. We went to their fruit show some 20 years ago, before the Apple Day tradition was started by Common Ground about 12 years ago. See their site for details, do try to get to an event near you of you can. Shame we hardly ever get to any events but our own, next Saturday at Durley (details on right of this page) and a few others. We supplied specimens of 20 or so apple varieties to a small event at a Southampoton library and Julia will be at Damerham Apple Day the following Saturday, from noon. details on Common Ground.

Second complaint since we started trading

We had a complaint from a customer about some apple juice she brought from us. They said it went fizzy, so must be 'off' or 'contaminated' because it had gone fizzy. This is the 2nd complaint we have had in 7 years. Of course I gave a full refund and said (sincerely) I was sorry they hadn't liked it, but I do always tell people that unpasteurised apple juice will ALWAYS start to go fizzy within a day or 2 due to the natural action of wild yeast on the sugar, turning it to alcohol.

I always tell every single customer it is UNPASTEURISED juice and to put it straight in the fridge and drink or freeze it within 2 days. I have kept our own juice for 8 days on the fridge, and I love it best when it goes a bit fizzy. Once it starts to go fizzy, it in no way becomes unhealthy, it's just that the sugar is being naturally turned to alcohol, thats all cider is. The only toxic substance produced is alcohol, which is perfectly safe in moderation unless one is a serious addict or on some medications. To stop this happening you have to Pasteurise (heat treat) the juice which increases the carbon cost and takes away half of the flavour.

This is the second complaint we have had in 7 years of trading. The other one was from an elderly gentleman in 2003, I remember the year quite clearly as that was the drought year when the apples were mostly very small, although they had very high sugar levels, due to the hot dry year (we don't irrigate). The flavour was marvellous and the cider the best ever.

He complained that the apples he bought from us 2 weeks earlier had been too small, and he didn't like the flavour either. I said I was sorry he hadn't liked our apples. I didn't think to offer him his money back, I decided later that I should have done although I had no obligation. Out of respect for his age I didn't make too much about the fact that we always offer free tastings and that he might possibly have noticed the apples' admittedly small size when he bought them.

We wish all the people who have ever complaoned about a Fruitwise Heritage Apples product (both of them) our kindest regards and respectfully point out that they need not worry, as there are plenty of chlorine washed, uniform sized, plastic wrapped, beauty paraded (I'll explain that term in a later post for those who haven't read 'Not on the Label') controlled atmosphere stored, mechanically packed, pressure controlled, and above all 'crisp and crunchy' global commodity Gala, Braeburn and Pink Lady apples as well as sterile apple juice (mainly from Chinese juice concentrate) in the supermarkets.

Actually we have had several other complaints about our juice so far this year, and we expect more. One lady bought half a gallon of it at the 2 day food and drink fayre at Winchester cathedral last Saturday and then complained on Sunday as her family had drunk the lot on Saturday night and they wanted more, but we had sold out so she couldn't have any. Several other people have complained when we didn't have any juice, because they wanted some. But I can only ever bring it when we have a stock of suitable picked, washed apples which are ripe but not ideal for raw fruit sales e.g. deformed, spotty, soft, over or under sized etc, and I have time to wash and press juice the afternoon before a market. Unpasteurised apple juice has a peerless flavour but it doesn't keep. That's why we tell people to chill it immediately and then drink or freeze within 48 hours. Unles like me they enjoy it even more as it turns nto natural hard cider

good source of books

Some nice books on apples, orchards, cider and all kinds of self sufficiency can be found from eco-logic books. I have dealt with them in the past and having just had a poke from them am delighted to recommend their site, I have had a good service when I used them in the past.

Friday, 9 October 2009

coming markets

Sorry can't make Sunnyfields or the Netley Pumpkin and Autumn fair this weekend due to a reunion

Julia will be at Alton Farmers Market, she will have Suntan (sharp for eating just yet but great cooker) plus Sunset, Russets, Orleans Reinette, Kidd's Orange Red, probably a few Red Pippin (these have almost sold out, very popular. Our least 'heritage' apple, dating from just 1986, and we don't rate them highly for flavour compared to great apples like Orleans or Kidd's, but they are very atractively coloured and crunchy and this is a major selling point.)

Winchester FM in Sunday, where we will have a few of the long awaited MEDLARS. I may post a short YouTube about these with some recipe ideas. Also a few lucky people may get a Comice pear or 2. We only have the fruit from one espalier tree from our own private collection, only about 5 kg but such good specimens we'll offer most of them for sale and nibble on the rarer pears and misshapen ourselves. I have planted 30 more pear trees (Conference, Comice, Concorde and Beurre Hardy) which may begin to fruit lightly in 2010.

Next weekend is our Apple Day event at Durley Memorial Hall on Saturday 17th October from 10.30 15.00.

Julia will also be at Damerham Apple Day on Saturday 24th OCtober and the same day I will be back at Sunnyfields with apples and Juice, including some windfalls for very cheap as thre was a demand for these for home juicing, chutneys etc.

As before, anyone has any special orders, I don't want to give our home phone number out but post a comment here or email me on steveappleseed (at) hotmail (dot) which I check 2 or 3 times a week.

PS I also have to clear out some leftovers from a few little apple tree nurseries, and have some 2 year MM106 maidens on Winter King (Winston), Queen Cox, Pitmaston Pineapple and a couple of odds and ends on MM111 I don't want much for.

PS I will post links on request to any personal apple or fruit related website or blog, if asked, especially English ones. The more the merrier.

Enjoy the autumn

Monday, 5 October 2009

Apple and other fruit tree links

My web site remains in a greatly reduced state due to Yahoo pulling the plug, I will rebuild it ‘when I can find the time’ which in our house this harvest time with all my other undone jobs is a sick joke. February 2010 perhaps.

So I am posting the following APPLE AND FRUIT TREE LINKS here since so many people are asking us where they can get fruit trees including cider trees.

If you want to order any specific trees, especially cider apples, I suggest getting on with it ASAP since there is an increased interest and I know the nurseries are selling out. Also, one of the biggest, Scotts, has sadly just closed (see below) Its still a little too early to plant trees, but not to order them. (Devon based nursery, many rare varieties including cider. Nice catalogue) (highly reccommended, used by us with no complaints over 20 years) (I got some vines from them once, good service, recommended by friends who have used them. Some cider trees) (largest collection of fruit varieties. I ordered a rare pear, Seckle, from them 2 years ago, as far as I could tell nobody else had this variety. Expensive, but please support them-if they go, it could all but signal the end for many rare fruit varieties) (I've not used them, friends have and say they are good. great web site, specialise in less common varieties) (Buckingham nurseries. We got all our hedging and woodland plants from them, good service always. They also do apple trees) This is the place to go for everything to do with making cider, they also have some books (the Apple Day people. click on this and see if there is an Apple Day event near you, HURRY!)


I am VERY sorry to say that Scott's nurseries of Merriot in Somerset are finally closing. They had been losing money to 'big name' plant salesmen whose outlets are easier to find, and the final blow came when a key member of the team sadly died of brain cancer aged 49. Obviously one feels very sad for him and his loved ones and the folks losing their jobs, but also for a priceless piece of English fruit heritage now apparently gone for ever. We got our original cider apples from them 20 years ago, plus perry pears (which are even harder to find) more recently. No longer available-they have had a couple of closing down sales and unless a buyer comes forwards for what's left in the next few days, according to a report I found in an online version of a local paper, the remaining stuff will be auctioned off.

This sad news just underlines the importance of looking after the rare old fruit varieties-apart from issues of beauty, history and heritage, we are going to need all the food plant genetic diversity we can hang on to with the hard times coming on the world.

But lets be cheerful and get on with it

All of the above sites are well worth a look. If you are thinking about planting fruit trees this winter, you had better make some decisions, do some research first. Remember, many mistakes can be made around planting fruit trees, but the worst mistake is not to do it.

PS thanks to everyone who visited our fruit stalls over the weekend, at Fareham on Saturday and Winchester Cathedral over the weekend. I have posted a YouTube of the cathedral bells and the market being set up. Check it out below.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

market update

Thanks to everyone who came to the apple stall at Sunnyfields today, especially the people whose faces I am getting to know. Your appreciation of my apples is appreciated.
All the traders noticed it was quiet with the Romsey show on today, plus lovely weaher forecast and a lot of people on the westboud M27 heading to the Forest and beyond to enjoy perhaps the last sunny weekend of the summer. Who can blame them?
The freshly pressed juice was well received, I'll try to bring some more, it would be greatly appreciated if folks could bring clean empty bottles to re-use, getting polythene bottles on a small scale is a challenge and adds to costs. I was charging £1.50 a litre for the fresh pressed juice today, good as it was the quality will improve once we have some ripe reinette and russet cull fruit to add to the blend.
We will be at Winchester tomorow and should have a few large Orleans Reinette (for cooking) Sunset, Spartan, Lord Lambourne, Ribston Pippin, and a few odds and ends including Red Falstaff and a very few pears. Also will have a little fresh pressed juice from yesterday's pressing. This is unpasteurised and crushed from 'select reject' apples, i.e fruit that doesn't make top grade (too small, too big, slightly damaged, starting to go soft etc) but no windfalls or rots and all washed before pressing. Not being pasteurised, it wonlt keep more than 3 days or so in the fridge before the natural yeasts start turning the sugar to alcohol, whcih if you don;t know is how cider is made. I prefer it when it just starts to turn and is still sweet but very slightly fizzy, and was enjoying some today which has been in the fridge for 8 days. But its best to enjoy it within 3 days, or freeze.
Pateurised juice keeps longer, but you lose a lot of the flavour, and of course the extra cost of pasteurisation must be passed on. Hill Farm orchards do an excellent range of pasteurised apple juice.
I'm expecting to be at Sunnyfields again next Saurday but NOT the 26th September (teaching at a conference) and again on 3rd October but NOT 10th (medical school reunion). After that, hopefully most Saturdays until Christmas.
web site still a mess, no time to fix it. What a nuisance for Yahoo to pull the plug at this time of year, I ghhad hoped it moght be posible justs to transfer the whole web site to their new plan, but no, nothing so straightforward.
We've both done markets today, and have another tomorow and fruti picking with friends on Monday, so tonight will enjoy some English cider, cheese and pork pies and watch the last night of the Proms on TV

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Bishop's Waltham farmer's market

First trip to this farmer's market today. Very slow start, my stall was set up by shortly after 9 am but almost no shoppers until after 10. I took the last of the Warwickshire Droopers (our last plums of 2009) and some Ribston Pippin, Red Pippin, Spartan and Bramley, plus a single punnet of sloes which people thought were blackcurrants but nobody bought. I brought them home and chucked them in some cider I have on the go to give it a little extra colour and body.

It was nice to meet some new people and thanks ever so much to people who actually bought some of our apples.

Lots of conversations and discussion about people's memories of and problems with plum and apple trees, but very little fruit was purchased. It fascinates me how many people like to stop for a chat, talk about the fruit trees in their garden, ask for some free advice, bemoan the decline of the old English Apple varieties, then after some free tastings at my apple stall buy just 2 apples or maybe none at all. If people want locally grown seasonal English apples, they have to support local producers. I can understand it if folks prefer to get it all from the supermarket, but that's not what they say.

Another thing, I wish people wouldn't pick my apples up and sniff them before putting them back on the stall. I suppose I should take it as a compliment. The supermarkets wrap food up in plastic to stop people fingering it.

Sorry for the moan, but since the Hampshire Farmers Market company charge stallholders £50 and I barely sold £100 of fruit in 5 the math, its not a great use of my Sunday. Allowing for packing the van, driving to and from the market, allowing for other costs that's £40 for 8 hours work just for SELLING the fuit, which is below the minimum wage for working on Sunday, then you have to add something for actually GROWING it. And people were moaning about the proposed new Sainsburys supermarket planned for Bishop's Waltham. Please don't take this the wrong way, but put yourself in my shoes. I hate to moan, it looks petty apart from anything else, but folks had made lots of favourable comments about the farmer's market in the comments book, and said they want it to continue, but it won't continue unless they spend enough money.

Anyhow, I'll be at Sunnyfields again next Saturday with Ribston Pippin, Sunset, Spartan and perhaps some Kidd's Orange Red and Orleans Reinette, depending on how ripe they feel on Friday. I will bring a box or 2 of windfalls for really cheap prices since someone asked for them and will try to find the energy to press some apple juice Friday afternoon. Sorry plums finished, I may have some pears if they feel ripe. Sloes for sloe gin or apple and sloe jelly (will post recipes) on request.

Julia and I will be at Winchester next Sunday too.

Enjoy the last of the summer! There are plenty of blackberries in the hedgerows, but there won't be for long


this is arguably the best of the 'country' wines

to make 1 gallon (6 bottles)

-Take as many blackberries as you can pick (1lb will make an acceptable rose, 3lb is much better, 4lb is ideal, more is really rich and fruity)
-crush berries in a large stainless steel or food grade polythene vessel. A wooden rolling pin or a flat bottomed bottle is a useful implement to crush them with
-pour over 8 pints of boiling water
-stir in 1kg of white sugar
-add wine yeast (any wine yeast will do) when temperature has dropped to body heat. Ideally check the specific gravity with a hydrometer, you want it between 100 and 110, higher and it will get 'stuck' and be too sugary.

Cover and leave at room temperature or slightly lower for 3 or 4 days, make sure flies are kept out and gas allowed to escape (a loose fitting lid is usual). then strain off and ferment a few weeks longer in suitable vessels, the ideal thing is a 1 gallon glass demijohn with airlock.

ideally measure gravity with hydrometer. When it has fallen to about 10, rack off again. Bottle using a polythene siphon when clear. Drink within 6 months, this wine can keep for years but loses fruitiness, IMHO its best used during the winter after it was made

VARIATIONS add some elderberrries, sloes or damsons to complexify the flavour. You can also add a bit of spice, sch as cloves or cinnamon, but beware of overdoing this. If using cloves I would add no more than a dozen whole cloves to the initial fermentation. if you have access to apple juice, you could use this instead of water for a richer product, if so then use half the added sugar.

CAUTION blackberry wine contains ALCOHOL if you consume too much you will get DRUNK. this is not good and I don't recommend it.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Apple picking continues....

We sold out early last Sunday at Winchester due to coming to the end of the Epicure apples and the damsons, we also had some yellow plums and early picked Sunset apples which went well.

The yellow plums have an interesting story, the tree grew in the garden of the first house we bought, in Southampton in 1981. We liked it and took some suckers when we moved, which fruited true, indicating that the fruit was growing on its own roots. We have propagated it and believe it to be Warwickshire Drooper, but it could be Goldfinch, Yellow Egg plum or maybe even a new variety grown from a stone. Anyway, we shall have a few more at Sunnyfields this Saturday. We pick them when they are green turning yellow and they ripen to orangey yelow with red spots, at which stage they are LOVELY for raw eating you can also do anything else with them. Here's a video

Some people only ever want Victoria, but probably they hardly taste any other plums. The trouble with plums is some years you have no crop due to bad weather at blossom time, other years you have a good crop, and so does everyone else. Plums don't store or travel well so have to be marketed quickly. But they are worth it when fully ripe.

We tried picking a few Sunset as they were colouring up and frankly we have a gap due to the catastrophic crop failure of Lord Lambourne this year, due to poor pollination followed by fungal disease (3rd wet summer in a row). Once we have picked what little crop there is, I shall spray copper fungicide. Anyway, although the Sunset are very sharp to my taste, people liked them and we sold 2 boxes (about 15 kilos to a box). On Bank Holiday Monday, yesterday, we went over the trees and selectively picked the reddest and heaviest apples, gales are forecast and we don't want them to blow off.

We also picked the Ribston Pippin, they look well coloured, were starting to fall freely and campoe off easily, I posted a youtube video whcih I'll try to paste here. They will need a few weeks stored before they will be fully ripe.

I may also pick a few sloes for Saturday. I'm also at Bishop's Waltham on Sunday 10-2, our first trip to a market there.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Sunnyfields farmers market


I went to Sunnyfields farmers market today for the first time. It was a quiet day as there were a lot of events on today, including the Bournemouth air show. I only sold 2 crates of apples and 5 kg of Damson plums, but not too bad for a first visit on a quiet day, and a few people expressed interest in the apples and I directed them to this blog and the web site.

I expect to be at Sunnyfields ( most Saturdays from now to Christmas or until we run out of fruit this season whichever comes first.

Next Saturday I expect to have the last of this years Laxton's Epicure, some sweet yellow plums (unknown variety, believed to be Warwickshire Drooper) Ellisons Orange, Saint Edmund's Russet soime Bramleys and possibly a few other things, may even have a few hazel nuts form the orchard hedgerows. I will try to remember to bring a box or 2 of marked apples to offer half price for juicing. I may bring some unpasteurised apple juice if I can find time to pres some on Friday afternoon.

We also expect to be at Winchester farmers Market on the Sunday

web site for more details of varieties etc.

Monday, 10 August 2009

markets for 2009 apple season

briefly, our farmer's markets are as follows. I will try to post a few days before each market to say what apple varieties we expect to have- as our friends know, we bring along whatever is in season which varies from week to week.

Winchester Sundays 30thAugust, 13th and 27th September, 25th October, 8th and 29th November, 13th December

we are also hoping to be at the Winchester cathedral celebration on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th October

Bishop's Waltham on 6th September, 1st November.

Fareham Saturday farmer's markets (details later)

our Apple Day ceebration is at Durley Memorial Hall on Saturday 17th October. Any friends who have local crafts or produce, let us know and we can probably let you have a stall.

more dates later

Sunday, 9 August 2009

New apple season begins

Hi everyone

just created this blog to keep up to date with all our customers. I hope to add to it with frequent, short entries through the apple season. For further details about us please check the Fruitwise website at, for some irritating reason I haven't been able to update this web site recently, this blog is more suitable for a running diary. Please note that the blog I mention on the Fruitwise site that I had stopped wasn't this one, this has just started and I hope will run. I will shortly put up our market dates for the rest of the season.

Comment is free for now, please keep it fruit related and polite. I'll see how it settles down, I don't mind differences of opinion but for my own sake as well as the gentle and decent people who buy our apples, I won't host abuse. I will try to answer specific questions about Fruitwise Heritage Apples, details of markets etc, but any enquiries about growing apples etc would be best directed to the website or alternatively take a look at my youtube videos, search youtube under fruitwise. I have addressed a lot of apple FAQs there especially pruning and grafting, and I am posting a series of videos about individual apple varieties.

We are just back from our first Winchester farmer's market of the 2009 season, a nice sunny day and lots of old friends who were glad to see us. We sold out of Greengage and Victoria plums all too quickly, a light crop this year. We also had damsons and some hazelnuts picked from the hedgerows in the orchard, plus a few rare apples, Irish Peach and Baker's Delicious. All gone for this year, we only have a couple of trees of each. Our main apple today, and for the next 2 weeks, is Laxton's Epicure. We also had a few Reverend Wilkes, an old cooker, and James Grieve, a dual purpose apple which eats well when tree ripened later in the season, but which is excellent right now for cooking, and with so many blackberries on the hedgerows, very good for this purpose. Bramleys will not be ripe until late September.

all the best, Stephen and Julia