First week of December. It has been mild so far, just a couple of light frosts. This picture shows one of the last cider apples, a Le Bret, hanging on.
Le Bret is a funny apple. We did not plant it on purpose, it was mispropagated as Sweet Alford in a West Country nursery some time ago (according to Liz Copas) and as the 2 fruits are quite similar in appearance and quality, by the time the error was noticed it had been widely planted. In fact, the 8 we have in our orchard were propagated from one we bought from Scott's nurseries of Merriot (now so sadly gone), which we no longer have.
Its a sweet apple, very annual and usually heavy cropper, forming great ropes of fruit. Insipid to bite into, making a nondescript although palatable single variety cider. It was a large component of perhaps the nicest cider I ever made about 10 years ago. I have made 10 gallons with about 40% Le Bret and wild yeast, will see how this does.
We are doing 2 Farmers Markets this weekend, Fareham and Winchester. This will be our last Winchester, we are pulling out of this market for 2014 although will go to the Cathedral markets. More on this later, mainly due to too much to do and wanting to have our Sundays back.
In 1992, Stephen and Julia Hayes began planting an orchard of apples, plums and pears in southern Hampshire, mainly rare old 'heritage' varieties. We sold our fruit in season from late July to Christmas at farmers' markets etc. for 14 years or so but for various reasons quit doing this, mainly as we are getting older and needed our Sundays back. The story has been told on our YouTube channel, search on Stephen Hayes apples.
Our fruitwise.net web site is no more, but a Kindle book telling the story of the orchard from dream to reality is in preparation.
Julia and I envisioned, planted and manage the Fruitwise orchard in Durley, Hampshire. I am interested in heritage apples. Valuable old apple DNA is being lost and we can't afford to lose it. The most reliable way to stop and reverse this loss is for people to become interested in preserving the heritage of apples which comes down to us from our ancestors. This can best be done by planting, celebrating, preserving and using local orchards. We are commited Christians.