Thursday, 5 December 2013

Late autumn, early winter...

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.


  1. Hi Steve, I just wanted to say thanks for the vast amount of information that you have posted on the web with regards to the mechanics of preserving our apple heritage. It has inspired me to have a go at topworking my existing twelve year old apple tree as well as planting two additional trees to graft on to. Currently I have an order for several different types of heritage variety scion wood from the National Fruit Collection, and I intend to have a go at budding when the time is right. Many thanks for the inspiration and knowledge sharing, it certainly is a passion worth chasing.

  2. I have just found you on the youtube videos and am learning a lot about pruning- my main concern right now. I find, however, that I need some proper tools to get the job done right. Can you give me some advice where to purchase the small saw that you have been using in your videos? I do order from internet sites so perhaps you have a favorite one? Thanks for your help Linda

  3. Greetings from New York in the states! Just wanted to say thank you so much for the knowledge and inspiration you have given me to tame and and produce a new orchid. Currently i have very old lady and old english apples planted by german settlers in the late 1600-1700s. Witch is what started because a was looking for a video on how to tame very old trees and stumbled upon your videos!(thank the good Lord!!). And now hopefuly this year get new trees in the ground. And for what it is worth i would pay what ever amount if you decide to write a book! Keep the videos coming and thanks again!

    God bless. ~ Jonathan Schaffer

  4. Hello Steven from Oklahoma I have greatly enjoyed looking at your videos on how to graft apple trees.

    I know this probably isn't the best place to contact you but I couldn't find any other place on your website

    I guess you don't have facebook or a way to contact you but I just thoroughly enjoyed your videos Im trying to graft a few trees here in Oklahoma and a few peach trees

    If there's any way to contact you let me know here , my name is Dana my wife and I lovefruit trees and want to graft a few thanks

  5. This is a reply to, dbcang. I think he has his email listed on his website also as you have found he Steven has many videos on grafting which I just became interested in this year and found very helpful. From what I gather from all his videos he is a very busy person.

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  7. Hello, and I hope you are feeling better. I have a question that I cannot find the answer for. I have an established heirloom apple orchard in SW New Hampshire, US, and last summer while I was sick, my goats got loose and stripped the bark for ALL of the trees. My question concerns my favorite trees that were stripped of their bark down to the ground and completely around the whole trunk. I’m going to try coppicing because no upper bark remains for bridge grafting. I’ve read that coppicing requires the trunk to be cut at a slant so that water can run off, but the bark on my most special tree is damaged all the way around and so far down I cannot cut the trunk at an angle. Do you recommend cutting the angle even though it leaves inches of stripped wood? Should I cover the bare sides with grafting wax? The trunk is about 10” in diameter, so when coppiced, should any of the top also be covered with wax? And finally, can I coppice and then add several cleft grafts with its best scions? Thank you for all of your information online!

    Carol Drummond
    Alstead, New Hampshire


Welcome to the Fruitwise Heritage Apples blog. Feel free to leave a comment, I will try to respond where appropriate but FAQs may have been already addressed in my YouTube videos or the site. Remember, I am not a professional fruit grower, only an enthusiastic experienced amateur. Any and all advice is offered freely and with sincere good faith, but remember I might be mistaken, and my preferences,
soil and climate may be different from yours which would diminish the relevance of my advice, so check other sources before acting. In any event, I am not responsible for any outcomes!

Kind regards to all.