There are over 2,000 known apple varieties in the UK. Apples are a core part of our British orchards. There is even a dedicated apple awareness day. Discover how to bring apples into your home with some great advice from keen gardener Michelle Chapman.
A Home For An Apple Tree
One of the first things I decided when I moved to my home was to plant some apple trees. Our garden was a blank canvas, and as we eat apples every day, planting a couple of trees was a natural choice to make. They are beautiful in their own right, with an extended season of interest right from the first blossom in the spring through to the final picking of fruit in the autumn.
There is a much wider choice of apple varieties available for growing compared to the six or so usually available in the supermarket at one time. There are around 2,000 varieties known to the UK and many of the reputable suppliers have around approximately 100 available to buy.
Find five wonderful savoury apple recipes here.
Click here to browse books dedicated to growing your own fruit and veg.
THE FIRST APPLE DAY
It was a bewildering choice to make, but I soon discovered help is at hand in the form of Apple Days. In 1990, October 21st was a designated by the charity Common Ground as the day to celebrate all things apple and to try and reverse the trend of the loss of our orchards.
Today there are hundreds of Apple Days held around the country, mainly in October and apple tastings often form a core activity (pun intended) at these events. I visited a few in Wiltshire and Somerset and had the delicious task of tasting dozens of different apples and learning more about their heritage.
My husband particularly likes russet apples and we both enjoy the new Herefordshire Russet variety. However, the pesky squirrels around our garden enjoy them as much as we do. Luckily it's a prolific tree, so there are plenty to go round. There are a few apple trees nearby, so I do not need to worry about planting a pollination partner, but I decided to grow a Red Windsor anyway so the Russet wouldn’t be lonely!
After planting Herefordshire Russet and Red Windsor, I found I couldn’t resist planting some more. So now a potted Fiesta graces our patio and I selected a few more for the allotment. I’m training the trees as cordons so I don’t break the rules (we’re not allowed to grow anything over two metres in height).
A KNOWLEDGEABLE SUPPLIER IS KEY
My selection is a mixture of heritage and more modern varieties designed to crop from late August through to November, all with excellent flavour and yields, and which are suited to my heavy clay soil as well as being suitable for training. I found choosing a knowledgeable supplier was key in helping me make my choice. I now have Court of Wick, Discovery, Falstaff, James Grieve, Kidd’s Orange Red, Princesse, Scrumptious, Spartan and Sunset growing away merrily on the plot.
And there’s not a shop-brought variety in sight.
Michelle Chapman is a gardener, freelance writer and garden blogger from Wiltshire. She writes the award winning blog, Veg Plotting, where her small town garden is a regular feature alongside any topic that springs to mind while at her allotment.
Images © Michelle Chapman