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Orchard Walk and Talk
A crowd of around 30 people spent a very interesting afternoon learning about orchards. Under expert guidance different varieties were discussed and how they can be mixed to ensure that there is always a pollination partner available. The different varieties available allow for a very extended apple cropping season from around August through to the end of the year and with the different keeping qualities it is possible to have your own apples available for most of the year. Indeed some apples are still being eaten in May that were picked last autumn.

 Of course that does require that the apples are sorted and stored carefully. Bruised and blemished apples should be eaten and not stored. To increase the storage life, apples can be individually wrapped and stored in a cool environment – storage in a fridge will extend the storage time considerably although there may be some deterioration in the quality – the apples do lose some of the crispness.

 Interestingly the cooking apples tend to become softer and also lose their bitterness and can be consumed as eating apples after some months of storage. The root stock of the trees is important in determining the vigour and eventual height of the trees. These range from the M27 very dwarfing (height after 10 years approximately 2m) to M25
vigorous (6+m after 10 years). Pollination depends on the nearby growing partners and each variety has a distinct flowering period ranging from type A (early) through to E
(late). It was helpful to learn that in most village situations, particularly in Somerset there is usually a partner variety in the vicinity to provide pollination.

The day also included a guided tour round the Orchard of Mr Rayner. He has managed to retain a number of rare varieties and his range of types also includes the fascinating variety known as the 10 commandments. This is a dual purpose apple that can be used as an eater or for cider. It was first exhibited in 1883 and, when cut in half features 10 red spots around the core. 

Link Magazine June 2012