Category: Growing Apples

10 Jun

A good spring for apple blossom

After last year’s disastrous apple crop left me with no choice but to forget about cider for a year, it was fantastic to see so much (admittedly late) blossom on the trees this spring (2013).  The great news is that the pollination has been high too and huge numbers of little apples are growing.

When the ‘June Drop’ happens at the end of this month I expect to see my trees get rid of many of the small apples and I am fully expecting to have to help them by manually pulling  a lot of little apples from the clusters to ensure we get a decent crop of good sized apples.

Although this is not strictly necessary if you are only growing for cider, we like to eat plenty of apples too so this is why we try and have harvests of nice tennis ball or larger sized fruits.

Now, a summer of watering, controlling weeds and pests, feeding with mulch and lots of tender loving care and with a little bit of luck on our side we may actually get to make some cider again this autumn.

5 Nov

Crab Apples

Wandering through my allotment this weekend I was struck by the fact that although everyone had had a pretty bad year for apples, the hardier crab apples had done OK.

If you find yourself in  the same situation, you could consider making a cider with crab apples as the main ingredient. The crab is a bitter apple and so is great for cider, but the tough skins make them a challenge if you haven’t got a high powered scratter.

However, if you freeze crab apples you will find that once thawed, they are as soft as any other apple and can be turned into cider with ease.

So, leave the apples out for the first frosts and let nature do the hard work, before squeezing out some excellent juice and get the brewing process going.

13 Jun

A bad year for apples

Here in the south east of England the first half of the year has been terrible for apple trees and so none of mine are going to produce a crop large enough to warrant getting the apple press out of the shed.

However in the west country things are somewhat different. So, the plan is to find a good orchard on the far side of the berkshire downs, bribe the owners and take the press to the trees.

This is actually a tried and tested way of doing things. In the nineteenth century itinerant apple press owners would take their moveable presses from farm to farm during the season and receive payment for their services.

6 May

Apple tree care

Now you are a cider maker, your apple trees are now so much more than just trees, they are your friends, your source of crop, your geese that lay golden eggs (too stretch a metaphor beyond all credulity).

So, look after them to ensure good crops of apples.

Firstly a pruning on the 6th Jan is a european tradition. This is when we wassial the tree which is a bit of ancient folk magic that was clearly inspired by the high esteem in which our ancestors held apple trees.

Prune out the dead wood and branches that are crossing. Take off tall branches if the tree is getting too big, but never remove more than a quarter of total wood in any one year.

A grease wrap around the trunk stops climbing insects who will later ruin apples, so reapply some grease annually.

In late spring remove grass from around the base and apply a top dressing of organic fertiliser.

Look out for diseases through the growing season and be prepared to nip anything in the bud, before it can spread.

At harvest time, clear windfalls away if you are not using them for cider and spike the soil to ensure good drainage if you have been walking around the tree a lot.

3 Oct

Crab Apples

Crab Apples are an ancestor of the cultivated apples we all eat. With thousands of varieties in existence it is surprising that many people consider them useless.

The uses of crab apples

In fact, they have many uses, from Jams and jellies, woodworking and dye making, but for us the premier use is of course cidermaking.

3 Oct

Crab Apples

Crab Apples are an ancestor of the cultivated apples we all eat. With thousands of varieties in existence it is surprising that many people consider them useless.

The uses of crab apples

In fact, they have many uses, from Jams and jellies, woodworking and dye making, but for us the premier use is of course cidermaking.