Apple tree varieties

Posted: Monday 15 September 2014
by Adam Pasco

It's exciting when September arrives: with the final plums picked, cooked or frozen, I can enjoy the first of my home-grown apples.

It's exciting when September arrives: with the final plums picked, cooked or frozen, I can enjoy the first of my home-grown apples.

Blossom was impressive this year, with fine weather and thankfully no damaging frosts. And considering the fruit set on my trees, it looks as though there were plenty of bees and pollinating insects around. They’ve done me proud again, transferring pollen from flower to flower to ensure plenty of fruit.

Every few days I cup an apple in my hand and lift to see if it will come away easily, signifying its ripeness. However, the sight of a fallen apple or two being pecked by a blackbird is also a good indication that the rest of the fruits on that tree will soon be ripe and ready to pick.

My fan-trained ‘Ellison’s Orange’ is the first to ripen, and its flesh is crisp, sweet and juicy. As fruit set was so heavy, I did pick over the whole tree a couple of times during July and August to remove congested fruitlets from large clusters, leaving the remaining fruits to grow larger. Close inspection usually reveals a few damaged or malformed fruits, or some that are being eaten away from the inside by codling moth larvae - a small black hole on the skin indicates their presence. These are the first to be picked off and disposed of.

Of course, some poorly pollinated fruits just fall away of their own accord during June and July, but it’s always worth thinning any that remain to a few inches apart to ensure the rest reach full size.

By growing several varieties I’ve a nice succession of apples ripening through autumn - I really have ‘one a day’ to eat if I fancy. Some, like ‘Ellison’s Orange’ must be eaten fresh from the tree. They won’t keep or store, turning woolly within weeks, but will provide a great supply through September.

Once we get into October two other favourites will start ripening. ‘Spartan’ not only looks beautiful but has a wonderful flavour too. Its deep red skin buffs-up to glossy sheen, and biting into these crisp fruits reveals a wonderfully contrasting pure white flesh. They’re so juicy you almost have to drink them. Delicious!

Many of my apples are grown as cordons in a screen alongside the path, and these include that old favourite ‘Cox’s Orange Pippin’. I grow a cultivar of this that claims to be self-fertile, although I have plenty of other apples alongside to ensure cross-pollination is always possible.

So far I haven’t noticed many wasps in the garden this autumn, although once birds start pecking fruits on the tree any wasps that are around usually start taking an interest. If these do become a nuisance, I’ll hang a few home-made wasp traps among the branches made from plastic drink bottles, half-filled with water and added jam.

For now, I’ll continue enjoying my apple a day. It’s just what the doctor ordered!

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Talkback: Apple tree varieties
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pgtipsme2 18/09/2014 at 19:37

I bought my trees on Bid - up, Apple/plum/pear. The first year was 1 pear. This year half a doz. pears , 2 plums. All good My apple tree was good, half a doz.+ a nice red/green and a good size, But sharp not juicy what did I do wrong ?

fidgetbones 18/09/2014 at 20:09

Probably nothing. Do you know what the varieties are?


Liriodendron 18/09/2014 at 21:02

Many apple varieties benefit from being stored for several weeks - it develops the flavour and sweetness.  There are several ways of doing this, including wrapping the fruit individually in newspaper and storing them in boxes in a cool place - have a look on line.  But as Fidget says, it depends on the variety.

Syviamac 19/09/2014 at 14:50

I have three cordon apples - Lord Derby (cooker) picked this week, Katy which I've almost eaten and Red Devil which has to be kept for at least a week after picking otherwise it's too sharp.