Thursday 7 January 2010

Time for training?

Last year the 146 micro orchard was planted out. When I say micro orchard, I mean that its an allotment near to my home and the long term plan is to produce a small amount of ‘special’ cider from these trees. So now they are 2 years old the will need cutting back to train them. Only issue might be that it won’t just be the trees in training!

So, book in hand and websites reviewed (including Stephen Hayes Fruitwise clips) I shall venture out with my brand new clippers and have a go. OK, I shall wait for the snow to melt a bit and then do it, very carefully and probably very slowly. For something that is basically a commodity, its surprisingly how quickly you become attached to apple trees… no, I haven’t given then names (yet) and I haven’t wrapped them up in cotton wool either. However, they have kept me company whilst working the rest of the plot.

Why are they special? Well, there is:

James Grieve; and early cooker that sweetens up if left on the tree.
Ashmeads Kernel; a great eater but with some complex flavours (I have previously found this variety to be great as juice).

These two varieties will make up the ‘non’ cider apples in the cider. The cider varieties are the less obvious choices. There are:

Royal Jersey; a rare variety which apart from being a full bittersweet and coming from Jersey, I don’t know a whole lot about. Will no doubt either love it or hate it – when it produces an apple to try.
Knotted Kernel; a medium bittersweet from Herefordshire. The reports I have seen on it is that it is both rare and that it produces a very good cider.
Hang Down; Yeah, another rare one but it used to be grown commonly. Its supposed to produce a small tree and is slow in growing, but is a mild bittersweet with good flavour.
Skyrmes Kernel; a full bittersharp. At planting, I was told that only 6 people in the UK were known to be growing this old variety. How true this is doesn’t really matter but having a true bittersharp cider apple will add a fullness to the final blend.

I have been called a bit of an obscurest in my choice of these trees. Sure, the regulars of Dabinett, Yarlington Mill, etc. are known to produce decent cider. But these varieties are in the main blend and, well, wouldn’t it be boring if we all did the same thing all the time:-)