Spring 2021 is here – Apple blossom is out 30th April 2021

Just a few photos of nice and bright fresh flowers from a few unusual varieties.

Apple variety – Grasten Sabygard (above)

Almost pure white flowers that glow in the sun light.

The Gravensteiner (also Grafensteiner , Grafenapfel ; Danish Gråsten æble ) is a variety of the cultivated apple ( Malus domestica ). The variety has been known in Denmark and Northern Germany (South Jutland / North Schleswig, Denmark) since at least 1669.

Mutants

The variety known as Roter Gravensteiner is a “bud mutation”. It was first described in 1873. The blood-red Gravensteiner is even more strongly colored . The red variants are popular in stores, but less flavorful than the yellow-skinned or red-cheeked variants. Other more common mutants are Crimson (Canada, around 1945), Vierlanden (Germany), Sabygard (Hungary), Nordstrand (Germany), Hessen (Hungary), Oratia Beauty (New Zealand), Toggenburg (Switzerland), Zanetti (probably Italy), Rellstab (Switzerland), Roter Schleibnitzer, Red Australian (Australia), Henzens (probably Germany), Roter Wintergravensteiner (Baltic States, from 1920), Ropers and Graasten. There are also numerous mutants that are common in Norway.

Apple variety – Redlove Era (above)

Redlove apples are a series of several cultivars recently bred by Markus Kobelt in Switzerland. They are hybrids from cross-pollination of red-fleshed and scab-resistant plants.

Apple variety – Hungarian 3 (above)

Unknown variety from Hungary

Apple variety – Redfield (above)

A Malus domestica apple and crab apple cross, with deep red flesh.

Developed at the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, USA in the 1930s by crossing the Wolf River apple (Wisonsin USA heirloom variety) with Niedzwetzky’s apple (ancestry from Kyrgyzstan). Used for cooking or cider making ‘bittersweet’.

Apple variety – Purple Passion

Deep red flesh, very acid /sharp but mellows with time to make a nice eating apple

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Grafting Mistletoe branch onto Old Apple Tree

I have never had any joy in trying to get Mistletoe Viscum album to grow from seed. I have tried rubbing seeds into the bark, and also inserting seeds under the bark (cambium layer). Nothing works for me.

Now I have been offered from a customer the chance of cuttings from an apple tree with Mistletoe growing on/in it. However most of the branches were over 5cm diameter, but I managed to get 3 of about 2cm diameter. These can be easily grafted or top worked onto an existing tree.

The below is the only photo that is any good at the moment (see below).

mistletoe-apple

mistletoe-apple

My tree is an old Spartan variety apple tree, with the donor Mistletoe tree being an unknown eating apple.

3 weeks after grafting, the little apple buds are just showing on the cutting. But the Mistletoe leaves all fell off, however the stalk is still quite bright and green.

The following is from www.woodlandtrust.org.ukMistletoe is an evergreen plant with distinctive forked branches and pairs of symmetrical evergreen leaves. In winter it produces clusters of pearlescent white berries which are favourites with hungry birds such as thrushes.

The plant is ‘hemiparasitic’, which means it takes some of its food from another plant. It grows on the branches of trees, pulling water and nutrients from its host, while its green leaves also photosynthesise.

An excellent website for further information is http://mistletoe.org.uk/homewp/index.php/grow-your-own/

From there website I gleaned the following, that I did not know. And remember mistletoe is ‘diocieous’ – so each plant will be either male or female. This means you’ll need at least two plants, and maybe several, for berries to form

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Top working an old Conference pear tree – end February 2021

It seemed a good time to use a non productive Conference pear tree to keep some old Turkish pear varieties growing.

I had 3 varieties of Turkish pears, Sheikh Serfettin, Ankara and Tacettin Usta to graft. The below are a few photographs to show the simple stages of top grafting or top working a large diameter pear branch with different varieties. This is exactly the same if top working apples and most other fruit.

The first stage is to cut the large diameter branches off. These branches were about 125mm diameter, and were growing vertical. They were chainsawed off higher up than the final cut. This is stop any tearing of the bark. The final cut being more controlled, by chainsaw or hand saw.

A short piece of scion wood (in this case about 12mm diameter) was use. The end was cut in the same way as when doing the ‘whip’ of a whip and tongue. The sides of the slopping cut were lightly trimmed, to clean the sides up and slightly expose the cambium layer.

The width of scion was transferred to the donor tree. Two vertical slits were made, slightly narrower than the scion. The bark was peeled back exposing the cambium layer, and the scion slid in. It was lightly knocked into the the bottom of the lifted bark.

Another scion was insert, directly opposite. If you wanted a total of 4 or 6 scions could have been used. With the scions in place, it was tightly wrapped with 50mm wide ‘Duct’ tape, but any other tape could be used. Duct tape is very adhesive and also breaks down under the sun after a few months. You have to make this is secure as birds invariably sit on the top of the scions and also to stop wind/gale damage.

Now you have to seal the exposed tree trunk, paying special attention to the cambium layer and scion areas, to prevent drying out.

This shows the sealing compound having been applied all over. It is a very liquid form of black emulsion. This compound was sourced from Spain. Ensure all scions are named, as you will forget over time.
The very tips of the scions were also sealed.

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Snow in the Orchard January 2021

Just a few snow shots in the orchard, and panoramic views over the Rainsbrook valley looking towards Rugby.

Winter Snow in the Orchard February 2021

Winter Snow in the Orchard February 2021

Winter Snow in the Orchard February 2021

Row of Apples on MM106 rootstock February 2021

Winter Snow in the Orchard February 2021

In between the rows in the Orchard February 2021

The snow only lasted 2 days, then some high pressure came over and the temperature rose above freezing, and a little bit of rain. Snow virtually all gone. Might have a day or so rest-bite, but then heavy rain forecast.

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A really dirty looking apple with large Water Core

In gathering any apples left hanging, that might be useful for cooking. We found 2 apples that were very dirty looking, but very heavy. We assumed they were going to be hard and good for cooking. They were added to all the others from different trees and taken home.

It was only whilst preparing them for cooking that the first apple was thrown away. The 2nd apple was checked out in greater depth, and it was found to have Water Core for all of the flesh. This is why it weighed heavy, it was just water.

Unfortuneatly we did not note the variety, so it will have to wait till next year.

What is water core – An extract from https://www.yara.co.uk/crop-nutrition/apples/reducing-water-core-occurrence-in-apples/ says the following.

Water core develops in mature apples when the sugar sorbitol is translocated into the fruit faster than it can be assimilated. The area surrounding the core becomes water-soaked or translucent and may appear glassy and hard…..Inadequate supply of calcium is a major contributing factor.

Water Core

Water Core

Water Core

Water Core

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A little advice re Solar Panels connected to Trail Cameras

Here we have one small detail that I overlooked in installing a Solar Panel to my battery charger setup, plugged into my trail cameras.

This information may be quite minor, but it is not detailed anywhere. Maybe people already know this but..

Peeling Plastic Film

Peeling Plastic Film

This detail only became apparent, when the solar panel had been left in the sunshine for month or so. It was noted that a thin plastic film was peeling off and going brittle at the edges.

Peeling Plastic Film Being Removed

Peeling Plastic Film Being Removed

I should have known. But this shows me peeling off the film. You might know get a few more volts/current out of the panel.

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Requested photos of Newly Formed Roots and Callusing of Rootstock

Many people have asked how do the roots form on rootstock. The basic’s are the same for any hardwood cuttings and there propagation.

Callused Hardwood Rootstock

Callused Hardwood Rootstock

Here we have a bundle callused rootstocks, just come out of the heated beds. Most are callused, with the odd few not taken, and a few with adventurious roots. The cuttings here are of various diameters ranging from 4mm to 10mm, makes no difference at this stage.

Adventurious Roots

Adventurious Roots

Another bundle has a few more even longer adventurious roots. I think these are ‘Colt’ rootstock, not normally propagated using hardwood cuttings. As they normally are grown in stool beds. But all cuttings here are approx the same diameter.

Callused Hardwood Cuttings

Callused Hardwood Cuttings

The above photo shows really nice callusing all around the circumference. You may just see very slight root formation near the centre of the RH photo.

Intial Root Formation

Intial Root Formation

This a plum rootstock, showing very slight callusing, but really nice root formation. Some roots forming from the base as well as from the sides.

Very Adventurious Roots

Very Adventurious Roots

Sometimes things do not go to plan. I think this adventurious root has got a mind of its own.

Roots Lost Direction

Roots Lost Direction

I am not too sure where this root thinks its going. Its growing vertical from the callus.

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Apple – William Crump – Nov 2020

William Crump is a relatively large apple by modern standards. It was named after the head gardener at Madresfield Court in Worcesterhire in 1908. It is a cross between Cox’s Orange Pippin and Worcester Pearmain, hence its bright red skin and yellow flesh.

It is juicy sweet and acid when ripe (some say it tastes of pineapples), but mellows to a more sweet apple. It can store until February. It is primarily an eating apple, but due to its larger size, we use it for cooking. As it is more sweet, no extra sugar is needed in cooking.

It is spur bearing (watch out when pruning) and it is self sterile (needs another pollinator).

William Crump

William Crump

William Crump

William Crump

William Crump

William Crump

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Hens Turd Apple Variety – Nov 2020

I have a problem, this variety was given to me as scion wood. It is supposed to be a Hens Turd apple. I have no confirmed photo id of this variety, so I cannot verify it being correct.

If anybody can confirm it please contact me.

Hens Turd

Hens Turd

An article by the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust is as follows

October 2012  Hens’ Turd and Coccagee by Charles Martell

The Hens’ Turd apple is a Gloucestershire variety found at the riverside at Rodley. Recently, an Irish correspondent has written asserting this is the same variety as Coccagee. Certainly from its description it seems very similar although Hens’ Turd typically has a longer stem. Interestingly, the name Coccagee translates as goose turd. I don’t know whether Coccagee is still in existence but it was noted as a ‘very old and highly esteemed variety for culinary purposes, and especially for baking when it possesses a peculiarly rich flavour.’

Further; ‘This apple triumphs over all others in sauce, tarts and pies, as much as its juice in cider. No cook would ever make use of any other apple if he could get this.’ I wonder how these varieties earned their disparaging names. The only crude suggestion I can make is that these apples were used to stuff the bird, be it goose or fowl, before roasting.

My photos of this variety are as follows. In some ways the remark that it has a long stem (stalk) are correct. But mine is somewhat small and therefore not particularly good for peeling for culinary use.

However reference to Coccagee on Wikipedia   states

The fruit of the ‘Coccagee’ is small to medium-sized, ovate or conical, with pale yellow, green-flecked skin, the colour of which probably gave the variety its name.

As an addendum to this blog message 12th November 2020 – I have 4 fruit left on the tree, they certainly small. But the intial taste is very sweet with a distinct sharp aftertaste. The skin of the apple looks as though its covered with a grey/black mottled fungus mould or virus. But it does not rub off, it is part of the skinn. It does not seem to affect the flesh.

Hens Turd

Hens Turd

Hens Turd

Hens Turd

Hens Turd

Hens Turd

Hens Turd

 

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Buzzards eating post in an old tree – Nov 2020

We have a gappy hedge that was overgrown, with branches bending over laying over the ground. The hedge is primarily blackthorn, with the odd hawthorn and and old (almost dead) oak tree. I can understand about the oak giving up, as it has its roots in waterlogged ground. The ground is heavy clay, with this gappy hedge running along a stream. Many of the blackthorn trees are also leaning over, taking a wire fence out with it.

But in climbing up an old tree to cut off some over hanging branches, it was noticed that there were patches of sheep wool, high up. It must have been about  16ft up (5m), in the crouch of the tree there also bones on some sort of bird.

It is assumed that it must be an eating place for a buzzard. As nothing else powerful enough in the UK could have put a dead sheep (probably still born lamb) up a tree. This tree has been left, and trail cameras put up to hopefully record something. Thinking about getting some cheap butchers meat and putting it up there as bait.

Buzzard food/eating store

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