Friday, 4 December 2009

I now have an orchard!

I know I've been dreadfully slack with the allotment blog lately but, well, October was full of lousy weather so I barely went and then I was out of the country for almost all of November. The weather turned particularly shiteous while I was away - I was reading about all the storms with gale force winds and torrential rain that were battering the country while I was enjoying extremely pleasant and balmy sunshine (albeit from Eastern Europe, which was a surprise), so I asked The Husband to pop down and just check that the shed was still in one piece. He took a short video to post to me so I could see for myself and, yes, everything was there but the black fabric that I put down to suppress weeds over the forthcoming winter had been blown around. He kindly straightened it back for me.

A few months ago I ordered some fruit trees from Blackmoor Nurseries who are fairly close to me, and these arrived a couple of days ago, with strict written instructions that they had to be planted WITHIN 48 HOURS OF DELIVERY!!!!!!! or, I dunno, hellfire and damnation would rain down upon my head or summink. But the rain wouldn't let me, so they had to stay outside in their cardboard box until I got the chance.

Anyway, I woke up this morning and - be still my beating heart - it wasn't actually raining! There was blue sky! There was sunshine!

I inveigled The Husband into carrying the trees while I took the stakes (which, although heavy, made me feel rather pleasingly like Buffy the Vampire Slayer), with the proviso that he wouldn't be expected to actually stay and help at all.

Needless to say, the wind and/or the foxes had been having a rare old time with the black fabric again and it was all over the place but, luckily, still actually on my plot:

As I'd not set foot on the plopment for the best part of two months, I thought I'd best have a look round to see what's what. The brassica patch is the only thing that's still going strong at this time of year and here the Savoy Cabbages are a bit inconsistent in size with none of them very large, but I may get some usage. The red cabbages have been a disaster this year with not one any larger than a golf ball. The curly Kale is fairly happy in that they all currently look like Sideshow Bob (except they're obviously green, not red):

But, as last year, my brussels sprouts are looking utterly fabulous:

This the Brigitte F1 variety that I've now grown two years running. The buttons are hard, sweet and very tasty.

This year I've grown a variety of carrot called Resistafly and it's been very successful, barely any tunnels at all. I knew there were a few rows left in the ground that I'd planted as late as I could in the season so I knew that, if any had grown, they would be quite small but could be nice to roast whole, so I dug them up, and they were all perfect, not a mark on them although, as suspected, they were quite wee:

And it was time to discover just how mutant the parsnips had got this year. Answer - pretty damn mutant:

I've not yet peeled this but I suspect it will be too woody to be any use. Can't remember what variety this is, possibly Gladiator, but next year I'll have a go at Tender and True which is supposed to be one of the least woody varieties.

So after straightening out the fabric yet again, it was time to get on with the job in hand which was planting out the four new fruit trees. The sun had now gone in and the wind was picking up, so it was getting pretty chilly but I knew that if I didn't do it now, I didn't know when I'd be able to do it as the weather forecast is pretty dire for the next week or so.

I chose their locations at the end of the plot, just beyond the soft fruit section. This is the view from there looking down towards the shed. You'll note the plot now has that proper Winter fallow (i.e., weedy beyond belief) look about it:

I've already got a Maynard Cherry and an apricot in here so, to that, I've now added one each of Egremont Russet eating apple, Bountiful cooking apple, Victoria plum and Concorde Pear. The apples are on M27 rooting stock which means they shouldn't grow to more than 2 metres high, the plum is on Pixy rooting stock (which is also a small growing kind) and the pear is on Quince A rooting stock which was the smallest I could find but will still probably get to around 3 metres or so - I may have to keep that one especially pruned. I didn't have any Growmore left but I stuck in a good handful of Epsom Salts (for leaf growth) into the holes before planting them, so fingers crossed. I have to remove all the blossoms in mid-May next year to prevent fruiting so the trees can get a really good start and grow extra strong for 2011. It seems a long time to wait but the trees weren't especially cheap so I think it's best to do it properly.

This is what they looked like at the end:

I just hope they like it there!


  1. Oh hello, I some how missed this update. I think your orchard looks fab.

    Was the pasnip ok?

  2. Kella - I'm ashamed to say it's still in the fridge! I intended to have it the other day but forgot all about it. Will let you know if it's any good though!


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