Friday, 11 February 2011

Brogdale deadline missed again

Yet another year when I simply haven't got round to thinking about ordering graftwood early enough. The deadline for ordering from Brogdale is strictly the end of January, as pruning commences in earnest during the first week in February. I have quite a bit of topping and changing to do with wood from my own trees, and still haven't decided what to do with my new land (general maintenance will probably take all my limited energy again this year).

I almost went to the 'National Scionwood Exchange', held at Stowe Landscape Gardens. I have a lot of pear wood to exchange, and wondered if I could buy pear stocks in small quantity, as I need some maidens to establish new cordons. I got a pretty patronising response. No they didn't have any Quince A, but had I thought of using Pyrus communis or wild pear? I thought of my in-laws' 100 year old wall pear, which produces a profusion of spiny suckers, uncontrollably vigourous growth and very poor quality pears, plus the great length of time I'd have to wait before such a tree produced its first pear,  and bit my tongue quite hard so I didn't feel tempted to reply with what was going through my mind. 

Following that suggestion, I've a fair idea that the only wood on offer in exchange for mine would be 'heritage' varieties I've never heard of, fine to keep going if you have unlimited space for a fruit archive, but probably varieties I would personally discard within my own semi-intensive system for not offering minimum standards of health, productiveness or fruit quality. I'm all for the preservation and re-establishments of traditional orchards, but the primary purpose of growing fruit has to be for personal need; maintaining fruit museum would be lovely, but simply not practical for the majority for small amateur growers.

Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year to my few followers. Another year begun badly with nearly all online and offline activity cut for months due to a bout of keratitis, I hope this is finally responding to steroids.

Lets start the New Year, with the remnants of the Old, with the last of last year's crop just about lasting. This is the first year that Josephine de Malines produced a crop and they have kept much longer in store than my other late pear Winter Nellis, most of which seemed to disintegrate when the temperature fell to -12º before Christmas. Shrivelling slightly at the top, but still quite firm. Flavour isn't top notch, a little dry and astringent but hardly surprising this late. Apples are still firm, almost crisp but I think Pixie is starting to lose flavour a little now; the Rosemary Russet is holding up better, but we will shortly run out of all of them.