The trees are also starting to produce fruit, but when they are young, it is all about trying to develop healthy plants and root systems, rather than cropping, writes our Treasurer and Trustee, Adrian Podmore.
Removing many of the fruits during the season does divert more of the trees’ energies into establishing themselves. However, the heatwaves of this summer clearly placed the trees under considerable stress, such that many were dropping their fruits anyway. We are probably still to see the full impact of such prolonged, high temperatures, but cherries and plums do seem most susceptible, so we will just have to see how they fare.
The apple and pear trees do seem to be in good condition and hopefully in another couple of years, we will be getting some useful crops that can be juiced at our Autumn Fayre. For now, bring your own apples and a bottle on Saturday the 22nd October, and you can take home your own, freshly pressed apple juice! Any thoughts of making cider are probably still some way off but we do have trees that represent the four main varieties of cider apple including sweet (Dunkertons Late), bittersweet (Somerset Redstreak), sharp (Tom Putt) and bittersharp (Kingston Black).
Back in 2019, we also planted some hops including Fuggle, which is the classic old English variety dating from 1856, Prima Donna, and Wye Challenger. Utilising the posts that were left behind from the developer’s advertising hoardings, the hops are now becoming firmly established and sending up impressive shoots or bines. These can only wind themselves round the strings with the sun so those training hop bines always have to be aware that they wind the hops clockwise.
Fruit trees and orchards do provide one of the richest habitats for wildlife and are hugely beneficial for our declining insect population which pollinate the trees. The fruits are a great food source for insects such as butterflies but also for thrushes, particularly the redwing, which is a winter visitor to the Common each year from Scandinavia. Overall, the orchard will not only continue to help us increase biodiversity, but it will help wellbeing too. We are looking forward to seeing you at the Autumn Fayre on the 22nd of October, and don’t forget our Wassail every year in late winter, to ensure a good harvest for the year!