Orchard jobs for this week

Our guest expert Gerry Edwards FRICS, MCIHort is a leading orchardist and a national apple identification expert, travelling across the UK to advise on all aspects of fruit growing. He is also a RHS judge.

Gerry has only recently discovered the joys of using a Henchman in the orchard. After years of trepidation he now looks forward to pruning at height thanks to the stability and safety his Henchman delivers.

Here’s his top orchard maintenance tips for this week:

  • All fruit should be picked before leaf fall
  • Rake up all of the leaves and rotten fruit lying on the ground and burn or bag up and dispose of responsibly. Once this has been done, maintain an area ideally one metre round of clear earth under each tree to minimise the overwintering of disease and pests.
  • Give all trees a good feed of blood, fish and bone meal now.
  • Check all stakes are securely tied ready for whatever weather winter may bring.
  • When all of the leaves have fallen from the trees look for what I call the three ‘D’s’: dead, diseased or damaged branches and cut or prune them out.
  • Walk round your orchard and plan which trees you might want to replace or where you might want to plant new ones and place your order with a top-quality supplier ready for planting from December to November when fruit trees are dormant.

And Gerry’s very favourite apple variety? When pressed he couldn’t choose just one as they are all so different – but here are his top three:

August/September - Discovery for its beautiful colour and taste

October/November - Lord Lambourn’s for its superb autumn flavour

Late December - English grown Golden Delicious when it’s actually golden in colour and not green! A beautiful taste of honey!