IRISH SEEDSAVERS ASSOC. OFFERS ADVICE ON APPLE TREES – Third Week in August 2012

A top tasting apple crop ripening at the Irish Seed Savers Assoc. orchard in East Clare, confusingly called ‘Irish Peach’.

Not a great year for apples many people are saying, but there is fruit about, perhaps not as plentiful as in other years due to the inclement weather. My ‘James Grieve’ solitary tree is giving me the usual large red and green apples which often fall into the mint patch below before I get around to picking them from the tree. Picking is of course preferable to avoid bruising the fruit.

On a visit to the Irish Seed Savers Open Day in Scarriff, East Clare recently, Pat was on hand to guide us all around the enormous collection of apple tree varieties growing in the orchards there. This is some of the advice he proffered:

RIPENESS TEST: Twist the apple half way, then turn it up a third of the way. If it comes off the tree, then it is ripe. If not leave it to ripen further.

PRUNING TIMES: (1) Shaping is done in the dormant season (2) Disease pruning if necessary is done when the foliage first appears. (3) Fruit pruning is when some unripe fruit is taken off to ensure the remaining fruit ripens well. (Grafting takes place in March or April and budding takes place in August).

ORGANIC DISEASE TREATMENTS: SCAB – this is a fungus and one needs to break its life cycle, so leaves should be removes after the fall or at least mown when on the ground. CANKER – cut back sick branches or gouge out affected parts of trunk until no brown infected wood is visible.

SELF-ROOTING APPLE TREES: These are vigorous, often native Irish trees such as Castletownbere, Foley and Ballyvaughan Seedling. After the tree is growing for atleast 2 – 3 years, take a 6 inch cutting, (see previous week’s blog entry on herb cuttings).

CHOOSING HERITAGE APPLE TREES FOR TASTE: Good tasting apples we sampled at Seedsavers Open Day were Irish Peach, Gladstone and Sovereign.

Irish Seed Savers Association  is on the go 20 years. A huge debt of gratitude is owed to many, especially Anita Hayes and her husband for initiating the whole project and to Dr. Lambe in UCD who collected so many endangered apple tree varieties during his lifetime which are now the core of the ISSA apple collection. Many of these trees are now available again along with other heritage fruit and vegetable varieties to bu by mail order. Just check out www.seedsavers.ie to find out more and consider becoming a friend of the Irish Seed Savers Association.

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