The Harvest is in!
2017 has been a bumper harvest year for the Community Orchard. And not just in quantity, but also the apples have looked better and on the whole have been a larger size. This is probably attributable to good growing conditions, but also thinning some of the fruit in the Spring seems to be worthwhile.
Over the eleven weeks from 24 August till 3 November a small group of people have picked 953 kilos! We had willing extra hands on Big Apple Day, when we picked 153 kilos. Corbenic came to help in early October, gathering 62 kilos of Greensleeves and 60 kilos of Red Falstaff for juicing. But there were three other weeks besides when over 100 kilos were harvested in a relatively short time.
Some of the varieties are still cropping better year on year, most notable being the very early George Cave, early cookers such as Rev. Wilkes and Scotch Dumpling, and fantastic improvements on the later Kidd’s Orange Reds and Coxes.
In 2017 the pears were not so good and most of the eagerly awaited plums were picked early on. Possibly some thinning would help as there is a tendency for the closely bunched fruit to rot on the tree.
Two other factors have helped greatly this year. Now we have a sign up saying that we are picking every Friday throughout the picking season, people are coming ready with their bags and are helping themselves to the apples as soon as the boxes are filled. Also the “Pick me” signs have been a big success, particularly on the trees nearest to the path through the orchard. By Big Apple day, for example, our healthy crop of Worcesters had mostly been picked by passersby, and likewise some of the later apples disappeared, saving us a lot of work!
We hope you like our new arrangement for the boxes, which apart from giving a better display, is more hygienic.
One last thing I would add - as well as helping yourselves to fruit, which is what we want you to do, we would welcome extra pairs of hands for the picking.
So, the orchard is “put to bed” and rabbit-proofed. The next big job will be weekly pruning sessions in March, probably sticking to our present Friday afternoon sessions. If you’d like to become more involved, our January planning meeting will take place in the Atholl Hotel lounge, 7.30pm on Monday 22 January.
Katharine Melville, 01350 727048