Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Once in a lifetime decisions.

Half Moon at Harvest Time
As we have now cleared a lot of the scrub in Half Moon orchard, we have come to the time when we have enough space to plant new trees to restock the areas that have been dormant. If you get the blend of apples wrong you are going to have to live with it for the rest of your life! Over the years we have looked at the old trees and wondered what was in people's minds that made them plant particular varieties all those years ago. It's somebodys finger print on the land. Originally it seems there were more cider apples but in time they put in more dual purpose such as Arthur Turner and Golden Noble. It wasn't always the right decision as many of the trees were later grafted and have two if not three different types of apple on the same tree.
Grafted Tree.

The orchard was always famous with small boys who now as grown men, tell us how good it was to scrump for Morgan Sweet on our hill and so we will certainly plant more of these. It makes sense as the orchard is south facing and very warm and so works for early ripening trees. Beyond that, the only thing to do is to imagine the blend that you would ideally want to drink. This is not as easy as it sounds as our tastes have changed over time. When we moved away to London we found that we were drinking much lighter cider as we just couldn't get the real thing. Now that we're back in the South West we're back into the swing of real flavourful ciders.

Traditionally orchards are a third each bittersweet, bittersharps and sweets. I'm currently thinking ( and drinking) a lot of Redstreak and so this has to be there in the new plantings. We'll take cuttings from some of the old Morgan Sweets and Reverend Wilks and graft these onto new trees. There will also have to be some tannin so I'm currently thinking of a few Tremlett or Dabinett for balance. The temptation is to plant things like Slack ma Girdle, Golden Knob and Sops in Wine  for comedy value.
If anybody out there has experience in the planting process then we'd love to hear from them.