In the whole of the Doomsday Book (AD1080) there is only one record of an orchard (a 'pomerium') and that is in Nottingham. Apples were introduced to these islands by the Romans and have been an important part of our lives since then. There is a long tradition of apple growing in these parts, even though other counties have made more of a name for themselves as apple growing heartlands.
Our orchard was planted around 1947 and we began reclaiming it from its overwhelmed state in 2010. Each year we prune away 25% of the old wood to bring the venerable and long-neglected trees back to vigour and productive life. This process will continue over the coming years. The trees are conventional varieties: so far we've identified Bramley Seedling (c1810), Lanes Prince Albert (1841) and Cox's Orange Pippin (1825).
But after all our hard work, 2012 was a terrible year for apples for us and we had no crop to speak of. 2013 will be a good apple year and dad and I began the harvest on our Bramley tree today.
The Bramley is Nottinghamshire's own apple, having been discovered as a seedling in Southwell, around 10 miles away. It is a 'cooker' that stores well. By the end of the storing season, its tartness has attenuated and the apple may be eaten as a dessert. In my view it makes the best apple juice and is used as a constituent of cider. So, I'm keen to store as many of the apples as I can and have built shelving from reclaimed wardrobes donated by Steve (aka 'The Great Man') to store our harvest in our annex.
So there I am, cockling at the end of a ladder perched precariously among the tree branches with a wonderful apple picking device on a stick given generously by our dear friends Trev & Linda. And dad by my side as my attractive assistant, collecting apples from me and dodging those that launch themselves at the unsuspecting below. It took me back to my childhood when my cousin Simon and I would go 'scrumping' from apple trees in the neighbourhood.
A fair old haul for our morning's work with more still to come from the Bramley.