Celebrate National Apple Day this October
The 21st October marks National Apple Day
October brings with it the national celebration of all things apple, and it’s also the perfect time to start thinking about your own plans if you fancy growing some yourself. Many varieties of apples thrive in Yorkshire soil – and once you’re through with the early stages, they take very little maintenance.
So which variety is for you? Emneth Early and Keswick Codlin apples are very popular as they have a short growing season (perfect for our late frosts, because they flower late and mature early), and can thrive in damp climates, while still producing a fairly bountiful crop. The Keswick Codlin is good for both cooking and eating, while Emneth Earlys are better off being cooked.
Other popular cooking varieties to grow at home include the Grenadier and the Bramley, or if you’re looking for apples to eat straight from the tree, try the sharp and aromatic Beauty of Bath, or the James Grieve which is ideal for eating, cooking or juicing.
Trees need to be ordered in October ready for bare root planting early the following year. It is best to wait until early spring (around February or March) to plant the bare root trees to avoid ongoing damp, which can rot the roots.
Plant the tree in reasonably dry soil, and make sure to match the depth of the nursery’s planting (this will be evident from the root ball). If you’re planning on creating your own orchard, make sure you leave enough space between each tree – dwarf rootstocks will only need around 10 feet between each tree.
The early stages of your apple trees do require some maintenance, but if you put in the work now, you’ll be well rewarded later. They need a thorough winter pruning, and then a decent summer chop while the tree is still young, and it’s important to keep the main trunk clear of any offshoots to avoid misshapen or overgrown trees. Within the first couple of years you’ll start seeing a handful of apples appearing. Keep plucking them off at strategic intervals to encourage bigger, healthier fruit.
Where: Helmsley Walled Gardens, Helmsley
When: Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th October
What: Helmsley Walled Garden’s weekend celebration of all things apple includes pruning demonstrations, apple tastings, and all manner of apple-related trails, quizzes and activities to learn more about the nation’s favourite fruit.
Where: HEART, Headingley
When: Saturday 23rd October
What: This volunteer-run community project helps stop excess apples (and pears) going unpicked and being wasted by turning them into juice or cider, with the community juicing of tons of apples brought in by locals, which is then bottled. It’s a fun event for all the family with lots of other activities taking place including stalls, music, food and face painting.
Where: Ampleforth Abbey, York
When: Regular dates until the end of October
What: Ampleforth Abbey has been growing apples for 200 years, and now has more than 2,500 trees over 10 acres and 50 types of apple in one of the largest commercial orchards in the region. They host regular tours around the traditionally-managed orchards until the end of October, where you can learn more about their award-winning cider production and get advice on cider brewing.