An Ilsington Pippin?
Following the apple-pressing event at the late Summer/early-Autumn 2011 community market, one of the press-gang (Adam) took a bag of freshly-squeezed apple pulp up to his village allotment to use as a nutritious mulch on one of his vegetable beds. Roll forward to Spring 2012 and he noticed a number of little apple seedlings had sprouted up. Not having the room to grow them on himself, he asked if I wanted to take them to grow on. I duly accepted and found a corner for them at Arcady. The above shot shows them in rude health in September 2013.
Later that Autumn, however, disaster struck in the form of rabbits, who infiltrated the security cordon and nibbled most of the young trees – chopping several off near to the ground. I fixed holes in the fence and hoped for the best (consoled by the thought that one of my young standard apple trees in the orchard had recovered well after a tactical coppicing when it had been ring-barked by beasts unknown – sheep suspected). As can be seen below, they had for the most part recovered (albeit with a few shorter than they had been a year previously) by May Day of this year.
I now have around 20 future apple trees. I will think about formative pruning at the appropriate time, as well as relocating them to have a little more room. What am I going to do with them? I am aware, of course. that they will be unlikely to be as tasty as the parent fruit from which they came – and have no idea what those apples were in any case; people brought apples to the pressing event from around the parish, and all were heaped in with no respect for provenance of the juice (and cider) that resulted. The qualities of any eventual apples that result from these trees is a big unknown. Does it bother me that they may all be of inferior quality to the human palate? Not in the slightest! At the very least I will have grown some root-stock adapted to my soil and conditions, and could graft onto these some scions from my orchard. This might also provide me with a degree of resilience to any future apple tree diseases: the main apple root-stocks come from a small no. of clones, and my root-stocks might escape any serious diseases that afflict the mainstream root-stocks. Any apples not so tasty for me might well be appreciated by any pigs that I get in the future – or other livestock. There is also the intriguing possibility that one or more of the trees may eventually bear some tasty fruit – a new Ilsington Pippin.