New Mills Community Orchard

What do we have in the Orchard?


Thining out the apple clusters

Thining out fruit trees may seem counterproductive, but there are reasons why thinning out fruit benefits you, your trees, and your fruit harvest. Thinning is the process of removing a selection of fruit from your trees while the fruit is still small. It may not make sense to pluck some of the newly developing fruit before it is ripe however, thinning the trees ultimately benefits them as it:

  • Discourages overbearing of the fruit & early fruit drop
  • Improves the size of the remaining fruit, the colour & the quality
  • Helps to avoid limb damage to the tree from a heavy fruit load
  • Stimulates next years crop & helps avoid biennial bearing *

  • * Biennial bearing is a trees tendency to bear fruit every other year. Left to its own devices, a fruit tree may bear heavily one year, then light (or not at all) the next year. Certain types of fruit tree and certain varieties of fruit tree, like Golden Delicious Apple trees, are more likely to bear biennially if the current years fruit crop isnt thinned

    Pruning Figs

    Pruning figs in early summer: Pinch out the new growth at five or six leaves. Pinch or cut the tips of shoots when they have formed five leaves. Do not prune later growth

    New Mills Community Orchard

    What do we have in the Orchard?

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    Discovery Apple

    Discovery is one of the most popular English early apples. Discovery is a bit like Beaujolais Noveau - its appeal is entirely down to being fresh and new. Its nice when served slightly chilled from the fridge. As you might expect, the flavour is acidic rather than sweet and has little depth to it. Interestingly, just like Beaujolais, Discovery can have a hint of strawberry flavour, although this is very variable. The colours are a fresh yellow-green, usually with dark red patches where the sun has caught it. Discovery is often thought of as an old variety, but was found in the late 1940s by a fruit farm worker in Langham, Essex, who planted some pips of Worcester Pearmain in his garden. Discovery is therefore a seedling of Worcester Pearmain, a 19th century early-season apple variety which lends its attractive red finish. Worcester Pearmain is probably the source of the strawberry flavour, which is also found in some of its other offspring. Discovery has a bit more depth of flavour and arrives slightly later in the season. An interesting characteristic of Discovery is that the red skin colour can occasionally bleed slightly into the flesh. There are some sports where this red-fleshed characteristic is more pronounced.

    Russet is the term given to the dull brown and rough finish on the skin of some apples. The English are generally tolerant or approving of russet. The roughness of the skin is not thought to detract from eating quality, and partial russet is often regarded as visually pleasing, offsetting the brighter cheeks of the fruit. Russet also has traditional connotations: English varieties tend to be less brightly coloured than those grown in North America, and many of those most highly esteemed for eating quality have quite muted colouring, with appreciable russet. In a more formal study, Golden Delicious Russet was slightly sweeter and had a stronger aroma than Golden Delicious, and the greater the russeting in different clones of Golden Delicious the greater the weight loss after four months in cold storage (Sansavini and Bassi, 1977). Thus, in this study, russeted skin was relatively permeable to water, suggesting a mechanism by which russets develop a different flavour from their unrusseted forms. As the apple develops on the tree, water loss from the apple tends to increase the inflow of sap, increasing the content of ions and metabolites. These could increase the dry matter of the apple or increase the intensity of flavour, or both, although it is difficult to see how the flavour could become very different in russet forms. It should be noted that water can also be exported from the fruit to other parts of the tree in times of water stress.