We have four varieties of apple; all old heritage varieties including Christmas Pearmain, Cornish Aromatic and Pitmaston Pineapple.  We have fresh apples from the end of August until early spring, and after that a few Christmas Pearmains hang on as excellent blackbird food.  They are all really crunchy and tasty, and can be eaten straight from the tree or made into apple crumble, apple jelly, etc.

Christmas Pearmain fruits prolifically through the winter 

There is always a balance to be struck between letting fruit ripen fully on the tree, and waiting so long it falls off and become damaged. Commercially, fruit is normally picked under-ripe, all at one time. This makes for a more streamlined operation and undamaged fruit, but under-ripe apples are nowhere near as nice as those that leave the tree with a tiny twist of a cupped hand.


I have experimented with storing them: wrapped in newspaper and kept in a cool dark place, or gently supported in racks.  But unless you can ensure that every single apple is utterly undamaged,  you can end up with a box of rotten apples.  The maxim of the ‘one bad apple’ holds true; a damaged apple can turn the whole box.  I have concluded that it is better just to eat fresh apples. They make excellent ‘van food’, preventing low blood sugar and guilty visits to the bakers.


Victoria Plum

The Victoria Plum is a cooking and desert plum.  It is a self-fertile variety, so only one is required (some varieties need another plum or damson in the vicinity).   Is rather large for a normal garden, casting quite a lot of shade as it matures and creating a dry bed underneath.  It takes virtually no care.   Every now and again a branch needs to be removed, either to let light in or to prevent a branch getting to heavy and snapping off.  It is an early flowering tree, which is great as a first source of nectar, but if it is too cold for the bees to venture out it can help to pollinate it by hand with a feather duster.

It fruits prolifically throughout September, and can be quite onerous picking and processing the plums.  Cooked plums are very sharp without adding sugar, but lend themselves well to jam for this same reason.  They make a beautiful red wine, and can also be salted, in a similar way to the Japanese umeboshi plum.

It is on rootstock, so cannot be propagated from cuttings.