Brilliant fruit harvest at Shandon Farm and Appletree Cottage, Loch Lomond
Apple trees at Appletree Cottage
The fairly high iron content in the soil has resulted in apple varieties such as discovery turning out stunningly large red apples.
Prior to us planting apple trees on the farm in 2014 the land was used for mixed dairy and beef farming. It has taken some time to get the soil into good shape for apple growing.
Some of the apple trees on the farm have been so heavily laden with large fruits that the branches break under the weight. We have had to prop up many branches with sticks to prevent further breakage.
We now have in excess of 200 trees in the ground at Shandon Farm and have another 200 waiting to be planted in the new year.
Varieties include a large number of popular and lesser known Scottish apples including Os.lin, James Grieve, Stirling Castle East Lothian Pippin, Lass O'cowrie, Scotch Dumpling, Clydeside and Bloody Ploughman
The Bloody Ploughman has a tale about it passed down through generations. It involves a ploughman who stole some apples and taking them home. The ploughman's wife disgusted at the harsh treatment of the ploughman for his misdemeanour threw the apples onto the compost heap. From one of the apples grew the Bloody Ploughman tree - with apples which are veined through with red when ripe - a bit like raspberry ripple ice cream - although obviously a bit different!
itOne of our favourite trees is the Lass O'Gowrie which is not only beautiful and wispy in appearance - not unlike some of the trees in the orchards painted by Vincent Van Gough - but produces very tasty fruit. it is one of the earliest to ripen and is now due for harvest.
Did you know that if you plant an apple seed from an apple you will not get the same tree as the apple came from - it will be a new variety. The way to maintain a variety is to take a scion (cutting) from an existing tree and graft it on to root stock of another apple tree.
Scions can also be grafted onto an existing tree - meaning that that tree will have two varieties within it. We have heard of a chap in the south of England who has grafted 100 varieties onto the one tree! Great if your short of space and can't make up your mind!
We have grafted scions every year and now have over 200 trees in our nursery on various rootstocks awaiting planting in the new year.
This year we planted another fifty trees from stock which we had grown in our nursery. For the first couple of years we pinch off the blossom to help the roots to grow in the soil. In two or three years they should start to bear fruit - although some varieties take longer than others.
In addition to the apple trees there is much other fruit around the farm. We planted some blue berry bushes which have given us our first crop.
The hedges around Appletree Cottage and the farm are full of brambles and blackberries, plumped up by our fantastic summer weather.
To create bit of variety and also by way of experimentation we have have planted some Medlar trees. The unusual fruit from this tree we are told tastes best when nearly rotten. The accuracy of this information we hope to test later in the year.
We have also put in some Damsons and Greengages and are looking forward to their harvest
We'll report back later in the year but in the meantime guests staying at Appletree Cottage are very welcome to a guided tour of our orchards. He hope to see you there!