Sidmouth orchard small but productive

Sidmouth Tree of the Month looks at Woolbrook Pippin and apple pressing

As autumn leaf colours slowly develop, so the colour of fruit – especially apples – gets our taste buds going!

The Sid Valley has one or two of its own named varieties, such as the Woolbrook Pippin, so we can definitely eat home grown, writes Diana East.

Orchards have been in decline for many years but there is a lot of interest in re-establishing orchards, not just for the fruit, but also for the pleasure in walking amongst the trees, to enjoy the spring blossom and then the colourful fruit.

An orchard surrounded by a mixed hedge would provide a wonderful wildlife sanctuary, with flowers and fruit for birds, insects and small mammals from spring through to late autumn.

For ourselves we can eat the fruit fresh, or perhaps let it develop flavour by keeping for a while. Cooking apples are best collected and dealt with right away.

Fruit trees are best value when bought ‘field grown’ and these will be available around December for immediate planting.

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East Devon District Council owns the Knapp Nature Reserve and orchard.

These few trees are a good example of a small productive orchard, but some of the trees are old and dying, while others are overcome with weeds six feet high.

It is worthwhile taking a walk in the nature reserve and while you are there have a look at the Sid Vale Association’s Peaslands Knapp wildflower meadow, where on Saturday, October 1 from 10-1pm an apple pressing day will take place. Take along any apples you have, together with a plastic jug and mugs to drink from. Should be fun.