Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Cordon Apples

Monday, 5th February, 2007
cordonsWE COLLECTED two small apple trees from R.V.Roger’s nursery at Pickering yesterday and Paul, who grows a lot of fruit, planted them for us this morning. There's still time to plant bare-rooted fruit trees until the end of March.

There was originally the end of a hawthorn hedge in this bed by the patio but the brick wall of our neighbours’ catnew conservatory (left) makes the hedge redundant. The local cat now finds it a lot easier to get through but there’s always the possibility that little Alice will come through scrumping our apples.

We refreshed the soil, which had been exhausted by the hawthorn roots, added barrowloads of fresh soil and lots of our own garden compost. Paul added a handful or two of bonemeal in the planting holes. We want to encourage root and fruit development so we should avoid nitrogenous plant food which would stimulate leaf growth. Tomato fertiliser, rich in potassium, is better for these saplings.

cordonsWe’ve gone for a double cordon (Y-shaped, or, more accurately, a U on a stalk) of Howgate Wonder, a cooking apple (which you can eat it if you leave it to ripen for long enough) that does well in the north but isn’t noted for its flavour and a single cordon of Golden Spire, an old cidery tasting variety which originated in Lancashire in 1850.

The usual recommendation, if there’s room, is to plant a single cordon at 45 degrees, pointing north, this is to slow down the rising sap and encourage growth along the whole length of the stem.

The Fruit Expert

The Fruit Expert We asked at Roger’s and the man there suggested that in the space that we have available we should simply plant them alongside each other (his sketch, above, right). Doing it this way they won’t need supports, other than a garden cane or two to keep them straight; the cordon will be self-supporting.

What does Dr. D.G.Hessayon suggest in The Fruit Expert? When I look it up I’m surprised to see that I drew the illustration of how to construct the supports! I’d forgotten that I’d drawn that. Those supports look pretty impressive.

But for once I’m not following Dr. Hessayon’s advice; I think the simple method suggested by Roger’s will work fine for us.

I’d like to fit a third cordon, another double if possible, into the space, but to go for a variety recommended especially for eating.

My illustraton from The Fruit Expert, copyright Dr.D.G.Hessayon, 1990,
Expert Books