RG 2005 June

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8289401_8cd6453906_s.jpg This page is part of The Cidermaking Year by Rose Grant

June, 2005


Ashmead's Kernel

This wonderful apple deserves greater recognition. It is known to be a good eater. Some say that it's flavour is better than Cox. It is certainly much easier to grow as it does not succumb to canker and is also tolerant of poor chalky soil, like mine. My 13 year old A K produced 13 gallons of juice last year, 10 of which I pasteurised and sold to a pub. The juice has a beautiful flavour and was appreciated by pub customers who had agreed to be the driver for their evening companions.

Now I have had a pleasant surprise. The other 3 gallons I turned into a single variety cider. Most of this disappeared at my May event. I noticed that the Morris Men seemed particularly fond of it, so I kept a bottle back to try. I was in no particular hurry whilst I still had some KB and PP. Now comes this very hot weather and the pubs have bought all my cider. I sat in the garden this evening in need of refreshment so I opened the AK. I was amazed by how enjoyable it was. Clear sparkly dry and slightly sharp but the flavour was superb and very refreshing. I recommend that anybody with a few square feet to spare should grow this apple. Wow. It is a corker! If you think I'm getting carried away, it is because I am enjoying my second glass of AK, here at the computer. I am reminded of my teenage years in Somerset when scrumpy was 8d a pint. There was a rhyme that some of you may remember:

One pint of scrumpy, you feel a warm glow,
Two pints of scrumpy , you are rearing to go,
Three pints of scrumpy, you forget all your sins,
Four pints of scrumpy, you hear violins,
Five pints of scrumpy , every man is your friend,
Six pints of scrumpy, your knees start to bend,
Seven pints of scrumpy , you've started to lean,
Eight pints of scrumpy, God save the Queen!

Personally I never got past the 2 pint stage and as for' rearing to go', I used to fall off my bike on the way home! Right now I'm just going to fall into bed.

With a warm glow,


Stephen, I was interested to hear that you and Julia are also fans of Ashmead's Kernel. You seem to have really gone for it with enthusiasm. To have converted 30 trees, speaks for itself! I planted two more of them last year and I think I will get a few more this year. I always use M25 rootstocks as the extra vigour helps to compensate for my poor soil. John Campbell asked when they started to crop. Mine, like yours, took about 5 or 6 six years before I got a small crop. The Ashmead has always cropped very well, though for the first time this year's crop looks rather light. I hope it is not going biennial. Last year the crop was so heavy that it broke a branch off. Thank you for the information about its origin. I've often wondered where it came from. The' kernel' is also curious, being something pertaining to stone fruit or nuts. Your Dr. Ashmead may have grown it from a pip, but never a kernel. Perhaps in 1700, apple pips were also called kernels. Thanks also for details of the book. I will have to treat myself to it ! Rose.


PS. My reply to Mark some weeks ago, concerning his broken off Redstreak has been sadly prophetic. Last year I grafted 10 Kingston Blacks and grew them in pots until they were healthy whips. I planted them in the Autumn with stakes and rabbit guards. This year they were all shooting away beautifully. Today I noticed that they have nearly all been nipped by deer. I wish I had used taller guards, but I have never had this problem before as rabbits have always been my No. 1 pest. My extra KB production has been set back a few years by Bambi and his chums.

I really seem to have started something deer to many people's harts!

Glad to tell you that my beloved young KBs are now fully enclosed in head to toe plastic mesh. After the attack they quickly sprouted lots of new shoots. Before I netted them, I nipped the ends of all shoots except the uppermost, that I intend will make the new leader. I will report progress. I'm hoping that the setback will not be too serious. Last year was the Year of the Aphids. Very few this year, I'm glad to say. The affected trees have recovered OK. So it's not all bad.

Such are the joys of cider growing! Think of it as you sip it dear friends, in those favoured London pubs. It don't juss grow on trees yer know!


Big Apple

Having just returned from Big Apple at Putley, I commented on the excellent display of cider apples provided by Hereford Cider Museum as a central feature in the Great Barn. I took a lot of photos of the display to help me with future identification and said that I could put these on CD, if anybody was interested. Trevor and Frances were interested so I was able to make one and send it to them when my apple pressing was over. Since then many of us have been delighted to obtain the pomona CD, which is superb value and very well produced. It has made own pictures somewhat redundant!

Talking of pictures, I was at Vigo today to collect some equipment. Whilst in the sales office, awaiting my invoice, my eyes dwelt on their notice board. There was a fine picture of our own Michael Cobb holding his Supreme Champion silver cup at the 2004 Bath & West and standing beside a Vigo press similar to the one that he used to produce his award winning cider. I wonder how many of you noticed that he also won first prize for his dry cider this year. I had the pleasure of tasting his cider as he kindly brought some to our May festival. It was excellent with a clean applely flavour and crystal clear. The award was well deserved! Well done Michael. You have given the big producers some food for thought!