Fruit picking is well underway in the Wisley orchard and so we know that autumn is definitely here.
We have picked the early apples and many of the second early ones, so from now on many of those which we pick will need storing for a while before they are ready to eat. These include apples such as 'Sunset', 'Cox's Orange Pippin', 'Egremont Russet' and 'Kidd’s Orange Red'.
How to store apples
Only store sound fruit and put them on trays as a single layer in a cool dark frost free and mouse free place. A shed or garage in a shady position is suitable. Every site ripens at a different time even in the same orchard or garden, at RHS Garden Wisley, those in the fruit garden ripen first and those of the same cultivar in the orchard at bit later. I check the trees every 2-3 days to decide which are ready to pick.
Each tree is picked over 2 or 3 times as the fruit on the edge and top of the trees ripens first. The showery weather has helped to spread brown rot (Monilinia fructigena). This gets in through breaks in the skin such a cracks and bird pecks and by touching other fruits. As I walk around the orchard I knock off brown rots to reduce the spread and if possible these can be removed from the orchard and composted.
The grapes in the vineyard are looking good but need some warm dry weather to ripen and raise the sugar levels.
The best way to test if your grapes are ready to pick is to taste one - they stop ripening once picked so let your taste buds be your guide.
As part of your daily checks, it is best to remove any bunches which show any signs of grey mould (Botrytis cinerea) to limit its spread.
The crops in the orchard have been generally good this year due to favourable spring weather and we even have almonds to pick. Fortunately the squirrels do not seem very interested in these so we will be able to dry and store these for the winter.
How to grow apples
How to grow grapes outdoors
How to grow grapes indoors