Apple Day and Harvest Feast Sunday 27th September

apple pic 1Tours and workshop on growing fruit,pruning and grafting, Winter gardening and polytunnel growing. We will press apple juice on the day. The importance of bees will be highlighted by “Active Local Honey”, who will have new products to sample and buy. Klaus Laitenberger will inform on the dangers of Glyphosate in weed killer. Pizza baking in the cob oven, food from the Grass Roof Cafe and selected stalls.We will also have apple trees for sale.

Grow Apples – Try Charles Ross
by Hans Wieland (with a little help from Phil Wheal)
At the GIY gathering 2012 in Waterford I met Bob Flowerdew and we talked about growing fruit and he reiterated his philosophy of the “No-work apple tree”. It reminded me of travelling around in 1985 looking at Cottages for sale and almost all of them had “no-work apple trees” on either end, a ‘Cooker’ and an ‘Eater’. They looked neglected but produced an abundance of apples.
I am not totally convinced of Bob’s approach and think a bit of pruning and maintenance is a good idea, but I agree with him that growing fruit is much easier than growing vegetables.
Visitors to our orchard in The Organic Centre often ask us “what is the best variety to grow” and although this is a hard question to answer more often than not we recommend Charles Ross.
Charles Ross, named after its cultivator and introduced in 1899, is a mid season dual purpose variety. The aples are a good large size, conical shaped and look a bit like a Cox. “The flesh is a creamy white, sweet, juicy, firm and aromatic.”(apples – a field guide by M. Clark) They are best used in cooking early in the season. I have heard they are used a lot in producing baby food. This is a really juicy apple that also makes great cider.
How to grow, what rootstock?
Planting in single rows is the most suitable for organic systems as it allows easy inspection and facilitates weed control. We always mulch 1-2 square meters around the tree with compost or grass. My colleague Phil Wheal recommends to grow Charles Ross on a M26 rootstock or alternatively on MM106. They are vigorous rootstocks and suitable for most soils.
Charles Ross is a mid-season semi-fertile pollinator (May) and so crops better if grown in the company of another pollinator e.g. a Bramley or even a Crab Apple. Make sure the pollinators all flower at the same time!

An apple a day keeps the doctor away
When focusing specifically on apples, several anti-cancer studies show daily intake of this fruit to provide better anti-cancer benefits than lesser amounts. So there may be some truth to that old phrase, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”
Apple’s health-supportive polyphenols are standout nutrients in this widely loved fruit. Apple is also a good source of fiber, including the soluble fiber pectin, and it’s also a good source of vitamin C. Apple nutrients are disproportionately present in the skin, which is why organically produces apples “SHOULD” be eaten whole.

At The Organic Centre we have an orchard with more than 50 different varieties of apples, a few pears and plums. The orchard was established to demonstrate that we can produce apples in Ireland and more specific in the North West of the Island.

Most of us can find a space in our gardens or around the house to grow fruit and I will give you a few tips to get started.

Fruit trees and bushes ideally like a slightly sloped south facing and sheltered site. Preferably loamy, free-draining soil. But the world may not be perfect for you and you have to compromise. Here are a few guidelines:

• Avoid frost pockets.
• Choose a sunny side.
• Not in a windy spot.
• Improve your soil.

If you have already some fruit trees or bushes November and December is the time for some maintenance work. In order to produce trees have to be pruned. More about that another time. The Organic Centre offers a Winter workshop on growing fruits on Saturday 7th of November to help you doing the right thing at the right time.

For more information and bookings please call us at 071-9854338 or

Contact Us

The Organic Centre, Rossinver, Co. Leitrim, Ireland.

From within Ireland: (071) 985 4338
International: +353 71 985 4338

From within Ireland: (071) 985 4343
International: +353 71 985 4343


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