Year 9- less is hopefully more
This year marked a year of change. Although the wood is in Devon, we've been living in south London, spending long evenings chasing the sunset down the A303 to pick apples and rack tanks. This summer we packed our bags and moved west to a house on the edge of Bath.
The deer got most of the fruit in the orchard this year so although I was able to bottle some Ortgeard from our '22 picking there will not be a '23 vintage. However we did manage to get to a lovely orchard on the edge of Dartmoor this autumn full of Dabinett and Michelin apples, meaning we'll have a small batch of '23 Dablin.
The weather has been weirdly warm this winter which is not great for the trees. They need a set number (about 1000) 'chill hours' of temperatures between 0 and 7 degrees, this is basically when they sleep. Without this they become less resilient to disease and able to produce fruit in decent quantities. Hoping for some crisp winter days (for them and us) in the new year.
Work, the move and life generally meant we picked less this year, about 600 litres all told but it was lovely juice so it'll be interesting to see how it ferments and ages. We've also not managed to get up to the wood as much as we'd like but when we have it is truly impressive how big it's all getting, the oldest trees (all full size trees as opposed to dwarfing varieties) are getting to a decent height, almost climbable and pruning is becoming trickier. Unfortunately more and more dear are also getting into the wood as the original fencing ages, which means this year we're going to have to build some better defences for the smaller trees.
Thanks as ever to the Nobody Inn in Doddiscombsleigh, the Cridford Inn (Cridford obs), Ye Olde Cider Bar in Newton Abbot and the Shirker's Rest in London for stocking my Bag-in-Box cider. And of course the amazing Ben's Farm Shops, Cafe Ode in Shaldon, Art and Craft in Streatham, and Elston & Son online, for supporting my bottles.
Onwards into 2024!