Autumn tips: Fruit trees and bushes

October is a good time of year to order and plant fruit trees and bushes, so they can become well established for next year. Look for Scottish varieties and stockists, so that the plants are adapted to our climate. Choose apple varieties that fruit at different times to enjoy the produce over a longer period and, if you want to keep them over winter, select types that store well.

Local varieties

At Achmore, Colin Parsons has created an orchard with many different apple varieties. Bearing in mind that Skye has a slightly different climate to Lochalsh, take a look at Apples in Lochalsh to learn about the qualities of the varieties he grows.

Image: Port Allen Russet apple. “Good flavour, although quite sharp and chewy. Canker resistant.” Photo by Colin Parsons

Let us know about your own favourite fruit trees and varieties; maybe there is an old gnarled apple tree on your croft, or you are planting a new fruit area. Share your photos and stories, and we’ll add them to our grow Skye gallery to inspire others.

three red apples on a branch

Creating orchards

Old traditional orchards help to lock up carbon and provide a wide range of habitats for wildlife, but many have become neglected or even grubbed up. Luckily, more people are now planting or restoring fruit trees and orchards for community use, for example along the Firth of Forth, and farmers in Fife want to revive Scottish apple production which has declined massively over the last century. Closer to home, Planet Sutherland is starting a local orchard project with the aim of making Sutherland self-sufficient in apples.

Free trees available

If you want to grow fruit for your community, free orchard trees are available from the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species – first come first served! 

And don’t forget about wildlife: birds and mammals need fruit over the winter too, and insects benefit from flowering trees in spring. The Woodland Trust provides free tree packs for schools and communities and is currently taking orders for delivery in March 2021.

Check out the excellent online training courses run by the University of Highlands and Islands on growing a range of fruit and vegetables and caring for your soil.