APPLES are undoubtedly the nation’s favourite fruit tree — by a country mile — but they are not without their problems...

For the first time this spring I tried grafting — mostly apples — and I can report to the gardeners who kindly donated scions — that for a first attempt more than half my grafts ‘took’.

But it is important that the diameter of the rootstock should match as closely as possible the scion, which can be tricky because commercial stock has probably been in the ground for some time and is bigger than the scion, which is just the previous year’s growth.

Next year won’t be so much of a problem because the stock has put on new growth below the grafting point which means the two should match-up perfectly.

My particular target early next year will be what I have dubbed ‘Carriageapple’ beside the Newport-Cowes cycletrack, so-called because it probably came from a core lobbed from a railway carriage many years ago. None of the five Carriageapple scions succeeded this year but I am determined to preserve this sweet, crispy, and possibly unique, red-striped variety.

The donor tree is fast losing vigour and is putting on hardly any new growth. It therefore produced just a tiny handful of fruit this year.

The same cannot be said for Shirley Adams’ apple in her garden (pictured above).

She says: “It has gone mad again this year after a bumper crop last year. We did not get much of a June drop so I planned a thin out... but goodness me, the bunch I photographed was so packed tight it was easier to cut it off rather than risk splitting the branch!

“It had 3lb of fruit on such a slender branch and I had to get the ladder out for the rest.

“I wonder if other readers have seen over 20 apples on just one branch...?”

Isle of Wight County Press:

Why do some of Julia Richards' apples look like this inside?

Reader Julia Richards has a different problem — one I am not able to diagnose. I’m used to the appearance of fire blight, phytophthora rot, canker, black rot, frog eye leaf spot and many other apple ailments including those caused by pests and other diseases, but I must admit Julia’s problem has me stumped.

She tells me: “Having picked up some fallers, and some hand-picked from the tree, we notice that about a quarter of the apples on one particular tree have ‘this look’ about them. The other trees appear unaffected.

“Are you able to tell if it is a deficiency from something, is it still edible (haven’t eaten it because we have enough, so not tempted) or what causes it?”

Sorry, Julia I can’t, but my bet is that someone out there will be able to...

Finally, in this season of mellow fruitfulness, another apple appeal for assistance, this time from David Harrison. He says: “I am new to ‘proper’ gardening. But now, being retired, I have time to do more than cut the grass and the occasional weeding session.

“I am having trouble with my fruit trees and wonder if you could put me in touch with someone who will come and prune them and tell me what is going wrong...?”

I’m sure my loyal readers won’t let David, or Julia, down...