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Leigh Allotments Orchard Group Newsletter

Originally there was not much to report apart from the fact that in general the trees flowered well and many are producing large crops. Some crops too large as some of you will already know as Topaz suffered the breakage of three main branches due in part to the weight of apples, in spite of many fruits being removed in June. It looks as if this tree might be susceptible  to this problem as it suffered a similar accident a few years ago.

Meanwhile, grass, blackberry shoots and bindweed have grown apace and I had to clear round the trees in June but  I have managed to grow some yellow rattle from seed in one area as perhaps a start to reducing the vigour of the grasses. Even the ox-eye daisies which are normally pretty tough seem to be struggling against the grass.

Butterflies are around, but not in great numbers apart from Gatekeepers which seem to be pretty numerous; I have seen one Marbled White three times plus Small Whites, a Speckled Wood and a bit earlier  some Burnet Moths.

W P SEABROOK

Over the years it cannot have escaped your notice that around a third of the fruit trees on our orchard were introduced by W P Seabrook and Sons of Boreham, near Chelmsford. From at least the early 1700s the area was renowned for agriculture with many families engaged in farming. By 1900, however, farming was in difficulties being unable to compete with  grain and meat imported from America, but William Seabrook saw there was a future in intensive fruit growing, including the supply of trees for  others to set up orchards. Demand soon exceeded supply and Seabrooks expanded both sides of the road to Hatfield Peverel. Many new apple and a few pear varieties were developed from the 1920s to late 1940s, several becoming widely grown. In the 1950s however cheap foreign imports of apples  began to  affect the market and the apple business became unsustainable when Britain joined the EEC, and sadly Seabrooks reverted  to arable crops. In a later issue we will perhaps look at some of their  introductions.

Newsletter editor:

David Hammond

19 Medway Crescent,

Leigh-on-Sea, SS9 2UX

dhamleigh2@outlook.com