First the good news. We have many more apples this year, with around half of the trees bearing something worth picking. Having said that, I'd say fruit set has been quite poor this year, with even the ever-reliable James Grieve showing only a moderate crop. I usually have to thin the fruit on this tree by up to 50% to get reasonable sized apples, but this year I doubt I'll need to bother. I'd heard on the grapevine that pollination hadn't been great this Spring, and my observations seem to bear this out.
Green Aphid continues to be a problem, but one which is easily dealt with so long as you're not squeamish. The same goes for the minor but persistent outbreaks of Rosy Apple Aphid, which are easily squished between fingers when spotted. Ray kindly did a bit of squishing at the weekend. He seems keen, I'll get him to do a bit of digging next time...
Other finds were a very pretty Caterpillar, chomping its way through an apple leaf. I've left it there for now, but if I find out it's a serious pest it's days are numbered. More serious was the discovery of our first instance of Canker, a nasty fungal disease which can spread through a tree and eventually kill it if not dealt with. The only treatment for Canker is pruning out infected wood, which is what I've done, hopefully removing all the disease. I'll have to keep a close eye on this tree to make sure the Canker doesn't re-appear further up the stem.
Last week a decent sized Grass Snake was spotted in our neighbours garden, creating quite a commotion with the ladies! This week it was the Hens turn to get into a flap after encountering a much smaller reptile amongst the shrubbery. Sadly the baby Grass Snake was a goner by the time we manged to rescue it from three vicious jabbing beaks. Hens don't like snakes, though in the case of Grass Snakes, I'm guessing the feeling is mutual.