Tom theAppleMan

Organic Fruit Tree Nursery

Apple season & bare root trees for sale

After a Spring that proved challenging for many growers, unpredictable rain, winds and temperatures continued into Summer and Autumn. At the nursery, this resulted in a slow start to the season, and a rate of growth in September that is more like what we’d usually expect in June and July. That said, once things got going, the nursery has been a haven of verdant growth and colour. Our homegrown Ramial Chipped Wood (RCW) is working brilliantly as a mulch and has helped hugely in retaining that all important soil moisture and keeping the nursery trees healthy. The resilience of our agroforestry system, which centres around this RCW production, means the soil was able to retain that vital moisture during the late summer heatwave which saw many places experiencing heat stress and drought. The orchard and nursery have both benefitted from this warmth, which helped ripen fruit, and put on that late season growth in the 1-year-old trees. Our alley cropping system means that the advantages of intercropping with trees is not limited to the orchard and nursery – our soft fruits and green manures bordering the broadleaf coppice areas were also spared the worst effects of the unexpected heatwave, with the trees offering shade, and soil moisture retention. This all goes to show the importance of climate resilient design that incorporates trees, no matter what you’re growing.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what RCW is and how it works, we’ve put together this infographic… and if you really want to nerd out on the topic, the reference list for further reading can be found at the end of this blog – and Ben Raskin has a brilliant book called The Woodchip Handbook, which provides a practical guide on RCW and how to incorporate its use into the farm, orchard, small-holding and home garden.

After all that cultivation, soil amendment, grafting, and nurturing the nursery trees through their first year of life, it’s always exciting to look forward to the lifting process, which has just begun – we are now lifting, packaging and posting our trees out to their new homes.

When you’re looking to source fruit trees for your orchard or garden, it can be tricky to know what the quality of those trees is going to be like when they actually arrive – and what should be a simple internet search can feel quite overwhelming if you’re not sure what you’re looking at. We pride ourselves on producing strong, healthy and attractive trees of the highest quality, which we can be sure will establish well in their new growing sites, and be enjoyed for years to come.

Here’s a video explainer to give you an insight into the lifting process, and size and quality of the trees you can expect from us… (You may notice it was slightly windy at the nursery when we recorded this, but I think it gives an authentic, outdoorsy feel!)


We’re still taking orders for delivery this Winter season – so get yours before they’re gone…

October saw the start of apple season in earnest, and our Autumn Makers Market. It was a brilliant day filled with great local & sustainable food, small businesses and craftspeople selling their unique wares, live music and apple pressing, which yielded some delicious results and fresh apple juice for everyone to try. At midday, I gave a tour to our visitors keen to learn more about agroforestry design and practice. Lunch was provided by OsNosh, a local charity who turn food which would otherwise go to waste into delicious and healthy meals, and all was enjoyed against the soundtrack of some live folk music by our friend Al Housman and his band. Thanks to our stallholders, and everyone who came along on the day. We always enjoy these markets – it’s great to be able to temporarily transform the nursery from a working agricultural site into a community space, with people coming together around great food, local produce and sustainable crafts. Our next Market will be in April ’24.

Earlier this month, it was a pleasure to welcome to site growers looking to explore agroforestry in a session organised by the Shropshire Good Food Partnership. This was the first ‘in the field’ event of the Marches Real Food and Farming Conference Autumn Series. Visitors to site were able to see and hear about all elements of agroforestry, permaculture, forest garden and orchard design, before the busy tree lifting season begins. Wade Muggleton of Marcher Apple Network also joined us for an insight into important the work they do throughout the Marches stewarding and raising awareness of the breadth of quality, unique heritage varieties this area is home to, and emerging plans for the Marches as a centre for trees within the farmed landscape. It was great to be able to host these visitors, and give people the opportunity to learn and get hands on experience in the kinds of practical skills needed to make positive changes. Thanks to the Shropshire Good Food Partnership for your work in organising, and capturing some moments from the day…


With the threat of climate change, issues around food security and the homogenisation and corporatisation of our food systems, there’s never been a more important time to engage with alternatives, and take practical action to usher in different ways of doing things. It was great to be involved last month with the Wales Real Food and Farming Conference, held this year at Llysfasi college near Ruthin – I was pleased to be part of a panel discussion on ‘why we need Welsh heritage fruit’ with Joey Hughes of Merched y Berllan and Carwyn Graves, author and member of Wales Heritage Orchards CIC. We discussed topics from food sovereignty and community orchards, getting the best out of heritage and modern cultivars, and steps that need to be taken to ensure the practical skills and knowledge of orcharding, including fruit tree pruning, grafting, and tree care are handed down to the next generation, to ensure they are not lost. With this in mind, I’ll be announcing some Winter Pruning and Grafting course sessions soon, to take place in the New Year – so look out for dates.

For now, we’ll be getting on with the hard graft of lifting, packaging and sending this years nursery trees. Thank you to everyone who has already bought trees. There’s still time to place your order, so check out our online shop, or if you’re looking to place a larger/orchard order, or need some advice, send an email to and I’ll be happy to guide you.

Ramial Wood Chip references

Aylott, M.J., Casella, E., Tubby, I., Street, N.R., Smith, P. and Taylor, G. (2008) ‘Yield and spatial supply of bioenergy poplar and willow short-rotation coppice in the UK’, New Phytologist, 178(2), pp. 358–370. Available at:

Barthès, B.G., Penche, A., Hien, E., Deleporte, P., Clermont-Dauphin, C., Cournac, L. and Manlay, R.J. (2015) ‘Effect of ramial wood amendment on sorghum production and topsoil quality in a Sudano-Sahelian ecosystem (central Burkina Faso)’, Agroforestry Systems, 89(1), pp. 81–93. Available at:

Breton, V., Crosaz, Y. and Rey, F. (2016) ‘Effects of wood chip amendments on the revegetation performance of plant species on eroded marly terrains in a Mediterranean mountainous climate (Southern Alps, France)’, Solid Earth, 7(2), pp. 599–610. Available at:

Félix, G.F., Clermont-Dauphin, C., Hien, E., Groot, J.C.J., Penche, A., Barthès, B.G., Manlay, R.J., Tittonell, P. and Cournac, L. (2018) ‘Ramial wood amendments (Piliostigma reticulatum) mitigate degradation of tropical soils but do not replenish nutrient exports’, Land Degradation & Development, 29(8), pp. 2694–2706. Available at:

Fontana, M., Johannes, A., Zaccone, C., Weisskopf, P., Guillaume, T., Bragazza, L., Elfouki, S., Charles, R. and Sinaj, S. (2023) ‘Improving crop nutrition, soil carbon storage and soil physical fertility using ramial wood chips’, Environmental Technology & Innovation, 31, p. 103143. Available at:

Fortin Faubert, M., Hijri, M. and Labrecque, M. (2021) ‘Short Rotation Intensive Culture of Willow, Spent Mushroom Substrate and Ramial Chipped Wood for Bioremediation of a Contaminated Site Used for Land Farming Activities of a Former Petrochemical Plant’, Plants, 10(3), p. 520. Available at:

Germain, D. and Eng, P. (2007) ‘Ramial Chipped Wood: the Clue to a Sustainable Fertile Soil’.

Li, Z., Schneider, R.L., Morreale, S.J., Xie, Y., Li, C. and Li, J. (2018) ‘Woody organic amendments for retaining soil water, improving soil properties and enhancing plant growth in desertified soils of Ningxia, China’, Geoderma, 310, pp. 143–152. Available at:

Nyiraneza, J., Jiang, Y. and Fraser, T.D. (2023) ‘Shrub willow chips incorporated after potato harvest enhance soil properties in Prince Edward Island, Canada’, Canadian Journal of Plant Science, 103(1), pp. 123–127. Available at:

Soumare, M.D., Mnkeni, P.N.S. and Khouma, M. (2002) ‘Effects of Casuarina equisetifolia Composted Litter and Ramial-Wood Chips on Tomato Growth and Soil Properties in Niayes, Senegal’, Biological Agriculture & Horticulture, 20(2), pp. 111–123. Available at:

University of Kent, A. (2020) ‘What is coppicing? – Sustainability at Kent’, 27 August. Available at: (Accessed: 17 July 2023).