Orchard Maintenance Diary 2018

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Monthly Maintenence December 2018

We started our apple tree pruning. Rob took some volunteers and gave instructions using several trees on the art of primary pruning as some would be attending a course given by the Orchards East in late January. Another group worked on pruning several apple trees in the Meadow. It was a good mornings work and at the end of the session we had a blind tasting of the two apple juice varieties that were produced this year. Most were able to tell the Laxton from the Mixed.. getting experts now! Adrienne also bought along some of her damson gin that she had made from this years’ bountiful harvest of Orchard damsons. It went down well, but only a small tasted as most of us were driving home!!

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Geoff, Hazel, Dave, Keith and newcomer Paul.

Monthly Maintenence November 2018

It was a good turnout for a warm November morning.

We began task of tackling water shoots on more established trees. Rob felt heavier pruning will be delayed until next month. Hazel and Dave pruned willow trees and others dealt with continuing clearing of grass around membrane trees and dead grass on membranes and repairing some stakes and damaged membranes. Damaged branches were removed from two trees in meadow.

Adrienne indicated to group that at Dec maintenance day she would bring bottles of this years’ juice for a tasting session. Mentioned new juice would sell at £3.00 a bottle due to extra production costs. Old juice still available at 2 for £5.00.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Eric, Hazel, Dave, Michael, Ann and Neil.

Monthly Maintenence September 2018

In early September Volunteers arrived on usual Sunday. Important to prepare for annual grass cutting and looking at dead wood and other health and safety issues for the forthcoming Apple Day. Some volunteers cut grass around membrane trees to make membranes more obvious for the grass cutter. One checked and cleared bryony from around Orchard trees – wore gauntlet gloves, bagged all bryony pulled out. This was later put into brown bin. Other volunteers helped Rob remove dead wood from apple trees.

On the August Bank Holiday Monday Robinne and one of her sons joined Adrienne to pick some 10kg of damsons. Much of this went to making Jam for sale on Apple Day. Adrienne, Rob and Barrie mowed paths again for first time since the two months of dry weather that afternoon.

Many Thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Hazel, Geoff, Eugene, Keith, Eric, Barrie, John, Annie and Eileen

Extra maintenance in late September for Apple Day preparations

Grass had been cut and it was now important to prepare the site for Apple Day. This meant checking membranes around all apple trees secure and visible, checking site for any large holes, checking trees had no dangerous dead wood etc. and clearing site as much as possible of fallen apples, by piling windfalls at base of trees. Volunteers started on these tasks and also picked two trees of Egremont Russets (3 crates full) and removed all apples from small trees. Also collected good windfalls that we could send for juicing. Nickie picked some more damsons.

Thanks to volunteers Adrienne, Keith, Geoff and Nickie

During the rest of the week leading up to Apple Day Adrienne, with the help of Barrie and particularly Keith, continued with the tasks referred to below. There were a lot of fallen apples!!!! A lot of good windfalls were collected.

Monthly Maintenence August 2018

It was another hot day. Time will tell on what damage this long spell of dry weather has taken on the Orchard. Some of the trees have suffered, particularly the pears. Rob and Adrienne watered the young cherry trees during July with two buckets of water each and volunteers gave the young saplings another bucket of water each this Sunday. In the future, if this weather continues we may have to consider getting more water over to the younger trees.

Besides watering the saplings, volunteers tackled taking the hedge back on the north side of the Orchard where it affects the fruit trees. We also removed dead wood from some trees.

The Discovery apples were ready and volunteers picked for their own use. The Beauty of Bath apples were also ripe but an apple picker would be needed to get these. The ripe plums had been picked by the public! Damsons not quite ready but Adrienne hopes to get these by the end of the month to make damson jam for sale on Apple Day.

Thank you to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Keith, Robinne, John, Annie, Eileen and members of Eileen’s family.

Monthly Maintenence July 2018

The weather was hot and the lush looking orchard of a month ago was showing signs of dryness as we had not seen rain for over four weeks.

Firstly, the volunteers gave the very young saplings two buckets of water each and then went to the meadow area and, under Rob’s guidance, tackled the pruning of several plum trees. There was a lot of dead wood on these trees that have suffered being close to the increasing height of the hedge. The dead wood was removed to the hedge line of the north of the main Orchard.

Adrienne had not cut the paths in the Orchard this month as the weather so dry the grass had not grown.

Rob hopes to water the young cherry trees at the west end of the Orchard sometime this month as they look to be suffering in these dry conditions.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Keith and Eugene.

Monthly Maintenence June 2018

The weather was good, possibly a little too warm and volunteers found it thirsty work.

We completed the feeding, guarding, staking and membraning of the younger plum trees in the west of the Orchard. Rob and Keith tackled the pruning of several cherry trees. This means more diseased wood to burn!.

The nettles around the bridge were cut back and byony removed from trees where it was very visible.

This year the grass is so tall around the apple trees.

Adrienne and Barrie did another cut of the paths on the 8th June and it looks like another cut before the end of the month.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Robinne, Keith, Eric, Ruth, Adrienne and Barrie.

Monthly Maintenence May 2018

This month we had two maintenance days on the Thurs 3rd and Sat 5th May as the Group were involved with a stall selling our Juice at the Sawbridgeworth May Fayre.

On the Thursday Dave had a fire burning the diseased cherry wood and Geoff, Adrienne and Hazel continued with the job of feeding ( chicken manure), membraning, staking and guarding the younger plum trees in the west area of the Orchard. This involved cutting the long grass around the trees that this year has shot up due to the wet winter months.

On Saturday Keith cleared the fire ash away and then he, Eric, Ruth and Adrienne did some more feeding, membraning, staking and guarding of some younger apple and pear trees. We also removed growth at the base of the younger membraned trees.

Adrienne's note for next year is to remember to put chicken manure under membraned trees before the grass grows. March or April at the latest.

Adrienne and Barrie did two cuts of the paths through and around the Orchard. One on the 8th May and again on the 24th. Last year the very dry winter meant we only had to cut the paths once a month. The wet winter means we have to cut at least twice a month or even fortnightly!!

One of our volunteers suffered a reaction a day or so after working in the Orchard. It is believed this is because of contact with the sap of wild parsley. We advised our volunteers of the issue when sending a reminder for the June maintenance day and the precautions to take.

Many thanks to volunteers Dave, Hazel, Geoff, Eric, Ruth, Keith, Adrienne and Barrie.

Monthly Maintenence April 2018

Easter Sunday was a mild day and despite the rain of the last week was dry for our activities.

An attempt was made to burn the cherry prunings, but the wood was so wet that a fire was abandoned after it failed to take hold. Try again another month!!

The rest of the volunteers started to membrane, guard and re- stake the pear trees and the young apple saplings. We pruned off any shoots from below the graft. We also fed these trees with chicken manure.

Rob did some light pruning of some of the pear trees.

Thank you to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Geoff and Ann.

Monthly Maintenence March 2018

The cold and snow of the previous days vanished and the weather was perfect for a March maintenance day.

Rob, with help, continued with the apple tree pruning, working at opening up the centres of the larger trees and reducing the heights. This will be the last session for the apple trees this year. Others volunteers spent most of the time taking prunings to the normal site and in particular Geoff and Keith took the cherry tree prunings to the usual area as we intend to burn these next month, weather permitting. Volunteers cut shots from root stock from around the pear and plum trees and filled sand sacks with the willow cuttings which Barrie will take to the dump as per last month.

Adrienne mentioned the reprinting of the Rivers Book and that if anyone would like one to let her know and she will bring to Maintenance days. Cost £15.00. Adrienne also mentioned that next two maintenance days fell on Easter Sunday and the May Fayre date. Adrienne said she appreciated many volunteers may not be able to come on Easter Sunday but that she was able to attend with Rob and that if there were a few others then the day would go ahead. Several indicated they could attend. May Fayre clash will be discussed at RHSO meeting.

Adrienne mentioned important to get membranes around trees before grass got too long, so may look at additional date in April.

Elizabeth Chafer has visited the site during February to continue the pruning of the young trees.

Thank you to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Geoff, Robinne, Keith, Roger, John, Annie and Eileen.

Monthly Maintenence February 2018

The start of a new year in the Orchard and despite the bad weather of the past few days, Sunday proved to be a dry day and resulted in a great turn out.

Rob took a band of volunteers to the north end of the Orchard to tackle heavy pruning of the larger Bramley trees, while others tackled lighter pruning to the south. Elizabeth Chafer has been visiting the site since December and has completed the pruning of all younger trees to Row M. Well done. All the Orchard was checked for damage from the strong winds to trees and the membranes surrounding the younger trees and repairs done accordingly. The willow stems pollarded last December were cut and placed in two large sand sacks that Adrienne hopes to take to the green waste. We hope to have a bonfire soon to dispose of the large amount of prunings that have accumulated over the past two years.

Volunteers used willow chippings to cover muddy paths either side of bridge. It was suggested could try and get willow shredded/chipped so we add to our chippings for path use in the future.

Unfortunately we have lost two small trees in Row T. Will have to identify and inform Eugene for tree records.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Geoff, Robinne, Eric, Ruth, Hazel, Michael, Eugene, Ann, John, Annie, Eileen and newcomer Roger.

Maintenance Day Years:2015201620172018201920202021