Orchard Maintenance Diary 2019

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Monthly Maintenence December 2019

It was a lovely fresh morning, a change from the heavy rain of the last few weeks and we were able to start our apple tree pruning. Rob advised we tackle primary pruning of the Newton Wonder and Monarch trees. Two groups were formed to deal with these while a few volunteers dealt with spreading bark on the muddy path at the north end of the site and clearing leaves off the bridge.

It was a good mornings work and we finished the session off by a tasting of this years three varieties of apple juice – Laxton. Cox/Bramley and Mixed.

The bench at the southern end of the Orchard has been replaced.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Geoff, Nickie, Eric, Ruth, June, Paul, Lanier, Steve, Keith , Hazel, Dave and their granddaughter.

Monthly Maintenence November 2019

Following our very successful Apple Day several volunteers checked all apple trees for any damaged or dead wood and removed accordingly. Others dealt with checking membranes, stakes and guards for damage and removing grass from around trees from central path to cherry trees at far west of Orchard. All similar work in the Apple Tree section was dealt with by volunteers in the week before Apple Day. This also included removing grass from membranes following the annual cut . We found a lot of guards had been damaged and alarmingly several young trees bark had be nibbled at the base. Voles are a possibility. We put extra guard around damaged ones prior to Apple Day.

Our volunteer, Paul, hopes to deal with removal of grass from membranes from central path to cherry trees next week.

Some pruning of the apple trees was started by Rob and newcomer Jude, but this will start in earnest next month.

Geoff and Nickie spread wood bark over muddy path areas at either end of Orchard as wet weather was causing paths to be slippery.

Adrienne informed volunteers of Wassail Date as 18th January 2020.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Geoff, Nickie, Ruth, Eric, Lanier, Steve, Michael and newcomer Jude.

Monthly Maintenence September 2019

The Orchard has an abundance of fruit this year. It was decided to try and juice the early apples in a small batch as an experiment. Volunteers collected a variety of apples as instructed by Rob and approximately 12 crates were filled an then taken by Eric and Ruth to the Juicers.

Barrie and Adrienne will collect bottles later in the week. Varieties included Emneth Early, Red Sudeley, James Grieve, St Edmunds Russet and another from the meadow.

Volunteers then collected 10kilos of damsons for members to produce jam for sale.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Eugene, Eric, Ruth, Keith, Michael, Geoff, Paul and Lorinder.

Monthly Maintenence August 2019

This month we had a visit from two fruit experts, Paul Read and Peter Laws. Paul Read wished to set up traps in the Orchard to a) monitor in general the insect life around the trees and b) a pheromone trap to see if we had a Noble Chafer. Paul gave us a talk on why setting up traps, how they worked and the importance to the site should this Chafer be discovered here.

For the second hour most volunteers went with Paul Read and Peter Laws to discuss the second Trap, how we should tackle the pruning of our old, tall plum trees and other issues.

Nickie and Hazel cleared around bridge area that was becoming overgrown and Adrienne and Keith tackled the bryony and grass around the young trees.

Thank you to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Hazel, Dave, Paul, Keith, Eric, Ruth, Nickie and Eugene.

Monthly Maintenence July 2019

The Orchard is displaying an abundance of fruit – apples, pears, plums and a few cherries. The trees have welcomed the rains of this last month, although the young cherries looked a little droopy. Two volunteers cleared more bryony and took leaves damaged by fire blight off several pear trees. Three others worked along the northern edge of the site removing dead and diseased wood and taking back the hedge where it was starting to encroach towards the fruit trees.

Towards end of the session Robinne and Adrienne harvested plums from two trees to share among the volunteers. Damsons should be ready at the end of the month. We also tasted a few cherries that the birds had kindly left!!! Adrienne and Barrie had mown paths on the Monday prior to Maintenance day.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Paul and Neil.

Monthly Maintenence June 2019

A lovely fresh day. Adrienne and Barrie arrived early to mow the paths in the Orchard before the volunteers arrived. Four volunteers dealt with the young cherry trees. They had not been dealt with last year and so the task took longer than the other younger trees. All trees were fed with chicken manure, grass removed from inside guards and cut back around membranes. This completed the task of dealing with all the young membrane trees for the year. Nickie dealt with clearing vegetation around bridge and both notice boards and removing grass around the young saplings. Other volunteers dealt with removing dead wood for the larger trees and clearing debris to the usual pile. Rob was concerned about lack of rainfall and the condition of one young plum tree that had been very healthy last month, so, in the evening Rob, Barrie and Adrienne took 14 buckets of water to Orchard and watered the seven young saplings and the young plum, plus a few other small trees. If no rain, we may have to do this again and also water the young cherries.

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

Monthly Maintenence May 2019

Due to the May Fayre maintenance day was postponed until the 12th May. Volunteers continued dealing with the welfare of all the young trees. This included checking the guards, posts and membranes and repairing or replacing if necessary as well as feeding all these trees with chicken manure. We managed to complete all but the young cherries at the far end of the Orchard. Rob dealt with damaged plum tree. In the afternoon Adrienne and Barrie dealt with the first mowing of the paths in the Orchard .. took at least an hour!!!

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Barrie, Robinne, Paul, Eric, Ruth and newcomer, David.

Monthly Maintenence April 2019

The plum and pear trees were in blossom and the cowslips (known as peggles to some) were just emerging and should look a real picture in a few days time.

The weather was kind and allowed the volunteers to start the feeding and maintenance of the younger trees. Five of us dealt with removing grass from centre of membrane trees, put a handful or so of chicken manure under the membranes , checked and repaired guards, stakes and membranes. Rob and Adrienne had identified several trees with lower guards that had been attacked by rabbits and so these were reguarded with a higher and sometimes wider guard. We managed to complete from row A – L, although Adrienne realised later Row I had been forgotten.

Rob earlier in the month had cut damaged branches from an apple and a few plum trees that had suffered in the high winds of early March. He dealt with some other damaged branches and cleared away. Rob also pruned new growth on the older plum trees.

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

Monthly Maintenence March 2019

It was a very cold and windy day and this might have accounted for the low turnout.

Rob decided not to apple prune any of the larger trees because of the weather conditions and he and Geoff continuing with the pruning of the younger apple trees. This will mean that this year we will have not pruned as many larger apple trees as we would have liked.

Richard Newman, at Adrienne’s request, had put two large piles of shredded beech chippings from his work nearby. This is a great asset for spreading on muddy paths. As the path at the north end of the site was very bad and that between the Orchard and the Meadow, Adrienne and Keith spent their time spreading the chippings. It also helps to prevent the public from creating new paths between the trees to avoid the mud.

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

Monthly Maintenence February 2019

Following a successful Wassail in January it was a return to the winter pruning of the apple trees. The bitter cold of the last few days vanished and Sunday was a dry, crisp day and resulted in a good turnout of volunteers.

Five of our volunteers had attended a course, last Saturday, held at St Elizabeth’s in Much Hadham, on secondary pruning of established trees run by the Orchards East Group. Rob directed volunteers to various trees in the southern area of the orchard and some primary and secondary pruning took place. Some of the five using their recently acquired skills to tackle particular trees. Two volunteers tackled pruning of some of the younger trees in Row A – G. Rest of us cleared away the large amount of prunings to the usual site.

It was agreed to purchase another two Wolf saws and two Wolf hooks. The later had been used on the Course and recommended by those who attended.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Hazel, Dave, Michael, Ruth, Eric and Paul.

Maintenance days in 2018 can be found here.

Maintenance Day Years:2015201620172018201920202021