Orchard Maintenance Diary 2016

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Maintenance days in 2015 can be found here.

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Monthly Maintenance, December 2016

Another wonderful winter morning for our volunteers. Under Elisabeth’s and Robert’s guidance we started to prune and shape some of our apple trees. Again larger prunings were taken to our usual site and lighter ones to the willow for the wassail fire. Robert advised that we take a broom over to site and sweep leaves and old apples off the membranes around the young trees. This will be tackled next week. As we will not be using most of the prunings for the wassail we must consider a bonfire on our normal maintenance day next year after the apple pruning season has finished.

Adrienne had bought a bottle of Mixed (078) and a bottle of Laxton Juice and all present took part in a blind tasting to find out opinions. Both juices met with good feedback, but all the adults preferred the Mixed as it had a fuller rounder flavour. The Laxton was very drinkable, but sweeter. Our only younger taster present preferred the Laxton.

All present told no maintenance day in January, but Wassail Event was January 14th Sat 6.30pm. Offers of help made, but Adrienne advised not yet sure of time details. Would email as soon as details known.

Many thanks to volunteers Elisabeth, Rob, Hazel, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Ann, John, Annie and Eileen

Monthly Maintenance, November 2016

We had a good turnout of volunteers on a lovely fresh November morning. We all tackled pruning dead wood from the apple trees and started a small pile of prunings under the willow tree for the forthcoming Wassail event. Large branches were deposited at our usual site.

Adrienne reported to the group on the new Steering Group; the proposed new Wassail format and the apple Juice situation. She also asked for help for labelling bottles at Memorial hall. Would contact people as soon as labels printed. Adrienne will bring selection of juice to next maintenance day for purchase, including Elisabeths order.

Many thanks to our volunteers:- Adrienne, Rob , Elisabeth, Hazel, Keith, Robinne, Eric, Michael and newcomers John, Annie and Eileen.

Monthly Maintenance, October 2016

We prepared the apple tree site for next Saturday’s Apple Day event. We removed all apples from the very young trees to prevent possible damage to young trees from enthusiastic pickers. We cleared site of damaged and fallen branches; checked pegs and membrane around young trees reasonably secure.

We picked Egremont Russet and Blenheim Orange apples for Apple Day tasting (these apples best kept for week before eating). Also, picked some pears for tasting. However, this year pear crop very poor.

Rob surveyed all apple trees for crop potential . He will prepare chart for Apple Day of appropriate trees to send people to for picking.

Many thanks to our volunteers: Adrienne, Rob, Robinne, Keith, Geoff, young William and his parents, Laura, Vicky and young Rosie.

Monthly Maintenance, September 2016

After the grass cutting and before apple day, the orchard require a slight tidy up regarding weed membranes and some damaged tree branches.

We also had the chance to pick some of our earlier fruit: damsons as well as the Discovery, Arthur Turner and Emneth Early apples. These were distributed amongst voluteers totake home either for themselves or to prepare chutney or jam for sale on apple day.

Many thanks to our volunteers: Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, William + family, Michael and Elisabeth.

Grass cutting, 2016

The orchard and meadow had its annual grass cut, which was done by Richard Newman - a local freelance contractor. Apparently, it was tricky this year due to a wet srping followed by a dry summer leading to the grass being extra tangly at the base of the trees. However, a good job was done - thanks Richard!

Monthly Maintenance, August 2016

We completed the final few sheets of weed control membrane around the young trees. The thick grass from the heavy rain earlier in the year made this rather tricky, but we got there in the end.

We also spent time pruning dead and diseased wood from the older cherry trees. A cherry disease seems to have infected the orchard a couple of years ago and dealing with this has beed difficult, but we seem to be making progress.

Many thanks to our volunteers: Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Eugene Nickie and Geoff.

Monthly Maintenance, July 2016

We continued our fitting of weed membrane around the young trees. We have now completed about 90 trees - mostly the apples at the East end of the Orchard and the Cherries at the West end. That's probably enough for now! If this proves sucessful we'll fit more around the young cherries and plums.

We also gave a light summer pruning to some of the young cherry trees and tidied up the entrances to the orchard..

Many thanks to our volunteers: Rob, Adrienne, Robinne and Keith.

Path cutting, 2016

Cutting of the paths through the orchard was restarted, a little later than last year. Now we can access most of the orchard and walkers can explore while avoiding the long grass! Paths are cut once a month through Summer and Autumn by Sawbridgeworth Town Council.

Monthly Maintenance, June 2016

In our continuing battle against the grass, we continued the tasks of clearing it from around the younger trees and fitting weed membrane to try to reduce the problems for future years. Our volunteers fitted out 30 more trees with 1.5 m x 1.5 m membrane squares and took the opportunity to feed the younger trees with chicken manure to help boost leaf and stem growth.

We also tidied up some sprouting root stocks on some of the pear trees and checked out an old plum tree that had got severely damaged in the recent strong winds.

Many thanks to our volunteers: Rob, Adrienne, Nickie, Eric, John/Ede + family, Robinne and Keith.

Monthly Maintenance, May 2016

The arrival of summer meant the grass has started to shoot up around the trees - it must be time to start cutting the paths again!

We continued the tasks of fitting weed membrane around the base of the young trees, but this time we had to clear away much of the grass first!

We also took the last chance to ensure all the trees were well labelled before the grass and leaves made access difficult.

Many thanks to our volunteers: Rob, Adrienne, Nickie, Geoff and Eugene + one other.

Monthly Maintenance, April 2016

A pleasent day allowed us to install some weed membrane around the base of the younger trees. Keeping the grass away from the base of these trees is an annoying annual job, so a little work now should help to reduce the burden for a while!

Some annoying rabbits have take a fancy to the bark from some of the younger trees, so we went around ensuring all the most tender ones are properly guarded.

We were also able to give the plum trees a little bit of spring pruning.

Many thanks to our volunteers: Rob, Steph, Adrienne, Keith, Eugene + one other, Eric and Geoff.

Monthly Maintenance, March 2016

A cloudy but pleasent day allowed us to continue our winter pruning of the apple trees. Our group of volunteers continued some of the height reductions on the trees from previous years as well as tidying up the congested trees in the north-east corner of the orchard.

Reshaping the conjested trees it crucial to maintaining the health of the trees by letting in light to all branches, reducing disease and allowing proper growth and fruit ripening. It is also critical to remove dead and diseased wood to prevent any infections spreading.

In addition, trees that grow too tall can cause be a safety hazard in strong winds. Our work focussed on minor pruning of many trees and more major reshaping where required. Major apple tree pruning is now over for this season, but summer pruning of the cherry and plum trees will start soon!

Many thanks to our volunteers: Rob, Elizabeth, Adrienne, Keith, Steph, Eugene, Hazel, Dave and Geoff.

Monthly Maintenance, February 2016

A clear day allowed work to start on some heavy winter pruning. Focussing on a block of trees near the entrance to the meadow, a group of new volunteers (under supervision of more experienced hands!) pruned some of the older trees that needed substantial tidying up or regeneration. The trees in question had clearly not had attention for many years and are now looking in a much improved state.

Other volunteers were tidying up the bonfire site following Wassail and had to extract a bucket of nails from all the wood ash from the pallets used for the fire. Others helped tidy up all the tree prunings that we kept taking from the trees.

Overall, a sucessful day's work! Many thanks to our volunteers: Rob, Adrienne, Keith, Eric, Steph, Steve, Eugene and two others.

Maintenance days in 2015 can be found here.

Return to the maintenance information section.