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Rivers Heritage

Orchard Maintenance Diary 2017

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Monthly Maintenence December 2017

What a wonderful turn out for the final maintenance day of the year and a pleasant day for working in the orchard. We have really be blessed with good working weather this year.

We started with heavy pruning of some apple trees under Rob’s guidance and Elizabeth continued with the pruning and shaping of the younger trees, teaching her skills to other volunteers. The job of sweeping apples and grass from the membraned trees and degrassing around the base continued to row M.

Several volunteers tackled the job of removing the willow shoots from the three pollarded willows at the south east end of the Orchard. The willow that was professionally pollarded earlier this year had sent up some very vigorous shoots. Important to keep this in check so no light issues in the future. We also put wood chippings over mudded paths either side of bridge and on the path at the north end of the site. Thank you to our youngest volunteers.

We ended the session with a blind tasting of this years’ three juice varieties, Laxton Superb, Cox/Bramley and Mixed. All are very pleasant, but the sweeter Laxton seemed to be a favourite. Adrienne had juice to sell.

We discussed the matter of whether we can do Wassail this January. Eric pointed out that the event would be our own event without the STC being involved. It would be important that many of our volunteers would be able to attend as it must be well marshalled. A date of the 20th January was agreed. Matters were raised that have to be checked first and that if it seemed possible to stage the event then a meeting would be arranged to deal with matters early in the New Year.

It was agreed that even if Wassail does not take place in January we would NOT have a maintenance day that month.

Many thanks to volunteers Elizabeth, Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Geoff, Eric, Ruth, Hazel, Dave and their granddaughter, John, Annie, Eileen and two interested persons who came from the Colchester area following an interest in seeing what remained of the Rivers Nursery having investigated its history.

Also, A VERY BIG THANK YOU to ALL those VOLUNTEERS who have helped keep the Orchard in great shape this 2017, to the COMMUNITY for the tremendous turn out on APPLE DAY and for purchasing our juice to help fund the work in the Orchard and to the TOWN COUNCIL for its support in many ways. MERRY CHRISTMAS and A HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Monthly Maintenence November 2017

We began the task of pruning the apple trees starting with tackling the water shoots on the more established trees. We managed from row A – L. Elizabeth Crafer will prune and shape all the young trees over the next few months coming to the site in her own time. We also swept grass and fallen apples from some of the membraned trees and degrassed from base of these trees. More to be done next month.

On Apple Day Peter Laws advised we remove grass from around the seven new saplings. We did this and will consider membrane around in the new year.

Note - new mesh had been put on bridge by STC prior to Apple Day. Excellent Job.

Adrienne indicated to group at end of meeting that at Dec. maintenance day she would bring bottles of this year's juice for a tasting session and would also bring bottles for purchase. If anyone wanted large number for presents to let her know by 25th Nov. Varieties being Laxton Superb, Cox/Bramley and Mixed. She indicated help would be required for labelling and for the sale of juice at Xmas Lights on 25th Nov.

Many Thanks to volunteers Rob, Elizabeth, Adrienne, Eric, Ruth, Keith, Ann, Michael and Geoff.

Monthly Maintenence October 2017

The Orchard and Meadow had been cut by Richard Newman. It looked good, but many of the apples had ripened early and many had fallen. The amount on the ground would be a safety issue for Apple Day. The task for this meeting was to prepare site for Apple Day next Saturday.

We systematically checked that all membranes around apple trees secure, pegs in ground and removed all apples from young trees. Site checked for bryony and any dead branches in Apple trees. Willow growth from tree felled this year cut back where overhanging path and chippings placed on path either side of bridge. Noted bridge still an issue and a danger for Apple Day. Adrienne would raise matter again with STC.

We picked various variety of apples and pears for tasting next Saturday. These would taste better for being off the tree for a week – russets, blenheim orange, Pitmarston Pineapple and at least five varieties of pear.

Rob did a crop check of all the apple trees as a guide for Apple Day. Note – although many trees had shed their crop there was still a good number of Bramley and Monarch this year.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Eric, Robinne, Ann, Michael, Hazel, Eric, Keith, Eugene, John, Annie and Eileen.

Monthly Maintenence September 2017

Rob took group of volunteers to meadow area to cut back trees along hedge that were impinging on fruit trees. A mammoth task . Most cuttings put in hedgerow.

Other volunteers cut long grass around membranes of the young trees so membranes would be more visible when area had its annual mow. We also picked damsons from orchard for jam for sale on Apple Day. Volunteers took some apples that were already mature for own consumption.

Noted wire on one half of bridge insufficient and planks slippery. Would raise matter with STC as a safety issue for Apple Day.

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

Monthly Maintenence August 2017

Adrienne had mown the paths on the site the Tuesday before maintenance day. Assuming the Orchard grass will be cut in September – only needed to do job three times this year.

We worked in meadow area cutting down one dead tree and radically pruned another. Clearing away debris took about an hour! Area around small bridge cut back for pedestrian access. Hazel did a sterling job.

Again, grass around small saplings cut.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Hazel and Michael.

Monthly Maintenence July 2017

What a wonderful turn out and lovely weather to work in.

Rob and Michael continued with the pruning of the larger cherry trees.

Before we started, Rob and Adrienne instructed all those present on the problems of bryony and Michael took on the job of removing and bagging up all he could find entwined around the Orchard trees, suitably clad in gauntlet gloves! Besides that task we tackled a variety of jobs. We cut grass around the new saplings and watered them and then, on Eugene’s instructions, removed the spiral guards and guarded them in a similar fashion to the younger trees. All the other young guarded trees were checked and weeded. One of the bigger tasks was clearing the ditch and embankment running parallel to Row A. A tremendous effort by all those involved.

Many, many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Keith, Elizabeth, Eugene, Michael, Nickie, Laura, Ann, John, Annie and Eileen

Monthly Maintenence June 2017

We continued with the re-guarding and staking of the younger trees, but moving to the cherries, plums and pears. Due to the amount of rabbits seen around the area this seems a necessity. We also cut grass around the seven new saplings and gave each a bucket of water.

Rob and Michael continued with the pruning of the larger cherry trees.

Some much needed rain last month meant the grass had shot up. Rob decided that we try Barrie’s second hand push petrol mower to cut paths through the Orchard. If successful, this would cut down on costs of mowing paths by the STC for the months from May to late August. Sunday morning the mower played up, but Barrie and Rob took things apart and Rob returned in the afternoon to successfully cut paths.

NB. Adrienne, Rob and Barrie returned again on June 14th and double mowed all paths previously cut by Rob. We hope to now do this once a month, provided the mower holds out!! Only cost – petrol.

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

Monthly Maintenence May 2017

A wonderful turn out of volunteers this month.

We continued with the project of re-guarding and re-staking of all the younger trees and checking and re-aligning all membranes put down last year. We also cut grass around younger trees not membraned and the new saplings. Because of the serious lack of rain we gave each of the new saplings planted last month a bucket of water each. Adrienne will do this fortnightly if lack of rainfall continues.

Last month soil was still damp under membranes, but this month many quite dry. Lack of rain a big concern.

Rob and Laura dealt with pruning of several large cherry trees.

The nettles and growth around the bridge was cut back for better pedestrian access.

Ruth advised all present of the date of the next Steering Group Meeting (Wed 24th May at 7.00pm at Town Council) and asked if anyone wanted to add things to the agenda. Items were suggested.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Michael, Hazel, Ruth, Eric, Nickie, Laura, Eugene, John, Annie and Eileen.

Monthly Maintenence April 2017

A glorious morning again. We tackled the project of re-guarding and re-staking of all the younger trees in the orchard and checking and realigning all the membranes put down last year. We also fed young trees with chicken manure under membranes. Rob demonstrated the procedure and we then worked in pairs. Adrienne had ordered large and short tree stakes and Barrie had revamped and treated old stakes in the weeks prior to Sunday. He will continue to do this on the stakes removed so we recycle as much as possible.

Eugene and Peter Laws planted seven new young grafted apple trees the week before. It will be important to keep grass hand cut around these saplings.

During March Rob made several trips to the Orchard pruning new growth on pear and cherry trees.

The Willow Tree has been pollarded and this lets so much more light to the trees in that part of the orchard.

Membranes – At present membranes seem to be doing job. A few ants nests under some. Found small hole run under G6. Will keep eye on this as advised to look out for voles.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Michael, Eugene, Ruth , Eric, Geoff and newcomer Tom

Monthly Maintenence March 2017

Despite the early morning weather and forecast a good number of volunteers arrived for what turned out to be a lovely morning in the Orchard.

We tackled the damage to two plum trees caused by Storm Doris and the Willow branch. It is important we deal with pollarding of the Willow as high winds could result in damage to nearby apple trees. We then continued with the final apple pruning session and took all prunings to the designated site. Checked all membranes around young trees secured.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Adrienne, Robinne, Keith, Ann, Geoff, John, Annie and Ellen

Monthly Maintenence February 2017

A fresh February morning brought a good number of volunteers to the orchard and Rob had his work cut out instructing us all. However, heavy pruning and shaping of apple trees was achieved as well as regeneration of older trees and the light pruning of younger ones. Two volunteers did a sterling job taking the light prunings to the designated area.

Adrienne advised those present of the Steering Group meeting on the 15th February. She also said that she had and would always bring at least 12 juice bottles for sale every maintenance day.

Many thanks to volunteers Rob, Hazel, Adrienne, Keith, Robinne, Ann, Eugene, Michael, John, Annie, Ellen and newcomers Nick and Nicky.

Maintenance Day Years:2015201620172018201920202021