Thursday 26 December 2013

The hungry horde

We called by the orchard site on Boxing Day to find about 15 sheep from the adjoining field. We gently herded them back, but had no equipment with us to fix the fence problem. They'd found new gaps. further along the field from our last repair. The sheep are clearly very hungry having destroyed many wild tree saplings and ring barked some other hedge trees too. The branches and logs we'd left from the last trimming work have been completely stripped. Most of the ewes have babies on-board, so we can't be aggressive with them. The soil is getting quite damaged from their hooves, but the sheep have removed a lot of the brush we were intending cut anyway saving us some work.
The field "mown" by the sheep.

We'll pay another visit this week to patch the holes in the fencing. I'm quite pleased we haven't planted the orchard trees or we'd be looking at having to replace some expensive fruit tree. We're suffering from the neglect of the land by previous owners.

We discovered a small stone lined entrance of a tunnel/culvert (about one metre in diameter) running under the road bridge embankment. We think it is the route of a small stream which shows on some of the older maps but the stream bed across our land has been mostly filled in at some point in the past 150 years. From the style of stone work I'd guess it was built at the same time as the railway bridge. In the autumn this tunnel entrance was hidden from view by a large rose bush and blackthorn. We can see an old iron grate a couple of metres into the tunnel presumably installed to stop animals straying up.

Stream bed in orchard at Turnditch Orchard
Residue of stream bed running across orchard site

Edit 29/12/13: We had a chat with the farmer about the sheep. The four legged demolition machines are just being stubborn. There is plenty of food and mineral supplements for them at the other end of their field. They just love ash tree bark! We also called to let them know are hedging contractor is going to start work today on renovating/relaying the hedge between our fields. They were pleased to learn that we are not ripping out the old hedge and replacing it with fencing.

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Sheep 1 Orchard Site 0

We visited the site today and found three sheep on the land. Our fence repair is intact so they must have found another route on to the land. They soon retreated when we started a chain saw to do some work. We don't want to panic them because at this time of the year they are probably pregnant. 

We discovered the sheep had gnawed the bark from some off the branches we'd felled a couple of weeks ago. I'd imagine that unprotected fruit trees would suffer the same fate.

We spend a couple of hours cutting down small trees and working to tidy the embankment. It was mostly ash and hawthorn, but now there is a large pile of branches which need trimming and brushwood to burn or turn into wood chippings. It was hard work, with loads of thorns grabbing at us, but the result was satisfying. We removed four trees which were leaning over the fence and threatening long term problems. We cut their bases low in the normal coppicing style. It's far better to remove them now rather than waiting until the fruit trees are established.
Sheep Damage
In the picture you can see some of the damage caused to an Ash tree and an Elderberry shrub. The sheep have completely debarked a long section on each tree. Those trees will need to be dut down and coppiced to see if they'll recover.

Edit: 22/12/13 We met with Adrian, the guy who's going to lay the hedges. He told us sheep love to eat the bark from ash tree branches. Sure enough it was those branches in the log pile which the sheep had chewed.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Sheep expelled

We are now ready to plant the fruit trees, but they need protecting from sheep incursion. Today we effected a repair to the hedge where the sheep had created a trail via a hole in the hedge from the adjacent field. This morning there were none of the woolly beasts to be found in the orchard site, they're probably grazing elsewhere. Yesterday there were several sheep in our field.  We don't mind their presence particularly, but we need to keep them out when the fruit trees are planted,

The hedge is in a poor state, both overgrown and also a lot of dead wood after years of neglect. Blackthorn really is nasty stuff to battle through when fixing stock fence in place! What appeared to be a small gap took four metres of wire stock fencing and some fence posts but the gap is now fixed. This will be a temporary repair until the hedge is relaid during the winter.

We'll be creating stock fence wire enclosures for each tree that we plant. These enclosures will provide protection for the fruit tree saplings if any sheep manage to find another route into the field. Next to consider is protecting the trees from rabbits! Maybe some plastic sleeving is required. We've delivered a heap of fence posts to the site ready for the tree enclosures.

We'd noticed a 5 metre elm tree which had been snapped by last week's winds. It was in an awkward position overhanging the River Ecclesbourne. To simply cut it down would have caused it to fall into the river. In the end we attached a long rope and, from a position of safety, winched the broken top half of the tree down and away from the river. The dead tree top is now pile of logs on our wood heap and I now have greater confidence in my rusty skills of creating eye splices in ropes.

A large ash branch had fallen in the winds and was projecting over the roadside pavement. It was hung up in other branches and too heavy to pull down safely. We chain-sawed it into sections in situ and removed the individual pieces. For ash wood, it was surprisingly heavy. 

After the work we called in to the local butcher Anthony Andrews to buy some meat for our Christmas Open day. It is really pleasing to find such a good butcher's shop in the locality. We've not been disappointed so far.

We've appointed a fencing contractor to install a roadside stock fence. Over the next couple of years we'll rejuvenate the old hedge with the intention of having it relaid and subsequent removal of the wire stock fence.

ps: The following day. Despite the efforts to protect the trees from sheep/rabbits we ignored the far greater risk. Wolf damage!  We've temporarily stored the trees in our back garden. This morning we discovered our German Shepherd 6 month old puppy had chewed off the top of one of the apple saplings. Grrr!

Monday 9 December 2013

Fixing the hedges

Now the leaves have dropped at the the autumn (fall) frosts we are able to the see the extent of the neglect of the hedges by the previous owner(s). It is outside of our abilities to quickly repair the fences so we've asked a couple of fencing contractors to quote for installing a stock wire fence next to the roadside hedge. It will provide some security and also prevent animals straying.

We've accepted a quote from Adrian Rochford to have the field side hedge (between and the adjoining fields) restored and layed in a traditional Derbyshire/Stafford style. Work should start in a couple of weeks.

We've also taken delivery of the first trees for the orchard. We'll be planting them soon, but first we'll need to patch a couple of gaps in the fence. Currently sheep are straying into the area and would no doubt do some damage to the young trees.

Last week's storm did some damage and snapped some of the dead trees. I'll be visiting with the chainsaw to tidy the mess. Some of it will have to be winched from the place it overhangs the River Ecclesbourne. More timber for the firewood pile.

We've placed a small notice on the gate post providing brief details of the project and a link to this site.

Sunday 17 November 2013

More trees down

We managed to do some work on the orchard site today. We took down three small trees (2 elm and one hawthorn) and logged them into convenient lengths. The selection of these trees was to open up the access space. My wife discovered the joys of hawthorn thorns! 

The more often we see the road side hedge the greater the realisation how poorly the land has been maintained in the past few years. There are some large gaps and a lot of dead wood.

We're trying to create a stockpile of poles suitable for the uprights in the hedge laying process. Trunks which are too thick are cut into shorter lengths and stacked for seasoning as fire wood. I forgot some of the chainsaw lessons while tidying the branches and managed to cause the chain to jump off the chainsaw bar. I'll be doing some chainsaw servicing tonight. 

We've also ordered 220 metres of 16mm Polysteel rope and a manual 4 ton winch, these will be used in the process of directional felling of the trees close to the road. It is all part of the coppicing work. I'll be brushing up my rope skills such as eye spicing thimbles in at the ends of the ropes.

We performed some brush cutting to chop down some more of the jungle (grass, thistles, cow parsley etc., but kept the session short so the noise didn't disturb the neighbouring homes too much on a Sunday. The soil looks to be good quality alluvial loam which bodes well for the fruit trees of the orchard. We should also be able to plant some herbs between the trees as a crop.

This week we've seen an owl and pheasant on the land, plus all of the other usual small birds such as blackbirds, robins and blue tits. When we deal with the coppicing of the trees we'll keep an eye out for nesting places and preserve if possible or provide an alternative. 

Saturday 16 November 2013

Some vandalism at the Turnditch Orchard

We arrived on Turnditch site this morning to find the gate lock to our land had been vandalised. One of the locks had been smashed off the chain and an eye-bolt used as a hasp had been damaged beyond repair. The public footpath remains unrestricted by us with the stile in its original condition. The local farmer who has documented right of access to the adjoining fields has been warned we've changed the locks and we've provided them with a set of keys for the new locks. 

Vandalised gate lock at Turnditch Orchard

You can see the hammer marks on the old stone gate pillar. Clearly someone has taken a hammer to the old lock and hasp to gain access to the land. We wonder why they think they have the right to do this? There were some sheep hoof marks in the access route which had not been there before so it may be that someone has been moving sheep, possibly theft/rustling  through our land.

Edit: Outcome. It was a young labourer working for the farmer. They'd had to move the sheep as a matter of urgency. He panicked and chose a "quick" fix when he didn't have the key for the padlock. Just one of those joys of ownership.

Sunday 10 November 2013

Suggestions for the choice of apple trees

We've used the Internet to seek suggestions for the choice of apples to plant.This is the list of the suggestions we've received so far:

  • Beeley Pippin (as the land was once part of the Chatsworth Estate - probably very appropriate).
  • Lord Lambourne 
  • Lord Derby 
  • James Grieve 
  • Newton Wonder 
  • Annie Elizabeth 
  • Ribston Pippin 
  • Court Pendu Plat 
  • Discovery 
  • Elison's Orange 
  • Grandpa Buxton ( a must for Derbyshire) ...............reliable big fruit 
  • Keswick Codlin 
  • Brownlees russet 
  • Scrumptious 
  • Ribston Pippin 
  • Newton Wonder
We'll have to have a think about what we plant where and when. Other suggestions would be welcomed. We've also discovered a local community orchard project not too far away. We must visit it and get some ideas.

Friday 8 November 2013

Fruit trees ordered

We have just ordered the first fruit trees for the orchard:


  • Egremont Russett 
  • Queen Cox 
  • Cobra 
  • Charles Ross 
  • Beth 
  • Concorde 
  • Opal 
  • Guinevere 
  • Sunburst 
  • Stella 

Crab apple
  • Golden Hornet (Yellow) 
  • Sentinal (Red)  
  • Serbian Gold 
We'll be planting these during the next few months. It is only a start with others to follow.

Update 27/03/2014 - We've also included a Walnut tree kindly donated by our neighbours. It is now planted.

Update: 24/08/2014 - We've added a King James I Mulberry tree to the orchard.

Monday 4 November 2013

Nearby Pub

I've just seen the announcement of a web site for the Tiger Inn in Turnditch. I must pay them a visit when I'm not wearing muddy boots from the orchard site.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Preparing the security unit and river erosion

We were able to get on the orchard site today. We started to lay the base of the temporary security box. This unit will store materials and dangerous tools while we work on the site to clear the field, plant the orchard, install drainage and manage the woodland. 

The metal base frame is filled with steel fibre reinforced concrete mounted on a sheet of vapour barrier plastic. This plastic sheet will protect the soil from the concrete for when we come to remove the temporary store unit. Water for the concrete comes from the Ecclesbourne River. 

A toughened steel security chain is embedded in the very heavy concrete base and attached to ground anchors. The chain will be used to secure tools when they are not in use. Other hidden security measures may be in operation. ;-)

The petrol motor brush cutter we're using to clear the field is quite long at 2 metres. We had to chose a large security box to provide space for the brush cutter. The long-handled Stafford Billhook we'll be using for hedge laying is now literally razor sharp. At times we'll be using other power tools. The intent is to be able to safely lock away tools such as these and also angle-grinders and chain saws during the day when we are working at the other end of the field or in the woodland. Better safe than sorry, but if kids were to mess around with those forestry tools they could be become injured. It's unlikely, but the site is very close to the road with a public footpath running next to the river.

Nothing valuable will be stored overnight. We'll even release trespassers from the chains before we pack up for the night.

Update 31/10/13  I've discovered I have muscles involved on concrete mixing (by hand/shovel) which I've not used in a long time. 

We also noticed some exposed flower bulbs, snowdrop, on the river bank. There's probably been some soil erosion during recent years. We may need to consider some method of natural reinforcing to prevent the erosion extending. If we leave this the erosion will eat into the public footpath and endanger the farm access to adjoining fields.

Exposed flower bulbs (Snowdrop) on the bank of the Ecclesbourne

There's some useful information here. Obviously concrete is out of the question and geotextile or wire gabions always looks quite tatty after a couple of years. Tied brushwood bundles (fasces) and/or introducing some live Willow Spiling to replace the undercut elm and ash may be a suitable method of approach. Here's other willow supplier and locally. This requires soon winter work (to allow the live stakes time to take root for the summer), but as we have other more urgent work on the Orchard site the bank reinforcing will have to wait until the 2014 winter.

I suspect some of the erosion is caused by eddies from the road bridge piles when the river is in spate. Note to self: find a source of live native willow stakes

Update 3/11/2013: We've discovered any river bank erosion control scheme needs Flood Defence Consent Approval from the Environment Agency. This will definitely delay the Spiling works until next year. It also implies a £50 fee payment for us doing work to "improve" the river bank and the same forms as if we were constructing flood defences for Derby, ho-hum!. We've contacted the Environment Agency and we'll keep you posted on progress. We'll see if there's bureaucratic overload for the planting  a dozen live willow stakes in the bank and weaving twigs between them.

Update 6/11/2013: The environment Agency Help Desk gave us the wrong information. It looks like Derbyshire County Council look after this. Their documentation is here. Their guidance suggests we need no special permission, but we are in contact to with DCC to confirm.

Update 10.06/2015 We read in the Derby Telegraph newspaper today that volunteers for the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust that they've being undertaking some spiling on the Ecclesbourne river to protect the banks from erosion. Great minds think alike eh?! Here's DWT's report on their work.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Will the site flood?

We did a brief site visit to assess the impact of the past few days of heavy rain. The River Ecclesbourne is now running fast and a lot deeper than its normal state.

However the river would need to rise about another metre before any flooding takes place, so at the moment no major worries.

Note 1/11/2013:
I have made a note later in the blog about river bank erosion. You can just see some of this erosion where the Elm sapling grows in the above picture. The bank are about 2 metres and pretty much vertical above the river bed. During the summer the edge of the river is only 5 cms deep so the spate condition must be at least a metre deep and fairly fast flowing. The opposite bank has some stonework and steps to provide access and some protection against erosion. The general state of neglect by the previous owner(s) of the field and river bank will need some remedial work to prevent further damage.

Sunday 20 October 2013

First trees down

We're making slow progress on the site due to the poor weather. We are not being total wimps just because of some rain, but we are taking heed of the safety warnings of not using power tools such as the chainsaw in wet conditions. However we have used a bow saw to take down three small elm trees. We've left them as coppice stumps/stools. The trees were saplings really, with  only 10 cm diameter trunks but were growing out of the base of the wall. Potentially if left unchecked they'll damage the wall on that part of the field. Some of the branches had died. We'll check the regrowth on the stools next year and subsequent years to see if the elm is disease free.

The small branches will be chipped, but the thicker elm is hopeless as firewood. It would burn slowly and with a lot of smoke. We'll keep the trunks as long elm logs for use in the base of the wood piles. Elm wood has a good resistance to rotting. We'll pile more valuable wood on top for seasoning. 

While the elm trees were not part of the roadside hedge, the reduced foliage after their felling has exposed the rather poor state of that hedge. It emphasises the need to provide a secure fence as there is quite a steep drop into the field. The rolls of stock fencing have arrived and we hope to start work soon, but the first priority is the completion of the secure storage unit.

I've performing research into manual cable winch units for the logging work. When we take down trees close to the road and the river we'll need directional control to prevent the trees falling in the wrong direction. I've settled on a Tirfor winch with wire cable, now the problem is to source one inexpensively through rental or purchase.

Monday 14 October 2013

Increasing security and safety at the site

We've just ordered 150 metres of stock fencing, fencing wire, and staples for the site. We're going to run a 90cm high stock fence along the road side boundary of the plot. The hedge is damaged and poorly maintained so the fence will provide some basic protection while we work on clearing the site and coppicing the trees. If we don't install the fence there's a risk that people especially local children and/or pets could enter the site to nose around. Normally this would be of no concern, but there will be some risks while work is in progress. 

There's also a risk of farm animals straying on to the road during coppicing work along the embankment. While this work is in progress we'll temporarily dismantle the lower fence at the foot of the embankment, hence we need the roadside fence.

Longer term we plan to fully restore the roadside hedge by having it properly laid, but that process will take a couple of years. Once that process is complete we'll remove the stock fence at the roadside. The top edge of the embankment is mostly rubble from the road construction/maintenance process. It will be difficult to drive fence posts without causing damage. Where possible we'll use existing tree trunks in the hedge as posts for this "emergency" repair.

Saturday 12 October 2013

Bad weather - no progress

We're itching to continue work in the Orchard site, but the current poor weather is preventing us from working with power tools in the soaked "jungle".  Ah well it gives us time to work on the Company Accounts instead.

I might pluck a few more of the Bullace to increase the "Sloe Gin" yield, it tastes really rather good, even in the immature state.

Thursday 10 October 2013

A safe place for the tools

We've realised we'll need a safe place to protect the tools used to clear the land at the orchard site. The primary purpose of the storage is safety, but also theft prevention. We're concerned inquisitive kids might wander on to the site, after all there is a public footpath running along the edge by the river. The tools are designed for forestry activities and in the wrong hands can be very dangerous. 

We've taken delivery of a steel tool storage cabinet which we'll temporarily place on the site while we are undertaking the main site clearance and planting activities. Nothing valuable will be left there overnight, but it will be used to secure tools during the day.It is also a convenient location to house fencing materials for the duration of the fencing/hedging process. It has meant additional expenditure, but given the the easy public access to the site we treat safety as an important matter.

The store cabinet will be tucked away out of sight and is green coloured to avoid being an eyesore during its temporary stay on the site.

Sunday 6 October 2013

A disappointment at the Orchard

We were quite disappointed to find recent dog poo on the footpath we'd cleared by the river bank in our site. We know it is the countryside, but leaving dog poo where other people walk is rather antisocial. 

There's no real excuse for this type of behaviour. There is a litter bin just outside of the main gate where filled poo bags can be deposited. While we can do nothing about people using the public footpath on our land is does provide a disincentive to us opening up the the rest of the orchard to public access. At the very least it may lead to us banning dogs in the main part of the field/orchard where there is no public access.

Members of the public can find guidelines here.

Saturday 5 October 2013

Fruit and the Bees in the Orchard

We're planning to plant a variety of fruit trees in the orchard. We'll plant some tasty variety of apple and pear of the type not normally found on supermarket shelves. There'll also be some soft fruits too. We have already visited several nurseries, including Meynell Langley, to investigate the varieties of trees suitable for our plans. Rob Walker at Meynell Langley was a useful source of information

We are planning to install a couple of bee hives in the Orchard once the disturbance of clearing the land and coppicing the trees is complete. Hopefully this will occur sometime in the summer of 2014. 

Planning the Ashbourne Road orchard plot fence

We've reviewed the roadside hedge on the Orchard project. 

The approach road to the railway bridge creates an embankment leading from the River Ecclesbourne to the crest of the road bridge. 

To improve the natural environment, we're going to coppice the trees growing on the south side of the embankment. The tree canopy blocks out the light and reduces the variety of species growing on the south facing embankment. The existing trees appear not to have been managed for many years. Some of the taller trees overhang the road and railway. When we fell the trees to create the coppice stools we'll have to proceed carefully. We'll use wire cables and winches to ensure the tree fall where we want them to go.  We'll probably have to take out most of the trees progressively along the embankment working from the river end toward the railway. This is necessary to create the safe felling space for the larger trees. Within a couple of years though there will be substantial regrowth from the coppice stools, but in the meantime other natural species will have the opportunity to recolonise the embankment.

The roadside hedge needs a lot more attention before we'll have it fully restored. There are gaps from deadwood and also from damage caused by a road accident. We need to make the hedge stock proof, so we are planning to install a 90cm high galvanised wire stock fence along the roadside boundary extending from the river gate to the end of the rail bridge parapet. We measured this and discovered we'll need to install 108 metres of wire stock fencing. The need for the fence is improve public safety and to reduce the chance of livestock escaping on to the road. There is a fence lower down at the foot of the embankment slope, but we'll need, temporarily, to dismantle the fence during the coppicing process.

Once the fence is secure, we'll gradually work on restoring the hedge using traditional layering and replanting at the top of the embankment slope as necessary. Our estimate is it will take about three years before it starts looking like a reasonable countryside style hedge. We'll plant a variety of hedgerow saplings in increase disease resistance and also to provide better variety. Once the hedge is properly re-established we'll remove the wire fencing.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

The Orchard - We've started clearance work.

Yesterday we started the process of clearing the plot in preparation for planning the orchard. The picture below is the strip of land next to the River Ecclesbourne. One of the local farmers has a right of access to his fields through this strip. We managed to to clear back about 80% over the undergrowth in the available time.

Given the uncertainty of what is hidden under the grass and brush we only using hand held tools to clear the ground during this first pass. We were using a Kawasaki KBH27 brush cutter and managed to burn through two tanks full of petrol in the clearing process. We're raking up the felled vegetation and will be hot composting it later. The brush was mostly grass, nettles and some Himalayan Balsam. The Himalayan Balsam is an invasive species and will take a few years of repeated strimming to eradicate.  Given the proximity of the river spraying with chemicals is not an option.

We'll be relaying the hedge on the left hand side of the picture at some point soon. It looks like there's been no proper hedge maintenance for a good few years.  I was pleased to note there is some healthy looking English Elm saplings forming part of the old hedge. We'll do what we can to preserve this species of tree. The question is should we lay Derbyshire Style or Midlands style, I was raised in Buckinghamshire so I prefer the Midlands or Southern Style hedging. 

We also need to have a missing gate post installed in the entrance to the main field to enable us to rehang the steel gate which we found laying on the ground.

Sunday 29 September 2013

New owners on site

We officially visited the site for the first time yesterday as the new owners and changed the locks on the gates. The gates are iron farm gates and not mounted. There are two gates to the plot, on the road gate the sandstone hinge post is broken and needs repair. The inner gate is totally missing the hinge post so we'll need to install a new post fairly soon. It gave us a chance to try out the 4-wheel drive on the old Freelander we bought last month as we drove off-road for the first time.

Fortunately we'd come armed with bolt cutters, a couple of new padlocks and a few metres of new chain. We were able to improvise temporary locking arrangements and cut away some of the old chains. A local farmer has a right of access to his field through our entrance, so over the next few days we'll visit his farm and give him a set of keys.  

I walked around the field and found some evidence of dumped rubble, so there may some work necessary to deal with the unwelcome present from the previous owners. Up on the road side hedge there's evidence of a car accident which has caused some damage to the hedge and also left the front wheel and axle of a car on the embankment. We're thinking of installing a low wire chainlink fence at the roadside to provide some security while we work on rebuilding the hedge.

The first task is to cut down the grass and thistles, this awaits the delivery from Estate Machinery of a brand new Kawasaki Brush Cutter tomorrow, then we can start work. We did slash down a few weeds and shrubs to open up the path, but didn't make a lot of progress, but we felt when deserved some refreshment at the local pub the Railway Inn just down the road. It was well worth the visit.

Some of the blackthorn and wild plum saplings in the meadow area will be cut down carefully so we can save the wood as shanks for walking sticks to be sold on Ebay to hobby carvers some time next year. They seem to sell for about £3 each so this create a small income, particularly if we also harvest the ash and hawthorn in the wooded area.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Wild Plum (Bullace) jelly from the Turnditch orchard


We cooked the Bullace mentioned earlier to make a delicious jelly.  It will also go well with the turkey at Christmas. It is quite fragrant,  apparently this year has been a vintage for wild fruit.  We also made some "Sloe Gin" with a proportion of the wild plums (Bullace), this will no doubt be a welcome sight on the sideboard during Christmas evenings as the guests arrive.

Monday 23 September 2013

Plans for use of the land at the Turnditch Orchard Project.

We've been asked what we are planning on the Turnditch Orchard Project.

The long thin rectangle shape of the land is not good for agricultural machinery techniques. It would be great for property development, but we've absolutely no intention of following that route. The land will remain agricultural and we intend to take a regular harvest from the land.

Present conditions

The site appears to have been neglected for many years. The level part is overgrown with uncut grass, extensive thistles and Alder shrubs. Many ants nests have made the ground very uneven. The road embankment, which forms part of the property is covered with unmanaged native tree, mostly English Ash and some Hawthorn. The hedges are unmaintained and ineffective. some of the trees tower over the Ashbourne Road (A517). Many of the fences are in poor condition and the stone posts to the entrance gate are damaged.

Planned actions
  • Clear the grass and weeds with a scrub cutter;
  • Create natural compost area
  • Repair the gate posts and gates;
  • Make the access secure;
  • Create a temporary tool store;
  • Take advice on the large old Ash tree;
  • Clean out the undergrowth and unwanted trees in embankment area;
  • Cut the chosen trees for coppicing;
  • Trim trees overhanging the road;
  • Restore the hedges;
  • Cut the wood into logs and store for seasoning
  • Turn unwanted wood into chips;
  • Turnover the level ground soil with Rotavator & check drainage;
  • Plant meadow seed, herbs and crops;
  • Restore fences;
  • Set up bee hives;
  • Create safe access to the river.
  • Select orchard trees for planting.
When these action are largely complete we'll discuss providing access to local villagers. The intention of coppicing is to provide greater nature diversity on the embankment and also provide a wood crop in the future years. It will look a little stark initially, but will provide some great benefits.

Sunday 22 September 2013

Fruits of the Orchard Project

We've already been able to gain some fruit from the Orchard project. Even though the gound is an overgrown jungle there are some native wild fruit bushes. Yesterday we were able to pick up 2.5 Kg of wild plums (Bullace) and 0.8 Kg of Dog Rose hips. The Bullace are quite sour, so they'll be turned into a form of Sloe Gin. The hips will be turned into syrup. Both a fragrant gift in time for Christmas.

Friday 20 September 2013

The seeds of a plan to create an orchard in Turnditch.

Welcome to the Turnditch Orchard Project. Turnditch is a small village in Derbyshire

We recently saw a small plot of agricultural land on the eastern outskirts of Turnditch village for sale by auction. It adjoins the Ecclesbourne River at one end and the north side has the Ashbourne Road (A517) as a boundary. At the east end the boundary is the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway. The land is about 0.8 acres (0.3 Hectares) in area. A footpath crosses the westerly end of the plot next to the river.

We've recently moved to Belper as semi-retirement from busy careers in London. When we saw the land we thought it would be a ideal plot where we could create an orchard. On inspection the land was found to be overgrown and shows years of neglect.

Site of the Turnditch Orchard Project

We made a bid at the auction and won the plot. After the usual legal palaver and a handover of a cheque the land is now ours. Now the hard work starts to clear the land and begin the process of creating an orchard. 

This blog will be a record of the progress. We've no intention of developing the land other than the orchard and will be looking at ways to provide access to the local primary school.