Monday 18 April 2016

A busy time of the year in the Orchard

Suddenly everything is springing into life in the Turnditch Orchard. The grass is starting to shoot up and will soon need trimming, but I want to leave it until the Celandine flowers have died away. These plants look a bit like buttercups but are a different species. We're still clearing piles of branches by burning them, but I've noticed a pair of robins nesting in one of the piles so we'll have to be extra careful in moving any pile. We need to rake the area where the trees were felled to remove any small branches from the grass or we'll be having trouble with the mowing machine.

The fruit trees are starting to flower, but we are still getting frosts at night. With the orchard positioned at the foot of a hill there's a risk of damage. I'll need to have some fleece fabric available to protest the fruit trees at this delicate stage of their annual growth cycle. Hopefully there will be no more sudden flooding. We need to mulch around the base of the fruit trees with compost to improve their resilience to drought and also to improve the soil quality, though we've applied some fertiliser I think in some areas the tree growth is retarded by poor soil quality. I'm beginning to realise that the land has been given little care over the past hundred years.

The areas where we planted herbs in the winter needs to be weeded. There are some areas where I need to use a flame gun to burn back weeds so can do some planting. Another walnut tree has arrived for planting.

Back at the house I need to get on with the annual service of the motors of the power equipment.  Typically I've left that a bit late. The volunteers are in the time of the year when they need to be revising for important exams so are not available. Coupled with an unexpected work commitment in London and a death in the family life is a bit complex at the moment. We were planning to buy the gates and posts for the roads side gateway, but an unexpected repair bill for my car windscreen has soaked up those funds, maybe I'll built them from timber rather than buy prefabricated steel gates.

Overall we are pleased with the general progress, but the work does seem to be mounting up.

Edit: 21st April 2016 Today we mulched around the base of the fruit trees with a one inch layer of rotted farmyard manure compost then covered the layer with large squares of discarded carpet to provide weed suppression. We've also undertaken the end of season servicing of the power machinery; cleaning filters, changing oil checking belts etc. Our dogs had great fun chasing field mice which had hidden under the carpet squares at the base of the trees.

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