Sunday 25 September 2016

Malvern Autumn Show

We took some time away from the orchard to visit the Malvern Autumn Show. My wife wanted to see the plants and animals. I wanted to see the varieties of rare apples and pears grown in that part of the country to get some ideas for the next trees in the Turnditch orchard. We had a great time and came away full of ideas. It is a big show and we took about 5 hours walking around including a couple of trips back to our car to offload purchases.

I'm thinking we can plant for cider apple trees and some perry pear trees. It might be interesting to make some cider in a few years time.

My countryside upbringing came to the fore as I was able to identify the parts of the vintage tractors on show. Sadly though I didn't see any of the old paraffin tractor engines, they stick in my memory as my boyhood farmer friends used to let me start the paraffin engine on their old tractor.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Bird nesting season over; back to work

The bird nesting season is now over in the UK so I'm able to start work in tidying up the woodland part of the orchard. There's a potential fine of £5000 or six months prison for disturbing a Schedule 1 bird. I've seen none of those on the orchard or the adjoining woodland, but it is best practice not to disturb any wild bird.

At the "far end" of the orchard the land is narrow and almost completely taken up by the woodland on the embankment. The trees there have not been managed at all so it is dark and tangled. Trees are leaning against each other and ivy growth is rampant. I spent three hours today with a pruning saw and chain saw starting to unravel the trees. It was mostly Hawthorn and Ash, but I also took down some Blackthorn bushes which been annoying me all year.

After the hard work it was great to relax in the open part of the orchard in warm and bright mid-September sunshine. I took the opportunity to sample one of the Egremont Russet apples. They taste great but the pips in the core were still white, meaning the apples need some more growing time.

Saturday 17 September 2016

Tidying the Ivy

At the side of the orchard nearest the road there is a steep embankment. It is wooded with a mix of trees, though mostly Hawthorn and Ash. It covers roughtly one third of an acre. The trees have been un-managed by previous owners of the land and are effectively growing wild. We're progressively managing them into a coppice wood, but deliberately progressing slowly to avoid upsetting the balance of the embankment and causing an earth collapse. However I've noticed some of the trees have too much ivy growing on their trunks.

I took some time today to attack the ivy by cutting the ivy creepers at the base of the trees. A sign of how poorly the trees have been managed is that one of the ivy "creepers" I cut was 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. It had grown up the side of a large Hawthorn tree. At first I ignored it thinking it was part of the Hawthorn bush/tree but I noticed it didn't look right. It must have taken many years to have grown to that thickness! 

I also took the opportunity to harvest the apples from our Cobra apple tree. They taste delicious and are a dual purpose fruit suitable for both cooking and as a desert apple. The Cobra apple arises from a cross of the Cox Apple and the Bramley Apple.