Tuesday 22 November 2016

Overnight Flooding

The heavy rain during Monday 21st Nov and through the night has led to some temporary flooding at the Turnditch Orchard. Last night we had automated flood alert phone calls from the Environment Agency.

The River Ecclesbourne overtopped its banks at approximately 9:30 pm last night. A couple of hours the peak flow had passed and the waters receded in the river. The far end of the orchard close to the under road culvert had some flooding this morning. Our plum tree (Guinevere) currently has its "feet in water", let's hope the waters drain quickly and there's no lasting damage. We'll stay off the land for a week to prevent any soil compaction.

The river bank ladder would have been swept away in the torrent of water had I not planned for the floods and anchored it to a tree stump. At the moment it is laying on its side at the top of the river bank. Judging by the vegetation damage it looks as though the river level was about one metre higher than the top of the ladder.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Open Day, Sunday 20th Nov

Thankfully the rains stopped around 10am and held off until the afternoon. The event went ahead and we were able to light the barbecue and feed the visitors. I also pressed the Ugly Drum Smoker into use as a food warmer for the soup (Hickory smoked beef and bean), the mulled wine and the baked potatoes. A couple of local families, the volunteers all braved the weather to come to the orchard to have a chat and share the food.  Sadly many others fearful of the poor weather stayed behind the locked doors of their cosy retirement cottages.

It was good to see the local interest in the site and to be able to encourage people to use the orchard.

Tuesday 1 November 2016

Grease Bands on the fruit trees

I was over at the Turnditch orchard this afternoon applying  Vitax fruit tree grease to the trunks of the fruit trees. The stuff is spread in a 100 cm band around the trunk at a height of approximately 40 cm. It helps to keep wingless parasites from climbing up the trunk to lay their eggs in the Winter. Notably the main such parasite is the Winter Moth, whose caterpillars can cause a lot of leaf damage in the Spring. In the summer the grease also keeps ants away from the trees. The ants "farm" aphids in the trees and protect them from predators such as Ladybirds. Once the ant pathways up the tree trunk are blocked the parasites such as aphids tend to disappear as the flying predators operate unhindered.

The grease is black and very sticky. It is made from Rapeseed Oil (canola).

Talking of parasites, I found the "missing" quince fruit in the orchard. It was laying in the grass about 30 metres from the quince tree.  A bite had been taken out from one side of the fruit, it looks like the bite of a juvenile human. An education for them perhaps?  Quince grown in this country are generally hard, very tart, and almost inedible until cooked.