Monday 31 July 2017

Back to the routine

Now I've escaped the clutches of the medical profession and the demands of clients, I was able to get back to the routine of cutting the grass in the orchard. There's been a lot happening on site, such as the battle against Himalayan Balsam, the opening of  the Ecclesbourne Way, but the outstanding job list seems to keep growing.

We managed to cut most of the grass yesterday before it was time to leave. We'd let it grow way too long, so I'll need to get on-site with a rake to form some composting piles rather than leaving the cut grass to lay on the ground. The new hawthorn hedge is growing nicely, it will restore a 30 metre gap left by previous owners on the boundary hedge.I'd feared the worst for the fruit trees with the April frosts this year, but they seem to be flourishing in terms of foliage. We lost the cherries, we think to blackbirds while the fruit was still hard and green, but next year we'll have a anti-bird netting cage in place. I did notice a couple of apples on the Russet tree, and also a couple of pears.  One of the trees is struggling, I think it is a magnesium deficiency giving poor foliage, but that can be easily addressed.

Our small ginko sapling suffered some frost damage, but it is fighting back and has produced some reasonable foliage. On the river banks the willow spiling planted last winter appears to have become established. This will help to prevent soil erosion.

Friday 28 July 2017

Thank you Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Environment Agency!

A big thank you to the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency for tackling the rampant and invasive Himalayan Balsam growing in the field adjacent to the orchard. They turned up this week with a team and equipment to mow down the weed. 

Over the past few years the Himalayan Balsam has been spreading further across the adjacent field. The seed is scattered up to 5 metres from the plant when the seed pods mature and dry out. When the weed grows it can grow up to two metres high and it crowds out native plants. This year we've have to regularly patrol the orchard's field side hedge dealing with invasions of this weed.

The invaders in the adjacent field

The Environment Agency mowing the weed
After their work

Thanks to Kath Stapley of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust for organising this and providing the photographs.

Saturday 8 July 2017

Opening of the Ecclesbourne Way

The public footpath passing through our orchard forms part of the Ecclesbourne Way which is officially opened today (8th July 2017). We've taken part in the scheme to create this Way. One of the interpretation boards has been positioned on our river bank. 

Here's a BBC news article announcing the event. We've worked with people shown on the video and helped them in the installation of the interpretation board at the orchard.  We dug the post holes in preparation and provided materials to mount "our" sign. When the generator for their power tools failed on installation day, we lent their installation team our portable generator for the day.

Today, the gates of the orchard will be open to the people taking part in the inauguration walk. I'll travel by an Ecclebourne Valley Railway steam train from Wirksworth and alight at Shottle station.  From there at 11:30, the participants will take walk along the roadside footpath to our orchard before proceeding  along a section of the Ecclesbourne Way, then back to Shottle Station.

Edit: 9th July

Here's the local MP Rt Hon Sir Patrick McLoughlin  performing the opening ceremony.