Tuesday 27 October 2020

Russets missing

 In these days of Covid-19 we are keeping close to home to avoid the risk of infection. We've not put a lot of work into the orchard, but we have been keeping an eye on it. The grass has been allowed to grow long, but the fruit trees are sufficiently mature that it does not greatly affect them.

A couple of weeks ago we had a good crop of Russet apples on the Egremont tree. I don't normally pick them until late October/Early November as they are a late apple and the delay enhances their flavour. Today (27th October ) I decided to harvest the crop. However on arrival, I found not a single apple on the tree and none on the ground below.

It looks like we've had the crop stolen.

It takes quite a lot of work to maintain the orchard, and it is very disappointing to not reap the benefits. In my current frame of mind I'm tempted to apply for planning permission on the site, which is outside of greenbelt, with good road access. I know the authorities are looking for locations to provide and fund social housing for migrants. There's a handy bus route nearby and all of the necessary utility services are available. It would certainly give us a healthy profit while also being a benefit to society.

Monday 8 June 2020

The Orchard is on Hold

Given the Covid-19 Lockdown regulations and the need for our own protective self-isolation we've not put much time into maintaining the orchard over the past few months.

We did manage to undertake a brief visit and found a lot of damage to the fruit and nut trees. Over-winter floods and late spring frosts have wreaked extensive damage. I also noticed some "die-back" disease in some of the Ash trees.  While we've not abandoned the project, it is almost like we'll have to start again from the beginning. 

Owner in wrecked orchard

Sunday 1 March 2020

One more tree

We finally managed to get on the Orchard today, though the ground was still a bit boggy after the floods. We had a bare roots Egremont Russet apple tree to plant. Currently it is a single whip about three years old grafted on to another root stock. The soil was pretty sticky, but after some work we planted it, though I forgot to install a support post. We already have one Egremont in the orchard, but I couldn't resist adding another, I love the flavour of those apples. This was probably the last weekend this Spring that we could safely plant a bare roots fruit tree.

As our dogs enjoyed charging around, and finding muddy puddles, my wife pruned the other fruit tree.

Sunday 2 February 2020

Winter trim of the Willow Grove in Turnditch Orchard

Each year around November, we trim the willow grove in the orchard. In 2019 we were affected by the flooding in Derbyshire, so we had to postpone the trimming until January 2020. The job takes about two hours to trim approximately 70 willow stools (coppiced about chest high) to remove the year's growth. the thicker "wands" grow to 2 - 3 metres in length. We planted the willow to help dry a wet patch of the orchard where a historic drain route was in place before the nearby railway bridge embankment was built. We also use the wood to form willow spiling to reinforce the river bank. The salix viminalis strain grows too fast/thick to be of much use in basketry. We trim it each year to ensure we get single shaft wands with very little branching.  ach year we give cuttings away free to people who want to grow their own willow. It is very easy to propagate, just poke a willow wand/branch about 20cm in the ground and leave it alone until it grows too big. It thrives best in an unshaded location. The roots are highly tolerant of waterlogged ground.

The willow grove is well shaded and cool in the hot summer months. The plant is friendly to wildlife and insects. On the riverbank the roots of the spiled willow help to bind the soil together and reduce bank erosion.

Thursday 16 January 2020

More orchard videos to come

We've not done much work on the orchard recently. This is down to fitness/injury issues, but we hope to spend more time in 2020 in the orchard. There's no shortage of tasks to undertake.  During our "layoff" we've not been idle. One of the things, with low physical demands, we've done is practising how to make and publish videos online.  Expect to see some more videos soon relating to our work in the orchard. For example: Trimming the Willow.

Meanwhile, here's some of the videoes we've prepared in nearby Belper:

A walk down William Street; on youtube  and also on vimeo (no adverts).

A walk up Long Row; on youtube and also on vimeo (no adverts).