Wednesday 27 March 2024

Drone over the Orchard

 Yesterday I took my first training flights with my new drone over the Orchard. I was just exploring the basic moves, though longer term I'll be using the drone to document some of the maintenance work, such as pulling up blackthorn encroaching the grass area. I took a few shots of the surrounding area to check the quality of the footage. The drone is limited, by regulation to 120 metres above ground, though the landscape photo's I took were mostly at 30 - 40 metres above ground level.

This final picture is of the two bat boxes mounted in the large old Ash tree on the south boundary of the orchard plot. The boxes were given to us by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust as few years ago to help provide homes for bats. It looks as though one of the boxes has urine stains under the entrance, so it may be that one or more bats have taken shelter in the box. It needs a ladder to reach the bat boxes, and I don't want to disturb any potential bat, but I was able to take the drone to within three metres and take a photo. 

Bats at Turnditch Orchard.

I had to be cautious when flying the drone because there was a buzzard flying in the locality not too far from me. They are known to attack drones in their airspace. The device is insured providing a replacement, but want to only use that for accidents rather than avoidable damage.

Monday 1 January 2024

The Thorny Challenge: Controlling Blackthorn Bushes



In the world of gardening and landscaping, one formidable foe that often goes underestimated is the blackthorn bush. These seemingly innocuous plants can quickly turn into a prickly nightmare if left unchecked. In this blog post, we'll delve into the perils of controlling blackthorn bushes and share tips on how to keep them at bay while maintaining the beauty of your green spaces. We also mention why its a problem in Turnditch Orchard and what we plan to do.

The Blackthorn's Deceptive Charm:

Blackthorn bushes, also known as Prunus spinosa, have an attractive appearance, with their delicate white blossoms and dark purple fruits. However, beneath their charming exterior lie thorns that can cause real trouble. These thorns, capable of piercing skin and clothing, make controlling blackthorns a daunting task for many gardeners.

The Perils of Uncontrolled Blackthorn Bushes:

1. Garden Takeover: Blackthorns have a knack for spreading quickly and can take over a garden if not properly managed. Their vigorous growth can crowd out other plants and disrupt the ecosystem you've carefully cultivated.

2. Prickly Predicament: Attempting to prune or manage blackthorn bushes without the right precautions can result in painful encounters with their sharp thorns. These thorns make routine maintenance a challenge and can lead to injuries.

3. Wildlife Confusion: While blackthorn bushes provide food and shelter for various wildlife, their invasive nature can disrupt the balance of local ecosystems. When left unchecked, they can negatively impact native plant and animal species.

Tips for Controlling Blackthorn Bushes:

1. Prune Carefully: When pruning blackthorn bushes, always wear protective gear such as gloves, long sleeves, and eye protection. Use the appropriate tools and make clean cuts to minimize thorn-related injuries.

2. Timing Matters: The best time to tackle blackthorns is during the winter when they are dormant. This reduces the risk of spreading seeds and makes it easier to spot and remove new growth.

3. Chemical Control: If the infestation is severe, consider using herbicides, but do so with caution and follow safety guidelines. Consult a professional if you're unsure.

4. Vigilance Is Key: Regularly inspect your garden for blackthorn growth and remove any new shoots promptly. Early intervention can prevent a full-blown invasion.

Why is the Orchard suffering?

1. In a word "Lockdown." We were kept in isolation away for the orchard, and the Blackthorn we'd been intending to deal with  regained control of the land. Further distractions, such as flooding and family illness also kept us away from the land.

2. To help combat this we placed an order with a French company (Terrateck) via UK distributor  in August 23 to purchase a shrub pulling tool. The idea was for us to start work in October. Finally in late November the French company admitted  that there was no prospect of them delivering until Jan 2024 at the earliest. We didn't believe that date so we diverted the order to a Canadian company. They manufactured and shipped the product by the end of December.


Controlling blackthorn bushes can indeed be a thorny challenge, but with the right approach and precautions, you can keep these invasive plants in check. By staying vigilant and taking necessary steps, you can maintain the beauty of your garden while ensuring it remains a thorn-free paradise for both you and your local wildlife. In the Orchard we're going to resume the battle.