2020 Orchard updates and photos
from Jenn Baker, BCOG Chair
click on an image to enlarge and scroll through
A most enjoyable juicing session, the weather was perfect, and the orchard was looking fantastic!
In all we pressed about 60 litres of juice from 52 trays of apples; our biggest yield so far this year. If all went according to plan, this should have produced about 80 bottles (75 cl) of pasteurised juice, but I’m sure we’ll have that confirmed later.
The apples are ripening and we've started juicing. The first of the 2020 juice was made today in the orchard with both distancing and face coverings in evidence. It was a lovely morning in the orchard but a real battle against all the wasps that are around at the moment!
We shall have a couple more juicing sessions as the next crop of fruit becomes ripe and we'll be selling pasteurised bottles at the Farmers Market in Barrack Street on Saturday 10th October - the day we should have held Apple Day.
Look forward to seeing you there!
The orchard continues to be very well used this summer with many people coming to sit for lunch, for a chat with friends or just for a quiet moment in a green space convenient for the town centre. There are also a couple of small groups using the central area – one for yoga and one for singing.
The orchard volunteers met again on the second Sunday in July for the scheduled work party, still suitably distanced, in three shifts of six people. At a separate session, three of the committee sowed several “plots” of yellow rattle seed in the scythed area of the meadow. We collected the seed from a small meadow in Bradpole that was sown by Bradpole Buzz and which seems to be doing so much better than ours. It's all in the soil I'm told! Anyway, we shall persevere and many thanks to Bradpole for sharing their seed with us.
Our monthly committee meetings which are normally held in The George have had to be curtailed, of course, with business continuing via email. However, now that summer seems to have arrived we are planning to have the August meeting in the orchard – just need to find a day that has no showers forecast!
Some people may have noticed that two of the “rustic” benches have disappeared. They were specially made for the orchard right at the beginning but have, sadly, come to the end of their lives. They were deteriorating so badly that I'm afraid Health & Safety considerations had to be taken and the benches were removed. We are currently in discussions with Bridport Town Council about getting some replacements and also about having some new notice boards installed for our many posters advertising our up coming events (perhaps we'll be able to start those again next year!) and our notices explaining what's what in the various parts of the orchard.
We have now put up our “Please Do Not Pick the Apples” notices as we shall still be making and bottling our renowned apple juice this year even if we are unable to hold Apple Day – no decision has been made yet. Watch this space!!
Keep enjoying the orchard,
Despite the continued restrictions, we have all been working in the orchard over the past few weeks and it's looking lovely!
The main tasks since I last wrote have been a work party on 14th June and the scything of the wild flower meadow area on 23rd June. Both of these events have been reported by Paul and you can find them under the St Mary's Church Field Orchard section.
Also, over the past fortnight, Christine has been leading small groups of volunteers to carry out the annual fruit thinning. All the trees naturally jettison small fruitlets at this time of year, commonly called the "June drop", but they inevitably need a helping hand so that fewer fruits are left in each cluster. These will, consequently, grow to a bigger size and be less likely to succumb to pests and diseases as they are spaced apart more. This work has now been completed so we should see a decent crop again this year but maybe a bit smaller than the bumper harvest of 2019.
The orchard continues to be used and enjoyed by the public - even more so this year as a pleasant place to meet friends for an outdoor chat.
I'm pleased to report that everyone appears to be adhering to the rules and we've had no reports of large gatherings. At our request, the Town Council has very kindly installed a bike rack to avoid possible damage
if cycles were leant against trees and espaliers.
The good weather has also attracted a couple of local community groups to make use of the space. There is a regular early morning yoga session and the local dance group "The Shoe Chorus" are soon to start small group rehearsals as well. This is excellent news as the orchard is a public space and we are pleased to see it being used in this way.
When I wrote a short piece about the orchard on 17th April, I said I'd continue to keep you all updated - well, not a lot has happened! A few of the committee members have been doing individual tasks and yesterday 6 of us (staying well distanced!) had a mini work session so that we could complete the mowing and scything around the trees which makes it easier for the council to get around with their big mower. We have also been keeping the paths around and through the orchard well defined so that people can walk amongst the trees and see the blossom close up. Sadly, the blossom is nearly over now - it was an excellent display this year so, hopefully, we should get a good crop of apples come autumn.
Some of our lovely allotment volunteers have been working hard raising trays of seedlings and the polytunnel has now been planted up with tomatoes, cucumber, chillies, melons and basil. The beds are also coming along well and are beginning to be filled with plenty of seeds and plants so that there will be plenty of produce for everyone when we are able to re-start our weekly meetings. Thanks so much to those who have been keeping it all under control.
That's all for now and don't forget to take a stroll through the orchard if you are able.
Photos: Broom, Medlar blossom, seedlings, self seeded aquilegia, mowing and raking, blossom by the bench
I do hope that some of you are taking your daily exercise by doing a turn round the orchard (or Jubilee Green) if you are able. For those who can't get out I've put together a few words and photos to keep you all up to date with what's going on. As we have had to cancel Mayfest this year I shall make sure I publish photos of the apple blossom over the coming weeks. Let's hope it's as good as last year's show.
Firstly, despite the lockdown we managed to take delivery of a new mower which will help hugely with the maintenance of the orchard grass. Our old machine was really on it's last wheels(?) and becoming very temperamental - I know the feeling! The new one has been tried and tested by cutting the orchard paths and Colin was thanked (at a distance) by a member of the public.
The main mowing is, as you know, carried out for us by the Town Council's team who despite being under considerable pressure at the moment were able to cut it today. Many thanks.
A few of the allotmenteers who have the facilities are continuing to sow trays and pots of veggies , some of which are in the polytunnel, so that we can keep the growing going despite not being able to hold our normal weekly meetings. When this is all over I hope that all the beds are filled and flourishing so that there's plenty of produce for all to share. In the meantime, if the weather continues to be dry please pop in and chuck a watering can or two of water over the emerging crops - this is mainly for the outdoor crops as we don't want to overwater the delicate seedlings in the polytunnel. Thanks.
Speaking of polytunnels - we are delighted to have been awarded a grant from the West Bay Car Boot Fund which will go towards the purchase of a new one. I was hoping to have it ordered, constructed and in use by early summer but the best laid plans.....................! We shall carry on with the old, holey tunnel for the time being.
That's all for now. I know the situation is far from ideal but please do try and take advantage of the lovely orchard at this time of year.
All the best
16th April 2020