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Working sessions in St Mary's Church Field Orchard
January - June 2019
thanks to Paul Arthur for these reports
16th June
As the weather had been so wet in the previous two weeks, the grass under the fruit trees was very long.  We decided it was a priority to focus on scything the tree circles and most circles were cut except a few in the wildflower area and two or three in the younger part of the orchard to the south of the main path.  As not all volunteers were “mower-trained”, we used the scythes and raked up the cut grass. Several bags of cut barley grass are now ready to be taken to the tip.
   
Other jobs done:
The mulch was re-distributed on the cordons where necessary to ensure it was not in contact with the trunks.
The pollinator bed (which is looking beautiful at present) was weeded but there wasn’t time to do the wildflower bank.
A couple of bags of dock were dug out from the wildflower area and taken to the tip.
The compost from bay 5 was turned into bay 4 and bays 1 and 5 rebuilt with new material, then watered with the hose.    
A small amount of fruit thinning was done, but this was felt to be less of a priority as the June drop still seems to be in progress.
Branches on the Beauty of Bath were shortened where they were overhanging the path beside the mixed hedge.
Thanks to Christine Preston for this report
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Sunday 12th May
A wonderfully sunny morning was enjoyed by 17 very willing and able volunteers, to do a whole range of varied jobs to keep the orchard in ship shape condition. The whole orchard is currently looking fantastic, still with lots of apple blossom. The best it has ever looked! Tasks yesterday included:

Repairing the pond liner, and installation of a ‘pebble beach’ to assist with the wellbeing of the many amphibious inhabitants of the pond
Removal of a lot of suckers that had been sprouting from the base of the ash tree in the wild life area
Some maintenance of the pond, with the removal of a few excess plants
Some weeding of the pollinator bed
Some major works with the compost bays. All compost was removed from the centre bay, and used as mulch around the orchard and allotments, including mulching along the whole line of cordons, and the espaliers. Compost from the other bays was turned into adjacent bays
Hogweed and docks were removed, mostly from the meadow area
The grass around all fruit trees was scythed
Some grass paths were created in the meadow area, by scything, and an area in front of the hawthorn tree was scythed too, as well as grass on the banks at the west entrance
All of the fruit was removed from the Concorde pear, as the tree is too young to be sustaining any fruit at this stage
The ‘drowning bins' were emptied.
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Sunday 14th April
Nineteen volunteers turned out yesterday, despite a very chilly wind. However, it remained dry and there was even the occasional glimpse of the sun!
Jobs included:
Scything and mowing the grass around all of the fruit trees;
Scything grass in the wildlife area;
Mowing the grass on the bank at the west entrance (there are two cowslips in flower here);
Trimming the hedge between the allotments and wildlife area;
Burning debris, including prunings, and the old apple store (which had woodworm);
Collection of a small quantity of spent hops from Palmers brewery;
Weeding the pollinator bed, including the removal of a very large thistle!
Weeding around some of the fruit trees (espaliers, cordons);
Digging out docks;
The cut grass was stashed in the right hand bay, which became full so remainder put in next bay to the left;
Finished putting in screws on non slip decking surface (a total of about 170 screws all told!)
Further work on installation of water butt behind allotment shed.
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Click on the first image below to enlarge and scroll through: thanks to David Hawkins for photos
Sunday 10th March
Another very productive work party yesterday, with plenty of jobs completed. Although it was dry with some sunshine, it was very windy! Achievements included:
The meadow area was mown with the petrol mower; the blade was set to the highest cut.
The non-slip surface was attached to the decking next to the pond. It is looking very smart!
Further fruit trees were pruned. there are now just two to go, one of which is the quince.
Several barrow loads of hops were collected from Palmers, and stored in the left hand compost bay.
A start was made on the weeding of the pollinator bed.
Some weeding amongst the espaliers.
The cutting back of the hedge between the allotments and orchard was completed. The prunings were piled up at the bottom of the orchard ready for burning.
A good solid base was laid behind the allotment, ready for the water butts to be installed.
Further tool racks were installed in the new (blue) shed. This is now finished, and all tools scythes and mowers are stored neatly making best use of the space.
Some weeding of the bog garden.

Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report
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Sunday 10th February
Overnight rain cleared through just in the nick of time to give us a fine morning with a little sunshine and the occasional fleeting shower. An enthusiastic band of 16 volunteers enjoyed carrying out the following tasks:
Continued work on the winter fruit tree pruning, though still more to do.
Some storage racks were skilfully created and installed in the new shed, and are now holding the new tools. Various items in the shed were also rearranged to make more efficient use of the space. A good job well done.
The fence barriers at each end of the bee enclosure that are protecting the recently laid hedges were adjusted and made more secure, with some extra tree branches woven in.
A good start was made on trimming back the hedge between the allotments and the orchard, with about half completed.
Good progress with the water butt rearrangement. The one behind the new shed was moved to the wildlife shed, and one from behind the allotment shed was moved to the new shed. Both are connected up and functional. More work needs to be done to get the allotment shed butt installed and connected up.
A little tidying up of the pond.
The bog garden was weeded, and the brambles behind it trimmed back.
Much wooden debris was burnt on a very welcomed bonfire.

Thanks to Paul Arthur
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Sunday 13th January
An excellent start to the winter tree pruning. Eight trees completed so far.
The cordons were weeded and the grass on the bee enclosure side of the line of trees was trimmed back.
One damaged post that had been supporting the cordons was replaced, and the wires reattached.
The gate into the bee enclosure was made good with the catch realigned. It now works!
The barrier to complement the laid hedge in the bee enclosure was finished; some posts were knocked in and thin branches woven across the top.
Some tidying of the pond with some debris removed.
A start was made on the weeding of the bog garden.
The water butts beside the allotment shed were emptied and removed. A plan for their reinstatement has been agreed.
Some preparation ahead of Wassail, with jobs such as erecting the gazebo, and preparation of firewood. 
Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report

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