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Working Days 2014

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December 14th
Thirteen people turned up today on a dry working day morning, little sun or wind and not too cold. We had a useful time on winter jobs to improve the orchard:
- replacing a part of the bee enclosure - one of the posts of the gate had rotted.
- digging out the trunk and the larger roots of the cherry tree that had suffered from canker.
- putting some greenery on the bonfire but it was quite damp and wet!
- digging and clearing weeds and grass from the patch alongside the large noticeboard.
Finished with drinks - tea, coffee and hot cider, mince pies and cakes - now for Christmas and to the New Year!
(Thanks to David Hawkins for write up and photos)

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November 9th
The working party of 10 people had a very successful morning:
- sowing yellow rattle seed in the wildlife area
- checking tree ties and scything around trees
- scything in the bee enclosure
- removing leaves and algae from the pond
- removing bramble that was growing around the hawthorn.
It was a shame about the demise of the cherry tree, which was suffering from canker and was considered to be a lost cause. (David Hawkins)
cherry tree
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October 12th
Present : Jenn Baker, Christine Preston, Ian and Anne Bark, Susan Readman, John Knorpel, Rita Brown, Celia Marsh, Tony Edwardes, Robert Lancaster, Jill Lloyd
- The whole of wildlife area scythed, and grass raked and removed to rough area underneath the sycamore (Ian, John, Rita).
- New flower bed for wild flowers weeded, this will be the site of archaeological dig on Apple Day. Soil now loose and root free. (Susan, Christine, Anne, Celia, Tony, Robert, Jill)
- Excess Canadian pond weed removed from the pond, and the near edge trimmed back for safety: it was overgrown, and difficult to tell where grass stopped and water began! (Jill and Tony)
- Name plates on trees inked over with permanent marker (Jenn and Christine).
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September 14th
A very useful work party in the orchard. Susan, Christine, Rita and Jenn picked a lot of apples that Jill is looking after, and weeded round the bases of some of the trees. We also tided the border around the espaliers (Jenn) and cut back the brambles on the far side of the pond (Colin and Gill). Jill and I checked our stash of firewood and there is plenty of dry wood to keep the firebowl going on Apple Day. There is also some wood not in containers that could be a little damp, but will dry out soon enough when we put it on the fire.
John Knorpel, Louise, and I scythed the final area of long grass towards the bottom of the orchard. With our smaller band of volunteers today we didn't have time to do any more than cut the grass, rake it up and add to the pile near the sycamore tree. John and I are planning to finish the job on Thursday afternoon, when we'll scarify the ground and sow the rattle seed.
Paul Arthur
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August 10th
Twelve volunteers turned up this morning. Most of the long grass had already been scythed, raked up, and removed, so after the remaining circle of long grass around the trees was cut, some ground was prepared for the sowing of yellow rattle seed, which will carry on weakening the very vigorous grass. This will allow us to plant more wildflowers in that area and prevent them being out-competed. Some apples trees were thinned of their surplus fruit.

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jenn thinning apples
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July 13th
Today's main task was to collect yellow rattle seeds from in amongst the long grass, which resulted in a good haul (450g!), and included some tiny bugs and spiders to be identified. The seed will be dried, then scattered next Spring. A broken branch on apple tree Tom Putt was removed (this was due to an overload of apples, and some additional thinning of the fruit crop was carried out to prevent further breakages) . The cordons were pruned, tree bases weeded, and the whip nursery area cleared and tidied. Unwanted weed was removed from the pond and the grass was cut in the wildlife area.

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June 15th
Ten volunteers made up today's working party on a glorious sunny morning. BCOG's new scythes were put to good use cutting the grass round the base of the fruit trees. Some weeding was done round the tree circles and the cordons. The trees were inspected for pests and some sticky aphids removed. The espaliers were re-tied where the original string had weathered. Wild primrose plants, which had been generously donated, were dug in among the bee friendly plants in front of the espaliers.
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May 11th
Much work making and moving piles of grass - and giving the new scythes their first outing. Some Broad bodied Chaser dragonflies spotted in the wildlife area.
April 13th
12 enthusiasts turned up for today's working party, in blue skies and sunshine! The main task was to remove some dock plants, which are rather invasive (though they are native wild flowers) and have been spreading, especially at the southern end of the orchard. Other tasks included:
- planting a number of wild flowers, both in the orchard grounds among the yellow rattle, and in the wildlife area near the pond;
- clearing weeds from around the trees;
- cutting grass in the new hazel grove, and trimming back some grass from around the benches.

The blossom is coming out, and the pear espaliers are looking particularly spectacular.

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March 9th
A glorious sunny morning - some work was done round the base of the fruit trees, and weeding. The allotment is also looking good and Colin has started to install one of the recycled scaffolding boards for the plot edging.
Jenn Baker


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The working day in February was cancelled due to bad weather.
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January 12th
16 volunteers turned up on a rather grey morning to attend David Squirrell’s pruning workshop.
David described the basics of developing the desired tree framework and the pruning techniques for the orchard trees, stressing the importance of looking at and considering each tree as a whole, then making as few cuts as possible to achieve that framework.
He also gave a brief overview of training fruit trees as espaliers and fans.


Volunteers not participating in the workshop cleared and thinned the base of the fruiting hedge, in advance to it being formally laid on Sunday 9th February. (Note: due to bad weather and consequent unavailability of the necessary materials, the hedge laying was cancelled. A new date will be announced for later in the year).

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10th April: Scything this evening in the rattle patch of the orchard alongside the main path. Yellow rattle is growing well here - scything and stopping any mowing will encourage it to grow and blossom. David Hawkins
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30th March:
A 5-strong band of volunteers dug a small nursery bed at one end of the bee enclosure for the Woodland Trust whips. These had been heeled in temporarily in the Community Allotment beds. The whips will go up to Jubilee Green next winter, and the nursery bed will be dug over and planted with wildflowers for the bees.

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