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WORKING MORNINGS 2015wheelbarrow-156599_640 copy

13th December
A dry, cloudy, mild morning with very little wind - ideal for undertaking the work. 16 people turned up today.

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We did the following:
• Weeded around the bases of quite a few fruit trees
• Turned compost in one of the bays and added contents of adjoining compost bay
• Quite a bit of work in the bee enclosure which included:
- weeding of both of the hedges at each end of the enclosure
- cutting grass elsewhere in the enclosure
- removal of several blackthorns
- trimming the main hedge behind the beehives
• Planted three oxeye daisies on one of the banks at the west entrance
• Weeded the herb bed and cut back the buddleia
• Planted a Concorde pear tree to replace the diseased pear tree
• Removed a tent from wildlife area
Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report

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15th November
Thirteen volunteers turned up for today’s working session in the orchard on a dry, cloudy, blustery and very mild morning. This is what we did:
- applied grease around trunks of apple and pear trees. (This prevents the wingless female Winter Moths crawling up from their summer habitat at ground level to the branches, where they over-winter before mating and laying eggs in the flowers next Spring).
- identified branches of trees that will need pruning during the winter;
- weeded around some of the fruit trees;
- dug out teasel from the bed near to the church entrance and planted some daffodil bulbs;
- weeded the pollinator bed next to the bee enclosure;
- planted about 35 - 40 daffodil bulbs at tops of the two banks on either side of the west entrance.
The planned weeding in the bog garden couldn’t be completed, as the soil was too wet to stand on.

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photos: Jenn Baker

11th October
A fine dry Sunday morning, with just a hint of autumn chill, enabled 14 keen volunteers to prepare the orchard for Apple Day next Saturday 17th. The Town Council had kindly cut all the grass with the ride-on mower 3 days previously, so all the debris was raked up, barrowed and stacked for composting. The long grass was scythed in the wildlife area, and around the young hazel trees in the corner by the churchyard. The grass was cleared around the base of the espalier trees; invasive brambles and excess blanket weed were removed from the pond, to enable pond dipping by the children on Apple Day. After the welcome coffee break, the best task of the day was harvesting the remaining fine crop of many varieties, which will be available on display and for juicing on Saturday. If you come early, you will be in time to enjoy drinking it!

pre apple day pre apple day too


13th September
Eight volunteers benefited from some very welcome warm sunshine to complete the following tasks:

  • Scythed grass around all but about five fruit trees. The grass was raked up and added to our recently constructed compost bays.
    • Existing compost in bays was turned into adjacent bays, watered and aerated. Compost is rotting down well, so our technique seems to be working!
    • An old piece of donated carpet was cut into squares. These will be used to cover the compost and help to keep a higher temperature which is needed for the plant material to break down quickly.
    • Grass cut in wildlife area, and yellow rattle seed sown.

Additional working day: 28th August
Two banks that had recently been created by the widening of the western entrance to the orchard were planted up with wild flowers by a group of five volunteers. The primary purpose is to stabilise the soil, but a clear benefit will be to have a variety of wild flowers that can be enjoyed by the public as they enter the orchard, and the additional nectar will be of benefit to bees and other insects. The selection of flowers includes:
  • Yarrow
  • Cowslip
  • Mouse-eared Hawkweed
  • Black Medick
  • Self Heal
  • Tormentil
  • Birds-Foot Trefioil
  • Lady’s Bedstraw 
In order to give the plants the greatest likelihood of survival, the ground was weeded first of all, with nettle, dandelion, bramble, and couch grass removed. The job was completed with several watering cans worth of water! (Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report)

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August 9th
There were about fifteen of us on Sunday 9th August, on a fairly mild day. Our main achievement was the building of a bug hotel. During the rest of the morning we:
- trimmed back the elder near the church entrance
- weeded (mostly teasel) the area around the bench near the church entrance and tidied the path in the immediate vicinity
- weeded the flower bed to the south of the bee enclosure and cut the grass around its edges - scythed grass in front of the laid hedge - scythed most of the long grass in the wildlife area - weeded and watered the bog garden - turned and watered compost in the recently created compost bays - put proprietory weed killer on a few pernicious weeds close to the west entrance to the site - agreed to site the notice board across the bank and at an angle to the path near to the west entrance.
David Hawkins

building bug hotel bug hotel
More photos of building the bug hotel on our Facebook page

July 12th
Fifteen people turned out on a grey windy day, with light rain falling for most of the time! Despite this, the following jobs were completed:
• Some long grass was scythed and cleared from the wildlife area, to make it easier for a party of school children to do pond dipping on Monday afternoon;
• The bog garden was weeded;
• The tree team thinned the apple crop, to allow the remaining fruit to develop more fully (about half the trees were done: a further evening session is planned for later this week);
• Five compost bays were built out of recycled pallets in area at end of orchard near to the sycamore tree and bee enclosure. The plan is for the two outer bays to receive compost first, then after some rotting down, the compost will be turned into the second bays, and then, once fully rotted down, will be turned into the middle bin.

compost bins pallet with grass

June 14th
Eight volunteers came to the orchard monthly work party this morning. We were mainly involved with the hard task of scything and raking the longer grass around the apple trees, as well as some weeding, and discussion about the scything of other aspects of the orchard. We are keen to make the orchard as wild as possible, with grass cutting limited to the paths and the central circle.
The wild flowers, close to the bees, look very good, as do the espaliers, the bog garden, the laid hedge and the trees.
David Hawkins

scythingwild flower bit

May 10th
Eleven volunteers arrived yesterday morning to help at our monthly work party. It was a cloudy day and not particularly warm but not a problem once we started work.
We accomplished:
- Scything and raking the long grass around the trees
- Grass moved to the large bags for ease of transport
- Weeding of the apple trees and mulching with spent hops - Weeding the wildflower bed next to the bee enclosure. The laid hedge and the new bog garden are looking very good.
working day work day too
April 12th
A party of fourteen volunteers enjoyed a sunny, if breezy morning, carrying out several maintenance tasks in the community orchard. These included:
- Re-organising the bog garden
- Digging out some soil and putting in a layer of sand ready to have a pond liner laid (to be done in the next week or so)
- Weeding along the apple cordons
- Weeding the circles around a number of fruit trees - Putting aside some moisture-loving plants that had been in an area that is to become a more organised bog garden. - Removing dead growth and blanket weed from pond - Planting some more wild flowers in the wildlife area (where a lot yellow rattle that had been sown last autumn is now coming up)
There was much wildlife in the pond, with numerous tadpoles, a number of frogs, common newts, water boatmen, pond skaters and water snails.

manandbag fence work pond level pond level2

March 15th
Thirteen people came today on a cold, dry, overcast morning, for another session of winter jobs to mend and improve some aspects of the orchard:
• removing a patch of clay in the wildlife area, which had been very slippery
• adjusting some parts of the pond which appeared to be leaking – dug out and used some clay to raise the liner
• replacing a post of the bee enclosure and then rewiring the support for the cordons
• Tying in the espaliers
• Cutting grass and weeding some of the tree bases; transferring some of the whips into the newly laid hedge; planting some of the wildflowers purchased last year, which had been kept temporarily in the polytunnel; and digging out some of the unwanted Spanish bluebells.
There is frog spawn in the pond! I hope it survives the cold.

Thanks to David Hawkins for the report and photos

frogspawn
diggerworkday2

February 16th
Today's Orchard work party was in two sections: pruning the apple and pear trees and some winter tasks. Some 10 members of the tree team carried out the pruning, and 3 new people who wanted to learn, with Christine Preston leading with help and assistance. David Squirrell had led a session two weekends earlier to teach people the best methods of pruning. We split into three groups to discuss and actually prune a number of trees. We completed all the trees, including the cordons and espaliers, during the morning. The winter tasks included: uprooting Spanish bluebells in the wildlife area and replacing them with snowdrops, restoring the hazel rods to one side of the bee enclosure and cutting dead grass and brambles from the grassy bank with sloe bushes inside the bees area. It was a good morning's work, on a mainly mild and sunny day.
January 11th
Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report
Thirteen volunteers benefitted from a bright and sunny winter's morning to carry out the first orchard work party of 2015. Much was achieved and included:
Measuring up and planning for a revamped bog garden adjacent to the pond; cutting and removal of grass from the new bog garden; clearing of grass and rubbish from the base of the shrubs that form the hedge on the northern side of the orchard, ahead of laying the hedge in early February; weeding around some fruit trees; trimming back the elder in the middle of the orchard; scything and removal of grass in the bee enclosure; where needed, the re-application of grease around the trunks of trees to discourage codling moth; repotting of a shrub and bulbs that had suffered from a vandalised flower pot; and on 10th January, mowing a patch of grass in the middle of the orchard in preparation for Wassailing on 18th January.
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December 13th
The new Concorde pear tree
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