BCOG LOGO bw copy 12
St Mary's Church Field Orchard
Working group sessions July - December 2020
thanks to Paul Arthur and Ian Bark for the reports

20th December
Yesterday we had our final community orchard work party of 2020! It had been postponed from the previous Sunday when it had been extremely wet. Yesterday we were able to enjoy dry, if breezy conditions, with several glimpses of much appreciated sunshine! We completed a wide variety of jobs:
  • the pollinator bed was weeded, with removal of mainly couch grass and creeping buttercup
  • the height of the hedge between the allotments and the orchard was reduced to about a level of the fence behind it. This work had been started during the week by a dedicated volunteer, and was continued today, though still more work to be done. In just one year some of the stems had grown by four or five feet!
  • two tree circles were reinstated, one for the Charles Ross, and the other Howgate Wonder. Pieces of rug were laid, and then covered with well rotted compost that had been removed from compost bay number 3. For future work parties, a similar procedure will be applied to the Court of Wick and Rosemary Russet trees
  • further compost turning, moving inwards from both ends towards bay number three
  • about 7 or 8 brand new tree labels, expertly crafted by Alison, were applied to their respective trees
  • some straggly brambles were trimmed from the inside of the southern boundary hedge
  • a start was made on replacing the roof of the green (wildlife area) shed, hampered somewhat by some very rusty screws that had been securing the old battens! This work will be completed after Christmas. 

continue reading…….

Sunday 11th October: (photos: Jenn Baker)
We had two sessions of six people per work party, with a handover in between, and sanitiser available to clean tools and hands.

The weather was perfect, with a light breeze and plenty of sunshine; ideal conditions for doing some tidying up and preparing the orchard for its autumn slumbers! Whilst working, we heard a great spotted woodpecker, a raven, a pied wagtail and blue tits. 

Jobs done included:
  • raking up cut grass that had been left by a recent Town Council mowing, composting some and stashing the rest in a pile near the gate into the wildlife area ready for a future composting session
  • weeding underneath the cordons and espaliers
  • raking up fallen leaves from underneath the mulberry and quince, and bagging them up for disposal elsewhere. This is done to remove any potential disease from the vicinity of these two trees
  • weeding the bog garden, and planting some foxgloves and a teasel
  • adding more compost (layered green and brown waste) to compost bays numbers one and five, and watering with the hose to speed up the rotting process. The contents of one of the drowning bins (where pernicious weeds are steeped in water for long periods of time) was also added into the mix in bay five
  • weeding the pollinator bed, removing pernicious weeds such as dandelions, docks and couch grass, along with plantains and unwanted wild geraniums
  • tidying up the pile of brown waste to the right of the compost bays to give room for grass cuttings to be stored
  • the empty drowning bin was started off again, with weeds pulled from the espaliers and cordons 
  • further cutting back of long brambles behind pond, and installing a pile of brambles behind the pond at the left hand side to cut off access
  • moving the reserved wooden noticeboard to a position where it will catch more sun and hence not remain permanently damp (the board will eventually be reinstated near the church entrance, once the metal framework becomes available). 

continue reading…

Sunday 13th September
Two successive teams of six volunteers each worked for two hours, the work starting at 9.00 a.m. and finally completed at around 1.00 pm.
Jobs completed included:
Mowing the grass paths, the performance area, and about three quarters of the meadow area, at the western end
Apples were picked, both windfalls and fresh off the trees. We are now up to date with our apple picking (later varieties still to fully ripen) and we have 44 trays stored away ready to be juiced next Sunday
Brambles were trimmed back from behind the pond
The hedge between the allotments and orchard was lightly trimmed and the prunings chopped up ready for composting
Some compost management: bay number one was emptied and some new fresh material added
The pollinator bed was weeded, with dandelions, couch grass, brambles, buttercups and some wild geraniums removed. A strip about one foot wide was cut around the edge of the bed.

continue reading….

Additional work party Wednesday 2nd September: Scarifying and sowing the meadow area
Please click here to read the report

Thursday 27th August: click an image to enlarge & scroll
We had a very successful scything session in the community orchard this morning. Despite the threat of rain, a few of the team started work at 7.00 a.m., the rest joining at 8.00 a.m. and beyond.

The remaining long grass in the meadow area (about 40% of the whole meadow) was scythed. The grass was raked up and stashed underneath the hedge to the left of the gate into the wildlife area.

Also, the remaining long grass in the wildlife area (50% of the whole area nearest the entrance to the wildlife area) was scythed. The bulk of this cut grass was added to the pile for the Town Council to take away. We skirted around a hedge bedstraw, knapweed and birds foot trefoil, and two anthills! Afterwards, two areas of the wildlife area were scarified and yellow rattle, corky-fruited water-dropwort, knapweed and birds foot trefoil seeds were sown.

We spotted three wasp spiders during the course of the morning!

We finished just as the rain started to set in!

The plan now is for the recently scythed meadow area to be mown soon, then it will be harrowed, the debris raked up, and a mix of seeds including yellow rattle, corky-fruited water-dropwort, selfheal, and birds foot trefoil will be sown. We are aiming to have completed this work by mid-September.

continue reading….

click on an image to enlarge and scroll through

Happy Scyther
Scything the wildlife area
Through the arch
Rows of scythed grass
Sadly some abuse the orchard...
Wasp spider
There are hidden images / Tidy mode active.
Sunday 9th August 2020: thanks to Paul Arthur for this report
Much compost management. Bays 2 and 4 were turned into bay 3. Bays 1 and 5 were then turned into bays 2 and 4, and included layers of chopped windfall apples, grass clippings and prunings from the apple tree cordons. Compost layers were liberally watered to help speed up the rotting process.
The pollinator bed was weeded and tidied.
The grass in front of the pond was trimmed back.
The bog garden was weeded.
A good start was made on trimming back and tidying the hedge at the southern boundary of the orchard.
A swathe of grass three to four feet wide was scythed from the long grass remaining in the meadow area, and the cut grass added to the pile that had been created from the hedge tidying, ready for the Town Council to take away.
Some of the longer grass that was going to seed was cut from around the Beaty of Bath apple tree area.
Apple windfalls were collected.
Some overhanging tree branches, wild roses and briars were trimmed back adjacent to grass paths.
Brambles adjacent to the pond and bog garden were trimmed back to prevent them taking root.
The mower was used to cut single tree circles to mark the edge of
the tree canopy ahead of Town Council mowing, also some wild barley, and grass close to the quince and mulberry was mown. 

continue reading….

click on an image to enlarge and scroll through

Scything grass
Raking and barrowing grass
trimming the brambles
Discovery apples
There are hidden images / Tidy mode active.
Sunday 12th July 2020: thanks to Ian Bark for this report
Another great extended morning’s work completed today:

Paths all mown. Scything of the wildlife area completed. Some left for now.
Hedge trimmed back where long pieces are a potential danger.
Trimmings chopped up and integrated into the layered pile adjacent to the compost bins and well soaked, using the hose.
Tree circles all mown and sheared close to the trees. All newly mown grass collected and integrated into the layered pile adjacent to the compost bins and well soaked using the hose.
Scythed grass in the wildlife area raked up and integrated into the layered pile adjacent to the compost bins and well soaked, using the hose.
Brambles cut back in the copse area.
Broken bench completely removed and the post holes filled in and made safe.
The timber stored behind the drowning bins needs to be sawn up and stored dry for burning on the fire pit. A job for next time perhaps.
Some algae removed from the pond and left on the side.
Old mower packed up part-way through the second session. I tried starting it, without success. Noted the nut missing on the handle.
Christine also did some work on the gages.
Fruit in the shed offered round - a couple of punnets still there.

continue reading….