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Working Sessions in the Orchard: January - June 2018
Link to July - December reports

17th June
We had an excellent turnout of 19 for our work party, despite a rather cool, breezy and cloudy morning. A good variety of jobs were carried out, and included:
- Grass cutting around all of the fruit trees (except those in the meadow area) using scythes and the mower. The grass was raked up and stashed in, and next to, the compost bays
- The pollinator bed was weeded
- Some light trimming of the fruit trees that were overhanging the main path to the north of the orchard
- The whole length of the cordons was weeded
- Some well rotted compost was taken from the compost bays and distributed in the allotment area, and remaining compost in the bays turned and watered
- Some of the grass in the wildlife area was scythed and removed
- A small patch of nettles near the church entrance was scythed
- Ian had constructed a scythe rack for the new shed, which was used for the first time!
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6th June : We had a very successful session of scything at the orchard this morning. It was great to benefit from an early (coolish) start at 6.30 am. We went on until about 8.30 am. We cut an area to the east and south of the hawthorn tree at the bottom, and stashed the grass near the compost bays. Nick, Mitch and myself were on scythes, and David and Rachel on barrowing duties (Rachel also had a very gallant go on the scythe too!). Meanwhile, Christine tackled the barley grass near the church entrance, and has done a great job there.
Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report
Sunday 13th May
There were only about 8 or 9 people this month as several "regulars" were either away or attending another event in town. However, quite a bit was done including mowing the tree circles, grass raking after the cut by the council in the week, composting and pond maintenance.
Sunday 8th April (report: thanks to Paul Arthur)
Yet again we had a great turnout, with 22 people joining us to complete a whole range of jobs in the orchard. It was cloudy for the whole of the morning, and we had a few spots of rain late morning onwards.
Jobs included:

- Further work on the new shed, with weatherboarding now installed
- The soil in the pollinator bed was turned and the pernicious weeds removed and several plants installed
- A primrose and two oxeye daisies were planted in the orchard and meadow areas
- Docks were dug from several areas, the main focus being the bee enclosure and the orchard to the left of the path (as you walk west)
- Wildflower banks were weeded and tidied, again some docks removed from here
- Locations for three bird boxes discussed, one will go on the north side of the new shed
- Some weed (grass, blanket weed etc) was removed from the pond
- Some compost making
- A few grass circles were cut around the fruit trees
- Several barrow loads of spent hops were collected from Palmers Brewery
- The gages were mulched with cardboard and spent hops
- Some grass and celandine cutting in the bee enclosure

We have a supply of bottles of pasteurised apple juice for sale at the orchard - now £2.00 per bottle (13 sold on Sunday).
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11th March (thanks to Paul Arthur for this report).

Nineteen volunteers at our work party today, enjoying a mild if cloudy morning. We were serenaded by the occasional call of a chiffchaff, that very distinctive harbinger of spring! There were many frogs in the pond, some croaking, and plenty of frog spawn. So after the coldest March day on record (1st March), wildlife is certainly making up for lost time! We completed a whole variety of tasks - these included:
Mowing around all of the tree circles.
A hibernaculum (a wildlife habitat) was constructed in the wildlife area to the left of the pond. This will be a cosy home for a variety of wildlife that may wish to rest or hibernate away from the ravages of the weather.
The grass around the hazels in the top southeast corner near the church was sheared and scythed, and the cut grass removed for composting. The six hazels are growing very well!
For two of the fruit trees that need a little more tender loving care (quince and Charles Ross), all grass and weeds were removed in three feet diameter circles, cardboard was laid down and a hop mulch applied. A few more trees will be treated in a similar way in due course.
Compost was turned, and some used as a mulch.
The new shed site was tidied (the remains of the scalping were removed to prevent them damaging the mower).
For the pollinator bed, all of the black plastic was removed, and the soil dug over. Some roots were removed, including a very persistent dock! This bed is now ready for planting up.
Cardboard and hops were applied to the remaining cordons.
Some woody waste (pruning etc) was burned.
The hedge behind where the new shed will be was trimmed down significantly.
A light was installed in the bottom shed.
Some hops were collected from Palmers Brewery.
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Sunday 4th March: A hard day's work today - the ground work for the new shed completed successfully.
Click on the first image to enlarge and scroll through
Click on an image to enlarge and scroll through
Sunday 11th February - thanks to Paul Arthur for this report
24 volunteers enjoyed a crisp, chilly morning, with a few showers of rain and hail. We completed a whole variety of tasks, and these included:
Further pruning of the fruit trees, a good job done with a very enthusiastic Tree Team, and now most of the trees are done.
The nest boxes were cleaned out and returned to favourable nesting positions.
The meadow area was cut with the petrol mower; the first cut of the season and it now looks fantastic!
The longer grass in the wildlife area was scythed.
The area for the shed was cleared of debris and top soil, to a depth of about 6 inches. The soil surface now exposed is quite firm and ready to receive the membrane and scalpings. Two holes were dug (there will eventually be 12) that will house the concrete bricks which will be supporting the shed.
The bog garden was tidied and weeded.
The grass on the south facing wildflower bank at the west entrance was trimmed back.
A start was made on digging the soil in the newly extended pollinator bed, and some roots and celandine plants removed.
Some material for a new hibernaculum (a wildlife habitat) was left in a pile in the wildlife area ready for construction next month.
The compost in the bays was turned.
The hedge between the wildlife area and the allotments was trimmed back to a suitable height, a job that had been started last month.
More docks were removed from across the orchard.
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Click on the image to enlarge and scroll through
28th January (thanks to Paul Arthur for this report)
The weather was dry, rather cloudy (though some sunshine late morning) and unusually mild. A general tidying of the pond, with a fair amount of unwanted growth removed, and eventually left near the compost bays. One large clump of bullrush and iris, plus a fair amount of grass was taken out, which was all put to one side to allow wildlife to crawl out and return to the pond. A helping hand was needed for some! We found lots of ramshorn snails, water woodlice, a few toads, dragonfly larvae, palmate newts, and about thirty frogs! Lots of other unidentified living matter too. This shows just how healthy the pond is. Very welcome tea and coffee was provided by Michele and Jenn.

We noticed that there are a number of small tears in the pond liner, one of which is reasonably low and will now be dictating the maximum depth of the pond. Steve (Scorey) has some theories about how we might repair these, and will keep in touch. We might also create a shallow ‘beach’, which amongst other things will allow badgers (possibly the cause of the tears) to drink water without causing any harm.
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Sunday January 14th
We had a record turnout of 24 keen volunteers yesterday morning. The weather was ideal for working; cloudy, very little wind, and relatively mild. A very varied range of jobs were completed, and included:
Continued pruning of the fruit trees. A very important job for this time of the year. 50% of the trees done so far, the remainder being done during our February work party.
A more organic and interesting shape was agreed for the pollinator bed. More turf was dug up and black sheeting laid down to suppress weed growth.
Ivy was removed from the rear of the shed in the wildlife area. Some debris was cleared from around the shed too. The stack of chairs in front of the shed was rearranged to prevent easy access to its rear. This half of the wildlife area now looks much tidier.
Tree ties were checked for wind rock.
Some brambles were trimmed back in the bog garden area.
The bench in the wildlife area in front of the pond had become unsafe, so was dismantled and removed.
Some spent hops were collected from Palmers brewery.
The new shed site was marked out more accurately, and the area cleared of debris.
A bonfire was lit, and the pile of hedge clippings and other debris (including from behind the compost bays) was burned.
The laid hedge between the wildlife area and allotments was trimmed back and reduced in height.
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Work party dates for 2019