Monday, 28 February 2011

Orchard Planting

Phase 1 of our Orchard Restoration has begun!  After a very hectic couple of weeks organising, planning and re-planning we have finally planted a few orchard trees.

For this first year we have chosen some 'Off The Shelf' varieties grown in Worcestershire as a starting point.  As a result of some research, in conjunction with John Clarke from The Kemerton Consservation Trust, we have chosen to plant the following apples: -  Adam's Pearmain, Ashmeads Kernel, Blenheim Orange, William Crump and Worcester Pearmain.

This year 50 trees are to be planted in two orchards around Conderton.  Once the spacing had been figured out (this came from Rob at FWAG's Orchard Report-see previous blog 20th Jan 2011) and the stakes hammered home the trees and tree guards are erected.  They should support and protect the trees for the next 15 years or so.  The main pests will be sheep and deer, rubbing and trying to graze through the mesh, and voles nibbling the bark on the ground.  Squirrels could also be a problem we will need to watch out for.  

A mixture of soil and mushroom compost is returned around the root balls.  This combination should provide a breakdown of organic matter that will provide nutrients for the young trees.  This organic matter should also help retain moisture for longer periods of time through the summer.

A generous helping of bark chipping has also been applied within the tree guards to stop grass weeds from competing for moisture and nutrients

I guess in reality once the trees are planted the hard work will begin.  There will be annual pruning to encourage the trees to grow upwards and out from the top of the guards.  This pruning won't start for another 12 months or so which will allow a little bit of time to read up on the subject and maybe even get some training!  For the time being though we can assess the trees development through their first year and look forward to some tasty eating and cooking apples in the years ahead!

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