Working on our Orchard

It’s been cold today, but sunny, one of the few fine days we’ve had recently, a welcome return to more normal winter temperatures. We continue clearing, replacing old disintegrating scaffolding boards, mulching and generally using this time to repair & rethink the structure of the plot.

Four years ago we bought three varieties of apple as feathered maidens, to grow alongside a Cox that Teresa had renovated, and an old gnarled apple tree, both of which were on the allotment when we took it over. The older tree hasn’t cropped for two or three years, but when it last did, the apples were delicious, so we’re hoping this year it might crop again. The Cox was struggling, the roots barely anchoring it in the soil. It was replanted, pruned, mulched generously with seaweed and leafmould; last autumn it repaid this care with a really healthy crop of good sized fruit, some of which we pressed during our annual Apple Day on the allotment site.

Having reviewed the fruit we grow & eat, we replanted our fruit bushes & pruned & mulched them properly, a winter task that has usually been neglected, due to time & lack of confidence in how or when to prune. We also decided to move the 3 apple trees as they were too crowded; they are just small enough to transplant safely, with time for their roots to settle & recover before they’re winter pruned, in late February/March. In 2014, Teresa had successfully grafted 2 Green Costard apple scions, a local Sussex variety, & now, as 1-year maidens, they needed a permanent site.

Last week we prepared an area to bring the trees together where they would be easier to manage. Having dug and prepared the bed, we carefully excavated around the trees & lifted their rootballs intact; they were bedded into their planting holes & mulched with seaweed and horse manure, then staked against the high winds that have been a feature of the last few months. Together with the Cox and the old apple tree in front of the shed, we now have an orchard.

 

apple trees [1]

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