A few years back we had an orchard planted at Corehead. Around 180 trees were planted in blocks of 5 and included a mix of apples and plums. Varieties that were planted were chosen based on their suitability for the area, hardiness to survive the Corehead climate (!) and availability.
The orchard has been a great addition to Corehead and really fits in with the overall aim to manage the site as a low intensity farm alongside habitat restoration techniques.
We've been doing a bit of work in the orchard this summer to help it along. Around the perimeter of the site a hedgerow was planted. It's been doing so well that the trees have been literally bursting out of the top of the tree guards but to the point where they have started to look like lollipops. We've been working throughout the summer cutting these guards in half and putting them back on the trees to allow them to bush out a bit more. Eventually we will be able to take the guards off all together but until then they need to stay on to help protect against munching voles.
We've also been removing all the fruit from the trees. There's not been much this year but by doing this we are helping to direct the trees energy into growing to get stronger.
One of the last big jobs of the year is to cut the grass in the orchard. Once cut, it should be raked off. This helps to reduce the overall nutrient level which provides a better environment for wildflowers to flourish. The traditional way of doing this would have been with a scythe. So on Saturday 13th September we have John Grundy, a scything expert, coming to show us how to do it.
We may not get the whole orchard done in one day (it's quite big) but certainly may be a way to manage in the future. If you'd be interested in coming to our scything day then drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org