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The apple trees are growing.



It's now 16 months since our orchard was planted. Most of the trees are thriving with some slower growers too. This year we had to increase the height of the tree guards to combat our tall sheep. It was a time consuming task but an important investment for the future success of the orchard (we hope). 90% of the timber used was recycled from donated pallets. A big thank you to local businesses; A&M Timber, Reid and Robertson, Fraser C. Robb and Stirling's Low Carbon Future.
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The birth of a cider orchard

FORAGERS’ ORCHARD TAKES SHAPE

231 apples trees (9 cider varieties augmented by some desserts, cookers and crabs) were planted in late March 2015 on an old, long-established wildflower and grass meadow.


The planning stage was a vital part of the process

Newly planted trees - March 2015

To stake or or not to stake - that was the question??

Our grass management team of 3 blackface ewes and 1 texel/mule wether were decanted (for obvious reasons) until the vital tree protection was installed - a task we hoped would be completed in two or three months...  In the end it's taken almost six!  It's a long story, but I (Gary) had to take an enforced two month break from more physical tasks due to an outbreak of Polymyalgia rhematica (no that's not the latin name of one of the tree varieties).

"Gonny hurry up!" Florrie one of our black face ewes
looks longingly towards the orchard.

Thankfully I'm on the mend and thanks to the meds and some extra hands provided by friends near and far (as well as our 3 magnificent sons) the tree guards are completed and the orchard is finally ready for the sheep again.

Our next task in the orchard will be the first pruning over the winter.  It'll be a few years before before we get a decent crop of cider apples but so far we're encouraged by the health and growth of the young trees.  We anticipate our first batch of blended craft cider will be available in 2017/18.

Stages of building tree guards.

  1. Order materials
  2. Use jig to mark out holes for posts (pinch bar and watering can are vital tools when forming the holes)
  3. Place jig above holes
  4. Position posts and drive in approx 50cm
  5. Screw in bottom and top rails
  6. Fit galvanised wire mesh ensuring good tension (helps strengthen the structure)
  7. I made a simple timber platform to raise the roll of wire mesh and the pinch bar was useful for keeping it vertical
  8. Completed tree guard

Now for the boring bit for all the anoraks out there (I'm now one too)...

Tree protection;
231 Rabbit guards
231 Sheep guards
693 posts
1386 rails
4620 screws
690m galvanised wire mesh
about 8000 staples

"Lambchop," our adopted wether is glad to get back into the orchard
with "the girls" after 7 months to inspect the job.








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All Apple Trees Now in the Ground

We are delighted to have now completed the task of planting all 231 trees into our orchard.

9 cider varieties, 2 cooker varieties, 2 dessert varieties
and some crabs to encourage pollinators.

Our next task is to build guards round the young trees to protect them from our small flock of blackface ewes who manage the grass far more effectively (and less costly) than a mechanised solution.  Thankfully we have until November this year to complete the job.
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Orchard Ready for Tree Planting

Our 2 acre field will soon be an orchard.  9 varieties of cider apple trees are being planted in the next week or so.  Better get the spade out!

With the windbreak/deer fence now complete and the sheep decanted to another area we are now marking out the location of the trees. OCD was kicking in so I think our lines are straight enough and spacing accurate using a low tech method with 5m measuring planks and sight lines.  All being well we anticipate our first batch of blended craft cider will be available in 2018.



Bad light stopped play, but managed to get almost half the orchard "pegged out"

All posts are numbered according to our orchard plan.

Prototype tree protection. Scratching posts for the sheep.

4 weeks of scratching and they appear to be up to the job. Time will tell.

Our low tech method of measuring planks and sight lines has worked well.

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The McAlpine Partnership t/a Foragers Foods
Trading address: Wester Balfunning Farm,
Balfron Station, Glasgow, G63 0NF,
VAT Registration No: GB 743 0642 54
Tel: 01360 449248 | ObscureMyEmail |