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.|
- Order materials
- Use jig to mark out holes for posts (pinch bar and watering can are vital tools when forming the holes)
- Place jig above holes
- Position posts and drive in approx 50cm
- Screw in bottom and top rails
- Fit galvanised wire mesh ensuring good tension (helps strengthen the structure)
- I made a simple timber platform to raise the roll of wire mesh and the pinch bar was useful for keeping it vertical
- Completed tree guard
Now for the boring bit for all the anoraks out there (I'm now one too)...
231 Rabbit guards
231 Sheep guards
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.
Foragers Survives Atlantic Storm
While the grass management team are happy with their new sheep shelter (built yesterday before the storm), we are even happier that our two Premier Polytunnels easily withstood last night's major Atlantic storm, with windspeeds of 32mph + and gusts of 60mph upwards.
|We had to work under floodlight to get most of the roof on before the storm hit.|
|It didn't take them long to bunker down with some nice dry hay. |
But back out when the winds died down about 9am.
|Polytunnel ends which took the battering, partially protected by the |
bund created during groundworks last year.
|It was raining timber but thankfully none hit the polytunnels. |
Another large oak branch succumbs to the strong gusts.
|This branch almost landed in the wildlife pond.|
|Some repair work required to the windbreak fence |
but we expected more damage than this.
Planning applications approved