The birth of a cider orchard
Fri, Oct 23 2015 05:01
| cider, news, orchard, sheep, trees
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)...Tree protection;
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.
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.|
A beautiful day for verge cutting.
I took the opportunity (before the severe weather arrives tomorrow) to improve our sight lines by cutting down lots of bushes, brambles and scrub from the road side verge. In addition to planting a 2 acre orchard we will be encouraging biodiversity by planting new hedging, shrubs and trees over the next few years.
|Looking east on A811|
|I reckon this oak was about 50 years old. A casualty of the 5th December storm.|
Will need to invest in a larger chain saw!
|Looking west on A811|
|Looking east on A811|