Orchard In Isolation

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With huge regret and for the now well-known reasons, this is to confirm that all volunteer activities and gatherings with Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail are cancelled until further notice. Maintaining proper hygiene, distancing and other precautions is generally impossible while “out and about,” and we would violate the “no gatherings” rule.

We are happy to help coordinate individuals or people from the same household who wish to perform their daily exercise in orchard maintenance. For example, you could exercise with our popular self-guided walk and get in touch if you discover any issues that might need addressing. You could also seek a more vigorous exercise as we still hope to deal with bramble, nettle and hemlock growth and other essential orchard maintenance tasks over the coming weeks.

Get in touch through our volunteer email system if you are able and interested to help, but remember that you must observe official COVID-19 guidance and rules at all times. Most of all, you must stay safe and healthy!

We also recommend that you check out Ealing’s volunteer coordinating site if you are looking for more opportunities to help locally at https://ealingtogether.org/.

Orchard Lock Orchard Management

Thank you all for lending us a hand with last week’s Osterley Lock Orchard spring clean! We were very happy to see an excellent turnout of volunteer, even including assistance spontaneously given after learning about the project. Between many hands and with the help of the park rangers, we accomplished quite a lot in little time:

We coppiced overgrown hawthorn trees (remnants of a former hedge) to bring light and a clear lines-of -sight to the orchard.

We recyled the branches to make enough woodchip to mulch the fruit trees, and stacked the rest into a ‘dead hedge’ to create nesting habitat for hedgehogs, small mammals and birds.

Thanks to great teamwork from local volunteers backed up with some ranger technical support we’ve significantly improved the orchard for fruit trees, visitors and wildlife in one go.

Going Nuts!

Our friends at Trees for Cities will be planting 40 new nut trees in Elthorne Waterside just beyond our existing Elthorne Triangles orchard on Saturday April 4th, 2020.

We think it a wonderful idea although we shared our concern about the abundant population of nettles and hemlock on the planting site. Trees for Cities is busy working out a plan for ongoing maintenance to stay on top of those and give the new Hazels, Pecan, Sweet Chestnut, Walnut and Beeches a chance.

They will have some machinery assistance to dig the holes as the site is notorious for difficult digging. Also, they plan to plant fairly mature trees to boost their survival chances.

But first things first: the planting!

Please join them if you can on Saturday April 4th, 2020. For details please see https://www.treesforcities.org/elthornepark

Free Anger Management

Come and join us next

Saturday March 14th, 2020 at
Osterley Lock Orchard from 11 o’clock

for a thorough spring clean. The park rangers will come help with their big toys: there’ll be chopping, pruning and coppicing. There’ll be chipping to be done and those premium artisan woodchips will want distributing on site.

There’s some general TL&C work for those seeking lighter duties, and we have a supply of bramble and nettle roots to pull for those seeking to release all that stored-up anger.

Come join us! It’ll be fun!

We start at 11 o’clock and hope to be done around 2 in the afternoon, seeking refreshments in the Fox thereafter.

Please be sure to dress appropriately: your second-best pair of trousers and last season’s coat will be good enough. Sturdy shoes are very highly recommended due to the uneven ground. Remember the ground will still be soaked and just a little bit muddy. Also bring some gardening gloves to protect your delicate digits.

We’ll have all the big tools, but a pair of secateurs or a handsaw always come handy.

See you on Saturday March 14th at Osterley Lock!

Flower Season

The flower season has officially started. While the Crocuses and Daffodils take a head start, the Apricots are not far behind.

Cherries, quinces, pears and apples are all thickening, some bursting into life. A new year, a new cycle.

Let’s hope that another cold spell won’t spoil the game this year!

The First Cut

The first cut is the deepest (baby I know). We hope that it will also be effective. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who came to help make light work of the Blackberry Corner Orchard winter pruning. We have now also cut the emerging Hemlock to give room for Cowslip, Deadnettle, thistle and plain grass.

Thank you all!

Snip Snap

2

We’ll be pruning the apple trees

Tomorrow, Saturday February 8th
11 o’clock, Blackberry Corner

(Earlybirds meet 10:30 at the Piggeries Orchard for tools collection.)

We’ll take care of apples, quinces and pears starting in the Blackberry Corner Orchard at 11 o’clock. We’ll be moving across the Hanwell Meadows, pruning and applying general orchard care in the process, with a view of warming up with hot or cold refreshments from approximately 2 pm at the Fox.

Anyone is welcome to come along to learn, to show how it should be done, or simply to come along. No experience necessary! Ignorance and inexperience has never stopped us so far.

Please be sure to wear sturdy shoes and suitable clothing. A pair of gardening gloves is highly recommended.

A Round Peg For a Square Hole

Now that we are in the middle of the tree planting season, at least as far as bare-rooted trees are concerned, it is worth remembering to fit a round peg into a square hole. In tree-planting terms, it means to dig a square hole for the new tree rather than the more intuitive round hole.

A pot- or bucket-shaped hole encourages the growing root system to build a tight knot similar to what happens when growing in a pot, while a square hole encourages the young roots to grow beyond the boundaries of the planting hole and into the rougher and tougher surroundings. The root quite simply doesn’t want to make a 90 degree turn when it hits the corner.

I suppose you might also dig a triangular hole to the same effect if you prefer, just not a round hole. You’re welcome to report results based on pentagons, hexagons, heptagons or octagons as compared to the perfect circle and the square for reference.

This is nicely explained in many more words but fewer corners this recent Guardian article.

We Have Taken Off!

Our warmest thanks got to everyone who came to last week’s hedge planting event. 16 new and old volunteers made light work of 150 mixed variety hedge whips and 30 soft fruit plants to fill in the hedges at the St Margaret’s and Piggeries orchards, and to create a new wind shielding hedge in the Blackberry Orchard.

More rubble and other scrap was also removed and recycled where possible.

A perfect start into the new year indeed!

We have now set the tasks for our monthly Saturday Orchard Love events for February to May and tentatively set the re-start of the popular weekly Tree Tending Tuesday for light orchard and meadow maintenance to Tuesday, 7th April.

The full list of tasks and dates is available on our status and schedule page. Please join our volunteer email notification system for up-to-date information about all those events.

Starting The New Year

We start the new year by wishing you a very happy, healthy and fruitful one!

Come join us

Saturday January 11th, 2020
11 o’clock, St Margaret’s Orchard

We’ll be planting more fruiting and edible hedges in St. Margaret’s Orchard and Blackberry Corner. The perfect way to start the year, meet old friends again and make new ones!

We might also plant a few additional fruit trees which were donated recently, time, weather and resources permitting. Undoubtedly, we’ll end up taking refreshments in the Fox from approximately 14:00.

Please wear appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes. A pair of gardening gloves is recommended.