Pruning In Equilibrium

img_20170114_131602742_hdrThe forecast promises a dull but rain-free day, so why not come  and brighten-up the Orchard Trail with Mirjam’s guided audio-visual walking experience, or get those cobwebs out of the old bones and help with the winter pruning?

Absolutely no experience is necessary as we strive to achieve pruning knowledge equilibrium: we will teach you what you need to know unless you are in a position to teach us. All levels, ages and abilities are welcome.

We hope you’ll join our first activity of the year, followed by a discussion of all things orchard over some fruity refreshments at The Fox.

Come meet us today Saturday January 13th, 2018, 11:00 at the Osterley Lock Orchard.

 

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Winter Pruning

j-m-01Welcome back from the festive season, and a very Happy New Year to all!

Here’s a great opportunity to start with those new year resolutions, to be an active part of the orchard trail, to help improve our local area and preserve some of our local nature gems. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s free!

Come and join our

Winter Pruning & Guided Tour
Saturday January 13th, 2018 11:00

Meet 11:00 at the Osterley Lock Orchard and join a guided tour, or join the active workforce for the 2018 winter pruning. No experience necessary but suitable clothing for either activity is recommended.

The guided tour is the perfect opportunity to explore the orchard trail if you haven’t had a chance in a while.

The pruning group will look after apples, pears, quinces and medlars from Osterley Lock to Blackberry Corner. We’ll have some tools but you’re welcome to bring your own pair of secateurs, gloves, and so on.

Both groups hope to retire to The Fox ~14:00 for refreshments.

 

Merry Christmas

merry-christmas-2016-02We wish you all a very Merry Christmas or festive end-of-year celebrations, and a very merry, happy and healthy New Year!

It’s been a joy to spend so much time together this year, and we cannot thank you all enough for all the work done to restrain brambles and nettles, encourage grass and meadow growth, collect rubbish and rubble, and so much more: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We’ll all be taking a break now until early January, when we’ll be busy preparing for Winter pruning (13-Jan) and Tree Planting (New date: 10-Feb). We hope to see you there and then!

 

The Apple Orchard

_mg_8113I discovered Muriel Stuart’s lovely poem when researching last week’s article, but I also found and bought a book by Pete Brown: The Apple Orchard: The Story of Our Most English Fruit.

I am only about half way through the 326 pages at the time of this writing so there is no risk of me spoiling the fun by giving away the end, but I thought I’d share this discovery in this time of desperate need of ideas for presents.

I find it delightful, insightful well-written and entertaining, and I love that I am unable to put a label on it. It is neither fictional nor is it factual; it is a collection of anecdotes and thoughts, musings and ramblings, all related to orchards and apples in some way, some more directly than others. I won’t be surprised if I find Muriel’s poem in the remaining half.

Just remember: I have one already 😉

In The Orchard

dscn2213With Tree Tending Tuesdays and Orchard Love Saturdays in hibernation and the evenings drawing in, it’s perhaps a good time to recall our most recent fruity book recommendation.

Blimey! It’s been over two years!

There’s of course Chekhov’s famous Cherry Orchard. Our contemporary Joanne Harris expresses a particular preference for fruit with Five Quarters Of The Orange, Peaches for Monsieur le Curé and Blackberry Wine, which I all recommend.

Then I stumbled across this wonderful piece of orchard poetry by Muriel Stuart (1885-1967):

In The Orchard

“I thought you loved me.” “No, it was only fun.”
“When we stood there, closer than all?” “Well, the harvest moon
“Was shining and queer in your hair, and it turned my head.”
“That made you?” “Yes.” “Just the moon and the light it made
“Under the tree?” “Well, your mouth, too.” “Yes, my mouth?”
“And the quiet there that sang like the drum in the booth.
“You shouldn’t have danced like that.” “Like what?” “So close,
“With your head turned up, and the flower in your hair, a rose
“That smelt all warm.” “I loved you. I thought you knew
“I wouldn’t have danced like that with any but you.”
“I didn’t know. I thought you knew it was fun.”
“I thought it was love you meant.” “Well, it’s done.” “Yes, it’s done.
“I’ve seen boys stone a blackbird, and watched them drown
“A kitten … it clawed at the reeds, and they pushed it down
“Into the pool while it screamed. Is that fun, too?”
“Well, boys are like that … Your brothers…” “Yes, I know.
“But you, so lovely and strong! Not you! Not you!”
“They don’t understand it’s cruel. It’s only a game.”
“And are girls fun, too?” “No, still in a way it’s the same.
“It’s queer and lovely to have a girl…” “Go on.”
“It makes you mad for a bit to feel she’s your own,
“And you laugh and kiss her, and maybe you give her a ring,
“But it’s only in fun.” “But I gave you everything.”
“Well, you shouldn’t have done it. You know what a fellow thinks
“When a girl does that.” “Yes, he talks of her over his drinks
“And calls her a—” “Stop that now. I thought you knew.”
“But it wasn’t with anyone else. It was only you.”
“How did I know? I thought you wanted it too.
“I thought you were like the rest. Well, what’s to be done?”
“To be done?” “Is it all right?” “Yes.” “Sure?” “Yes, but why?”
“I don’t know. I thought you were going to cry.
“You said you had something to tell me.” “Yes, I know.
“It wasn’t anything really … I think I’ll go.”
“Yes, it’s late. There’s thunder about, a drop of rain
“Fell on my hand in the dark. I’ll see you again
“At the dance next week. You’re sure that everything’s right?”
“Yes.” “Well, I’ll be going.” “Kiss me…” “Good night.” …
“Good night.”

We do not endorse a whole range of activities in orchards and elsewhere, but we do like a nice piece of poetry.
More of Muriel’s work on Project Gutenberg.

Mangement Speak

dscn2923_kindlephoto-227171838Let’s talk about management strategies today!

I am of course referring to urban scrubland management in general and our orchard trail in the Grand Union Canal corridor in particular. No hollow phrases or Powerpoint slides in this management speak!

Research of biodiversity in urban environments confirms that biodiversity depends on habitat diversity.

By cutting back scrubland in selected areas in the Grand Union Canal corridor while leaving large areas of scrubland undisturbed, we add pockets of habitats through the introduction of open areas with small meadows and new trees, encouraging fauna and flora to complement the life hidden among the mostly thorny and stingy world of London’s wild west.

We have no biodiversity statistics for the area but personal observation shows that the area is rich in small mammals, amphibians, songbirds, bats and larger birds such as the heron, cormorant or the occasional green woodpecker and plenty of waterfowl. Oh, and the insects regularly introduce themselves in abundance, including the occasional nest of wasps or wild bees.

Perhaps you have photos documenting biodiversity in the area of the orchard trail?

We’d welcome contributions! Please submit photos to hanwell orchard (in one word) at gmail dot com including your full name, a short description of the variety or species shown, and where and when the picture was taken, and we’ll create a public photo gallery documenting biodiversity along the Grand Union Canal corridor between Osterley Lock and Bixley Triangle.

Can’t wait!

 

State of the Orchard Nation

DSC_0404This is to confirm that we held our third annual general meeting on Tuesday 14-November-2017 with thanks to our hosts for the evening, Hilary and Clive, and with thanks to  everyone who joined us for this important event.

A summary of the past year’s activities and an outline of our plans for the future was presented and discussed, much appreciated all around. Many thanks were extended to individuals who helped throughout the year with general orchard care, extensive scything and other tasks.

Mani Dhanda stood down as a committee member (Norwood Green ward representative) without replacement at this time. We thank you, Mani, and hope you’ll stay in touch!

Remaining committee members and the finances were approved, and Mirjam van Bentum is now officially and formally elected chairperson.

A good time, a handful of crisps and a glass of wine was enjoyed by all. A rewarding annual general meeting!

The official minutes will be made available soon.

Crumbling Away

applesAn Apple Crumble with custard is never out of season according to the good wife. When the days turn chilly, the nights turn cold and apples are in abundance, what can be a better than this good old favourite?

Let’s get it right this time and make it all finger-and-lips lickingly good and from scratch. From top to bottom, in order of preparation:

Custard

Mix 250 ml double cream with 250 ml whole milk (1/2 pint each), bring it almost to the boil. Mix 100 g sugar, 5 free-range egg yolks (room temperature) and a good helping of vanilla essence or seeds from a vanilla pod. When the milk is just below the boiling point, remove from the heat and quickly whisk in the egg mix. Keep whisking for a minute, then place the pot in cold water and whisk for another minute.

There’s no need for water bath and it will not turn into scrambled eggs if you remember to remove the pot from the heat and whisk vigorously.

Put it into the fridge for at least one hour. This will keep for days, but it won’t last for days. Not in my house.

Crumble

It’s 1 : 1 : 1 : 1. 50 g soft butter, 50 g sugar, 50 g white wheat flour, 50 g ground almonds. Take the hand mixer and whisk it all together, optionally adding a small handful of chopped toasted hazelnuts for extra goodness.

Put it into the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This can be prepared well before serving time.

Fruit

Peel and cut apples, perhaps add a little ground cinnamon, lime juice and sugar to bring them to life with the right levels of tartness and sweetness.

Production

Fill the baking dish or individual portion dishes with a layer of fruit.

Cover the fruit with a crumble layer, then bake at 200C for ~15 minutes until the crumble is slightly golden.

Serve straight from the oven with cold custard and speak no more.

Piggeries Progress

IMG_20170406_114423998Join us today for the final 2017 effort to tidy up The Piggeries Orchard in preparation of… wait for it… in preparation of… drumroll… in preparation of the 2018 Piggeries Orchard tree planting!

We have been working with Ealing Council and Thames Water who identified that problems exist with the drains that deal with surface water in St Margaret’s Road and in the immediate area. We understand that they are looking for a long term solution. However, as less unwanted water has been entering the Piggeries site we infer they may have found a temporary fix that at least reduces the problem, and we are optimistic that we can plant the Piggeries Orchard trees on February 24th. Today, we’ll be preparing the site by removing more bramble and nettle, stones, brick, rubble and metal in our last work Saturday for this year.

Please join us at The Piggeries 11:00.

Wear suitable clothing and shoes, bring gardening gloves and tools such as digging forks, secateurs or trimming hoes if you can. We hope to finish with refreshments at The Fox at around 14:00.

Funny Fungi

dog-vomit-fungusIt’s late in the mushroom foraging season, but with luck you might still come across these funny fungi, sometimes aptly called the dog vomit mushroom.

It’s neither dog vomit nor fungus. You might have been carefully looking away from a slime mould, entirely harmless and natural albeit visually unappealing to most of us. There’s a good chance of finding some around the wood chip and bark used for mulching all along the orchard trail.

Fuligo septica is able to actively move to better food sources! How cool is that! Wikipedia describes it as a multinucleate mass of undifferentiated cells that may move in an ameboid-like fashion. Now it not longer sound quite so cool, but still… fascinating, don’t you agree?