While the pictures are still hot and our bones are still cold from this chilly and damp Saturday, here’s a huge thank you to all volunteers, to the Friends of Osterley and Clitheroe’s Locks and to Ealing park rangers James and Jon, without whom we couldn’t have done it:
The Osterley Lock Orchard site has now quadrupled in size after a huge amount of nettles, brambles and self-seeded trees were removed and used to construct dry hedges, popular with birds, rodents and reptiles. Two old pear trees and several existing trees were left with improved conditions, light and room to grow.
Scrap metal and several bags of litter were collected and removed, and hundreds of narcissi, bluebells and crocuses were planted at Osterley Lock and in the piggeries.
We’ll be planting 10 or 12 fruit trees in the newly cleared land at Osterley Lock on February 4, 2017, and will be on top of the massive nettle seed bank with continued scything, trimming, flailing and pruning to prevent a swift return to the old nettle jungle.
We all thought the site already looks splendid!
Last not least, I should mention that we did indeed experiment by pulling the nettles, including their roots, instead of flailing and mulching them, in one area. While everyone agrees that removal of the roots will be more effective, we all agreed that this method is not feasible for an area half the size of a football pitch and half a handful of volunteers. After two hours of pulling, during which many roots broke off and remained in the soil despite the best intentions to tease them out, we stopped the experiment and resigned ourselves to repeated pruning, trimming and scything over the next year or two, just as we have done on other orchard sites along the trail.
Everyone is welcome to help; watch out for announcements of regular tree care Saturdays and Tuesday evenings in the new year!