Statistically Speaking

DSC_0611Statistically speaking, the average orchardist is a poor keeper of statistics. We plan on improving our habits, but I am sure someone can tell me how long this resolve typically lasts, statistically speaking.

In the absence of hard numbers, I estimated the time spent working in and around the orchard trail to be approximately 300 volunteer hours in 2017 so far. And we are only half way into the year!

My estimation is based on past dates in the diary, recollection and website articles about some events, group photos taken at the larger events. It does not include the social hours at a certain inn, our popular meadow picnics, training classes, ward forum meetings or committee meetings.

We’ll be turning three in October, and I reckon we might be looking back at something between 1500 and 2000 person hours spend clearing, cleaning, watering, pruning and rubbish collecting over that time. A big, big, thank you!

Here are some pictures of people at work in the orchards to bring back memories and inspire new volunteers.

 

Volunteers ‘R’ Us

DSC_0404Volunteering at the Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail just became so much easier!

Check out the new Volunteer page from the menu on top of this page. You can view planned work and status of all sites, and you can join the active volunteers with our dedicated volunteer email list.

We hope this will help to keep volunteers better informed, and keep more volunteers informed. We also hope that it helps keeping us better informed: as you spot a problem or another noteworthy status update, or as you finished some guerrilla weeding perhaps, let us know through the volunteer email list so that we can update our records.

With all that technology in place, don’t you think it time to leave it all behind (after having checked the volunteer schedule page for last-minute changes) and come join us over by the canal?

We sincerely hope to see you soon.

Fruit Tree Care in Desperate Times

IMG_20170506_112350012_HDRWe liked this article about KEEPING URBAN TREES HEALTHY DURING DRY TIMES. It states that the

mortality of urban landscape trees frequently reaches 30% in the first year after planting, sometimes rising to 70%, with both lack of water and sub-optimal soils usually to blame.

Lack of water? Check!

Sub-optimal soil? Check!

Mulching? Check!

Our fruit tree mortality rate is approximately 1%. Yes, one percent. An additional two or three percent thanks to vandals. Not even the rabbits accomplished that much even though we all know full well that they were trying!

We must be doing something right, and we are a tiny little bit pleased about that.

We’ll be mulching today at Osterley Lock Orchard.  Why not come over to join the fun and help keep that mortality rate down? You’ll find us right here from 11:00 today.

Bring wheelbarrows or digging forks for mulching if you can, buckets for watering or scythes, slashers, gloves and secateurs for weed control. Or just bring yourself! No experience necessary; full training given right there and then in under one minute.

Did I just hear another record being broken?

Community Payback

IMG_20170506_112458197_HDRThank you, Community Payback! 

Arranged with the London Community Rehabilitation Company, 8 rehabilitating offenders came to lend us a hand in moving woodchip from St Margaret’s Open Space to the Piggeries Orchard. This was then used for mulching approximately 100 metres of hedging along the back wall and the towpath. Mulching helps retains moisture, slows weed growth and improves the soil by composting in place. On a second occasion, a group of eight finished the mulching at the Piggeries and applied woodchip to the hedge surrounding the St Margaret’s Open Space Orchard.

We certainly promote compliance with the law at all times, but we really do appreciate the help we received last week! The troupe enthusiastically moved approximately 70 wheelbarrow loads of woodchip and certainly earned our heartfelt thanks for a job well done.

We hope for more help from Community Payback with tasks like mulching, help with weed control or rubble removal. A true paying back to the community and taken some burden off our volunteers and park rangers for the benefit of everybody.

(Photo shows woodchip mulching applied elsewhere along the orchard trail to protect the privacy of our community payback helpers.)

 

Meadow Mulching Extravaganza

Please join our

Meadow Mulching Extravaganza
Today from 10:00.

We’ll be moving and applying woodchip and straw for mulching all across the Hanwell Meadows and, headcounts permitting, the Piggeries. Mulching suppresses weed growth, helps preserve moisture and composts down into nutritious food for the tree.

We can take any help we can get!

All you need is wear sensible clothes and sturdy shoes. Bring gardening gloves, digging forks, buckets or wheelbarrows if you can. Bring a friend, a packed lunch and a bit of sunshine. We’ll be done in time for the Hanwell Hootie!

Meet with us at 10:00 in Jubilee Meadow by the railway crossing (map), or find us at any time somewhere in the meadows.

Update 09-May-2017: Here are some photos, thanks to James:

All Hands On Deck!

img_20170204_122145702_hdrSpring is here even though we enjoyed a chilly version this past week! With spring comes growth, with growth come weeds, with weeds comes weed control, and with weed control comes you! There’s also pruning and watering and all-sorts of jobs.

Please come help with the forthcoming activities. We have a huge area to manage and offer a simple yet rewarding opportunity to do the right thing and to get involved. Suntan gratis! (Subject to conditions.)

Hanwell Meadows Mulching Extravaganza

Saturday 6-May, starting 10:00 to end in time for the Hanwell Hootie. Meet by the railway crossing, bring a bucket or a wheelbarrow if you can. Gardening gloves, sturdy shoes and suitable clothing are a plus. Bring yourself and a friend!

Spring Orchard Picnic

Sunday 14-May, starting 12:00. The social highlight of the year so far! Meet by the sheep in Jubilee Meadow. Bring food and drink to the sharing table. (Please only as much as your own party would consume. Please be prepared to take back left-overs!) Bring a game, a child, a friend, a neighbour, and a smile.

Every Tuesday Evening

Every Tuesday Evening is Tree Tending Tuesday. We meet in various locations along the orchard trail at 19:00, spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours with various orchard tasks, then retire to a local public house for a chat and a drink. See our website or follow our Twitter for location and last-minute updates.

Every First Saturday in a Month

Join us and help apply Saturday Orchard Love every first Saturday in a month. We meet in changing locations around 11:00 for 2 to 3 hours of orchard care. The perfect opportunity for everyone who can’t make the Tuesday evenings, or just get enough of it! See our website or follow our Twitter for location and last-minute updates.

Please support the orchard trail and become an active part of it. We manage over 100 fruit trees, spread over more than 2 miles, and we take all the help we can get! Nobody needs to be there all the time; you can help once in a while, for an hour or with every activity from start to finish. Experience, special tools or skills are not required. Satisfaction guaranteed!

 

Suntan Studio, Gym and Social Club

IMG_20170411_191954Did you know there’s still plenty of opportunity for everyone to get that suntan, to join our very own free-of-charge outdoor gym and social club in Hanwell’s Grand Union Canal corridor? Join us for your chance to explore Hanwell’s most beautiful hidden gems on your very own hands and knees!

A small yet determined taskforce met for last Saturday’s Piggeries informal opening, mulching and weeding. We entertained ourselves with the removal of many bramble roots and pulling of horsetail shoots, applied woodchip mulching and top-soil to hedges and rockeries. The hedges were weeded and watered, even more rubbish found and removed, stones and rubble collected. We spread meadow seed to boost growth. Glorious sunshine was enjoyed by all, with a celebratory slice of cake or two.

Every Tuesday evening and every first Saturday in a month present perfect opportunities to come out and join in the fun. We always have a variety of tasks for all abilities and ages, whether you can spare an hour or an entire day, whether you have a green thumb or two left hands. No experience necessary!

Please check the sidebar for details (bottom of the page for mobile phone users).

Happy Easter!

 

Who We Are, What We Do

The best way to find out who we are and what we do is to head down to The Piggeries Orchard right now. Today, Saturday 8-May-2017,  we’ll be mulching, clearing and sowing, and celebrate the event with a speech, a cheer and a slice of cake!

Our resident videographer Steve Haskett has produced a new short clip about our group and our work. Take a look if you need some extra motivation, if you can’t join us today or if you are reading this at a later date.

Thank you, Steve!

Spring Dates

tttThe events are rolling in for the Spring 2017 season; please mark these dates for fabulous opportunities to be involved. It’s never to late to make new friends, meet the orchards or to take it out on some brambles and nettles!

Sat 8-April 10:30 – 15:30, Piggeries Celebrations

We’ll be pulling more weeds and digging more brambles, apply woodchip for mulching the hedges along the fence and the back wall, and sow the meadow and wetland areas with native grasses and flowers.

We’ll also celebrate the opening of the Piggeries Orchard with a slice of cake and a speech!

Sat 6-May 10:00 – 14:00, Meadows Mulching

Mulching in the beautiful Hanwell Meadows, with an early start and finish on account of the Hanwell Hootie. This is the first event in our new Saturday Orchard Love series, and we need every hand we can get with this one!

Sun 14-May 12:00 onwards, Spring Orchard Picnic

The big event in every local orchardist’s calendar, the popular spring orchard picnic in the heart of the Hanwell Meadows by the sheep! Bring something to eat and drink to the sharing table, bring a smile, a child, a friend and join us for a relaxed social event in the centre of this most beautiful hidden treasure.

1st Saturday in each month, Saturday Orchard Love

Starting 6-May at 10:00, normally at 11:00. Your regular opportunity to apply orchard love in varying locations along the trail. See the right sidebar on our web site for details of every event (at the bottom of the page for mobile phone users), or follow our Twitter.

Every Tuesday evening, Tree Tending Tuesday

Tree Tending Tuesdays are back! A grand reason to finish work and get out into nature, apply some general tender love and care to the orchards, the orchard trail and its surroundings, and (optionally) finish with a refreshment at a local public house.

As always, be sure to check our web site,  Facebook or Twitter for details or last-minute announcements and changes. See you soon!

The Piggeries Report

_mg_9291Today is a good day for a brief update on the Piggeries Orchard. As many of you know, we hit unexpected problems caused by an exceedingly high water table and unexpected water flow through the site, but we are happy to report continued progress and plans for the next steps:

The site has been cleared of brambles, many rocks and heaps of rubbish. The pond has been dug, fencing along the towpath and the path through the site is installed. This is already very popular with walkers and dogs!

Some of the rubble has been used to construct a newt habitat by the pond, and we are waiting to see small amphibians move in. Bird boxes for blue tits and robins have been installed in the trees surrounding the site. A composting area has been constructed (and will disappear from view as the hedges surrounding it grow).

100 metres of edible and prickly hedging plants have been planted along the fence and the back wall, and many already show signs of growth. We recently added a dozen of summer and autumn-fruiting raspberries along the fence by the canal, and a number of gooseberry and black currant bushes for everyone to come along and sample some of that soft fruit deliciousness.

We will seed the meadow and pond borders later in March or April to give a boost to grass and meadow flowers. Many dozens of bulbs of native bluebells and daffodils have been planted around Christmas, and some are beginning to emerge already.

We are short of a fruit tree orchard at this time, however. Thames Water has recently fixed water mains leaks in Studley Grange Road and St Dunstan’s Road, with the almost immediate effect that the water flow through the Piggeries is now back to meet expectations. There is planned water flow due to a slow-releasing surface water storage tank, which we expect to reduce further during the dry months and with continued improvements to surface water drainage from the nearby streets. This will turn the pond into what we originally planned: a seasonal water feature.

For now, we monitor the ground water levels. We missed the 2017 fruit tree planting season on purpose and hope to be able to plant fruit trees in 2018. We are already making designs for plan B to ensure that the Piggeries Orchard will live up to expectations.

Throughout this year, we’ll keep the site pristine, watch the water levels, monitor fauna and flora on site. We will have several activity days to dig out brambles, fight giant hogweed and nettles, and similar activities.

This is your chance to come join the fun. Watch this space for announcements!

(See what I mean? Nothing happens at the Piggeries but here I am, enumerating the improvements already done in an article longer than my arm.)