Three hours, six volunteers, two rangers, one noisy bastard of a chipping machine, and one huge pile of dead wood and brambles dating all the way back to the initial clearing at The Piggeries Orchard produced a larger than anticipated pile of premium quality artisan woodchip for mulching within the same orchard. Self-sustained an all.
A Saturday well spent.
Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped to get this done as swiftly as possible, and our thanks to neighbours who didn’t quite have their usual peaceful Saturday morning on this occasion.
What’s going on at the Piggeries Orchard today, I hear you ask. I am glad you asked.
The park rangers will bring their wood chipper on site and help us to chip the pile of tree branches into our very own artisan woodchip used for local self-sustained mulching.
Join us from 10:30 today, Saturday 14-July-2018, at the Piggeries Orchard and help getting this done in the shortest time possible. There’ll be opportunities to feed branches into the chipper, to deploy the woodchip along the hedges and around the trees on site. For those who favour lighter duties, there’s no shortage of nettles, brambles or horsetail to pull, snip, squish and bash. We hope to retire to the Fox for refreshments in the early afternoon.
Long trousers and sturdy shoes are highly recommended. Please bring ear defenders, safety glasses and thick gloves if you have them.
At the risk of repeating myself: The Piggeries Orchard is now officially open!
We sort-of opened it when planting the fruit trees on February 10th, 2018.
Richard “Scissors” H cut the ribbon and really officially opened it on June 2nd, 2018: Time to Celebrate.
I do now declare it truly and officially and complete opened, as open as can be, and I promise it shall not be any more open: the noticeboard is in!
The noticeboard was the last remaining item from our list of deliverables. The sign, albeit not the one made from locally grown oak envisioned, was installed this past week. The installation was complete just in time before the London in Bloom inspection. Such is the way of miracles and wonders!
From the bottom of our watering buckets, wheelbarrows, wellies and from the bottom of our hearts: Thank you so much for supporting this project! It has been the most delightful journey so far.
We appreciate loads of positive feedback whenever we work within the Piggeries Orchard. Many people stop by and share their appreciation. Thank you! It keeps is going. It really does, and it will keep us going well beyond this official completion of the projects. Plans are flying high and wild. Always.
Please join us tomorrow
Saturday 9-June, 11:00 at The Piggeries Orchard (map)
to finish the spring clean in time for the London in Bloom
There’ll be something to do for everyone. You can dig or snip bramble roots, pull horsetail, cut bindweed, collect rubble, rake grass. Or just come along to take a look, have a chat, or join us for a drink at the end.
Please dress appropriately; long trousers, closed shoes and gloves are highly recommended due to the mixed vegetation and uneven ground.
We expect to be done within two hours, and we are counting on you to do it!
It’s time to celebrate the Piggeries Orchard official opening!
Please come join our opening party and casual bring-your-own spring picnic
Saturday June 2nd from 12:00
The Piggeries Orchard (map)
Dignitaries have been invited, fine weather has been requested, the speech is prepared. All that is missing is you!
Bring a friend, bring a smile, bring yourself. Bring some food or drink to the sharing table if you like, but please bring no more than your party would consume and be prepared to take packaging and leftovers back so that we can keep waste to a minimum.
The Piggeries Orchard is wheelchair accessible from Studley Grange Road.
Please be aware of the proximity to the Grand Union Canal when you bring young children, dogs or ducks.
Cutting back all else.
We’ve got a number of activities coming up and hope to see you at all of them. OK, perhaps some. Or at least one…? No matter how much or how little you can or want to help, no matter how much or how little experience you bring, we’ll take it!
Saturday 12-May-2018 from 10:00
Mulching at The Piggeries orchard. Please note the early start due to the Hanwell Hootie starting in the afternoon so that you can do both!
Saturday 2-June-2018 from 12:00
Casual bring-your-own spring picnic in The Piggeries orchard. No kite flying this time but the grand opening ceremony and official completion of the project shall not be missed.
Saturday 9-June-2018 from 11:00
Mulching, starting with Blackberry Corner in the Hanwell Meadows, then onward the orchard trail until we run out of energy, fine weather or wood chippings.
Saturday 14-July-2018 from 11:00
Wood chipping at The Piggeries orchard with the rangers and their big wood chipper for self-sustained local mulching.
… And of course there is
Tree Tending Tuesday, Every Tuesday from 19:00
Your weekly chance to get involved with light activity and a lively discussion over refreshments. Location varies to meet demand; please see our schedule, join our volunteer email system or follow our Twitter for up-to-date announcements.
We recorded 167 volunteer person hours this year already. Will we reach a thousand? With your help we might.
We were out and about in the Piggeries Orchard this week, with the usual agenda of looking after things in general and looking after re-emerging bramble, enthusiastically growing bindweed and the new horsetail growth in particular. All in all we collected two wheelbarrows of the unwanted flora.
Most importantly though, we learned what to do, and what not to do, with the Giant Hogweed that grows in the back right corner.
Giant Hogweed, or Heracleum mantegazzianum, is an invasive plant. The phototoxic sap causes severe skin burns in contact with sunlight, sometimes with lasting scars. Burns can occur several days after contact with the sap and are quite unpleasant at best and horrific at worst. Wikipedia has more details about the plant and the skin reactions, which are called phytophotodermatitis.
The bottomline for us is fairly straight-forward:
- Remove the plants as early as possible using a spade, taking as much root with you as possible. The plants die easily and compost.
- Never touch the sap, a broken leaf stem or root. Use gloves and touch only the leaf itself. Don’t lick your gloves.
- Don’t hack at the plants, shred them, or use a power strimmer of any sort as these can spread sap uncontrollably.
- When in contact with sap, rinse, stay out of sunlight and seek medical advise.
It all sounds more dangerous than it is if handled with care, but the danger is not to be taken lightly and a good dose of careful responsible handling is prudent.
Similar risk and precautions apply to related “friends”, the Common Hogweed and Hemlock, also common in the Grand Union Canal corridor.
I don’t actually know the statistical risk profile but I would feel confident to say that you are more likely to stumble across a rabbit hole and break an ankle than suffer from severe phytophotodermatitis caused by accidental contact. But still, when you’re out there chasing the bramble invasion or chasing after your dog, whether you are taking a sunbatch in the meadows or flying a kite with your children – just be careful, OK?
Join 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.
We are fascinated by the ups and downs of the Piggeries pond. In the beginning, we had much too much water, as reported with the Piggeries Report. Water leaks in the adjacent streets were fixed, reducing the water feed into the pond significantly. The remaining feed was still stronger than anticipated given what little rain we had. Surface water drainage in the local area is subject to ongoing investigation, but in a recent and rather unexpected development, the water flow into the pond stopped all together. Now we didn’t have enough water!
Rainfall earlier this week raised the groundwater levels and water levels in the pond again, quicker than we expected.
We remain fascinated, puzzled and intrigued by the ups and downs of The Piggeries pond. Investigation of various aspects of local surface water drainage continues. However, we are most fascinated and most grateful to see just how many people stop by, inquire or simply enjoy the views of the pond and its tadpoles. Most tadpoles have been rescued and were re-housed locally during the recent water shortage.
We meant to create a natural habitat with seasonally changing water levels. In addition, we seem to have created a focal point for visitors of all ages, two and four-legged ones.
Why not stop by the Piggeries Orchard during one of your canalside walks, and watch nature do its thing in the middle of the metropolis?
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: