Acrobats’ Advice

img_20160710_184605Early apple varieties are now beginning to ripen and the pears aren’t far behind, just looking for a little more time and sunshine.

While trees planted with our orchard trail do not yet bear a lot of fruit this year, more mature trees in the area carry a substantial amount of the delicious and versatile fruit. Good news for foragers on two or more legs!

It is however sad to see that some human foragers apply unnecessary force and rather shortsightedly use destructive methods when picking fruit. Some branches are torn and twisted, broken off and some trees left damaged and vulnerable to infections. Apart from lasting damage to trees, we also witnessed an eager forager falling from a tree. The young man got away without apparent lasting damage, but we were sure this was a close call.

The rule for picking fruit is quite simple: if it doesn’t want to come off very easily with a small twist or light pull, then it does not yet want to come off and is not yet ready for picking. There should never be a need for force, but you might want to bring a pole, a walking stick or a telescopic fruit picker to extend your arm’s reach without dangerous acrobatics.

Please use care and consideration for private land, nature, the law, other foragers and the very tree you are harvesting when foraging so that everyone can enjoy these resources in years to come. Oh, and take good care of yourself 🙂

Vandalism News

summersun-vandalisedThe vandals have been busy doing their mindless destruction once again. This time we mourn the loss of a Summersun Cherry, tree #55 on Elthorne Terrace, and the nearby Orleanne’s Reinette Apple, tree #60.

The Reinette was a poor thing to begin with, but did show good spirits and a strong will to live. The cherry was doing wonderfully well and could have delighted many in years to come, but has now been torn and broken.

We all share a sense of sadness and frustration in the face of these mindless acts.

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?

Orchard Trail Walk

frontHave you seen our brand new

Self-guided Orchard Trail Walk  

yet?

We are often asked about the orchard trail. Brilliant, folks would tell us, we love the idea, but where is it? Can I walk along it?

You always could, but you can now follow the trail with our new the orchard trail brochure! The brochure breaks the walk down into four easy segments, and guides you through a series of different habitats and hidden nature treasures in Hanwell, Norwood Green and Southall.

You can download the brochure for free from here. We will distribute paper copies in the local libraries and similar locations soon, watch out for those, too!

We hope to see you along the trail soon.

You are of course very welcome to help with the maintenance tasks along the trail, too. We meet every Tuesday evening and every first Saturday in a month, at times and in locations published in the side bar on this website. Anyone is welcome to come along. No fees, no pressure, no experience necessary. Give as much time or as little time as you can, and you’ll be rewarded with the warm feeling of having done something good.

We’ll be a-working today, Saturday 3-June-2017, from 11:00 in Blackberry Corner (later also at Osterley Lock). Join us and earn your free paper copy of this fabulous brochure!

 

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.)

 

Splish Splosh

Barley StrawWe 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?

 

Spring Picnic

_MG_8109It’s the famous and famously informal

Spring Picnic

Tomorrow, Sunday May 14, 2017, from 12:00

… and usually in mostly fine weather!

Bring a drink and food to the sharing table, bring a picnic blanket, a smile, a child and a friend! We’ll be by the sheep in Jubilee Meadows (map) and look forward to enjoying a relaxed Sunday in the company of friends, right in the heart of the most beautiful Spring meadows.

You can reach us on foot from the entrance at Trumpers Way by the railway line, or across the lock behind the Fox Inn, Green Lane. (Click for location and access details.) Get in touch with us if you need special assistance.

Bring food and drink to the sharing table if you like. Please bring only as much as your own party would consume and be prepared to take leftovers back.

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!