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 🙂

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?

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:

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!

 

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!

Canalside Housing Project 

dscn2870_kindlephoto-114942900Have you heard of the new canalside housing project in Hanwell yet?

18 new homes are now available at discounted monthly rates of naught and nothing to couples and young families of tits, robins, finches and other small birds. The new homes are located in several trees surrounding the Osterley Lock, Elthorne Waterside Terrace, Elthorne Waterside (Trumpers Way Entrance), St Margarete’s Open Space and The Piggeries orchards.

Another 13 similar flat-pack homes will be installed across the Hanwell Meadows and beyond the Three Bridges monument soon.

Tree #73 has been moved away to a sunnier location, the hedges at St Margarete’s have been mulched, a bucket or two of bramble roots were dug out.  Not bad for a Saturday morning!

Dormant Season?

img_20170114_113252854_hdrThey call this the dormant season in reference to stagnant plant growth. Of course this does not apply to you, my dear hobby gardeners and fellow orchardists!

Now is the time for winter pruning. Winter pruning is complete in the Hanwell and Norwood Green Orchard Trail for this year, but some of you might have some work left to do around the house, garden or allotment?

Apples, pears, quinces, medlar, figs and mulberry all benefit from winter pruning to improve health, growth and yield, and so do many soft fruit such as autumn-fruiting raspberries, blueberries or currants, and vine. Other shrubs such as fuchsia are also immensely grateful for a haircut this time of the year.

Note, however, that stone fruit such as cherry, plums, apricots and peaches want pruning after bloom, not in winter. Rhododendron and azaleas set next years buds in late summer and are best pruned in early summer, too, right after bloom.

Fine-tuned and optimised pruning is both a science and an art, and we don’t claim to be experts. However, common sense and a sharp pair of secateurs gets you a long way, so why not go ahead? Remove dead wood. Remove broken or infected branches. Remove those rubbing each other, loosen up areas of dense growth by taking our every second or third branch. Remove unruly ones growing out of the trunk too low, especially all those emerging below the grafting joint. Remove vertical water shoots and try to provide air, light, and a sense of shape and order to fruit trees.

Prolific growers such as autumn-fruiting raspberries or vine benefit from a hard cut-back, leaving only a pair of eyes above ground (raspberries) or off the leader (vine).

 

Osterley Lock Orchard Expansion

img_20161217_105058While 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!

Diary Dates

dscn2816Here are some dates for your diary:

Saturday December 17, 2016
Clearing of land for the Osterley Lock Orchard expansion.

This is a joint effort by Ealing park rangers, the Canals & Rivers Trust and the newly formed Friends of Osterley & Clitheroe’s Locks (FOCL). Meet on site 10:00 to 14:00.

Saturday January 21, 2017
The Piggeries Orchard Planting Day!

We will be planting a dozen fruit trees, edible hedging along the tow path and prickly (yet edible) hedging along the back wall. (See here for more about The Piggeries.) Watch our web site for details.

Saturday January 28, 2017
Brent Meadow Orchard planting day.

Help Trees for Cities and Ealing Council plant a new community orchard in Brent Meadow alongside Uxbridge Road, opposite Ealing Hospital. See their web site for details at http://www.treesforcities.org/projects/brent-meadow-ealing/, or see their design and survey here.

Saturday February 4, 2017
Orchard Trail 2017 planting day.

We’ll plant ten fruit trees to expand the Osterley Lock Orchard, replace vandalised trees in Elthorne Waterside and add some more. Watch our web site for details.

Every Tuesday
Come spring, we’ll resume our weekly tree and orchard care activities and social get-together every Tuesday evening. It’s thirsty work! Watch our web site and our Twitter for details.

Every First Saturday of the Month
We’ll boost our weekly Tuesday evening tree and orchard care every first Saturday in the month, starting some time in early 2017, to improve the levels of care and give more people a chance of becoming involved. Watch our web site and our Twitter for details.

Members will also find details of the Hanwell & Norwood Green Orchard Trail 2016 Christmas Party in their email inbox. Who is to say that there aren’t any perks of being a member? Click here to join!