Working Days in the Orchard 2018:
January - June

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Sunday 11th February - thanks to Paul Arthur for this report
We had 24 volunteers enjoying a crisp, chilly morning, with a few showers of rain and hail. We completed a whole variety of tasks, and these included:
Further pruning of the fruit trees, a good job done with a very enthusiastic Tree Team, and now most of the trees are done.
The nest boxes were cleaned out and returned to favourable nesting positions.
The meadow area was cut with the petrol mower; the first cut of the season and it now looks fantastic!
The longer grass in the wildlife area was scythed.
The area for the shed was cleared of debris and top soil, to a depth of about 6 inches. The soil surface now exposed is quite firm and ready to receive the membrane and scalpings. Two holes were dug (there will eventually be 12) that will house the concrete bricks which will be supporting the shed.
The bog garden was tidied and weeded.
The grass on the south facing wildflower bank at the west entrance was trimmed back.
A start was made on digging the soil in the newly extended pollinator bed, and some roots and celandine plants removed.
Some material for a new hibernaculum (a wildlife habitat) was left in a pile in the wildlife area ready for construction next month.
The compost in the bays was turned.
The hedge between the wildlife area and the allotments was trimmed back to a suitable height, a job that had been started last month.
More docks were removed from across the orchard.
Click on the first image to enlarge and scroll through
28th January (thanks to Paul Arthur for this report)
The weather was dry, rather cloudy (though some sunshine late morning) and unusually mild. A general tidying of the pond, with a fair amount of unwanted growth removed, and eventually left near the compost bays. One large clump of bullrush and iris, plus a fair amount of grass was taken out, which was all put to one side to allow wildlife to crawl out and return to the pond. A helping hand was needed for some! We found lots of ramshorn snails, water woodlice, a few toads, dragonfly larvae, palmate newts, and about thirty frogs! Lots of other unidentified living matter too. This shows just how healthy the pond is. Very welcome tea and coffee was provided by Michele and Jenn.

We noticed that there are a number of small tears in the pond liner, one of which is reasonably low and will now be dictating the maximum depth of the pond. Steve (Scorey) has some theories about how we might repair these, and will keep in touch. We might also create a shallow ‘beach’, which amongst other things will allow badgers (possibly the cause of the tears) to drink water without causing any harm.
Sunday January 14th
We had a record turnout of 24 keen volunteers yesterday morning. The weather was ideal for working; cloudy, very little wind, and relatively mild. A very varied range of jobs were completed, and included:
Continued pruning of the fruit trees. A very important job for this time of the year. 50% of the trees done so far, the remainder being done during our February work party.
A more organic and interesting shape was agreed for the pollinator bed. More turf was dug up and black sheeting laid down to suppress weed growth.
Ivy was removed from the rear of the shed in the wildlife area. Some debris was cleared from around the shed too. The stack of chairs in front of the shed was rearranged to prevent easy access to its rear. This half of the wildlife area now looks much tidier.
Tree ties were checked for wind rock.
Some brambles were trimmed back in the bog garden area.
The bench in the wildlife area in front of the pond had become unsafe, so was dismantled and removed.
Some spent hops were collected from Palmers brewery.
The new shed site was marked out more accurately, and the area cleared of debris.
A bonfire was lit, and the pile of hedge clippings and other debris (including from behind the compost bays) was burned.
The laid hedge between the wildlife area and allotments was trimmed back and reduced in height.
(Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report)