Working sessions July - December 2019
thanks to Paul Arthur for these reports: click on an image to enlarge and scroll
Sunday 11th August
A very productive monthly work party yesterday. The weather was ideal, plenty of sunshine but still quite breezy. We had a really good turnout of 21 volunteers this time. We did the following:

Completed scything the meadow area, tackling two areas we’d not been able to do on 26th July. We left one patch at the northwest of the meadow area for wildlife.
The whole of the meadow area that has been scythed was mowed, with the blade set at its highest setting, and the cuttings removed.
We mowed around most of the tree circles, and the strips down the sides of the central path.
The grass under the Ribston Pippin was scythed.
The edge of the pond was tidied, and unwanted blanket weed and other plants were removed from the pond.
Brambles were trimmed back from behind the pond.
We started work on removing water shoots from the fruit trees.
Summer fruit tree pruning, including the cordons.
The grass in the bee enclosure had been previously cut by Jim . 
Collecting windfalls and picking the early apples (Beauty of Bath and Exeter Cross).
Turning the compost heaps.
Trimming the hedge between the allotments and the orchard.
Trimming the suckers from around the base of the ash tree.

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Friday 26th July, 6.30 a.m.
Annual early morning scything event

We had 13 volunteers offering their services for a 6.30 a.m. start. We benefitted from perfect working weather, where it was dull and dry (apart from a brief light shower at one point), though very warm and humid.


The purpose of this annual activity is to scythe the grass in our wild meadow area, and take away the hay so that nutrients don’t leach back into the soil. Our objective is to reduce the fertility of the soil, to encourage a diverse range of wild flowers, most of which flourish in poorer soil conditions.


We scythed and raked up about 80% of the meadow area, which was a great achievement. The cut grass was stashed in our compost bays, which are now full to bursting, and we have a separate pile nearby which we’ll feed into the compost bays as it all rots down.


We added some water to the compost bays to enhance the rotting down process.
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Sunday 14th July
  • Two wildlife habitats were created from the branches of the hawthorn tree that had been pollarded on 5th July. One behind the pollinator bed, and one behind the pond in the wildlife area.
  • Goosegrass was removed from the hedge and ‘leaf bin’ in the wildlife area.
  • A small amount of blanket weed was removed from the pond.
  • Further fruit thinning. This job is now nearly complete, we are about 90% done.
  • The stone fruiting trees were pruned.
  • Barley grass was removed from the meadow area, bagged up and taken to the tip.
  • A strip of grass, one metre wide, was mowed down the side of the main path to demarcate the meadow area. Also, all the grass paths were cut with the mower.
  • The long grass in the wildlife area was scythed and removed, including that growing around the hazel trees there.
  • Much cut grass was stashed in the compost bays.
  • Long grass, brambles and goosegrass was removed from around the six hazels in the top southeast corner of the orchard, and stashed behind the compost bays ready for burning.
  • Hogweed seed heads were removed from the meadow area, bagged up and taken to the tip.
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Interim Working party: Sunday 8th July

It was a perfect, warm, sunny evening, ideal for tending the fruit trees and cutting the grass. We had 14 volunteers; a good turnout. The main achievements were:

Continued thinning apples on the trees. Although the ‘June drop’ had reduced the quantity of apples forming on the trees, we needed to give nature a helping hand so that we end up with full sized juicy fruits! Well over half of the trees have now been thinned.

Mowing the tree circles ahead of a broader grass cut by the Town Council.

Cutting grass from around the hazels in the small grove to the south-east of the orchard.

Stashing cut grass in the compost bays and in a pile to the side of them, ready for further composting.
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