St Mary's Field Working Sessions January - June 2017

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Sunday 11th June (thanks to Ian Bark)
With competition from other events taking place and decidedly overcast weather, a small group of stalwarts assembled at 10.00 to tackle the tasks that required attention this month. The gang of nine managed to complete the following:
- Cleared the grass/weeds from the tree circles, and espaliers.
- Mowed / scythed wide tree circles.
- Dug out of several barrow loads of docks before they set seed.
- Trimmed around the pollinator bed
- Tidied the edge of the pond.
- Removed some blanket weed from the pond.
- Created a path to the tap in the wildlife area.
- Created a large pile of green material for composting.
- Topped the gage in preparation for removal later in the year.
- Planted new gage.
- Serviced and sharpened the shears.
- Enjoyed refreshments, celebratory apple cake baked by Jill, and putting the world right around 11.00.
All in all, it was an outstanding morning's work and by 1.30 as we left the Orchard was looking grand.
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14th May (thanks to Paul Arthur)
A wonderfully sunny Spring morning, with 16 volunteers (three were new) to carry out a whole range of tasks, some not even on our original ‘to do’ list! Completed jobs were:
- As the grass had been cut by the Town Council last Thursday, all tree circles away from the meadow area were scythed. Also some hand weeding and tidying right up close to tree trunks
- Small circles of grass, about 18 inches diameter, cut from around all trees in meadow area
- Scythed grass around all espaliers and cordons, including a swathe on the inside of the bee enclosure (where the bees were very active!)
- Dug investigative hole for potential new fan tree, as original Transparent Gage is not behaving as a model fan tree! A layer of rubble (some quite large chunks) was removed, and soil beneath found to be good and reasonably fertile. So looking good for a site of new tree in the autumn. Potential new home for original fan has been identified
- Hedge at both ends of bee enclosure lightly pruned. These have grown very well in the last year, and we should maybe consider laying them next January, or the following year
- Bramble trimmed back from around back of pond, and laid strategically to prevent people from walking around there
- Some tidying of pond including trimming of grass on front edge, and removal of blanket weed
- Bog garden weeded and grass on front edge trimmed back
- Some wildflower plants (supplied by Gill) planted in wildlife area
- Some Spanish Bluebells removed from wildlife area (though probably not all) and docks removed from orchard area including meadow and banks at west entrance
- Compost turning and incorporation of new green plant material
- Used mower to cut a strip of grass to right of central path, and to cut a new path through middle of meadow area
- Excellent tea, coffee and biscuits organised by Jill and Gill!
- Electric fault identified on mower
Sunday 9th April (thanks to Paul Arthur for this report)
A good total of 18 volunteers turned out to enjoy a perfect early spring morning, with plenty of warm sunshine and very little wind. We undertook the following tasks:
- The grass around all of the fruit trees was cut, either by using the petrol mower, or by scythe. This was in preparation for the Town Council mowing, due to take place on Wednesday.
- The old pallets in the wildlife area were broken up; quite a bit of the wood was used for a log pile underneath the hedge in the wildlife area, whilst the remainder was burnt.
- The bog garden was weeded and tidied.
- Grass around the front of the pond was cut, so that the edge is clearly visible.
- The cordons were weeded and some mulch of wood ash applied.
- The gages were tied in, the bed was weeded and a wood ash mulch applied.
- The tree ties were checked for wind rock, and adjusted where necessary.
- Some compost turning and incorporation of newly cut grass.
- Drowning bins were marked with tokens: red to say bin is full, and green to say bin can be used.
Sunday 12th March: Despite a less than promising start (we had had some rain overnight), dry weather prevailed and there was even the odd glimpse of sunshine. A near record total of 22 volunteers turned up again to undertake the following:
  • The remaining fruit trees were applied with grease to curtail the codling moth.
    • Espaliers and cordons were weeded.
    • A mulch of compost was applied to the espaliers and cordons.
    • The structure for supporting the greengage tree fan was improved: new more substantial posts were knocked in, and new wire supports added. This is now very much more fit for purpose.
    • Two grass paths and the border of the meadow area were picked out with the mower.
    • Pollinator bed and bog garden weeded.
    • Compost in bays was turned and tidied, and drowning bins emptied.
    • Bee enclosure grass was trimmed, particularly in near vicinity of hives, as bee activity was minimal. Also hedges at each end of enclosure were tidied, some lateral growth was trimmed off (height was left as it is) and grass trimmed from amongst the shrubs. Quite a large gap in the hedge nearest the sycamore was filled with some spare shrubs that had been growing near the bug hotel.
    • A hazel was dug up and kept ready for planting at Jubilee Green on Tuesday.
Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report
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Sunday 12th February
Fifteen brave and hardy souls turned out on a very cold, cloudy and rather windy morning, to undertake a range of tasks to set the scene for the imminent spring. Achievements were:
- The pile of prunings from last month’s work party were burnt on a very successful (eventually!) bonfire, along with some off-cuts of wood, and what appeared to be part of a dumped shed too.
- The elder tree was trimmed back hard to give the fan tree plum that is right next to it some space to flourish this coming summer 
- Further (mainly light) pruning of the fruit trees. This job is now virtually completed
- The pond plants that had been removed from the pond in January were moved out of the wildlife area, some stashed near to the compost bins, but also some burnt on the bonfire
- Some Canadian pond weed was removed from pond
- Some compost turning; the middle bay was completely emptied
- Three nest boxes were put up, one to replace the existing box on the ash tree in the wildlife area, one (with part of the front removed to make it suitable for robins) was installed in the hawthorn tree, and one put on the fence to the rear of the herb bed in the allotment area
- Several tools were sharpened
- The polytunnel had been washed inside and out on Thursday

Jobs deferred until next month, but not forgotten were:
- Modify posts and wires that are supporting espalier trees
- Apply non-slip surface to pond dipping boarding next to pond
- Tree greasing
Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report
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Sunday 8th January 2017
Twenty three Bridport Community Orchard volunteers took advantage of a mild balmy winter’s morning, to carry out a range of winter tasks. These included:
- The tidying up of the pond, by clearing out unwanted pond plants (some of which were non-native); retaining just one or two reedmace, and reducing the amount of grass that had started to colonise one end of the pond. The removed plants were left at the pond edge to allow any wildlife to crawl back into the water
- The winter pruning of the standard fruit trees. Almost all of these were done. The session went well with a number of new recruits to the tree team; they were given an overview of the task in hand by the team leader, and some were paired off and mentored by more experienced members of the team.
- The laid hedge was trimmed; the height reduced to a manageable level (about 10 cm above the laid branches) and the width was cut back too. This will ensure the allotments are not shaded from the sun during the summer
- Two patches of grass were mown, one for the area that will be used for Morris Dancing on Wassailing day, and one for the area to be occupied by a stall selling cider on Wassailing day.
(Thanks to Paul Arthur for this report)
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