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St Mary's Church Field Orchard work parties 2022
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  • Orchard work party Sunday 10th July
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    We had hot and sunny weather for our work party in the orchard. And despite the sultry conditions, we had 20 volunteers to help with the upkeep of the orchard.  
    The large array of tasks included:
    • making a start on apple thinning (enhancing the June drop)
    • scything around the seven remaining fruit trees, plus a further four trees in the meadow area
    • scything a swathe about eight feet wide through the middle of the meadow area, where the grass had been partially flattened
    • trimming back some growth from around pond, mostly near the hibernaculum, and more clearly defining the edge of the pond
    • trimming back stray branches (mostly rose and bramble) from both northern and southern hedges
    • some compost turning and water added to help accelerate decomposition
    • weeding the espaliers, removing some bindweed which was added to a ‘drowning bin’
    • removing suckers from around ash tree in wildlife area
    • returning chairs to their usual location next to the Green Shed. 
  • Orchard work party, Sunday 19th June
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    For our work party in the orchard yesterday morning, we had a cool, windy and mostly cloudy morning, with only the odd glimpse of the sun and a few light showers towards the end. However, despite the slightly inclement conditions, we had 16 hard working volunteers getting on a with a large array of tasks:
    • clearing overhanging branches from around Green Shed, some of which were quite large!
    • applying a protective coat of preservative to the Green Shed
    • started applying a protective coat to the wooden frame of the polytunnel (Tony will finish this during the coming week)
    • scythed a strip of grass in front of the pollinator bed and the bed itself was weeded and tidied
    • some pond weed was removed from pond
    • some weeding of the bog garden
    • grass path in the wildlife area was cut
    • compost was turned, bays 1 and 5 turned into bays 2 and 4
    • scythed grass from around 20 fruit trees
    • watered alder buckthorn saplings; of the 10 we planted, one has died, and two could no longer be found
    • a few protruding branches were removed from the northern and southern hedges
    • the espaliers were weeded
    • some reparatory work was done to the Tom Putt tree. A stout post was inserted to raise a branch that had been overhanging the grass path, and a few branches pruned off; all to enable safer passage for passers by
    • barley grass seed heads were removed from the meadow area             

  • Orchard work party, Sunday 8th May 2022
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    Orchard Working party Sunday 8th May 2022
    We had a fantastic work party in the orchard yesterday. Seventeen keen volunteers (of which four were new) turned out to enjoy the glorious sunshine and lovely apple blossom, and get stuck into a wide range of useful job, which included:
    • weeding the pollinator bed (mostly couch grass and buttercups)
    • clearing pond weed from the pond, which still has many newts
    • composting of freshly cut grass mixed with the dry grass from the remains of a hay bale
    • mowed all paths and the performance area
    • scythed grass from around several fruit trees
    • scythed some grass in wildlife area, creating a scalloped effect by cutting up towards the bank in three places, and avoiding the yellow rattle which is just about to flower
    • watered all 10 recently planted alder buckthorn saplings, only one of which is looking a bit seedy
    • trimmed the allotment side of the hedge, all the way around to the water trough
    • cut back brambles and other unwanted ’stray’ growth from the southern hedge
    • weeded underneath the cordons      

    I reckon that covers it!
  • Orchard Work party Sunday 10th April 2022
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    Sunday 10th April 2022
    For our monthly work party we had a dry morning with plenty of hazy sunshine and it became quite mild after a chilly start. Ideal working conditions! We had 15 volunteers turn out to help with a big variety of jobs, which included:
    • trimming off the top of cherry tree roots that were growing across the grass path next to the hedge, and had been causing problems with the mower. A mattock was used to great effect! Also filled in dip in ground with some soil
    • tidied front edge of pond to make it more clearly defined by trimming some grass and installing three flat stones
    • pollarded a willow next to bug hotel. Trimmed off all lower branches and cut top off at about six feet. The arisings were composted, used to create wildlife habitats, or composted. Some of the straight branches were saved and stored near Green Shed for future use
    • trimmed back some lower dead branches of gorse bush to allow access to willow
    • created wildlife habitats through the hedges by building small stacks of old branches and the cut willow and gorse
    • mowed some grass paths with petrol mower
    • compost was added to bay 1
    • the reachable duckweed was removed from the pond, and some tidying done at the back of the pond
    • weeding of pollinator bed and bog garden
    • four wild parsnips were planted, two in the wildlife area, and two in the meadow area
    • planted 10 alder buckthorn saplings; three in the wildlife area (two on the bank), three in northern hedge between the allotments and orchard, and four in the southern hedge. These shrubs are the food plant of the brimstone butterfly, so are an important wildlife resource
    • in the pond we spotted the remains of frogspawn, but saw no signs of tadpoles, which are possibly being eaten by our many newts!
    • there is lots of yellow rattle coming up in the meadow area!

    An excellent work party, greatly enjoyed by all!
  • Work party Sunday 13th March 2022
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    Sunday 13 March 2022 We had an excellent turnout of 19 volunteers for our monthly orchard work party yesterday. After a cloudy start, the sun came out and it got almost springlike! We were lucky enough to hear our first chiffchaff of the season (indeed, two at one point!) and there was frogspawn in the pond, along with quite a few newts. The Bryanston Gage plum tree has a lot of blossom on the way. Lots of jobs completed, which included:
    :emptying compost bay number 3, and spreading some around fruit trees, the rest used on the allotments
    chicken pellet food added to the five fruit trees that have tree circles of bare soil
    cleared brambles and other growth from around the hazels in the coppice at the southeast corner
    weeded pollinator bed (buttercups, grass and dandelions)
    weeded the bog garden
    trimmed grass around some fruit trees
    strimmed some of the longer grass
    mowed some grass paths
    removed the remaining 6 tree stakes (rotting at the base)
    cleared fallen debris from pond, and cut back brambles from behind pond, stashing prunings at either end to create barriers
    weeded cordons and espaliers
    installed guttering and water butt for new Red Shed
    started work on repairing the water butts behind Yellow Shed.
  • Work party Sunday 20th February 2022
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    Sunday 20th February 2022
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    We had a very useful work party in the orchard on Sunday morning. This had been postponed from the previous Sunday when strong winds and rain would have made for a very unpleasant experience! We had a cloudy, very mild and windy morning, with the occasional spot of rain. Despite the slightly inclement conditions, 16 volunteers turned out to help. The list of achievements included:
    • sorting out the plants that had been removed from the pond on 21st January. The larger pieces were chopped up and added to compost bay 1, whereas some matted pieces that would take a while to rot down were stashed behind the hibernaculum to create a wildlife habitat. We found one newt which was returned to the pond
    • about 6 tree stakes were removed. These had been rotting at the base and had been in place for about 13 years, so had done a sterling job in their lifetime!
    • long grass and nettles underneath the hazels in the wildlife area were cut and composted
    • the fruit tree pruning was completed; the cordons and espaliers, including the pears
    • some compost turning. Bay 3 was emptied and taken away to be used on the allotments. Bay 2 was turned into bay 3, and bay 1 was used for the pond debris
    • the pollinator bed was weeded
    • some floating plant growth was removed from the pond
    • some docks were dug up (one was at least two years old!)   

    We were pleased to see that the bee enclosure looked very tidy, with the brambles cut back and grass cut, presumably by Jim! T
    he gate into the bee enclosure is looking splendid thanks to some excellent repair work by Ian and Danny.
  • Working party 16th January 2022
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    We had a very successful and enjoyable work party in the community orchard yesterday morning. We had a great turnout with 22 volunteers coming along. This is the most people we’ve had since March 2020 (also 22) and only one less than our previous recent ‘high’ of 23 in January 2019. We’d had some overnight rain, so the ground was damp, and we had a shower late morning, otherwise it was dry and mild with a little sunshine; ideal working weather! Our jobs included:
    • The main job was trimming down the main hedge between the orchard and allotments. We reduced the height to just above the top of the fence behind the hedge. We also cut off some stray branches from the sides. Arisings were stashed in a pile near to the west entrance, for the Town Council to remove when convenient (please). We also tackled the hedge at the end between the allotments and wildlife area. We had 12 people on this job at one point, which is why we were able to get so much done!
    • Some weeding of the bog garden
    • Some weeding of the pollinator bed
    • Bramble, broom and grass was cut from around the bug hotel, making it much clearer and accessible to local wildlife!
    • Four tree circles were weeded
    • Some preparation ahead of Wassail, planned for the afternoon, that included the erection of the gazebo in the performance area.

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