We have been busy at Pig Row, last year we planted a new orchard (from Habitat Aid) at the top of the hill. It is the more level part of the site and houses Carol's studio.However, it is the most exposed area of the garden and though the hedges at the bottom of the garden are growing, it will be another five years before they offer any protection. The temporary stakes we used over winter did their job but today we thought it was a good idea to get more robust stakes in the ground. We cut these from wood taken from the old kitchen, recycling them into long stakes. Though these are not preserved, they will do their job for several years before rotting away. After a few years they will not be needed and this a good way to recycle old wood. However, be wary of wood with nails in it. Even I was caught out with this wood when cutting it to length. I caught the palm of my hand on an exposed nail that I missed and slit open the palm of my left hand in a deep cut. It was so quick that it didn't hurt, even a rusted nail is still sharp, and the first I knew of it was when I saw blood on the stake. This meant I had to have a tetanus shot. I have literally bled for this orchard and some of the stakes show this. Carol, quite rightly, pointed out that I should have been wearing my work gloves when handling old wood that I knew had nails in. However, sometimes common sense is forgotten in the excitement. I advise you don't forget your common sense when you step into your garden unless you want to spend time in A&E or at the Doctors.
The tree featured here is a Damson Merryweather in full flower. Though still young, a mere maiden, it still needs staking. I hammered nearly half of the stake into the ground, straight down. I know that in some cases gardeners are asked to use their stakes at a 45 degree angle, facing towards the prevailing wind. However, we are on top of a hill at Pig Row and the prevailing wind can come from a 360 degree angle. I have made the choice of creating a secure stake for the trees and the only way to do that is to go down and straight.
I then use a tree tie that will flex and grow with the tree. The great things about these ties are they are often made from recyclable materials and they are cheap. Never use wire or string, they will dig into the bark and eventually garrote the tree. You could use tights, cutting sections and tying in a figure of eight but I have used tights and they have to be regularly checked for coddling moths and other pests that will eat into your fruit. They are a good way to recycle tights but they won't last as long as these ties. Neither can they be reused as these ties can be, time after time. I had seven more trees in the orchard to stake and tie, they include several apples, Balsalm, Flower of the Town, Keswick Codling, Hunt House and Fillingham, a plum, Belle de Louvain and the old favourite of ours, a Greengage (a favourite tree at Drovers that we had to leave behind). As I finished the job, my hand somewhat weary for the cut and my arm smarting from the tetanus injection, Little D and Carol showed up poking through the blossom and looking for the first fruits. Shame that I'll have to tell them that they won't get any this year, this year is about growth, not produce. Pig Row is a windy spot and these trees have survived a battering this year and need to survive future ones by getting their roots down. These trees are just like Carol, I and Little D, we too are getting our roots down into what we call Pig Row.