Promised Apples in the Orchard

Yesterday was all about the pots in the herb garden but today is about the orchard and what is going on there. Our orchard is now five years old and it has had its up and downs, some trees made it and some didn't. We have been left in the main orchard with Hessle pear, James Greig. Hunt House, Keswick, Fillingham and Flower of the Town apples. There's a Belle de Louvain plum tree but it could be another two years before it fruits. Sadly, during some harsh winters and wet summers we lost Damson Merryweather and Old Greengage. We replaced the latter with a Cambridge Greengage but that is down in the cottage garden, protected from the cold and winds by the sheer bulk of the house.

growing fruit, fruit trees, life on pig row

It has taken a few years to get the hawthorn hedge back to where it should be, the once thin and weedy hedge, ignored for decades, has been drastically pruned over the last few years, taking it back in width and height, and more importantly feeding in sloe and hazel alongside some other climbers like honeysuckle and this new mixed hedge acts more like a windbreak now rather than a funnel. We're even getting the grass in hand, by simply creating wildlife corridors under the trees by locking up the lawnmower and letting the grass grow and sowing into it with daisies and clover.

wildlife orchard, growing fruit, life on pig row

These little techniques, along with a new hedge to the south of the orchard, which we'll planted later this year will build up a shelter belt for the orchard and the promise of apples this year is wonderful. We have also noticed a decline in disease and pests in the orchard, this isn't just down to the trees becoming stronger and bigger but is down to our approach to bring wildlife into the garden. The bees pollinate, the ground beetles clear away debris and pests, the frogs get the snails and slugs, and the birds pick clean any greenfly or wandering pests. The garden here is awash with hoverflies, bees but butterflies have sadly declined again this year due to the cold summer.


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