Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Summer pruning orchard workday June2017

We had a very productive Orchard Summer Pruning and tree care session on 24th June with a total of 12 adults and 5 children. Good weather obviously plays an important part in determining how many people are able to take part, so that was a good start. We put up our gazebo to signpost our presence and placed our sign board nearby so that passers-by would recognise who we were and what we were doing.

As usual on these occasions we went through the risk assessment, safe handling of tools and list of tasks for today.
First up was to check trees for pests and diseases. We found some ant and aphid activity on two trees, most noticeable on the Cox's Orange Pippin; some leaves on some trees had evidence of leaf miner but nothing to worry about. Some leaves on the pear trees are starting to show signs of rust but this should not cause serious damage. Many of the apple trees are bearing heavy loads of fruit so we thinned out clusters to prevent disease and encourage the fruits to grow bigger.

Before pruning started in earnest we ran through the reminder of what to look for with the branches:
CROSSING OR CONGESTED (i.e. overcrowded)

The plum and cherry trees can only be pruned in summer as winter pruning risks developing Silver Leaf, a fungal disease that could destroy a tree. It is probably better to summer prune in July and August but today was our workday for this task.
Before we could prune, some of the tree guards needed to be reduced in height. They have helped to protect the trees pretty well, despite two guards having been damaged during the past few months.

Jonathan inspects the Quince before cutting the height of the tree guard

Sandra with Lane's Prince Albert apple
Robert & Jon reduce the height of the guard round the cherry

Jon among the plums
While the pruning was going on, Sue with her able assistant Christopher (aged 4) were cutting down the comfrey plants, putting them into the wheelbarrow, then chopping them up into small pieces to put round the trees as mulch.
Christopher chops up comfrey leaves to use as mulch

Two other able-bodied young helpers were Thomas and Daniel, watched over by Carol while Jonathan cut down the guards around the quince.
Daniel and Thomas supervise the work
We also had two babies (under 12 months old) supervising us and other adults not in these photos.
Half-way through our work Lewisham's Mayor, Steve Bullock, came to officially open the newly refurbished tennis courts. They have been open for a few weeks already  and have been welcomed by most  of our enthusiastic tennis players.

Newly refurbished tennis courts - May 2017

 We were invited to join in to see the cutting of the ribbon  and share in the delicious strawberries and cream cake.These photos of the Mayor and the cake were taken by Carol Robinson.

And here are photos from the official photographer, including
- a group photo of the Mayor, tennis players, young children and the orchard volunteers
- the tennis courts
- the amazing cake

Three hours of orchard work by the team of volunteers passed by very quickly and the opportunity for a group photo was lost as people went home. In addition to pruning, guard height reduction and comfrey mulching, we also managed to weed round the trees and cut the grass round them.

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