We had a great meeting on site this Monday with Kerry. It was a real meeting of minds as we all have the same outlook on how to manage the orchard and increase biodiversity. Also it was quite relaxing to see we all agree what has to be done and what we can and cannot do.
The overall agreement is that most of the trees are in stress due to the recent water-logging which has now been solved with the new drains. This improvement can be seen in the young trees who have doubled their growth from last year. However two new trees nearest a boggy area have died.
There is also a direct correlation between the number of pruning cuts and the health of the trees so there should be a stop to any pruning until the trees can be seen to be getting healthier. I will write to Stephanie asking her to delay her Jan 2018 pruning workshop for a couple of years. And also we want to get the Orchard expert from the Peoples Trust for Endangered Species to have a look and give some advice before pruning any more.
We all agreed that though now the water problem is solved the soil is still compacted clay and it is vital to aerate the soil and that the best way to do this is by wood-chips under the trees to the drip lines. Up to now wood-chips have been a problem for us as our trusted guys have disappeared! Kerry said Bartlett’s are working with you so hopefully we can start that going.
To complete the proper drainage of the orchard Kerry said there needs to be a drain cut to the pond but apparently there is no cash for this.
I am going to the AGM of the London Green Belt Council next week and there is also a brand new Parliamentary Committee for the Green Belt . I might bump into someone who might fund the drain. You never know!
I am planning to put some RNOH orchard apple chutneys and ciders and apple juice in the canteen for the last week before Xmas free for the staff and patients. I think at present the canteen is about 20kgs apples over but I will keep checking that. The cider we have made so far is amazing!!
So far we have distributed about 300 kgs of RNOH orchard apples. We have just teamed up with City Harvest (http://www.cityharvest.org.uk/) who took 150kgs yesterday and who we hope will be able to take at least another 1000 kgs++ before Xmas. Also we hope to get RNOH orchard up on their website as a partner.
We are having a meeting in December on site with the Harrow Council Biodivesity Officer to get some tips and also to put the RNOH orchard on to Harrow Council’s Biodiversity Action Plan. Kerry told us there are adders and grass snakes in the orchard and we have seen an owl , woodpecker, and a kestrel there just this Monday.
There are quite a few further apple trees Kerry discovered deep in the woods on the hill and hopefully we can clear them from brush. We saw one – its massive with 1000s+++ of apples!
Finally, once we have completed the apple picking and got the wood-chipping started we can begin looking at events for next year.