New orchard

The new orchard is now completely re-planted. 14 new trees have replaced the old ones. We left one tree from the original orchard plus one new tree that we planted two years ago.

The new trees are all planted at least 5m apart providing plenty of space for them to grow as well as enabling us to be able to mow around them easily. It took a little while to work out the planting plan mainly taking into account the two existing trees!

We have planted the following:

  • Apple Ribston Pippin Whip (M25)
  • Apple Spartan Whip (M25)
  • Apple Yorkshire Aromatic Whip (M25)
  • Cherry Morello Whip (Avium F-12/1)
  • Cherry Stella Whip (Avium F-12/1)
  • Pear Conference Whip (seedling pear)
  • Pear Doyenne du Comice Whip (seedling pear)
  • Plum Victoria (Myrobalan B)
  • Apple Ashmeads Kernel Feathered (M25)
  • Apple Blenheim Orange Whip (M25)
  • Apple Newton Wonder Feathered (M25)
  • Apple Michaelmas Red Feathered (M25)
  • Damson Merryweather Whip (Myrobalan B)
  • Plum Anna Spath Whip (Myrobalan B)

These are in addition to two existing trees:

  • Quince tree planted 2 years ago
  • Plum Victoria – the only tree left from the original orchard.

All f the new new trees came from RV Roger’s nursery based in Pickering, North Yorkshire.

Stump grinder
There were 5 tree stumps left that we simply couldn’t dig out without demolishing the dry stone wall at the same time. There was no alternative, but to grind the stumps out.

Roadside conifers

There is a row of conifers alongside the road outside the property – they have been there ever since we moved in. Recently, these roadside conifers have become more and more of a problem as they take a lot of water out of the ground (impacting the vegetable plot) and produce a lot of shade (again impacting the vegetable plot). On the upside, they do provide a good wind break!

When you look at the before and after photos below, you begin to realise just how much they have grown in the last 8 years. Our local tree surgeon reckons that they will only last another 10-15 years at most. In fact, we have already lost some of them in the last couple of years.

Rather than leave them to the bitter end, we have decided it is high time that the roadside conifers are taken down. We are going to replace them with natural hedging that is more in keeping with this area. However, it does mean fell them and then digging out the roots! Hopefully, we will be able to digging out the roots without knocking down the dry stone wall at the front of the property!

The good news is that it will provide space for (yet) another row of fruit trees in the orchard.

Roadside Conifers in 2013
The conifers along the roadside in December 2013. This was the day Northern Power Grid installed our three phase electricity supply.
Roadside Conifers in 2021
This is taken almost 8 years to the day later than the previous picture. It is difficult to believe how much they have grown in that time.
It looks pretty bare now with them gone, but once a natural hedge takes it’s place it won’t look so bad.

New orchard – new trees!

It has been a long time coming, but we have decided it is time to plant new trees in the orchard. It is easy to forget how overgrown this was when we first moved into the property. Despite multiple attempts at pruning the existing trees, we have finally had to admit defeat! Plus the wind has taken it’s toll on the aged trees and we have probably lost 4-5 during the last couple of years.

Cutting the existing trees down seems like a big step, but they are at the end of their life and need to make way for new ones. The existing fruit trees either bore little fruit or no fruit at all.

Looking back at the orchard when we first moved in, it is a wonder that we hadn’t done this earlier! Here’s a post from 2013!

We have replaced all of the trees with heritage varieties – all of which have been grown in Yorkshire. After talking to a number of suppliers, we ordered all of our trees with RV Rogers in Pickering.

Here’s a list of what we have planted.

The intention here is that these are full height trees (rather than dwarf trees). This will enable us to mow around them with ease.

OK, I am on a break. First job – cut the trees down into logs.
Second job is to feed the left over branches into a shredder. Third job is to dig up the roots with a mini digger!
Then it is a case of tracking in the soil where the old trees had been and reseeding the grass.
Once the grass had reseeded, it was a case of marking out where the new trees are going to go
New trees planted – the first 8 are in! The tree in the foreground on the left is a Quince tree that we planted a couple of years ago.
Each tree has a hefty stake and a strim guard (the dark brown thing at the base of each tree). This protects them when using a strimmer.
Each of the trees has a pretty hefty stake in place, plus a strim guard, felt mat and a protective green basket (to protect it from chickens, dogs and deer!).

And just for the sheer hell of it, here are a couple of pictures from the orchard in 2013/2014.

This was after we had had a good tidy up. The old shed is gone and the trees have been pruned back.
The dry stone wall along the edge of the orchard has been rebuilt – if there was ever one there in the first place!
Here’s the orchard as it was when we first moved in.
The shed at the end of the orchard (this is where the gates are now).

First mow of the season

Last year we cleared out the orchard.  All the non-fruit trees were taken down, we cleared back all of the undergrowth and removed an old chicken run and a wooden shed.  The only problem now is that there is grass to mow.  The grass has really taken off in the last couple of weeks.

While it is never going to be a lawn, we need to keep the grass under control just to make accessing the orchard a little bit easier.  We already have a lawn mower, but it is a small electric one – it is not going to be man enough to handle the orchard.

Now, I am never one to resist buying power tools, so this has to be an opportunity to purchase a petrol lawn mower.  After a bit of research, it looks like the best option is a mulching lawn mower.  This will cut the grass to a very fine mulch and leaves it on the lawn as a fertiliser.  So there is no need to collect the grass in a grass box.  This means that it is quicker to mow the lawn and then there are no clippings to get rid off.

After talking to Fisco mowers in Wakefield (www.fisco-online.co.uk), I decided on a Stiga.  I can’t recommend these guys enough – always helpful, they set up the machine, show you how to use it, and are only marginally more expensive that buying it online (in fact the Stiga was the same price).  I prefer to support local businesses wherever I can.  If you need advice, talk to Oliver.

The Stiga is a powerful machine (4.5 bhp) that is going to be more than enough to cut the grass in the orchard.  And first impressions are great, it cut the grass without any problems at all – it seems to start first time and cuts the grass with ease.  The finish is surprisingly good.  Hopefully, not too good.  It isn’t meant to be a lawn!

We cleared out the undergrowth in the orchard last year - an old chicken run, brambles and an old shed.  The down side is that we now have some grass to cut.

We cleared out the undergrowth in the orchard last year – an old chicken run, brambles and an old shed. The down side is that we now have some grass to cut.

It will never be a lawn, but it is a lot tidier now!

It will never be a lawn, but it is a lot tidier now!

Clearing out the orchard – Day 5

With the last of the sheds gone from the orchard, we can now start to clear out the last patch of the orchard.  This is the triangular piece of land furthest away from the house.  It had become overgrown with holly as was as a very old (and largely rotten) alder tree.  The chainsaw and a set of croppers soon had this area cleared out.  The brambles that had grown throughout the dry stone wall were particularly time-consuming to remove.

The larger pieces of timber were cut into logs, the rest was put onto a bonfire on the site of the old shed.

It took most of the day to clear out this area, but now we can start to see the state of the dry stone.  Despite it’s condition, you can see that the it was never really straight!  We will rectify this as it gets rebuilt.  With all of the undergrowth gone, it will be much easier to mark out the position of the new wall.

With all the undergrowth gone, you can see the true state of the dry stone wall,

With all the undergrowth gone, you can see the true state of the dry stone wall,

With the shed now gone, it is time to finally clear out the last part of the orchard

With the shed now gone, it is time to finally clear out the last part of the orchard