Apple Day 2016

We were blessed with a gloriously warm, sunny October day for Apple Day.  It was an early start to let the BBC radio Manchester crew in at 8.30 am. They came to do some outside broadcast work promoting the event to listeners.  Volunteers started to arrive at 9 am and by 10 there were plenty of people busily prepping apples for pressing.

Volunteers busy preppiing apples for juicing

The BBC left around 10:45 taking a bottle of freshly pressed juice with them for the studio presenters Phil Trow and Chelsea Norris to taste. You can listen to the programme here ( whizz to 1 minute 26:20 - 1:30:25 then 1:51-1:56 then 2:54:20-2:56).

We had a new machine to test out as well. Helping Britain Blossom asked Alfred Chow to create a pedal powered juice machine. 

Pete using the mobile juicer

The idea is someone can pedal the trike to power the machine that pulps the apples before they go into the press (the machine is called a scratter). At the back of the trike you can also see a larger apple press which we used in addition to the smaller press that you can see in the first photo.

We had lots of delicious cakes baked for the day, all but one included apples and everything was enjoyed by those who visited. 

As in the past we did apple tasting, giving people a chance to taste some of the apples from Orchard49.  There were 12 different varieties available for tasting, including a few that we've not been able to try before (because they had already been picked and eaten). Firm favourites were Merlin's Apple, Lemon Pippin, Dog's Snout (for the aroma of these apples), Yorkshire Cockpit and Ladies Finger of Lancaster.  The last three of these are all cookers, but everyone found them to be far less sharp than the widely available cooker, Bramley.  The highlight of the apple tasting was the adventurous children who happily tucked into anything and everything, often returning for more.

As always, thanks go to all the volunteers who made the event possible. The bakers, the choppers, the refreshments whiz, thanks so very much for your time and enthusiasm. 

Apple Day Saturday 8th October 12-3 pm

Its time to celebrate the harvest again. Here is a poster for the event and a picture of a pedal powered scratter (prepares apples for pressing) which will be used for the first time at our event.

Hope you can join us.

Dan from Helping Britain Blossom and the new (re-purposed) machine

Blossom time on the Orchard

Thursday 19th May we will resume our regular evening work sessions on Orchard 49. By way of an enticement, to encourage you to come down and lend a hand, here are some photographs of the trees in blossom taken on 12th May.

With any luck this beautiful spectacle will still be there. Lorna and Pete will be there to welcome you and the session will run from 6.30 - 8 pm. Same time every thursday until it gets too dark.

Hope to see you soon

Assorted News from Orchard49

We've been busy on Thursdays (unless rain stopped play) keeping the Orchard trees fit and healthy. We've weeded around the base of all the trees, including the large ones, then mulched them. This feeds the trees and helps to retain moisture when its dry.

On Sunday the first ever Old Trafford Open Gardens event took place and Orchard49 was one of the open spaces within Seymour Grove allotments. It was nice to have some visitors and to help people out with questions about growing fruit.

We have some raspberries to crop following tying them into the support structure that was put up in October. If you're passing the Orchard, do take some.

The trees that we grafted at the workshop in March are doing well. About 80% of the grafts were successful - which means about 18 trees will be grown on for the plant sale in May 2016. 

One of the orchard volunteers, Pete, is learning how to make films and will be making a short film about Orchard49. More on this when we know more.

Next week another group of corporate volunteers will be helping out on the orchard, and the allotment site. Let's hope the weather is kind!

A reminder - we run regular work sessions on Thursday evenings between 6.30 and 8 pm. If you'd like to come along, even if its just to have a look at how the orchard is developing you're very welcome.

Regular evening work sessions resume

The evenings are light enough for the regular evening work sessions to resume. We've changed the date from a Monday to Thursday, so hope to see some people who weren't able to make Mondays.

During the first session last Thursday Debbie and Lorna were busy tying in the raspberry canes, tidying up the grape vines and thornless blackberry plants that climb up the pergola. We also weeded amongst the trees grafted in March and put some bamboo canes and string around the nursery bed to alert people to the tiny trees.  The majority of the trees grafted have taken, so next May we will be able to sell these to raise some money for Orchard maintenance.

One of the grafted trees
These sessions run from 6.30 - 8 pm.  Do come and lend a hand, even if  you only have half an hour to spare.  Aside from anything else, given how healthy the raspberry canes look, we're going to need plenty of people to pick and eat the fruit so none is wasted.

Some other orchard images to entice you down to lend a hand....
Baby pears

The fruit arch - the trees are growing well

Pergola and bench

Sunny volunteering day, April 2015

On Thursday 23rd April Orchard 49 hosted 10 volunteers from Vodafone.  We'd been approached by Sharon Browne at Community Service Volunteers last year about having a group come and lend a hand on the orchard, and we were lucky that on the day the sun shone!

The volunteers worked really hard - from 10 am til 3.30 pm with a little break for lunch. Having so many people on the Orchard for a whole day makes such a difference at this time of the year. We will be starting our regular Monday evening sessions very soon, and this year we won't feel a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work, because the Vodafone crew did so much!

Team back row left to right: Matt, Amelia, Lee, Cliff, Carl, Simon, Kevin. Front row: Chris, Dan, Emma (photo Debbie)

In the course of the day the shed was re-felted. The felt had come off in one of the winter gales and a team tackled sorting that out before lunch.

Shed re-roofing in progress, Lee and Dan busy at work (photo Chris)

 Another team studiously weeded and mulched all the trees along the path fenceline.

The weeded and mulched fence line trees (photo Debbie)

Amelia (left) and Emma super weeders!  (Photo Debbie)

Bees will be arriving on the Orchard soon, and another task was to prepare the apiary area - which involved digging quite a large area of ground and levelling it. Because it has been so dry the ground (clay) was baked hard, so this was quite a task.

The heavy digging team at work: Pete, Cliff, Lee, Simon and Kevin (photo Chris).
 A donated shed was also re-located - it will be used to store the beekeeping equipment.

Matt and Chris working with Rob re-locating a shed for apiary equipment.

We also weeded and mulched the raspberries and the gooseberries and gave all the trees a welcome water. We use land drainage pipe, put in place when the trees are planted, so that we can be sure that the water is reaching the roots.  As the trees were coming into blossom, this was another really important job.

Finally, some of the crew made some bee boxes, which will be sold to raise funds for the Orchard at one of OTAGS' events.

Emma, Carl and Lee making bee boxes (photo Debbie)
Carl working with Pete on bee boxes (photo Chris).

Completed bee boxes (photo Chris).

It was a lovely time to be on the orchard, as many of the trees were starting to blossom. Here are some images taken on the day.
Apple blossom

Cherries - Stella and Morello

Pear - inherited possibly conference

Grandpa Buxton

One of the pears we grafted in 2012.

A big thank you to everyone for working so hard. Thanks also to Sharon at CSV for putting Orchard49 in touch with the group.

Sunny Saturday Grafting Session

On Saturday 7th March we hosted a grafting workshop. Its the third one that we've organised and we were very pleased to welcome some new faces to learn this skill. Tom Adams ran the session beginning by explaining how grafting works. After that everyone had a chance to practise using willow and then apple wood before taking the plunge and making new trees with the rootstock that Tom had brought for us.

By the end of the day the group 37 trees had been created and 21 of these were planted in a nursery bed on Orchard49. Those that are successful will be sold to raise funds for upkeep of the Orchard. Everyone who participated could also take a tree (or two!) away with them.

We also grafted 2 new varieties for the orchard with cuttings (called scions) Tom brought along. Those two varieties are Pitmaston Pineapple and Golden Noble. We will post more about how the trees are doing later in the year.  Here are some photos of the day.

Firstly we have a table of cuttings - these get grafted (joined) to rootstock and bound together to make a tree using a whip and tongue graft.

The next photos show the process to create a new tree.
Beginning the process - exposing the cambium layer
Making a cut into the wood

Each side of the graft with whip and tongue cut in to allow the pieces to join together

Two pieces joined and bound to protect the graft.
The next series of pictures show the participants hard at work.

From the left: Tom, Georgina, Lorna, Laura, Anuraag, Nikki, Suzy, Alan

From the left: Tom, Georgina and Rupa

From the left: Alan and Robert (Tom, Georgina and Rupa)
Finally the first two trees waiting to go to Orchard49.

Many thanks to Unicorn Grocery for funding the session, it wouldn't have been possible without you. Thanks also to Tom for sharing his skills and to everyone who worked so hard to make new trees on the day. And those trees you took away with you, hope they live many a long year.

Tom can be reached on:  01691 777512 or 07776 498936