Marking out the Orchard

Today’s task was to stick sticks in the ground to show where the fruit trees will eventually be – a great way of getting a good feel for the final look and size of the paper plans. Luckily for me I had a couple of volunteers in the forms of Smiler and Jay. I think it’s probably the first practical use of maths for them both (what is 15 feet add 12 feet?), but so much more fun than sitting in a classroom when you get to hit a piece of wood with a mallet at the end of it!

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More orchard hole digging

Getting into a bit of a rhythm, grabbing time where possible we headed down to the orchard and managed to finish off the small bush orchard quarter, and made a good start on the larger half standard orchard quarter’s holes. I have read that you shouldn’t really dig the holes before the trees arrive – I assume this is to do with frost and the possibility of it lingering in the holes, but with this many trees I couldn’t really see any alternative. I’ll make sure we choose a warm day in which to plant the trees when they arrive. At the moment though, it has a slightly over-sized mole look about it…slightly unnerving…

Hole Digging

With the arrival day of the fruit ‘sticks’ (baby trees in other words) getting ever closer I started to dig the holes for them today, with the idea that ‘little and often’ will stave off the back ache. So 8 holes later and all’s well – over 10% of the holes done (we need 76 holes in total). We’re digging them 3 feet across, using a 36″ adult hulahoop as a template (we chose blue, but any colour will do), then 1 foot deep, with a 4 foot stake hammered another foot in and slightly off centre. We can then backfill the holes once the bare root tree is planted, and we have to keep a 3′ diameter circle around the tree free of weeds and grass for 4-5 years, after which we can let the grass grow up to the trunk and remove the suportive 4′ x 1″ stakes. This is only for the MM106 rootstock and similar trees – the cherry trees on the smaller, weaker Gisela 5 rootstock will need to have the ground kept clear permanently, and a 2.5″ stake in place for the duration of their life.

Here’s hoping we get plenty of sunny days conducive to digging holes – the frost is setting in overnights now, good news for the parsnips and jerusalem artichokes though!