Typically the middle weekend of March is the first day we tend to end up down the patch. Nothing to do with any archaic tradition, or bizarre need to get down and dirty with the soil after being shacked up inside over winter. Just that things need doing for the year ahead, and it’s barely warm enough to get outside and do them! The year before last year the geese took it on themselves to nibble a neat, goose-head-high ring of bark (ring bark) from the Beeley Pippin in the big orchard, on MM111 rootstock. Once the layer of bark has been removed from a tree, from every side, the nutrients from the roots can’t flow up to the branches, and the tree dies. Luckily for us it happened in the late summer, and there was enough strength in the branches to keep the tree alive until it entered its winter dormancy period. We pulled it up, but first saved some scions from the healthiest branches, and grafted them. Today was the day we introduced one of the graftings back into the orchard, in the corner furthest from the geese as you can get, for its own sanity. A neat 3′ wide hole, a scattering of blood and bone, and a home made hare guard made from 6mm weld mesh all helped it settle in.
Suz on the other hand must have taken the idea of getting down and dirty with the soil literally, and can be seen standing inside a compost bin. I hasten to add, nothing at all to do with the fact it needed emptying into the adjacent raised bed, and as you can see, the compost bin is rotated 90 degrees to all the others in the line, with the pull out side facing another compost bin rather than side-on, meaning only Mr Tickle could have emptied it whilst standing outside! Oops.