NewsWe already grow a number of herbs, flowers and soft fruits for our bar. This spring, however, we embarked on a new and exciting planting project, with the aim of growing on a greater scale. In doing so, we hope to have access to a number of rare and more interesting flavoured varieties which are simply not commercially available. Not to mention herbicide free!
Here are some recent photos of what we've been up to lately...
Pruning newly planted rootstock
When digging in new trees Charles hit a horizontal plane of rock and pavestones, along with the following ceramic artefacts, which are currently being analysed at the British Museum.
Our planting project begins
In february we began putting our rootstock in the ground. We planted a total of 80 fruit bushes, ranging from gooseberries, tayberries, jostaberries and currants to five different varieties of raspberry, and even eight grape vines (Somerset vermouth anyone?). On top of this we put eighteen trees in the field beyond, namely plums, gages, cherries, cider apples and a walnut.
At Brogdale, John shared some little-known piece of advice on the subject of planting, especially when the roots of your chosen plant, shrub or tree have become pot-bound (see the below photo of a young tree having it's roots severed by a shovel!).
As our fruit needed protecting, a perimeter fence needed constructing (many thanks to our good friend and agricultural consultant, Sophia, for her time and expertise) and it was all hands on deck. A total of thirty-odd posts needed hammering into the ground, all surrounded in cables and wire to keep out the rabbits and livestock which graze nearby. It was slow going, painful (we nearly lost a team member to that post-thumping thing), but necessary work.
Brogdale Fruit Collection – Pruning Workshop
In February we visited Brogdale in Kent, which is home of the national fruit collection. Brogdale is famous for the numerous varieties of apples, pears and other fruits that it seeks to preserve, and, luckily for us, many of these are available to buy in springtime as rootstock. We're proud to say that this is where all the fruit for our new planting project comes from!
In addition, we recently attended a winter pruning workshop in the apple orchards, with John Easton, who used to be the Experiments Officer, Technical Co-ordinator and Glasshouse manager at East Malling Research station. John took us round the orchards, and demonstrated various techniques of pruning methods for establish fruit trees, which will become crucial to us in time, as our own trees mature.
Having read a fair amount of RHS guides to pruning over the past year or so, and practised this on our existing fruit bushes and young trees, it soon became clear how little we knew on the subject of pruning in comparison to John's years of horticultural experience at East Malling (see general confusion below).
John covered an enormous amount of 'orchard husbandry', which ensures the trees continue to bear a good crop of fruit, even in later life, maintain a supple framework of laterel branches (as opposed to 'stiff'), 'open' in form (as opposed to crowded growth), and as free from disease as possible.
Part of this workshop also involved learning how to make a variety of cuts to influence directional growth, whilst keeping the risk of infection at a minimum and promote faster healing where pruning was necessary.