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How to plant an orchard

This is it, the trees are going in! Nearly two years of planning have come down to a simple and humble task of digging a hole and popping a tree theory!

It was a little bit more tricky considering the decision to plough the field earlier in the Spring - the job of digging and planting resulted in heavy clods of earth on our boots which felt like moon boots after a while. I swear I grew by half a foot by the end of the day!

We had 40 trees to plant which consisted of unique local apple varieties best suited to the climate and soil conditions of the region. I had previously placed bamboo canes throughout the field at intervals measuring 4 metres by 4 metres. This would allow ample room for the trees to grow and enable access for a small tractor to mow the grass between the rows and for harvesting later on. There was also an area left for storing harvesting baskets and crates in addition to a barn to be constructed - somewhere to have a good cup of tea.

Each tree had a specific routine as we planted - I'm quite fastidious about this as we have many wildlife visitors who like to munch on young saplings - For these local trees it should give a good start as it grows (based upon our soil and aspect) :

Dig hole (one spit depth - a spades depth)
Hammer in sturdy wooden stake
Fertilise hole with Phosphate and Potassium and on removed soil pile - blend
Apply mycorrhizal powder to establish natural beneficial symbiotic fungi
Place tree in hole - make sure it's at the same level as the pot/below graft
Replace some soil - firm in with toe lightly
Add remaining soil - firm in with heel firmly
Use tree tie
Fit a vole/mice guard at the base of the tree
Fit a wire mesh cage around the tree - protoects from deer damage (we have a few of these!)
Attach apple variety label
Attach a small block of smelly soap - keeps the deer away
A good glug of water

The local variety apple orchard - snugly in the ground
Specific apple types can only pollinate specific others so I have about 5 of each variety planted - these run in rows east to west on the field to aid pollination with a few crab apples which pollinate all varieties equally.

Here's the plan! Local varieties are in green at the top with remaining cider varieties in red below. The black lines indicate access routes - useful when we collect and store the fruit. I've left some space to add extra trees and to have a small camping site near the stream.

40 trees are planted - Bamboo canes mark out the remaining orchard

Each time I visit the orchard I'm greeted by a couple of friendly (and hungry) horses - they never fail to slobber all over my car|! I'm sure that given the chance they would scrump the apples in the future!

Looking good...

Its great to see all your hard work and plans coming together  

I'm putting a hundred more in early new year. Do you fancy a holiday in Wales?

Im running a planning, planting & pruning event here on Saturday.  Its full as is the next one in January.

Ive just been co-opted on as publicity person for a local Apple Group which looks like fun and will give me an interest in spring.

I really wish that there was something going on like that around here Lorraine.

bodger wrote:
I really wish that there was something going on like that around here Lorraine.

Do you remember saying that you wanted something to do in the evenings?

Could do with things like this around here, evenings or day events.
Unfortunately nothing and times I've mentioned such things, greeted with blank faces........

This is great, everyone's doing their bit for the humble apple tree. Really good to hear about your own plantings!

Might have to see what the plan is in the New Year Bodger, I have another 50 or 60 trees to get in and hope to spend the year visiting other people and their orchards, a kind of cider tour of the UK.

Lorraine - I like the idea of getting local community and gardening groups together to help learn how to plant trees. This is the aim of the remainder of the orchard - I'll let the local wildlife and apple groups teach people how to measure for the trees and to plant and protect each one. May have to have a constant supply of mulled cider to keep them going!

Keep in touch with all your ventures - should be a good time for new apples next year.

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