Clearing the ground for new orchard

A new orchard is set to be planted at Horsenden in Spring 2022. On Friday 8 October the Horsenden orchardeers began the serious business of clearing the overgrown area where the trees will be planted.

Dagmar, Justin and Liz build a dead hedge

The two resident Horsenden cows, Bramble and Ilex had already done a lot of hard work for us. Cows love brambles and branches and they wasted no time munching through the dense undergrowth.

Luckily the weather was on our side and our team of volunteers, Dagmar, Liz, Elsa, Justin, Michael, Lynda and our Ranger Jon, got stuck in.

We had piles of dead wood to clear, the larger branches we used to strengthen a dead hedge and the smaller pieces went on a bonfire. Some branches with juicy leaves went to the cows.

Much of the dead wood was on the ground but we also had to chop down a few small trunks.

Michael, Justin and Liz loading another trunk to their dead hedge

Lunch was jacket potatoes with cheese and beans. Dagmar made the most delicious raspberry muffins and Justin brought chocolate, setting us up with enough energy to finish the day

It was a very productive day and a great team effort.

The orchard team has their work cut out clearing this overgrown area

Saturday 20 November.

Breaking up the branches for burning

Our second clearing session saw the orchard team in competition with the hedgelaying team who were learning traditional hedgelaying skills. On Team Orchard we had Liz (who for a while was cajoled onto the other side), Joolz, Penny, Elsa, Michael, Simon and Lynda, with Ranger Jon supervising and Ranger James taking photos. We got lots more clearing done and had a bonfire with the branches we removed.

There are lots of jobs to be done before we are ready to plant the trees. Among the tasks are pollarding the taller willow trees to a height of about 2m and trimming a large oak tree. This is to allow the light in so the orchard gets enough to succeed.

Dead trees will need to be cut down and others that are in line with the hedge can be cut down to the hedge line. We’ll have another bonfire and start thinking about creating a living hedge in front of the dead hedge to add extra animal proof security.

Joolz hard at work

Lots to be done and we hope to expand the team in coming weeks and months. Go Horsenden Orchardeers!