Glendale Avenue micro orchard
So on March 20st we will be leafleting Glendale Avenue houses opposite the site, Mansell Drive, Gilroy Close, Meyrick Drive (between Mansell Drive & Gilroy Close) , Lewis Walk and Phoenix Walk and asking residents to email firstname.lastname@example.org with their views.
For the first time there will also be social media posting on Next Door and Facebook to spread the news. The consultation will run until Sat 2nd April, after which we'll review the answers. If positive we think we can get the trees planted in the 2nd week of April, just in time for the growing season. Otherwise we will use the trees on other sites or store them for a different winter planting.
Here are some frequently asked questions about the trees:
How big are the trees?
Apple rootstocks are deliberately bred to allow trees of different heights and spreads. We plant dwarfing or standard rootstock trees so as the grow the remain easy to harvest, with limited need for ladders to pick fruit. We use M26 rootstock (2½-3m - 8-10ft high) and MM106 rootstock (3-4m - 10-13ft high) which are also tolerant of grass re-growing round the trunk.
What about spacing between trees and protective fencing?
We try to space the trees between 3 and 4m (10-13ft) apart, although on a few sites this was tricky to achieve. This spacing is best for root growth and eventually creates a canopy of branches across the orchard.
We put a small fence around each tree when we plant them. It's about shoulder height at most, held in place by one or two posts - the gallery shows several examples. They apparently make excellent goalsposts. We keep them in place for 3-4 years, depending on how quickly the tree grows and what other activities are taking place on a site.
What Apple varieties do you plant?
We try to plant a selection of local Berkshire varieties in each orchard alongside more well-known apples. Locally bred varieties are suited to the soil and climate of an area and it also increases genetic diversity if we re-introduce local varieties largely forgot or not grown commercially. See the Our Trees page
I'm a resident - what jobs could we help with?
For the first few years the main thing is checking the trees are firmly in place and watering during dry spells. Also, alas, being alert for vandalism - but to date we have NOT lost a tree to vandalism, though the fencing does take a battering.
As our climate is changing, we have had to deal with spells of heavy rain - which has loosened or washed away soil around the trunks and needs replacing - and then hot dry spells where we've organised water rotas for the trees, giving 2-5 litres per tree every few days to get them through a drought.
Pruning takes place in the winter. In the first few years we try to shape the tree as new branches develop and cut back growth and then do maintenance pruning to keep it in shape. We organise pruning events so volunteers can come together and learn about fruit tree care and each tree takes between 15 and 45 minutes to do, depending on how wild it's become!
When do we see a harvest?
Orchards are long term projects. For the first year we deliberately remove any fruit, so the tree put all it's energy into growing. In the following years we thin any fruit to help this continue. Most trees will start to fruit into some extend after 2-3 years, but don't expect a decent harvest for at least 5-6 years. Due to poor weather and soils some of our sites have taken 7 year to get a decent harvest.
We also plant varieties that ripen at different times throughout the autumn, so there isn't a glut at one time of year. The range of picking times is between late August and early November and we label each tree so you know when to harvest.