Hello and welcome to our weekly update
We are hoping to update you every Monday with what is going on here at the farm this week.
Last years apples are nearly at an end now, with only a few varieties left, but fear not! The soft fruit is getting going after a slow start due to the cold weather. We are currently picking Strawberries and Raspberries. Rhubarb is still being cut, but it is nearing the end now with only a few weeks left. Gooseberries have started, with a good crop of Invicta picked last Friday. They have proved popular over the weekend at the farmers markets! Weather permitting we should have some more for this weekend.
One of our older Bramley orchards is being grubbed out to replaced with a new pear orchard. This orchard was planted in 1990 on an intensive 4-row bed system, squeezing in 3,580 trees to the hectare. This orchard has cropped very heavily over the last 20 years, but it is time for it to come out and be replaced.
There is a lot of work in planting a new orchard, firstly the existing trees have all the branches cut off, leaving just the trunks. Then the trees are pulled up with a digger, removing most of the root ball. The roots are then cut off and the trunk cut up for firewood.
Once the trees are out of the ground, it will be sub-soiled to a depth of 18" at 90° to each other. This breaks up any compacted soil and brings some of the nutrient rich sub-soil up to the surface so that the worms and soil born bacteria can break it down into a form that the trees can use.
The orchard then has the correct amount of fertiliser and lime applied. How much depends on the soil analysis results. Once the soil has the correct amount of Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphates, Lime is applied if the pH of the soil is below 6.5. Having the pH of the soil at the correct level makes the trees lives much easier, as it is more able to draw the minerals and trace elements that it needs.
The soil is the power harrowed and rolled, this makes sure the fertiliser and lime is spread evenly in the 18" topsoil band. Once the soil is rolled the new orchard is marked out with pegs and string. Not very high tech, but it works!
Keep checking this weekly update to see progress reports on the new orchard. Hopefully it will all be planted and ready in the Winter of 2016/17.