It was many weeks ago when the last of our orchard trees arrived. As the planting site was not ready and the weather was poor, we healed them in, in one of the vegetable beds. Before we ordered the trees we had found somebody to give us a hand preparing the planting sites, as this is quite a big job with 18 trees to deal with, but we were let down and it took a while to find somebody else to help us out. Last week, though, we finished moving them from their temporary site to the orchard. I am sure that the healing in is not detrimental, and it is, or at least was, a common enough practice, but one ought to plant out whilst the trees are still dormant. Thanks to the mild spring, they broke into growth early this year, and it was rather late to move them. We had no choice, however, so moved them with as much care as possible, aiming to minimise the disturbance of the new root growth. Continue reading
Whilst inspecting the bee hives today, we noticed that one of the nut trees planted recently had been savaged, with all of the young growth eaten. Given the height and nature of the damage, it seems almost certain that deer are the culprits. Something will need to be done to try to exclude them from this future orchard site. There is certainly no point in planting further trees until the deer can be effectively excluded. It is not obvious where they are gaining entry, as we have a particularly large and thick privet hedge running along the open side, yet we have in the past seen deer force their way through the hedge. The chestnut may regrow reasonable shoots, in which case we will keep it, otherwise it will be replaced. Some chicken wire was placed temporarily around the tree to deter further damage. Interestingly, the walnut, planted at the same time, was not touched. It is always so disappointing when plants are lost to pests, especially permanent planting such as fruit and nut trees.
The planting of the orchard, planned for the coming winter, all being well, had a headstart today with the addition of two new trees at the far end of the plot: a walnut and a chestnut. It is not the ideal time for planting, but these trees were bought during the winter and heeled in in one of the vegetable borders. They should have been planted out several months ago and had to be moved now because the recently planted winter squash plants will soon taken over that bed. Continue reading