Apple Grafting & Cemetery Wood – Early Spring Maintenance

Join us this Easter weekendgrafted-apple-tree

Apple Grafting – Saturday 26th for apple tree grafting at Bridge End Cottage. We have acquired a selection of traditional apple variety scions and a quantity of root stocks. Grafting is a form of propagating new fruit trees using buds or twigs – the ‘scion wood’ from an existing tree and fusing it onto a branch or stem of another tree – ‘the rootstock’, which is selected for size, suitability to site and tolerance of certain soil conditions. Grafting produces clones of known fruit varieties. This technique is thousands of years old and is the only way to guarantee that the fruit grown on a new tree is the variety we want. Simply planting the seeds of our favourite fruit will produce new varieties with unknown qualities.

There are two main techniques for grafting fruit trees – whip grafting, where a short piece of scion wood is attached to the rootstock in late winter/early spring, producing a single stem one-year old tree by the following summer. Bud grafting occurs where a single bud is attached to an actively growing rootstock in summer time. Whip grafting allows the tree to develop more quickly because it uses a larger piece of the scion wood however bud grafting produces a straighter tree and a stronger union.

Spring Maintenance – Sunday 27th (weather permitting) It is now two years since the trees were planted in Cemetery Wood and we want to give them a good start to the 2016 growing season so plan to clear the weeds around them and add some mulch. Unfortunately the weather forecast for Saturday is “heavy rain” so we are planning to do this on SUNDAY. We also plan to cut some paths through the trees and have lots more things to plant.2014-05-17 14.53.54

2014-05-17 13.15.06

Everyone is welcome to help on either or both days, just turn up or contact Jo on 01978 821869 for more details.

Apple Pressing on Sept 27th at Ruabon Rec 12.30 till 4.00

Its that time of year when the apples that have been ripening in the autumn sunshine start to fall – but what to do with them all? Apple pies and tarts are obvious choices but how about turning the surplus into delicious apple juice and perhaps some of that into cider?
2014-08-25 13.18.13
Start saving your washed out plastic milk bottles and bring them along with your apples, picked and windfalls to Ruabon Food Fest on the 27th September and turn them into juice. Growing Ruabon volunteers will be there with all the equipment need to help you prepare, press and bottle them for you to take home.
2014-08-25 13.53.302014-08-25 13.55.222014-08-25 14.28.07
Fresh apple juice can be kept in the fridge for several days until drunk or it can be frozen (in plastic bottles) and kept for much longer. Natural yeasts will ferment the juice unless it is pasteurised and so it can be dangerous to store fresh juice in glass bottles as the fermentation process can create enough pressure for the bottle to explode.
2014-08-30 22.12.14Cordons-in-pots-0901599
Apple pressing is great fun for everyone so come along and have a go. Don’t worry if you have not got any apples we have lots to share! You may be inspired to grow your own fruit tree at home? There is room for an apple tree in every garden.

Mowing without noise – the power of the scythe

As a lad growing up on a market garden in the 60’s I was often given the task of mowing the grass that grew along the path beside our field to make a small quantity of winter hay for our goats. The tool for this job was an English scythe, a heavy beast with a long steel blade that seemed to only stay sharp for about three cuts. In my dads hands this contraption seemed to glide through the grass with only moderate effort, but as I was 6″ shorter and significantly lighter I certainly earn’t my tea every time I used it. I now own this scythe which has for many years gathered dust at the back of a shed but I confess I had no real inclination to rekindle our relationship, but things change.
With the help of volunteers we have planted over 400 trees, creating Cemetery Wood and these little saplings need some help in the battle for light and nutrients with the well established meadow plants sharing their new home. Hence my thoughts returned to the scythe as a low energy solution to this problem, but with a bit of research I found an alternative to my dad’s old scythe – an Austrian scythe.2014-05-24 14.27.26
I do not remember this type of scythe being available when I was a lad but they are very popular now and I was intrigued to find out more. With a bit of research I found the Dyfed Permaculture Farm Trust were holding a short training course in the use of the scythe and also sold the approrpiate equipment to make a start. With a place on the May course booked and the piggy bank raided I headed for Penyboyr yesterday morning where I met eight other trainees and Phil, a champion mower and our instructor.2014-05-24 14.37.42
I soon realised that the simple scythe is actually a highly sophisticated machine that requires a careful set up and precision tuning. We all practised this and built our mowing machines, gaining a healthy respect for the near metre long razor sharp blade before we made our way to a hay meadow. Phil had set it out so we could work in threes cutting six foot swathes across the field. With a little practise under Phil’s expert guidance the lush grass, wet with earlier rain cut as easily as a hot knife through butter and progress accross the field would easily outstrip a strimmer. With only the gentle noise of the blade swishing through the grass it was easy to maintain a conversation and I found the the whole experience very therapeutic.
Which brings me back to Cemetery Wood where you can help with mowing and mulching and learn a little more about the ancient magic of the scythe. If you would like to help please ring Jo on 01978 821869 or contact us through Facebook. Mowing3 25th May 2014

Let the mulching begin – many thanks Gary.

With the Woodland Trust trees (420) now all planted our attention has shifted to mulching the ground around them to suppress weed growth and retain moisture in the soil. Hopefully with less competition for nutrients and water this will allow them to get established and make strong growth.
2014-05-17 13.13.53
Mr Gary Billington has very kindly given us some wood chip and yesterday delivered a big pile of it to the top of the field where we have made a small start.
2014-05-17 13.15.06
2014-05-17 14.53.54
This spring with no grazers in the field it is a riot of colour, firstly with a carpet of dandelions and now another yellow carpet of buttercups providing a veritable feast for wildlife. Purple clover and white daisy flowers are coming out and we are hoping that we are able to record all this diversity and would love your help – email or ring Jo 01978 821869
2014-05-17 14.54.08

2014-05-17 14.54.14