Let your Orchard go Wild!

20 December 2012
Written by Kath Irvine | Images by Kath Irvine
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I hope you are keeping up with your irrigation here - especially around your new fruit trees, and any bearing fruit trees. You need to check the soil once a week.  Save yourself a lot of work and water, by retaining as much moisture as possible. Do this by heavily mulching, growing a living mulch of comfrey and herbs; leaving surrounding grasses/ wildflowers to grow long; having robust soils.  

In the Orchard

Your other half will probably find it hard, but see if you can convince him that mows obsessively to let the orchard go wild!

Leaving the grasses/ wildflowers long beneath your fruit trees over summer will bring you a multitude of benefits. 

  • Soil protection, 
  • water retention,
  • the perfect setting for romancing your loved one!
  • fodder and habitat for beneficials, 
  • enough carbon mulch to do your autumn fruit tree mulching when you harvest the grasses end of summer 
  • harvesting the long grass will give a wonderful dump of carbon into the soil - the roots will prune when you chop the tops down 

Now that's smart gardening!

If you let your trees dry out you’ll notice pests like bronze beetle and cherry pear slug, and your harvests will be inferior (you don’t expect juicy fruits from trees grown in parched soil now do you)

I love December for fresh strawberries - a sure sign that summer is in. The birds noticed before I did and had a jolly good feed. On went the birdnet and we’ve been enjoying fresh strawberries ever since! Planting your strawbs in autumn is the key for big summer crops. 

The Redcurrants are coming along fast and I’m going to beat the birds by birdnetting now. You get alot of fruit in a small space if your currants are happy – such a good value fruit to grow. 

For those of you stuck for Christmas present ideas how about a bottle of elderflower cordial? The flowers are all opening up now and a bottle of cordial is a fine thing.

For those that need a stiff drink at the end of the day its lovely with ice and vodka or infact with bubbles; for the kids minus the vodka and plus water (our kids love it).

For quick puddings fruit with elderflower cordial is a match made in heaven (can also add booze if it’s a grownup affair and it’s been one of those tiring Christmas days)

Elderflower cordial

- Bring 1.5 litres of water and 2kg sugar to the boil and stir till the sugar has dissolved.
- Pick 30 elderflower heads (early in the morning before all the insects arrive!)
- Give them a good shake to remove insects and put in a large bowl or bucket.
- Slice up 3 lemons (or the equivalent of limes or a mix) and add to the flowers.
- Pour over the boiling sugar and water, add 1 tsp of citric acid. Cover and leave for a day.
- Strain and bottle.

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