Back in January on a crisp frosty fun day, the Friends of QEII Daniel Park, volunteers and residents planted 35 apple trees with the help of locally based A&M Hardy Contractors. Having survived the winter months, the trees then produced a wonderful display of apple blossom which was a joy to behold along with an abundance of cowslips in the adjoining meadow.
The trees are now in full leaf and continuing to thrive which is good. However, so are the weeds around the base of the trees, which is not so good. But, thanks to the dedication of Friends and volunteers, especially Brian Rampton for his continuing help, the orchard is being kept tidy and weed free for all to enjoy.
We have been asked who will manage the orchard. The grass cutting is carried out by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council as they manage the Field. Friends, however, are responsible for the management of the orchard so do contact us if you have any queries about the apple trees.
A draft Landscape Management Plan for the whole site is currently being drawn up between Friends and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, which sets out the detailed maintenance objectives and requirements. The final version will hopefully be agreed in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, it is the trees’ first year of growth as a community orchard so they need all the help they can get for successful establishment, especially during hot, dry spells in the summer months. Arrangements for watering is important as there is no water source on site. The Fire Service have kindly volunteered to water the orchard whenever possible, which should be quite a spectacle and we are assured it will be carried out gently! However, as other options also need to be considered, we would be pleased to hear from anyone who is willing to water trees as and when during dry periods.
Visitors to the orchard will have noticed that some but not all of the young trees are already bearing fruit, depending on the variety. We are all keen to pick our first apples but, to further assist establishment of the trees, it is advisable to remove these fruits as soon as possible, at least in the first year or two of growth. That said, we have let one or two fruits develop as this can be useful to check that we have the right cultivars as mistakes can sometimes happen. Friends will be removing fruits so do not be alarmed if all the young apples have disappeared by the time you read this. It is for the right reasons and a bountiful harvest will soon be with us!
Please contact us on 07979 908004 if you would like to find out more or help with ongoing management of the QEII Field and community orchard.