How the Orchard was developed
In 2000, the allotment gardens (on
Canal Laneto the north-east of Hose) were becoming disused, especially on the part nearest to the village. The very becoming over-grown and invaded by blackthorn scrub and used as a dump for the usual freezers and mattresses. The idea of clearing half the area and planting 50-odd fruit-trees seemed to be a good solution to an eye-sore and to add to the amenities of the village. The Hose Community Orchard Association (HCOA) was formed in July 2000, with the remit of drawing up a scheme to develop the concept.
The allotments are owned by the Parish Council of Clawson Hose & Harby and the council agreed a proposal from the HCOA to use the area. The association was very grateful to be awarded grants from Melton Millenium Fund and from Leicestershire Environmental Action Fund (LEAF) that allowed the project to go ahead.
The physical hard work started next, with rubbish being removed, hedges trimmed & laid, and the whole site rotivated, courtesy of John Mackley and his large red mechanical friend! The area was fenced off from the adjacent paddock and active allotments, with post & rail and sheep-wire; gates were installed; stones were hand picked and perennial weeds removed. There was lots of willing help for this work:
The fencing team
Ben, Fergus & Edward
John Mackley at work
David & Brian at work
Meanwhile, a list of suitable trees was agreed and sourced, and the site was planned. We chose to use semi-dwarfing rootstocks, so that the trees would be a good size but manageable. With 6 metres between them, we reckoned that we could get 53 trees into the area and just hope that the spacing is enough - but only time will judge our decision! We asked the villagers whether they would be prepared to sponsor a tree at £20 - the response was overwhelming and every tree was sponsored!
The trees arrived for planting in early January 2001. Holes were dug and leaf-mould heaped in the bottom. Each hole had a watering pipe run to the bottom of the hole and a 1m posts hammered home. During some warmer weather the trees were planted, - if they were available - by the sponsors. The trees were secured to the stakes with rubber tree-ties and the bases were protected against rabbit attack with spiral covers.
Spring of 2001 was extremely wet, and a nice pond developed, leaving some trees looking a bit like inhabitants of a mangrove swamp. We debated whether to move some trees and create a wildlife pond, but decided to install drains. We used a manual trenching machine, to excavate to a gentle incline at about 18" depth, laid flexible slotted pipe and filled back to the surface with gravel (using John Mackleys invaluable tractor to ferry bags of ballast along the trenches:
Using the trenching machine
A tangle with pipes
The slotted pipe empties into an adjacent dyke.The drains are operating successfully; we've had no problem since.
We used Roundup to kill off the new flush of weeds; did a light rotivation and then seeded with a mixture of low maintenance grass seed with the following mixture:
In the Autumn of 2001,
we planted bulbs around the edge of the site. Stuart Spence (the Hose Farrier)
welded up small name-plates on stakes and Mr Heap from
We are encouraging wild flowers to invade, but the grass (despite is being predominately weaker strains) is very lush on the fertile allotment soil. This may prevent some species establishing.
The trees started to fruit in 2004 in a very small way. 2005 was rather disappointing, with lots of blossom, but not much fruit ripened. This year (2006) the trees are beginning to fruit heavily & we can expect a good crop.
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