Summer pruning at Langley Vale Wood Orchard
On Tuesday this week, staff and volunteers met to undertake some important orchard management. Langley Vale Wood’s orchard is sponsored by our Woodland Trust’s long-term partner Sainsbury’s and was planted in 2017. Our team of orchard volunteers have been looking after the new orchard since and have been instrumental in ensuring the young fruit trees have the best chance of developing into healthy mature ones.
The primary objective of this work session was formative pruning of our stone fruit trees (varieties of plum & damson). Stone fruits need to be pruned during the summer months, whereas fruit trees such as apples and pears can be pruned at any time of the year (though at Langley Vale Wood, we usually prune our apple and pear trees during the winter months). Long term orchard volunteers Jennifer and Sue were on hand to advise and share their expertise on the art of pruning fruit trees!
“It was great to see many of our regular Orchard Volunteers back on site, and to welcome a couple of new people. We are hoping to build on this very productive session in a further series of work parties, to bring the orchard back to the point it was at before lockdown” said Jennifer whilst pruning!
Earlier this year, volunteers applied a well composted, fine bark mulch to the base of the trees, and during this session they were also able to remove some of the weeds that have grown within the mulch circles at the base of the trees. The team also checked the trees for general health and any issues, repairing a few of the tree supports and adjusting the vole guards that protect the base of the trees.
The team were fortunate to sample some of the ripening stone fruits on the session. Guy Kent who is the Assistant Site Manager at Langley Vale Wood was lucky to try what many call the finest gage in the orchard!
“I particularly recommend the Old Greengage variety of plum, which is deliciously sweet!”
The task finished in true woodland work party fashion, with a socially distanced catchup, whilst enjoying delicious fruit cake kindly made by Sue.
Sadly, the weekend before this session our apple and pear trees were stripped of all their fruit by unknown individuals in a single visit. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened. Despite erecting signage and providing information on site and even the locking the orchard to the public during last harvest season, this continues to happen. It’s especially dispiriting for our volunteers, who work so hard to keep our orchard trees happy and healthy. We’ll be looking further into how we can address this issue, starting with developing ties with volunteer groups managing similar orchards on Woodland Trust’s estate. Hopefully we can share experiences, and learn from each other on how to best tackle such issues.
Our sincere thanks go to all the volunteers who work so hard to tend and care for our fruit trees at Langley Vale Wood.
Words supplied by Guy Kent, Assistant Site Manager at Langley Vale Wood