As the Friends of Pleasley Community Orchard is a member of the Greenwood Community Forest collective of local volunteer groups, we decided to host a workshop which could be attended by anyone in the local community as well as members from the other groups.
We chose to explore how best to prune our orchard’s trees and were put in touch with a respected orchard expert, John Starkey, who runs a couple of commercial orchards in the nearby town of Southwell.
Thirty-seven people in total, from the very young to those who are retired gathered in the orchard’s outdoor classroom, where we heard John’s wise words on how to prune and care for our trees. Everyone learned at least one new thing, and some of us realised we needed to make some changes to how we were currently caring for our trees.
After a much needed hot drink, John showed us practically by selecting a Bramley and proceeding to take the secateurs to it at various places. The first cut elicited a “Noooo!!” from several of the group, as what we saw seemed quite savage, but was very necessary to ensure the correct shape and productivity in the future. As we selected trees – apple or pear at this time of the year – we soon overcame that shock and began pruning away.
Our attention then turned to the oldest tree in the orchard, our “Apple Tree Man”. At this point some of the working party had to leave but some of us carried on and saw how to take an old gnarled, unkempt tree and shape it into something which will be much more productive and less susceptible to the various diseases and splitting that can occur in unmanaged trees. After a couple of hours, some hard pruning and sawing away of old broken limbs left us with a much smaller, better shaped tree that will let air and light through its branches, to produce better crops in the coming years.
Overall this was an excellent kick start to our gardening group that we’re hosting each second Saturday of the month and we look forward to welcoming others from our local community to dig in and help bring this wonderful place to even more fruition.
A huge thanks to John Starkey for sharing his life-long expertise with us, Gill Grievson (Greenwood & Conservation Projects Officer) for advertising the workshop and everyone who came along and enjoyed a cold, but informative morning in our orchard.