With some time to poddle in the garden this weekend, I went to check the grass growth in the acre field and it’s looking good! You can make out the brown rectangular patch just above the orange netting, where our new veggie patch will be. Come spring this should turn rampant, and we’ve decided to not plant any orchard this year seeing as though it’s getting a bit late and I’m loath to spend money on a slightly risky planting session.
Instead, we’ll blow the budget on getting all the fencing in place that we will need to split the field into the four quarters we want – the vegetable growing quarter, the hay/grazing quarter, the small tree orchard quarter and the larger tree orchard quarter. This year we’ll try and get 4 or 5 sheep in after April to tread the ground down and to eat the grass tops, both encouraging new growth and replacing the need to mechanically roll the ground. They’ll also add usefulÂ fertiliser! We’ll also be able to add chickens as well, so I’ll build a coop or two, and we’ll also be able to plant the hedgerow whips so they can get a good start. This lack of planting of orchard trees will allow us to concentrate on the vegetable patch so we’ll have plenty to do! We’ve changed our minds about half standard and standard trees, and have decided to take things down a peg and use MM106 rootstock for apples, St Julien A for plums, Colt for cherries and Quince A for the pears. This will allow us to grow fruit ‘bushes’ in the smaller fruit tree orchard, to grow to about 9-12ft high and mostly pickable by hand and stepladder. The larger tree orchard will grow to half standard size, so lower branches will be around 1.2m from the ground – hopefully just about high enough to prevent sheep from grazing the fruit when they’re fully grown.
There was also time to dig over our existing veggie patch to let the night frost attack it – the chickens happily came onto the patch to help munch exposed bugs and worms whilst I dug, and added some welcome manure without me having to lift a finger! I lifted the remainder of the large leeks and cabbages, leaving some smaller leeks in to see what happens.