Wassailing

More than forty people joined us for our third annual wassailing in the orchard area, with Sue’s apple cake, some cider made from fruit from the tree on the allotment boundary with Waterworks Road and other refreshments ably overseen by Amanda

The Petersfield Community Choir joined us again to sing a number of traditional wassailing songs.

Emily and Keith then gave a practical demonstration of pruning our apple trees, cutting out damaged wood and crossing branches, and trying to encourage an ideal goblet shape.

So here’s to our next growing season.

Wassailing the orchard 17 January

Today is the old date of twelfth night, the traditional date for wassailing orchards and tending to the trees. Following on from our  event last year, we invited the Petersfield Community Choir  to  come and sing to the trees in our orchard area.

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This was followed by Emily and friends from the Grace and Flavour garden in Horsley helping us prune the apple trees

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We shared apple pies and apple cake, washed down with mulled cider and apple juice.

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Pruning apples

David described how to prune apples in winter and then we pruned the trees planted last spring

David considers where to prune on a Bramley
David considers where to prune on a Bramley

Winter pruning is to form the shape of the tree. First cut out any clearly dead or diseased wood, to stop disease spreading. Then cut new growth to form an open bowl shape, so that air can circulate. Select an outward-facing bud, and cut immediately above it – if you leave too much it will die.

Bruce cuts out a central stem
Bruce cuts out a central stem

If you can make your cut with secateurs there should be no need for wound paint: only use it if you have to use a pruning saw or loppers. Distinguish the larger, bumpy buds, which are fruiting buds and will produce flowers in due course, from the smaller vegetative buds.

Louise prunes to an outward bud under David's directions
Louise prunes to an outward bud under David’s directions

We also have a quince. David told us he used to prune his quince tree like an apple, and got very little fruit. On a trip to Germany, he saw heavily laden quinces, and learnt that they never pruned them. Last year he left his alone and got a bumper crop.

Pruning the blackcurrant bushes

On Sunday, Camilla showed us how to prune the black currants to encourage lots of sideshoots and , eventually, fruit.

Before pruning
Before pruning

 

Blackcurrant need to be pruned to an outward facing bud close to the ground

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this leaves very little!

Blackcurrants after pruning
Blackcurrants after pruning

Prunings longer than 20cm can be used as hardwood cuttings: trim off straight below a node at the bottom and ant an angle above a bud near the top.

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Trimming blackcurrant prunings for hardwood cuttings

Then push the cuttings into soft ground: with luck some will take root:

Planting blackcurrant hardwood cuttings
Planting blackcurrant hardwood cuttings

They can be moved to a permanent position next year