Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The orchard tree lifecycle, reversed

I started the day today by winching out an apple tree stump, and finished it by planting a perry pear.

Not in the same spot: planting similar trees in succession is not ideal, as they may suffer from what is known as "replant disease", althought sometimes one does not have a choice in orchards. That apple tree will likely be replaced with another one of the same cultivar, as the collection at RHS Garden Wisley groups two trees of every cultivar together.

Stump hooked

We used a tractor and chain to pull out the tree, which had been previously sawed to a 50-60 cm stump. Reversing into the tree from one of the lanes, we wrapped the chain around the stump, fixing it with the hook.

Gears set on the lowest

Then, with the tractor ticking over (no hand throttle), in minimum gear (tortoise, low, 1 in our case) and just working the clutch (no accelerator) to avoid digging into the ground, we slowly pulled the stump out.
Stump out

To complete the job, we then dug the area clean of any roots that had remained in the soil.

It was a nice job (if we do not consider the poor tree), as I got to use the tractor, which is not something that happens very often here, and you know how much I enjoy it!

More driving of tractors took place in the afternoon when we shifted some compost to the planting area, then dug a pit and planted the first perry pear of the new perry orchard: a majestic tree, in excess of 3 meters tall already at 3 years old!

The first perry pear in the ground

The land had already been marked for the 9 new trees at 7 m each way between each other. We dug a pit, filled with some extra compost as the ground is very sandy here, planted and staked the tree, then mulched with more compost.
Watering arrangements

To make sure we water closer to the roots, because there will be no irrigation in the perry orchard, we planted next to the tree a section of pipe with holes throughout, 40 cm long by 10 wide, filled with expanded clay aggregate.

Heeled in for tomorrow

We heeled in the remaining 8 trees, to be planted tomorrow: some have rather interesting names, like 'Gin' and 'Green Horse', 'Hendre Huffcap' and 'Judge Amphlett'!

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