This Friday the 5th of June is World Environment Day and Friends of the Earth tell us that in order to combat global warming we need trees. In fact if we double the number of trees we can help to remove up to 10% of greenhouse gases from our air every year!
At St Michael’s we regularly plant trees and we care for those we already have.
You will know that there are a range of beautiful apple trees in our school orchard, but to keep them in full health , they need a lot of TLC and attention.
We are lucky enough to have Mrs. Prout who does an amazing job making our school grounds look beautiful. However, there is an awful lot for just one person, so this weekend Matt, who has 10 years experience with an orchard on Dartmoor, volunteered to come in and check up on the trees in the Secret Garden, and the Orchard.
The older trees in the orchard are about 100 years old and are in need of a bit of a hair-cut. Pruning in the summer means that the tree won’t sprout new growth as it is focusing on growing fruit. It does mean that some of the fruit had to be sacrificed, but it will be better for the life of the tree.
Next the smaller trees needed tending. Grass has grown around the base, and some shoots had grown from the graft. (Apples trees are usually grafted onto root stock.)
All the trees you buy for your garden have had this treatment.
To stop the root stock sprouting (and taking energy away from the top part of the tree) the grass was cleared and a mulch is put down.
Then to top is pruned slightly so that you can see the sky through the branches when you lie underneath. Old folk tradition says that a healthy, mature apple tree should be shaped like a goblet, with enough room in the ‘bowl’ to fly a pigeon around.
Most of or wood pigeons seem to spend more time wandering about the school eating tasty scraps from the vegetable garden, and might be too fat to do much flying!
It can’t all be done at once, so the trees will have more pamper sessions in the coming winters, and summers, depending on what they need.
We look forward to eating some of the fruit and even making apple juice and perhaps apple pie, as the year moves on.