We visited an orchard yesterday with Men in Sheds and Byron the farm apprentice.
I’d been told that we would be visiting a Permaculture project but, once more, I discovered that the farmer isn’t quite clear on what Permaculture is. There were no ponds, no zones and no ducks. There were, however, bees, bullfinches and a feeling of peace so it was still well worth a visit. This was particulalrly true of the more mature, less intensive end of the field, where arching trees and unmown wild flower meadow provided an experience like being in a green cathedral.
It may not be permaculture, and it’s not even organic, but it is run with a feeling for nature. Despite some clear ill-feeling on the matter of Bullfinches the owner was still able to tell us he had seen a group of them using the bird baths he provides. There’s one variety of pear tree, and I’m afraid I’ve forgotten which one, where the bullfinches don’t just eat the fruit buds but actually cripple the tree by taking the leaf buds too.
I forgot most of what I was told about the number of varieties he grows – though I did manage to photograph a list of 33 gooseberries. (He actually claims to have around 60 varieties of gooseberry in all) There are 17 varieties of cherry. He also has blackcurrants, redcurrants, white currants and pink currants, plus apples, pears, fourteen sorts of fig and a medlar. That’s just the stuff I can remember.
This is a picture of a plum tree with Plum Pox Virus (or Sharka virus if you want a more interesting name for it). I hadn’t heard of it until the visit. Treatment is to take the tree out and destroy it.