Friday, 5 August 2016
It's now 16 months since our orchard was planted. Most of the trees are thriving with some slower growers too. This year we had to increase the height of the tree guards to combat our tall sheep. It was a time consuming task but an important investment for the future success of the orchard (we hope). 90% of the timber used was recycled from donated pallets. A big thank you to local businesses; A&M Timber, Reid and Robertson, Fraser C. Robb and Stirling's Low Carbon Future.
Friday, 23 October 2015
FORAGERS’ ORCHARD TAKES SHAPE
231 apples trees (9 cider varieties augmented by some desserts, cookers and crabs) were planted in late March 2015 on an old, long-established wildflower and grass meadow.
|The planning stage was a vital part of the process|
|Newly planted trees - March 2015|
|To stake or or not to stake - that was the question??|
|"Gonny hurry up!" Florrie one of our black face ewes |
looks longingly towards the orchard.
Thankfully I'm on the mend and thanks to the meds and some extra hands provided by friends near and far (as well as our 3 magnificent sons) the tree guards are completed and the orchard is finally ready for the sheep again.
Our next task in the orchard will be the first pruning over the winter. It'll be a few years before before we get a decent crop of cider apples but so far we're encouraged by the health and growth of the young trees. We anticipate our first batch of blended craft cider will be available in 2017/18.
|Stages of building tree guards.|
- Order materials
- Use jig to mark out holes for posts (pinch bar and watering can are vital tools when forming the holes)
- Place jig above holes
- Position posts and drive in approx 50cm
- Screw in bottom and top rails
- Fit galvanised wire mesh ensuring good tension (helps strengthen the structure)
- I made a simple timber platform to raise the roll of wire mesh and the pinch bar was useful for keeping it vertical
- Completed tree guard
Now for the boring bit for all the anoraks out there (I'm now one too)...
231 Rabbit guards
231 Sheep guards
690m galvanised wire mesh
about 8000 staples
|"Lambchop," our adopted wether is glad to get back into the orchard|
with "the girls" after 7 months to inspect the job.
Wednesday, 5 August 2015
Fresh Cut Herbs Now Ready for Harvesting
We are now in full swing in this our first season. We're still doing lots of building work in the polytunnels (raised beds and irrigation systems), erecting tree guards in our cider orchard (a bit of a Forth Rail Bridge job) and developing what will be our cider house & studio.
The crazy cold & wet spring/summer has meant that many plants are quite late (especially the tomatoes). As a result, we have decided to hold off on salad leaves until next year (perhaps we were a bit overly optimistic).
Hopefully next season we will be approaching full steam with a wider range of products. Please feel free to suggest anything you think we could grow that you need.
Gary & Jo McAlpine, Foragers Foods
- Dill (75p/20g)
- Dill pollen (90p/20g)
- Fennel leaves (75p/20g)
- Salsosa soda (land seaweed) (£2.22/100g). A Mediterranean vegetable with thin succulent needle like leaves that grow on small bushy plants and is used mainly in Umbria and Lazio in pasta, seafood and fish dishes. The recommendation is to cook it in boiling water until the leaves soften, and to serve while some bite remains (much like Samphire). It can also be eaten raw; it is said to "taste grassy and slightly salty with a pleasant crunchy texture.
- Spearmint (80p/25g) (£1.75/100g)
- Lemon balm (80p/25g) (£1.75/100g)
- Salad burnet (80p/25g) (£1.75/100g)
- Rosemary (small quantities in 1st year) (90p/20g)
- Thyme (£1.15/20g)
- Lavendar (£1.90/50g). Also some potted plants @ £4.50
- Hyssop (£1.62/50g). The leaves and flowers of Hyssop have a licorice-minty taste, and indeed this plant is related to the Mints. The leaves can be used to flavour green salads, poultry stuffing (with sage), chicken soup, apple stews, pies or flans although should be used sparingly, as the flavour is very strong.
- Sage (90p/20g)
Coming soon (download flyer):
- Tomatoes (6 varieties) available Aug/Sept (£2.20/270g, £8.15/kg)
- Small quantity of chillies Sept/Oct (£1.50/100g)
Next year (download flyer):
- French Tarragon (90p/20g)
- Borage & borage flowers (£TBC)
- Salad Leaves (£TBC)
Please email your requirements to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are happy to deliver larger orders (over £25) free of charge to local restaurants & cafés etc. If you'd prefer to visit Foragers to collect your order of fresh cut herbs, please contact Gary or Jo to arrange a suitable time. Mobile 07939 517685.
Tuesday, 2 June 2015
Since not all of the plants we're growing in the polytunnels are edible we thought we should purchase a new domain name, so we have opted for foragers.scot which we think will cover all bases. This year we have some Sweet Pea, Antirrhinum (Snapdragon), Lavender and Lemon Balm which will be available for sale at both Kippen Street Fayer and Balfron Primary School Fair on Saturday June 13th.
Friday, 3 April 2015
We are delighted to have now completed the task of planting all 231 trees into our orchard.
Our next task is to build guards round the young trees to protect them from our small flock of blackface ewes who manage the grass far more effectively (and less costly) than a mechanised solution. Thankfully we have until November this year to complete the job.
|9 cider varieties, 2 cooker varieties, 2 dessert varieties|
and some crabs to encourage pollinators.
Thursday, 26 March 2015
With the windbreak/deer fence now complete and the sheep decanted to another area we are now marking out the location of the trees. OCD was kicking in so I think our lines are straight enough and spacing accurate using a low tech method with 5m measuring planks and sight lines. All being well we anticipate our first batch of blended craft cider will be available in 2018.
|Bad light stopped play, but managed to get almost half the orchard "pegged out"|
|All posts are numbered according to our orchard plan.|
|Prototype tree protection. Scratching posts for the sheep.|
|4 weeks of scratching and they appear to be up to the job. Time will tell.|
|Our low tech method of measuring planks and sight lines has worked well.|
Tuesday, 17 March 2015
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