On 3rd August lucky group of about 20 escaped the worst of the weather to enjoy a (mostly) sunny day of summer pruning, scything, socialising and lazing at the Mosser orchard. In addition, Jane Orgee did an interesting study of the insect life in the meadow.

Summer is a fairly quiet time in the orchard - mostly enjoying the sunshine and watching the apples grow - but there are a few (pleasant) jobs to do. Fruit can be thinned to maximise fruit size; trees (particularly trained forms) can be pruned to maximize next year's crop; and the understory meadow should have finished flowering by mid-late July and be ready for mowing with a scythe to allow access for picking.

So this event focused on these activities. However, they were not compulsory, so members could just come along and watch the others work while enjoying the traditional NCOG tea/cake/juice/cider/banter. For those interested in cider making we will also reviewed progress of the 2018 cider.

After Mark demonstrated scything (and, most importantly, sharpening - see below), several members had a go with, it has to be said, mixed success: some got the hang of it very quickly and cut quite a bit of meadow, while others learned well but needed a bit more practice.

Mark demonstrating peening (cold forging) of a scythe blade to get a thin edge for sharpening

Chris explained the reasons for summer pruning - to restrict growth, allow better airflow and sunlight to the currrent fruit ant to encourage fruiting next year. He then demonstrated this on some suitable specimens:

Meanwhile, Jane explored the uncut meadow and discovered a wide variety of insect wildlife - see the various photos and the list of species attached.

Finally, the 2018 cider was tasted. One batch was excellent and ready for packaging but the other needed a bit more time to develop.

Report by Mark Evens; Saturday, 3 August 2019

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