Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The second day of the course was held up at Stanmer Park, just on the edge of Brighton. We used the amazing off-grid earthship as a base - it uses passive solar heating via a huge thermal mass of rammed earth partly contained in old car tyres on its North side. Those are empty bottles in the wall outside.

There's LOTS going on at the park - everytime I go there it looks more and more interesting and obviously more and more people are getting involved in different projects - a wealth of practical experience.

This is inside the willow dome at Stanmer - a beautiful natural structure which glows inside with a gentle green light.

These are two pictures from the orchard - note the nettle layer beneath the apple trees. It has been left there on purpose as its a very nutritious food. I know its not difficult to grow...

That's me below posing with a tree which I helped to prune earlier in the year on the Fruit Tree Renovation and Pruning Course. I'm proud to say that the tree has not only survived but is looking very healthy. The course was extremely useful and skills I picked up helped a lot when Clive and I were pruning olive trees in Portugal - see posts below.

Bryn explaining about different ways of propagating apple trees. Strong, resilient, productive trees can be grown on their own roots rather than grafted on to more vigorous root stocks - this is just the stuff I believe we should be researching more and putting into practise. Instead a lot of research in this area has just been dumped...hmmmm... I wonder why. Surely, the more resilient we can be in the near future the better.

This apple tree has had a lot of its roots used as cuttings to generate more trees. Now it has been pruned well back to help it into balanced regrowth. I would have thought that it was almost a bit cruel a few years ago but having done some pruning recently my feeling is now quite different. I would say the trees love the attention, as if they have been given a thorough grooming and they are delighted to work in partnership with us given half a chance.


Fork into the surface a bit to loosen up the grass roots and stuff...
...stick plenty of good thick cardboard on top...
...have a rest and learn a bit more from Bryn (and keep the cardboard from blowing away)...
...stick lots of compost on top of the cardboard...
...then stick woodchips on top of that. Done! There's a wee bit more to it than that but it's easy and it works.

I've put these and a few more photos from the course into a set on flickr - if any of my course chums or anyone else is interested click here and you will go straight to them by internet magic.

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