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We're on a roll!

An Easter event to look forward to and, with luck, a good harvest later in the year. It’s a creative time for Portmoak Community Woodland Group.

In a change from some of our normal winter work, instead of pulling trees out of the Moss, we’ve been tending the living ones in the orchard. ‘Hoorah’, I hear you shout -  looking after them, not destroying them!

Of course, there is a reason for pulling them out. We have to control birch saplings on the peat bog or we’d lose all the wonderful sphagnum moss. But the Portmoak Community Orchard, in Kilmagad Wood, is a different story. Back in 2011/12 we planted 100 fruit trees and every winter, while they’re dormant, we have to prune them to keep them healthy and ensure a good crop in the autumn.

Actually, we did a rough count last year and found that there were no longer as many as 100 trees. A few had succumbed to damage by roe deer. Others had been outcompeted by some of the native woodland trees, especially hazel. So, while we were out there, with the loppers and secateurs, we also took the opportunity to plant six more apple trees.

Dave and Louise Batchelor (pictured) were ‘volunteered’ into the job of clambering over the fence of our new compound to carry out the work of digging, planting and staking. The Woodland Trust Scotland have kindly built it, to protect the young trees from the deer without the need for plastic tree guards (now against their policy).  Apparently, deer aren’t keen to jump into a confined space.

We bought the trees - all species that grow well in Scotland - from Andrew Lear, aka ‘appletreeman’, who helped us plant the orchard. And, as ever, we’re grateful to those who’ve donated money at events, like Apple Day, to pay for them. 

We won’t get a crop off them this year, as they’re too young, but fingers crossed for plenty of apples, pear and plums from our established trees. We did our best to cut out any dead, diseased or damaged wood from them; all we need now is a good spring and summer, without untimely frosts, to ensure plenty of fruit for Apple Day, planned for October 1st.

Long before that, we’ll be having an Easter event for children in Kilmagad Wood, where there are plenty of slopes for egg rolling. It’s on Saturday April 8th, starting at 3.30pm. Please bring your painted eggs and there’ll be prizes for the best decorated and the fastest rolling. In case you haven’t been before, it’s across the road from Portmoak kirk car park.

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Portmoak Moss - Woodland Trust

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Easter Fun in the Orchard

Saturday, 30th March, 2024, from 3.30pm

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