Keeping the trees on the straight and narrow…

Walnut trees trying to grow through guards. Provided we catch it nice and early we can retrain the growth to be more central within the guard.

The Cactus guards seems to be effective at protecting the trees from deer and sheep within the spiny cages, but any growth emerging out of the cage has been effectively pruned back up to 1.5m off ground (highlighting the importance of good guards- and a need to guard beyond the standard 1.2m)! One challenge with 1.6m guards and smaller trees is trying to stop the leaders growing through the cages rather than up and out the centre. On the last visit to the trees some time was spent anchoring the leaders to the centre of the guards- and guiding the growth that was emerging outside the guards.

Same tree now the growth has been pulled back within the protective cage.
We have been using flexi-tie to anchor the young growth centrally in the cages to avoid it rubbing on the edges of the cage.
Some trees got the right idea!
The baby orchard grows on.

June tree check in

On the whole the trees are looking good. The sheep have been released into the field and the Cactus guards have successfully prevented any damage from browsing animals. I will have to find a way to stop the smaller trees trying to grow their central leader through the guards. A few guards will need to be deconstructed and repositioned and I might have to cross tie some of the tree young growth to the guards to help it grow up and out, not through! It’s been a fairly dry spring and as the trees were planted relatively late in the season I’ve had some concerns about the impact of this on their establishment. Luckily nearly all the trees have leafed up well and not showing too many signs of stress- but I will be grateful for a few extra downpours. Although the trees are too small to start nutting, a few of them have ideas of grandeur, and are displaying beautiful male and female flowers.

Our sheep lawn mowers at work
Heartnut female flowers
Cluster of heartnut female flowers
More Heartnut female flowers
Walnut female flowers
Female walnut flowers (on left poking through cage), and male flower catkins on right.

The trees are leafing up

Buds swelling on walnut trees
Buds on trees opening
Young leaves and growth- the red leafing cultivars are early to open. This means they can be prone to frost damage.
Male flowers visible on this walnut tree.
In early May not all the cultivars are in leaf yet- it can be an advantage to grow cultivars which are slow to leaf and flower to avoid the risk of late spring frosts.

Tree guards and mulch matting

Over the May bank holiday weekend the tree guards and mulch mats were installed. To stop the grass growing under the tree guards we used Mulch Organic’s heavy duty biodegradable film (a corn starch based mat that should last 4 years) as mulch matting stapled into place. We used protector cactus tree guards (for more info see page on tree protection Now hopefully the trees are safe ready for the sheep grass mowers to invade!

Alright sheep you can come in now!
Biomimicry in action- how to cross a heartnut and a cactus…