Pruning time is here again, so Sam and Robert have set off again this morning for the orchards with a fairly mammoth task ahead! People often assume that when you have 26 acres of orchards to prune, the process is mechanised in some way, but in reality, this is not the case for most smaller producers. In order to get the best from the trees, each one has to be trimmed and shaped by hand, keeping the trees healthy and allowing the light, air and insects to work their magic and produce the best crop of apples.
We’re proud to say that all our apples are only transported a short distance to family-run Sandford Orchards in Crediton, where the juice is pressed and fermented to produce a beautiful refreshing cider which we’re delighted to have on tap in the Saw Pit Bar. The creation of a delicious cider from growing the apples to the finished product in a barrel or bottle is a fascinating one, and you can read much more about it on the Sandford Orchards Website – sandfordorchards.co.uk/blog
This will be the first year that Sam has undertaken the task of pruning, so with guidance from Robert, and no doubt an element of research, it will probably take a bit longer than usual, but there are certainly plenty of trees on which to hone his skills, and there are two of them at it!
The pruning process is made up of several stages. First, the overall shape of the tree is maintained by controlling the ‘leader’ or main branch; cutting the top when it reaches a suitable height, and removing some of the more dominant side branches. These can be quite large, and where possible and time allows, any wood suitable for burning is sawn up and collected later for use in the log burner. Damaged or diseased branches are then removed, and all the smaller pieces are thrown into the alleyways between rows, ready to be collected later with a buck rake.
Up until now, these smaller prunings have been rather a waste product for us, but if possible we would like to find a way to make use of them; so we’re looking into drying and chipping them into a suitable product for use in food smokers. It would be great to be able to complete the cycle, so watch this space!
In the meantime, the orchards make a fabulous spot for some wonderful photos either during your wedding day, or how about an engagement shoot? With everything from beautiful spring blossom, apple laden branches or the fabulous moody atmosphere of the trees in winter, they always look great – and our buggy is ready and waiting to take you there.