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Author Topic: Grass management in orchard  (Read 4610 times)

wannabesmallholder

  • Joined Jan 2017
Grass management in orchard
« on: May 29, 2018, 08:51:28 am »
We have a young orchard,of 30 trees, planted as 2 year old trees in November 2016 in about half an acre.

I had thought we would try to graze sheep in there and did some research into a breed that people said are less likely to eat the trees (Ouessants), but itís clear that they will eat the bark, so we are not putting them in with the trees, which still leaves us with a grass problem.

Is there anything else we could put in with the trees that wonít damage them?

We canít put big sturdy guards around every tree, because it would be very expensive and would mean the orchard would just be full of wooden stakes, which is not the look Iím going for! Are there any guards that will work for sheep which doesnít involve efffextively wooden fencing them individually?


Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2018, 10:46:21 am »
We have hens under the trees but we still have to strim the grass in summer. They do pit the ground a lot too. We tried sheep but it didn't work for teh same reasons as you've found - we tried lots of different temporary guards but none worked.
I wonder if geese might work?

Womble

  • Joined Mar 2009
  • Stirlingshire, Central Scotland
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2018, 12:02:44 pm »
We tried geese, Rosemary. They ignored the grass and went straight for the apple trees.  In fact, within half an hour, they had ring-barked three newly planted trees and damaged several more.


So yes, they'll eat grass, but no, you'd still have to protect the trees to at least as high as a goose can reach.


Six months later,  we roasted the ringleader with an apple stuck up his  :innocent: . Justice for trees!!
« Last Edit: May 29, 2018, 12:04:43 pm by Womble »
"All fungi are edible. Some fungi are only edible once." -Terry Pratchett

macgro7

  • Joined Feb 2016
  • Leicester
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2018, 12:38:38 pm »
My geese only started eating young apple trees in the winter.
They Will be fine with more mature trees. You still have to mow the grass for them though as they won't touch long grass.
Ouessant sheep will definitely eat fruit trees, they will only reach lower branches as they are small.
That's it.
What you can do is use electric fence between rows of trees and mob graze. That's what I do with goats!
Growing loads of fruits and vegetables! Raising dairy goats, chickens, ducks, rabbits on 1/2 acre in the middle of the city of Leicester, using permaculture methods.

landroverroy

  • Joined Oct 2010
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2018, 05:29:34 pm »
Get some broken mouthed ewes that don't have any front teeth so will be unable to bark your trees.
Rules are made:
  for the guidance of wise men
  and the obedience of fools.

edstrong

  • Joined Jun 2015
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2018, 09:10:18 am »
If you just need to control the grass any reason why you can't just cut it?

wannabesmallholder

  • Joined Jan 2017
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2018, 02:30:25 pm »
If you just need to control the grass any reason why you can't just cut it?

Only that we donít have a sit on mower @edstrong ! It costs £50 a go to get it cut, so that gets pricey over the spring and summer.

cloddopper

  • Joined Jun 2013
  • South Wales .Carmarthenshire. SA18
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2018, 09:31:15 pm »
Orchards of old were scythed once a year in late summer so the nettles were down ready for fruit picking . There were spaces left ,usually where the likes of ash & oak were set on baulks of creosoted or tarred timber to season for one year per inch of the diameter of the trunk.  The nettles were not cut in this area for the micro climate of slightly  moist air helped the seasoning of the tree trunks .  Orchard seasoned Ash used to make cartwheel hubs could be there for 30 or more years and rarely ever split. 
Strong belief , triggers the mind to find the way ... Dyslexia just makes it that bit more amusing & interesting

chrismahon

  • Joined Dec 2011
  • Gascony, France
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2018, 07:45:40 am »
Difficult to get a ride-on mower between trees and you would be better with a small self-drive rotary. Half an acre will take about three hours to cut, based on our half acre orchard in England. Our sheep didn't eat the bark, but they were old trees- what they could do was walk around the trees on their back legs and eat the lower branches. Perhaps an Austrian Scythe would be better? If you leave the grass long it stops moss and dandelions, so as said, just cut it once before fruit picking.

Backinwellies

  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2018, 07:54:27 am »
Doesn't need to be a lawn ..... Allow wild flowers to grow and seed. Just cut later in year as said before.  Yellow rattle will dispose of grass .... But not sure it's effect on trees!
Linda

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Steph Hen

  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Angus Scotland.
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2018, 08:30:52 am »
Doesn't need to be a lawn ..... Allow wild flowers to grow and seed. Just cut later in year as said before.  Yellow rattle will dispose of grass .... But not sure it's effect on trees!

Pretty sure it's hemi parasitic on grass only so no direct impact on trees.

I've been reading more about mulching recently. Really chunky wood chips get good reviews.
A meter or so of this at base of each year would avoid competition concerns (what root stocks are they on?) And make mowing much faster.

Penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2018, 01:10:32 pm »
What do you mean by Big sturdy guards'
How thick are the stems and height to first branches?
Would a couple of tree spirals one above the other, be high enough for protection?
Or you can get the sleeve type, you could cut down where the ties go through, wrap them round the stem then put the ties back through. These only need thin stakes, or maybe your trees will bee established enough not to need the support.

wannabesmallholder

  • Joined Jan 2017
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2018, 08:17:22 am »
Thanks for the replies everyone - very helpful.

We have allowed the wildflowers to come up in the past few years and itís lovely, but another reason to want the sheep to graze it is that it would provide them with extra grazing, which would be very useful - allowing rotation and providing extra grazing. We only have an acre in total with 6 sheep, so having it all available to them would be very helpful. 

I planted the orchard for conservation/aesthetic reasons and perhaps in hindsight it was a bit silly, given the fact that we would like to graze it, but whatís done is done.

Iíve been looking at this stuff....
https://www.farmforestry.co.uk/tree-shelters-and-guards/mega-mesh/mega-mesh-treeguard-wrap
Which you seem to either be able to attach with stakes or simply wrap it around the trunks. Anyone used this at all?

Iíd say the trees are about 6-8cm diameter.

Penninehillbilly

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • West Yorks
Re: Grass management in orchard
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2018, 01:11:23 pm »
Looks a good idea.
Have you looked at your local garden centre, see if the have a similar mesh that you could must tie round? Compare prices?

 

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