With the soil a little bit more moist it's a good time to Mulch the cider apple trees, taking the opportunity to give the them a good weeding too. We've got plenty of well-rotted Chicken manure, which is pretty good stuff for fruit trees, but once again we've got the problem of how to keep the feathery producers of all that manure from scratching it all away just as soon as we've applied it. The Rockingham Forest Cider Hens have the free-range of the garden, we wouldn't have it any other way.
I've tried a weed-suppressing membrane weighted down with bricks, which works well enough, but looks pretty dreadful. This is a garden orchard after all, so things need to look nice as well as be productive. It's time to take things to the next level. Keeping the membrane, I've now invested in a bag of large natural pebbles as a permanent ground cover . Advantages: Looks quite nice, rain can easily penetrate, seems to do the job well. Disadvantages: Expensive, probably not an environmentally sound aggregate, Hens may still be able to scratch the smaller pebbles off.
I'll give it a few weeks to see how the pebbles perform, then it might be worth having a ton delivered and doing the other 30 trees (gulp!)
|The Problem: Exposed roots... and weeds|
|The Culprits: Holes Dug (no job too small)|
|The Solution: Pebble Dashed, Hens Miffed|