Today it was apple tree pruning in the orchard at the permaculture farm near Ripon in North Yorkshire where we do voluntary work once a month. Thanks to this, I now have a better understanding of how to look after my own apple tree in the future.
This, however, was not the only bonus of going there on a rather bitter December morning. Rachel, who runs the farm with her husband, had read my blog and noted that I was trying to establish a forest garden of my own, so kindly offered to give me some of their strawberry runners.
Strawberries are a brilliant form of ground cover, as they not only cover the ground, which reduces weeds and soil erosion, but produce a crop too. In a well-established forest garden the strawberries become less productive, due to the tree canopy creating too much shade. I doubt this will happen in my garden, though. For a start, my apple tree is growing so slowly, its branches are unlikely ever to create very much shade. It’s also unlikely I could have sufficient trees (and certainly of any size) in the small space I have.
Anyway, I’ve now got a nice bag of strawberry plants with additional runners to fill the nascent forest garden I’m trying to establish. Thanks, Rachel!