Whether you’re looking to grow your community groups, improve fruit tree health or just produce more fruit, we have lots of advice and tips for you here. Many thanks to the amazing experts who have helped to develop this urban fruit growing knowledge bank.
10 Amazing Species that live in Orchards!
Orchards provide the perfect habitat for many insects, birds and fungi. There are certain species that love to dwell in fruit trees, feed from their blossom or just set up home in their old, decaying, hollow trunks. The wide spacing between orchard trees and the relatively short lifespan of fruit trees cultivate just the right […]
Making Leaf Mould
We often talk about the importance of keeping the root circle of your trees covered with woodchip mulch. You can make your mulch even better by introducing a mix of decomposed leaf litter into it. This will more closely resemble the forest floor conditions in which your fruit trees’ ancestors evolved. Leafy material will enable […]
Pruning Veteran Trees
In recent years we have done a lot of work restoring old orchards. These orchards are worth saving as they are very valuable in terms of biodiversity, amenity, food source, genetic diversity and heritage. Their “veteran” trees may be hollow and top heavy, presenting a unique challenge. Here are some things we have learnt along […]
The Importance of Mulching
Mulch has become something of a mantra for us at The Orchard Project. That’s because it is such a simple action that yields multiple benefits. Once you’ve read this, you’ll understand why we bang on about it so much. Simply defined, mulch is a layer of bulky organic (once living) material placed around the base […]
Why are Orchards Priority Habitats?
Orchards are priority habitats under the UK’s Biodiversity Action Plan. So what is so special about them? Fruit trees are particularly good habitats for wildlife because they are “early senescent”. This means they get old relatively quickly and develop veteran features such as hollow trunks, rot holes, dead wood and sap runs. These features are […]
Choosing Apple Varieties to Plant
Apples are by far the most diverse fruit in terms of variety. In the UK alone we have developed over 2,500 varieties of apples (of the 7,000 that exist worldwide). This means you could eat a different UK variety every day for over 6 years. Interest in propagating new and wondrous types has been going […]
How to grow your group, strengthen local connections, and see your area with new eyes How can orchard groups raise awareness in the local community and increase volunteer turnout? At The Orchard Project we have been testing out a process called community mapping. It involves taking stock of who and what makes up your […]
When Should You Pick Apples & Pears?
People often ask us how you know when to pick your apple and pear crop. Here are some pointers we thought might be useful: Variety Fruit is ripe at different times, depending on the variety. You get early, mid and late varieties. Discovery is one of the earliest apple varieties, usually picked in mid to […]
Helping Young Trees Establish in Summer
Our summers are getting hotter, and this can be challenging for young fruit trees in the city trying to establish and spread their roots. Studies have shown that it is common for 30% of planted urban trees to die in the first year after planting. The figure can sometimes reach 70%. Lack of water and […]
Primary School Activities
These resources were developed as part of a one year school orchard project. They are written to support schools with orchards to use their orchards for outdoor learning.
Primary School Lesson Plans
We love teaching children about all the exciting things you can learn from an orchard. Here are some of the lesson plans we’ve developed for key stage 2.
Benefits of orchards and fruit growing
If you love orchards and the delicious fruit within them as much as we do, you may have never seriously asked yourself why we should plant and nurture orchards but it turns out there are lots of great reasons justifying orchards should you ever encounter an unbeliever.
Planning and designing an orchard
Once your trees are in the ground, they may be there for another century so careful planning is needed!
Involving the community in your orchard
From Apple Days to sunny picnics to midwinter pruning parties – there are lots of ways to involve the local community in your new Community Orchard.
Planting your orchard
What could be more exciting than planting an orchard for generations to enjoy? Our guide will make sure your trees are cosseted and your event a success.
Our research suggests that tree fruit is a low-risk food to grow in urban areas but we have compiled a very useful factsheet with more information.
Growing fruit in containers
Whether we are short on space or good, clean soil to plant in, containers can be a great way to grow fruit.
How to Graft Fruit Trees
They don’t call it hard graft for nothing but once you get the knack of it, you can start your own mini nursery of fruit trees all of which will have the same desirable qualities that their parents have.
Flowering and pollination
Most apples, pears and plums are, in the main, not self-fertile. This means that in order to produce fruit, these trees need to be planted close to one or more suitable varieties in flower at the same time.
Pruning apple trees
There are lots of ways to shape fruit trees depending on the priorities of the grower and the space available but pruning is not just about pretty forms. Pruning can help trees to fight off infections by allowing for good ventilation and should encourage your trees to produce more fruit.
Restoration of old orchards
Since 2011 the Urban Orchard Project has been working with communities to restore old, neglected orchards through programmes of educational sessions on restoration pruning.
Pests and diseases
How to avoid problems from pests and diseases and, if the worst happens, what to do next…
How to celebrate our orchard heritage
The seasons give us many reasons to celebrate. From picnics under blossom, to harvest festivals and apple days through to wassailing in the depths of winter, orchards are a great excuse for a party.