Now that you’ve planted your three trees you’ll have your own school orchard! But this isn’t the end of the project, it’s just the beginning. The trees will not need much ongoing care but there are jobs to be done and fun to be had watching them grow and develop.
Try to keep a 1 metre diameter around the base of the tree clear from vegetation while the tree establishes itself. If there are long dry spells of weather then make sure that the tree is watered.
The trees will need to be pruned (cut with special gardening scissors called secateurs) to make sure that they grow in the best way possible.
YEAR 1 – Anytime between November and March prune the tree to the closest bud to a height of about 75cm making sure that there are three of four buds below it.
If any fruit grows in the first year then remove it as soon as it is seen.
YEAR 2 – If the tree is growing too tall then cut it back to a lower branch. Select the four or five best branches (side shoots) to keep and remove all the others from the tree. Cut those branches in half by cutting just above a bud.
In the second year if fruit grows then let it develop so long as the tree is growing well.
Young trees can be shaped making it interesting for the children to see that trees don’t have to grow in the traditional way.
As part of the training the pupils will be shown step-overs and espaliers (where the tree grows along fencing or wires) and how to cut the tree to make this happen.