Ottery excavations

So if you’ve been alarmed by the new trenches in the floodplain meadow then I’m sorry – but don’t panic!

Apple tree avenue trenches

Being so close to the centre of town I realise it is very visible. However it is not the foundation for a new housing estate – I’m getting ready to plant 100 apple trees and wanted to see how the soil varied over the site.

Surprisingly there are no shallow alluvial gravels or clay but a deep silty loam across the whole meadow. Apple tree roots don’t tolerate standing water for more than a few days – my guess is that the loam is free draining (the gravels are about a metre below the surface) and this will be ideal for apple trees.

Daniel Ackerley @meadowcopse has given me some advice based on his own floodplain orchard. The apple trees will provide food for early pollinators as well as some habitat diversity for the site (to complement separate areas of wildflower meadow, bramble and rough ruderal plants).

Most importantly they will provide the raw material for a new batch of “Budlake Cider” – production currently paused but previously sold at Darts Farm.

At the landscape scale the trees will help slow the flow through natural flood management.

2nd trench parallel to flood bank

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