Not all years are equal and 2022 has certainly been a good year for apples and pears, at least here at The Garden House. Whether it was due to the relentless sunshine or just the natural variation between years, we are not sure, but with the rain after the long period of dry, the orchard crop has finished nicely. It has been great to be able to send fruit in all directions to grateful recipients.
We have sent apples to Godalming and Surrounding Villages Community Store, and St. Mark’s Foodbank in Godalming, Jigsaw in Cranleigh, and the Juicing Day at Rosamund Community Garden. The Growth Team from Surrey Choices picked apples for Hale Community Centre Fridge and Cupboard; The Harbour, St. Joseph’s Specialist Trust, and Lockwood Activity Centre volunteers picked apples, and any volunteers on the estate have been helping to munch through the harvest whenever they were within reach. Apples have also regularly been put on our mobile stall for passers by. We also sent cider apples to The Garden Cider Company for a return in cider next year. All very pleasing for all involved!
Less positive has been damage caused, we suspect, by foxes. With the hot weather, the low water level of the ponds have exposed more pond edge than usual. At the woodland pond, we found pieces bitten out of the EPDM liner, which was very frustrating, and obviously didn’t do much to help the levels go up when we finally received rain at the end of August and beginning of September – repair in progress and maybe large pebbles and turf might help to protect exposed pond liner, especially flappy bits in future…
We have been pleased to see 2 barn owls using a barn owl box that has been donated to us and hope that there have been young hatched in there this year. We have also seen baby coots on the big pond this year which makes for a fine sight if you get to see them before they hide in the reeds.
It has been a busy timetable with groups this year and we have been glad to fit in some time for newcomers Unsted Park School; 1st Witley Beavers – pond dipping, and looking at possibilities with local artist Jenny Greenland.
According to the Met Office, “July 2022 was the driest July for England since 1935”. By August, we were struggling to keep some plants alive and the grass was tinder dry. Lots of watering, but no lawn mowing required!
Interestingly the combination of weeks of drought followed by heavy rain seemed to cause a couple of significant branch breakages. A couple of substantial branches fell randomly in September. Good for firewood, not so good for anything underneath – which has luckily only been squashed shrubbery.
The garden has been ticking over in the background. Volunteers have had the chance to take home cabbage, black kale, tomatoes and we finally managed to pick a few berries, such as strawberries, blueberries and greengages from our fruit cage after too many seasons of squirrel damage. Chicken wire is now over the whole frame (and door) to keep out the squirrels for which the original plastic netting was hopeless. Outdoor tomatoes ripened better than usual this year and no signs of blight, yet (5th Oct. 2022), and we have had good carrots and winter/early lettuce amongst other successes this year. The hot weather has helped to germinate 2 avocado pears and 2 orange trees in the polytunnel. We will see how they get on…