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We're Creating An Orchard . . .







We are delighted to announce that Nature’s Haven is one of only 7 projects that have been awarded grants to create community orchards, thanks to national funding secured by the Royal Borough. Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead’s Sustainability Team successfully secured funding from DEFRA’s Coronation Living Heritage Fund. This fund celebrates the Coronation of King Charles III and was specifically established to support local tree planting initiatives.  

 

So to this end, we’ve enthusiastically started on Phase 2 at the garden site. This involves clearing, shredding, preparing  and transforming overgrown and neglected areas, in readiness for our orchard plans.  The most exciting thing about a fruit orchard is the sense of community it can create, allowing everyone to enjoy the fruits of their labour, creating a sense of shared abundance. 

 

The orchard will showcase how a good amount of fruit can be grown in a relatively small space and the different ways in which this can be achieved – e.g. in pots, trained against a wall, espaliers, cordons and stepovers.  We plan to have a selection of trees including stepover & espalier apples, stepover pears, a cherry tree, a weeping mulberry, cordon plums, a satsuma, lemon and lime tree.  We will also use this area for our new initiative ‘Sow, Grow, Eat . . . Repeat’, a 4 week programme to teach adults and children how to grow, tend, harvest fruit & veg. Specific orchard-based events will include:  harvesting, pruning workshops and cooking workshops. 

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Fruit tree blossom is an important source of nectar for pollinating insects including bees, hoverflies and butterflies and they support many different species of fungi, lichens, mosses and plants, plus an excellent source of food and nutrients for birds, invertebrates and other animals.   Also fruit trees are excellent carbon sinks - as trees grow, they take in carbon from the air and store it in wood, plant matter, and in the soil. The trees’ twigs & leaves can be left in piles by hedges/borders to support a multitude of insects including beetle grubs, woodlice, wood wasps, provide a refuge for small mammals/amphibians and shelter for hibernating wildlife. We can use the orchard leaves to create leaf mould & mix with compost to mulch borders and aid water retention. Not only can rotten fruits be a nutritious source of food for the wildlife, it can be used as a component of organic fertilizer or compost. When properly composted, these organic materials can be valuable additions to improve soil quality and provide nutrients to plants/trees.  

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March is a time when us gardening folk can begin to feel hope again, looking forward to the warmer weather and all that comes with it. This month provides the opportunity for an increasing range of gardening tasks in our existing garden. It's time to get busy preparing seed beds, sowing seed, pruning and cutting back winter shrubs, hoeing, mulching and generally tidying up around the garden. As the soil warms up, slugs will begin their annual feast on fresh new growth . . . we use environmentally friendly pest controls eg – egg shells/coffee grounds to deter these slimy beasts! 


Seed sowing can now start in earnest and we have a good choice to choose from with our saved and newly acquired / donated seeds including tomato, sweet pepper, chilli pepper, aubergine, peas, onion, leek, spring onion, carrot, celeriac, celery, lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts, kale, beetroot . . .

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We couldn’t do all this without our merry band of wonderful volunteers – thank you! If you’d like to join us, our Volunteer Sessions are every Saturday morning at 10 am - Midday and Thursday afternoons at 3- 5pm at Maidenhead Community Centre, 4 Marlow Road, Maidenhead, SL6 7HY 

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Recipe of the Month 


Spicy Root Veg Soup 

 

50g butter 

1 large onion, finely sliced 

600g of mixed parsnips, turnips, celeriac, potatoes peeled & cubed 

3 tablespoons of runny honey 

1.5 litres vegetable stock 

150ml natural yoghurt 

2 teaspoons of garam masala spice 

 

Melt the butter, add onion & heat for 5 minutes. Add all veg & coat well with butter.  Remove from heat & drizzle over the honey, coating well all the veg. Then return to heat, pour in stock & bring to boil. Simmer for approx 20 minutes until veg is tender. Blend to smooth soup consistency.  Stir in yoghurt and garam masala and heat through.  Enjoy!  

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