Are you set for No Mow May?
It's been quite a bit of work, but we've managed to get the orchard ready for No Mow May- ironically, by mowing it. Though since it was a bit rainy, some of us are not really suited to being near strimmers and it's not too huge an area, we actually cut the whole lot with shears. So now we're feeling very fit.
Once the "grass" (mostly oxeye daisy, dock and nettle) was cut- though we did leave a patch of nettle for the butterflies and for twine making- we cleared all the clippings to the sides of the orchard where we've been making borders for a fruit bush hedge to be planted in the autumn.
Hopefully this mulch of cut plants will help stop weeds growing where we want the bushes to grow, and eventually it might help reduce the fertility of the orchard soil so that more wildflower meadow plants will be able to grow. Currently, the soil on this plot is incredibly, astoundingly fertile- which is brilliant for our vegetables but does mean that any area left undug or unmown does not turn into meadow- instead, it turns into a crazy tangle of perennial weeds. And nobody wants the orchard to turn into a dock patch!
We're hopefully going to keep with the same "mowing" schedule for the next few years, with a late spring cut, early August cut (depending when the flowers are mostly fading) and late autumn cut until the worst of the perennial weeds have given up- then we should be able to move to two or possibly even only one cut- the August one- per year, leaving the area mostly to keep the invertebrates as happy as can be.
So it's mowers away, hello flowers and insects until the next cut in August!