Archive for Work party logs

February 4, 2017 Pruning and Wassail Party

Join us February 4th, starting at 11:00AM, for a winter pruning work party, and apple wassailing event. We’ll be pruning starting at 11:00, and expect Sound & Fury Morris and Sword to arrive around 11:30. They’ll dance and make music and our wassail king will bless the orchard in hopes of a bountiful harvest. There will be hot cider and treats available. Pruning will re-commence and run until 1:00 or whenever. Even if you’re not an experienced pruner, we can use assistance with cutting up downed limbs and bringing cuttings down to the trail. We hope to see you there!



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August 6th work party

We had a very productive and musical work party on Saturday, August 6th. We pruned trees (lots of apples and pears this year), weeded the grape vines, collected both fallen and still-on-the-tree ripe apples, labelled late-ripening and special trees for saving until the Festival of Fruit on September 24th, donated several hundred pounds of apples to the Ballard Food Bank, and enjoyed the dulcet tones of Will Morgan. Thanks to our wonderful volunteers!





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June 4, 2016 Work Party

We had a terrific work party on June 4th, with a large group of volunteers, including a return visit from a team who works at the Wells Fargo Seattle Main branch. A big thank you to everyone.


Volunteers put foot socks and paper bags on the growing apples,



thinned the apples so the remaining ones will grow bigger, and tented three trees.


We also removed some diseased trees and started a solarization project to hopefully prevent the trees which will be planted later from getting Specific Apple Replant Disease (SARD). For more information on this, check out this link.



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Spring 2016 Work Parties


Two work parties took place in April and May. April 23rd was our Earth Day celebration. We’d planned on spreading mulch around the base of the trees, but for some reason, the mulch never showed up. However, that left a good amount of time for weeding around the trees.

We finally got the mulch, and held another work party on May 21st. Armed with 6 yards of mulch, and NEW wheel barrows and pitchforks, we made (pretty) quick work of dispersing the mulch around the trees. Now we just need more mulch to get to the trees higher up in the orchard.

Join us June 4th for another work party to put foot socks on the developing apples and spread more mulch.


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Tree Replacement and Solarization Project

Tree Removal Plan for Piper’s Orchard

The historic Piper’s Orchard has over 70 trees.  Some of these trees were planted in the 19th century by Andrew and Minnie Piper and represent heritage apple and pear trees that are still thriving even after 120 years. Many of the other trees in the orchard were planted by volunteers only 30 years ago, are not of historic importance and are badly diseased. These newer trees are disease-prone and are not contributing to the well-being of the orchard.


  • The tree on the grid marked H2 is blighted by a condition that recognized state expert Dr. Robert Norton says will guarantee the tree will be stunted forever.
  • The trees in grid spaces C4 and D6 are blighted with crippling cases of anthracnose.
  • A copy of the orchard planting grid can be found here:

Removing the orchard of these trees will:

  • Improve the appearance of the orchard
  • Reduce the anthracnose disease spores
  • Make room for new and better transplants in these spaces in the future.

The decision to remove trees from Piper’s Orchard has been based on discussions between the volunteers who have been maintaining this orchard since 1983, members of the Seattle Tree Fruit Society and professional horticulturists. All concur that this would be a good decision to maintain the health and beauty of the orchard.

Although there are other existing trees that could be removed, the ones mentioned above are of particular decay disease.

After these trees are removed we would like to replace them with trees representative of the 19th century. In addition, there are spaces where trees died many years ago and we would like to continue planting replacements in Grid spaces B1, B2, G1, G6, H5 and H6.

In order to provide soil that will help new trees survive we plan to test a solarization plan.

-composed by Don Ricks

Soil Solarization and Historic Tree Replacement at Piper’s Orchard


A primary objective of historic orchard management is the replacement of vacant, dead or diseased trees with new trees of a rootstock and variety suitable to the character of the original planting.  Unfortunately, new trees planted in an old orchard setting often suffer from Specific Apple Replant Disease (SARD), or “sick soil syndrome”.  The causes of SARD are legion.  Often a combination of viral, bacterial, metazoan, fugal and animal pests contribute to the presence of SARD.  Despite its name, SARD can affect not only Pome fruit trees, but species of Prunus and Citrus as well.

Soil solarization is chemical free, pesticide free, salmon friendly, and an organic method of controlling pests and soil borne plant pathogens (including fungi, bacteria, nematodes, insects and weeds) by mulching the soil and covering it with transparent plastic.  This method is very low tech and low effort.  It utilizes the greenhouse effect to disinfect soil via prolonged and repeated thermal treatments.


  • The area to be solarized is staked out.
  • The sod is broken either manually or by a tilling machine.  Organic material is removed and composted.
  • The soil is irrigated
  • Two layers of clear plastic are spread over the tilled soil.  The edges are secured by stakes, rocks, heaped dirt or a combination or the above.
  • The soil remains covered through the late spring, summer and fall.  In the winter, new fruit trees are planted in the sterilized soil.

Proposed Application in Piper’s Orchard

  • Don Ricks will identify diseased trees, as well as vacant positions in the original orchard grid.
  • Based on Don’s report, the Piper’s Steering Committee will reach a consensus on the area to be solarized.
  • Solarization will begin in the spring of 2016
  • Adam Wargacki will provide rootstocks to be planted in appropriate positions in the late winter, 2017. Adam and other Friends of Piper’s will provide grafting services.  Two or more rootstocks may be planted at each position to account for inevitable loss of young trees by attrition (mishap, disease, animal predation etc.).  Eventually the single healthiest tree will be left to occupy each position in the grid.
  • Bob Baines will oversee varietal and rootstock selection, in order to preserve the integrity of the historic orchard landscape.


Composed by: Adam Wargacki


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Sorry we’ve been offline. We had a great Festival of Fruit in September, and promise to post pictures at some point. In the meantime, wanted to post a link that Seattle Parks and Rec is asking for survey participation about park values.

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July 13th Piper’s Orchard Work Party/Non-Work Party

Piper’s Orchard is shaping up with apples doing well, and looking terrific. We had a great group of volunteers from Seattle Works as well as several of our regulars working in the orchard June 7th. Thanks to Don Ricks for leading the work party and to Barb Burrill, City Fruit and Shan Burton, Seattle Parks & Recreation for coordinating. Volunteers covered about 2000 apples with foot sox and made a significant dent into the mulching needs around the trees, which improves both tree health and orchard beauty.

We hope you and friends will mark your calendars for next Sunday, July 13th. We’ll have a work party from 10AM – noon to continue the mulching, with some musical accompaniment from our talented minstrel Will Morgan. Come with some sturdy shoes and water, and a wish to have some fun.

Then from noon – 2PM (or whenever) we’ll have a non-work party.

Come to the orchard, bring something to share (no alcoholic beverages in Seattle Parks), and bring a friend. Maybe we can bribe Will to stay and play! It’s rumored our intrepid work party leader will bring some smoked salmon, and there should be other goodies. It’ll be a great picnic!

While you’re in Carkeek Park, you can also visit Heaven & Earth VI – As Above, So Below. It’s opening the afternoon of July 12th at various locations in Carkeek Park. You can also find it on Facebook.

By the way, there’s a series of photos I posted from July 4th on our Facebook page. Here are a few of them.01f3ecc5761c07dd4df7ad3a78e457dfac99c5e032 01a206055ff71525723ddbe38cf392ecae358b8c26 011dfee78734513612053ca0dc29e33606d451fb5b 01b75ddaa26227732ac76a33f024698340f4142a43

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2014 is springing up in Piper’s Orchard


2014 is off to a great start. Recently someone created an art installation consisting of flowers, eggs, apples and other fruits at the base of one of the trees. We’ve got a mason bee house in the orchard, and the trees are leafing out and blooming. We’ll be holding our first work party on June 7th. The Seattle Works group has selected Piper’s Orchard as one of its two environmental projects for its annual city-wide work party day. This should prove to be an excellent work party as we put protection on new apples, do weeding, mulching and orchard beautification. The work party will run from noon – 3:30. Come join the fun and help the orchard!



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June 8th Foot sox

On June 8th we had a good crew applying foot sox and other barriers on baby apples to protect them from pests. We enjoyed perfect work party weather, mid-60’s with the sun appearing during the last hour.IMG_0804

A number of paper bags had already been placed on some of the fruit. In addition to nylon foot sox, a good number of plastic baggies were also put on.IMG_0807

During this time, we also thinned the apples, and focused on the trees that have the tastiest varieties of apples. We were fortunate to be serenaded by Will Morgan and Susanna Wegner. Work’s much more enjoyable when you’ve got some good conversation and music to help you pass the time.


Don shows Bob his battery-operated plastic bag applicator.IMG_0802

We so appreciate the 15 volunteers who showed up.

IMG_0806 IMG_0803

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May 18th Bees and Blossoms

On May 18th Friends of Piper’s Orchard hosted Viewlands School for an afternoon that focused on bees, pollination, and the historic orchard.

Tammi Lynd coordinated for the school, and was a joy to work with. She promoted the event, created posters in several languages, and got us lots of publicity.

Brian Gay from Parks did a really terrific job planning and coordinating the event, and facilitating the various activities of the day. His craft project about flowers and pollinators was a big hit, and he was expert at pacing the various educational opportunities, keeping the group on task and having fun. The kids and their families enjoyed working with him, and so did FOPO.

Ingela, Don, Brian, and Trent gave mini-talks about bumble bees, beneficial wasps, orchard mason bees, and pollination, respectively. Ingela brought a honey comb from her own hive, and talked about both honey bees and bumble bees. Trent explained mason bees and showed where they live in the orchard. Don talked about predator wasps and how they help the orchard. Brian showed the kids pollen. Each presenter knew just how to connect with the kids, and so everybody had a good experience. After the talks, the kids planted pollinator-friendly plants, part of FOPO’s Permaculture Plan.

Fran spent the day, pitching in to help. Joan coordinated with Parks staffers ahead of time, getting us important help and tools. Meriam came on Friday, and prepped the planting areas. Andy came by to help, and brought his musician friends who played for us.

In addition to Brian, we got lots of help from Parks. Sheila Brown, our new Park’s liaison, dropped by to get acquainted and show support. Rich helped spruce the orchard up, and Junior got us tools and other gear.

The best part of the day, for me, was the kids. They brought enthusiasm, energy, and curiosity to the orchard. They learned about bees, watched butterflies, collected earthworms, planted flowers, and connected with the orchard and its critters. They chased each other around the trees, having a wonderful time. At the end of the visit, they came, with formality and manners that would have pleased Jane Austin, to thank us. Before the event, I would not have thought kids would have so much fun in an old orchard. But there is something about Piper’s Orchard that fosters community. On Saturday, I discovered that applies to kids as well.

All told, we had 33 participants from Viewlands. FOPO turned out eight volunteers, and at least four Parks professionals helped directly. No doubt there were others working “behind the scenes.” During the event, we had some drop-in visitors, so the total people count was about 50.

Following is a gallery of pictures from the event.

bees n blossom 2 bees n blossom 5 bees n blossom 6 IMG_2288 IMG_2295 IMG_2296 IMG_2297 IMG_2305 IMG_2306

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