guerrilla fruit tree planting: where guerrilla get apple trees
Some shops sell fruit trees under ten pounds on short special offers each spring. Their web sites suggest ringing a branch to check if a special offer is still in stock. Stock is kept out of doors - maybe in a small bin by the front door to see if passing.
- aldi.co.uk/store-finder - has an offer page on their web site
- storelocator.asda.com - no web info
- bmstores.co.uk/stores - the ones with garden sections - see web site
- lidl.co.uk/en/785.htm - has an offer page on their web site
- poundstretcher.co.uk/find-a-store/ - has an offer page on the web
- Branded Garden Products was cheap on ebay when checked April 2016 for people who buy enough to pay for the courier
- Hotukdeals searched for "fruit trees" during the past month might find more
Walk-in shops have trouble scanning bar codes for large objects and so have the same bar code for assorted trees, making stock control unlikely, so if you turn-up a week after stock has come-in, you are likely to get the trees nobody wants from a bunch of assorted - things with "cooking" on the label, pears or golden delicious. That leaves the problem of how to know the beginning date of the special offer.
It's possible to subscribe to shop email offer lists via an email service like gmx that can divert all emails with certain words in them, or just to a spare email address and glance at it in spring, or to use a service like changedetection to try to monitor their web sites or facebook pages for certain words. Notes on hotukdeals suggest that February & March offers at aldi & poundstreacher are cheap. It may be possible to talk to humans in smaller shop branches like Poundstretcher and make arrangements, but that's not a tested idea.
Bushes like thornless raspberry are cheaper and available at some of the pound shops.
Very rare reductions of sale stock trees are worth pouncing-on but are like gold at the end of rainbows.
Explanatory Note:B&Q sell the odd little fruit tree all year and very occasionally table of clearance-price fruit trees, which are cheaper if you look over 60 and get 10% off on Wednesdays with a special card. Stressful jobs and an unhealthy lifestyle help. Burgers. Addictive behaviour. Rough sleeping. Time inside. My partner - an ex teacher - got a clearance-price tree at £8 or £7.20 with a discount card; I don't know how rare that clearance price is, but the special card for white haired people is well known to anyone with white hair who goes to B&Q; a specially employed silverback pounces and says "do you have one of our Wednesday discount cards?". Those who have a spare email address for junk emails also get online accounts of transactions, which are useful for silverback guerillas who don't want to scan receipts.
Norfolk's sandylanenursery.co.uk/catalogue-retail-2015.html has offers on grafted bare root fruit trees usually only open to regular wholesale customers this spring 2016. No details online. Ian Sturrock and Son's youtube videos on grafting mention that a delivery of 1,000 bits of rootstock in bushels of 50 cost about 60p each at the time of the video, plus VAT and delivery, and rising to £2 each for smaller wholesale batches, and plus the time spent grafting because they're sold as stalks for grafting rather than as usable fruit trees. The supplier was Frank P Mathews.
Warwickshire's mail-order-only firm, http://www.gb-online.co.uk/ offers £2 rootstock and a wide range of fruit trees or mixed special offers on top of £7.50 delivery, and another trading name on ebay. Offers are often for future delivery at a fixed time of year.
Homebase have £10 fruit trees and might be able to order the disease-resistant Egremont Russet or Spartan varieties or have them in stock. The trees are twice the price online but there's a regular three-for-two bare root fruit trees offer which brings the cost back down again if you value delivery at a tenner. Once in a blue moon - like when they want to clear space for Christmas trees or there's a blizzard - trees left on the shelves might be reduced under £10. That's mingy pair cherry and cooking apple trees that need adopting, or ones the new manager reduces by-mistake instead of watering. Moneysavingexpert has theories about how staff are instructed to allow haggling, if you get a medium-ranking one on a quiet day and ask if they'll do 10% off for buying two or three trees.
Ebay sometimes has spring-optimists who think they can pay for a tree, ebay, paypal, and a courier for £10 or under. Searching "Distance: nearest first" and "price plus postage and packing: lowest first" works on the classification for
Garden & Patio>Plants, Seeds & Bulbs>Plants & Seedlings>Fruits
This is the same link with a search for price plus postage & packing, lowest first.
Searching this April 2016, there were offers after the first page or so. A search for Distance > Nearest First might get more locally-adapted and healthier trees of there are any. The ones available by mail order look small and likely to need a good spot to grow in for the first year or two.
The cheapest seller on Amazon has trees delivered for not much more than the Homebase offer, but more spindly - a bit like Lidl and Aldi by the look of the photo. Groupon often have bulk offers from garden4less who have appeared on Rogue Traders apparently. Talking of which, I suppose it's rude to nab the odd pencil-thin new twig from someone else's apple tree, but a note on trashnothing or streetbank offering to collect apple tree prunings might get a reply, specially if you offer to prune the tree. That just leaves the job of buying rootstock or grafting onto something that comes to hand.
People who want traditional orchard varieties - maybe restoring traditional orchards with a countryside stewardship grant - might find local varieties and sellers via Orchardnetwork.org.uk > about-orchards > fruit-varieties including suggested sellers. There's a free offer and request map on Orchardmarketplace.org.uk
Just from googling, ten trees for a bit over ten pounds each plus the same again for delivery come from Devon's Talaton plants incorporating adamsappletrees.co.uk. They are geared to small wholesale orders and other similar nursaries - such as one you can get to for collection of pre-paid trees by appointment - might try to match prices. "As an example a tree can cost you as little as £8.00 for orders of more than 25 trees with further discounts on orders over £500", plus 20% VAT and delivery, says their web site. Ian Sturrock and Sons of Bangor have been known to reduce some common varieties to £11 + VAT + the same again for delivery at the end of March. There's a link to some of their videos at the bottom of this page.
People who have done all this before are more keen to promote variety and local varieties and reduce blight. Orangepippin fruit trees are expensive but their web site compares disease resistance snd suggests varieties like Egremont Russet, Spartan and Bardsley, or what ever is healthiest in a particular part of the UK such as in towns or soils or temperatures or clusters of disease. This can be done even more cheaply by an expert: simply graft twigs from a healthy tree onto anything that can take the graft, but it takes a bit of skill and courage I guess. The cost of too many people taking a twig from a public tree on fallingfruit.org is high. Failed grafting mistakes look bad.
guerrilla orchard space
Councils, the ministry of transport and others have forgotten flower beds and verges and ticky-tacky where something can be planted and nobody cares - you just get a funny look from passers-by while you are doing it. Even the car parks round garden centres are in need of a few fruit trees. Todmorden is a hotbed according to the Independant.
I've planted 4 trees in a graveyard, of which one was pulled-up or died and was left there, three in a wood of which the most public two might have gone and the other remains, one on busy tow-path near allotments, which was uprooted and taken, and several in a forgotten council flower bed at the end of my road. One of them turned-out to be in the shadow of another tree but the others are OK. I've left labels on the trees so that people don't pull them up by mistake, but the same labels encourage people to pull them up deliberately. Generally, I made a point investing not too much money or energy into each plant - I planted the cheapest possible trees in the quickest possible time and when I needed an excuse for a walk - so I didn't feel too grieved by the plants that didn't last.
guerrillas use tools to plant fruit trees
- A trowel or kitchen implement might help scoop hard soil, if you can saw through any little roots that hold soil down with a serrated knife like a bread knife. You can see from the picture that a tree bought with roots wrapped in cling-film or a tiny pot is no big deal to plant, but has a bit of trouble staying upright on the strength of its little roots. Something bought cheaply or reduced for quick sale might have even fewer surviving roots. I have not tried drilling a deep hole for a bamboo stick cadged from a supermarket car park verge, but expect the technique would work. Then you have to fasten the sapling trunk to the stick for a year or two, but you probably have a bit of black clingfilm just unwound from the root ball, so that will do the job.
- A lack of embarrassment helps, and an ability to do the job relatively fast and dirty so that if the tree gets removed or dies or gets cut-down by the council, you continue like a good soldier. You need to enjoy the idea of strangers picking the fruit as well, unless it's possible to anticipate the earliest possible date you can get to the place and pick the stuff yourself. I don't know if there is a way of putting a net under the tree so that falling fruit is less likely to be eaten by slugs and more likely to be eaten by passers-buy.
- Tools with strength to stamp-on, to wield, and lever: these help if easy to borrow and bring to the site: crow-bars, or picks and shovels, or spades, which are meant to be a cross between picks and shovels. Talking of stamping, thick-sole boots that mould to the shape of your feet are available from Veganline.com
nursing fruit trees for sale
There are several sites about this by enthusiasts. Someone willing to cut-off the bottoms of root stock and grow them up in the back yard, then make grafted-together trees to grow a bit more and show in the front yard might make a tenner from a hobby and another from selling via myhermes and ebay, classifieds sites with their own mobile number for work and a postcode or address, and a sale-or-return wholesale offer to someone with a market stall. It doesn't have the sound of a business that could make a living, because I imagine that there is machinery best used on a larger field that can cut-down the labour; there is also specialist skill like web design more easily hired from specialists by a larger organisation, and there is a long history of fiddling exchange rates and tariffs down by bad countries and up by richer countries. Then there is the cost of social insurance in richer countries which are skimped in the others. Lastly there is the price of housing in richer countries.
But web design is getting easier and hydroponics could solve the labour problem as well: grow in troughs of sludge. Housing costs vary between people; you might have retired and just find yourself living somewhere with a garden. Anyway this could work as a hobby. You would need a sane council and landlord on your side to sell very obviously in the front yard if planning zones and tenancies forbid this.
spades: a digression on buying picks and spades
Spades are not completely necessary nor desirable if you want to look sane when stopped and asked what you are doing, but knives might be worse, and spades or picks can add leverage to the process of making a hole, and force to the process of of cutting clods and roots. Picks and shovels are good ways of moving a lot of earth; spades combine the two in a more suburban way as you know.
Ebay is a source of mid-market shovels and spades made in a democratic welfare state - the UK - under the Bulldog brand. Prices on ebay start from the mid 20s, delivered new to Argos or second-hand. Chillingtontoolsonline.co.uk come from another UK factory - mainly making pick-axe like adze tools that are slightly cheaper and have a section on ebay. There are also people on ebay selling a "ladies spade" and a "folding shovel", should the need arise; sometimes army surplus shops have folding shovels too apparently.
Spades you can stand-on might be borrowable from streetbank.com (which needs its own email address because it keeps sending updates) or neighbours, or cadge-able on trashnothing.com which includes Freecycle. That "might" sounds more positive when put the other way around. If you get a spade and change your mind, it will go quickly if put in the street with a sign saying "if you want it, take it", or advertised as a gift on trashnothing or for loan on streetbank. If you work out how to send it on myhermes, you could even sell it on ebay. There is no need to waste a spade.
More complicated arrangements exist via conservationfoundation.co.uk/project.php?id=3 which encourages tools from council tips to be sent to prison workshops for mending & giving. The danger is that handling time costs more than the cost of a spade dumped from an autocratic country with no welfare state and fiddled exchange rates, and a trip to a spade shop for you. Conservationfoundation tell donors that a spade costs them £8. This is before adding costs to council tips and prisons, minus any benefits to prisoners. Plus the cost of reading & writing words like "centre" and "community" which go-along with the thing as much as committees and un-invested reserves; words like "centre", "community" & "community" rot the will to live but - hey! - people survive those just as people survive time in prison.
If you want the spontaneity that comes with owning a cheap spade, the usual shops have rust-able bendy spades for a tenner and Wickes slightly cheaper but Wilko, if you are near one, breaks the pattern and has spades for a fiver delivered free to any of their branches if you pay online first. (Wilko is silent about selling fruit trees on its web site, except to say which branches have free a car park and so probably have somewhere to store them). BnM stores linked at the top of the page have a picture of a spade for the same price, and a note asking you to ring a branch in case they have one in stock. B&Q have them for £6.87. Asda doesn't advertise spades on the web site but sometimes has them on the shelves and much-reduced in clearance sales according to hotukdeals. Reviews of the Wickes one say that the bottom of the shaft can break when used with leverage for digging, so maybe it's not much better than a picture of a spade. Reviews of the Wilco spade range from "broke in half" to "makes digging easier".
Compost is not necessary but a load of old leaves or anything you happen to make anyway could be buried a little way away or left on-top to stop weeds competing; softening of soil with a fork might help. If I understand the more expert advice right, it is to put nutrients are best some way from the trunk of the tree so that roots have to go further and so keep the thing upright.
For more expert advice there are a couple of upmarket nurseries with stuff on their web sites. This one has a quick method for small trees in soft soil.
"For 1-year bare-root dwarf trees (i.e. with a dwarf root system) an alternative planting method is worth considering, known as "notch planting". Make two notches in the ground with a spade (in a 'L' or 'T' configuration), lever the soil out slightly, drop the tree into the gap (making sure the roots are spread out into the gap), and lever the soil back and firm down. This method may seem almost too quick and casual, but it has the great advantage of minimising damage to the soil structure, and provides much better anchorage for the tree than is possible with a conventional planting hole. However it only really works with maiden dwarf trees, and the ground needs to be light (or cultivated earlier in the year in readiness"
Ameliasapples.co.uk has twigs from loads of fruit varieties for grafting and there are probably videos on youtube to show how to do it. Twigs are £4.50 for one including £2 postage. Other suppliers might come-up under searches like "apple scion uk grafting".
I have planted all trees so far without stakes, but council trees appear with grand stakes over an inch thick - often two of them - and rubber bungees to show the tree what it's expected to do when it grows-up. If anyone knows more about this than me and thinks that stakes are worthwhile, there are often old pallets around to dissect or such.
So there you have it. Every time nothing much has happened in a week or you pass the grey oblivion of a DIY superstore, check for a very cheap fruit tree and keep it to plant it furtively where nobody cares. If enough people have dull weeks, there will soon be more fruit trees about, more chances for people to live without having to do day-jobs, and people will be happier.
guerrillas talking to other guerrillas
Guerrillagardening.org is a site where you can post a picture of your work to show-off. There were some posts on message boards a few years ago in some major towns. Elephant & Castle was a hotbed.
People with some kind of organised association in place with
a bank account
a governing document for a non-profit organisation
a folder of any papers to show the organisation exists and so get a bank account
a cover-story about planting trees with permission from the landowner & patience...
can even get a grant to do the same thing. Basically, schools and associations.
ProjectDirt.com > projects > fundraising) is a forum where people often post up-to-date details. Tesco & Olswang lawyers sometimes make grants.
"To register volunteering opportunities, please use your project page or select the relevant option on an event form"
Writing-in to say "I have no organisation or right to plant but can provide receipts" has not worked for me. I have some of the receipts, if anyone would like to fund me anyway.
...links to three short lists of funders UK-wide, occasionally updated.
It's annoying that people who just want to plant a fruit tree can't get a free fruit tree in exchange for a photo of where planted, because other groups do get the money. Groups that are not set-up t balance demands from conflicting interest groups, any more than their funders should be spending this money on trees instead of people. Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetry Park is an example of a group that employs paid people and volunteers, when the salary and possibly the volunteer effort could be used on social care as taxpayers expect when paying high taxes in a welfare state. To spend otherwise is like an insurance company failing to settle your claim but saying "we planted a daffodil instead".
The cost of an apple in lost government services like social care
The £4,000,000 Big Tree Plant is closed to new applicants. As a minister, it would be hard to resist the thought: "I can't do much with this budget, but I can get loads of trees planted", and with luck the scheme started a momentum of planting. A £48,000 research report funded by the Big Lottery Fund which paid nearly half a million for this & that research reports states that community groups were asked to raise matched funding, and that it was hard for them to keep within the £4 per tree budget even with matched funding sometimes greater - so £8 or £10 a tree. That's before the central costs of government and large organisations organising the grant, small groups organising to claim it, and other groups like charities and councils processing requests for matched funding. Some of the trees were full size, but the figures suggest that DIY planting is cheaper, where a guerrilla is prepared to pay for the tree at a supermarket; special offer prices have been known to go down to £4 at poundstretcher at the end of March.
A fault of this kind of research is that it is twee, fey, safe; it does not mention hidden uses of the woodland for things like gay cruising and rough sleeping, nor the cost of endless committees encouraged by grant schemes. For example there is now a local scheme to be funded about £40,000 by Richmond Council for purposes including "opening up lines of site" near gay cruising areas which are then patrolled at further cost by police with bright torches and headlights. The group called Friends of Barnes Common that got £40,000 off taxpayers has just paid a visit to Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, after an introduction organised by South West London Environmental Network (SWEN).
The quotes are clear; the conflicts of what counts as anti-social behaviour are not, despite Friends of Tower Hamlets Park getting an Observer Ethical Award from the person at The Observer who knows about ethics (What is Ethical Fashion? - and who got the idea going? It's a scheme to promote unfair competition from badly run countries, and you partly paid to get it going through taxes).
- Paying £174,700 out of local money when there is not enough for social care. I count that as anti-social behaviour. It's not complicated. The money spent for an employee with the initiative to work alone for a committee is the same as the money spent on a carer at a respite day centre for people with Alzheimer's and their carers, or for someone who works in an old peoples' home. It may be more.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_in_the_United_Kingdom or any other search for the avarage wage in the UK suggests high figures under £30,000, but living in London and answering to a committee is a tricky job that's worth more.
Compare this to the salary of somone in a day centre, full time or part time, who provides a chance for people with alzheimers to get away from their carers. Or any other similar service. If you want to measure the number of people helped, you get a large number for the day centre person who uses tax money as intended by taxpayers, rather than the park keeper person as used by the committee people quoted above.
- Taking rough-sleepers' bedding and giving it back with a phone number is, I think, anti-social behaviour because the phone call will not result in a hostel bed for the night in most, sane cases and is even less likely in eccentric and less sane cases like the people who have been evicted in the past but don't have any specific alms-house-style rooms available for people with mental health problems that make them bad tenants. I write "alms-house-style" because the layout of some old almshouses, round a courtyard but ground-floor and self-contained, is good for eccentric residents and probably doesn't need three-shift cover from wardens. Thamesreach Bermondsey scheme is a good recent example of what you see in old almshouse buildings all over the place. When I say "mental health problems" I mean problems as seen by neighbours; the person themself may be used to coping in their own way and not be keen to join a discussion group or take prescribed medicine or anything like that. The problem to society is one of containment that is fair to the contained person and fair to taxpayers. Prison is very expensive to taxpayers. A place in an almshouse-like building is much cheaper and fairer on the person who copes in their own way but troubles neighbours.
- "Cruising ... laminated notice ... park staff know what's happening and asking people to clear up after themselves and not come back." That's not behaviour that a council would fund towards a mosque, any more than they would find work to "open up lines of site" and then ask police to shine the brightest lights into prayer meetings. It's more like the old "no dogs no blacks no Irish" signs that could be seen in the odd pub decades ago, but, this time, our taxes pay for it.
The best of both
If the next minister wants grafters to get cheap cuttings, I don't know what to suggest. Something might come to mind later.
If the next minister wants to allow cheap saplings to be planted on public ground, I suggest a scheme to encourage councils and anyone else who owns bits of communally-used land to write a cheap note on the web to say "we do not prosecute well-intentioned planters of trees for human food, and may publish detailed guidance on our web site at..." which initially refers to the ministry's own template or - more expensive to taxpayers - publishes a local scheme which is probably just the same and costs loads of taxpayers' money in officials' time that ought to be spent on social care and benefits.
If the next minister wants planters to find cheap saplings, I suggest a talk with the ministers for tax and business to get more information published from tax offices about who makes what in the UK. For example, Poundstretcher sell young fruit trees at a fiver, plus or minus, as do Asda. The offer is to promote their brand rather than to make much profit, but it's unlikely they make a loss on each tree. Where do they get these trees at a fiver plus or minus? National statistics do not currently state these things. Some kind of list of who makes what in what minimum orders in the UK would be useful for anyone who wants to do anything, including that planting of orchards. The customs act, or some act like that, forbids HMRC from answering freedom of information requests about who makes what, so a change of law is needed.
The cost of a tree in talk-time
The cost per apple in talk time is not easy to calculate, except to say that it's high.
People who prefer the legal route say that the need for more consultation can lead to less clashes of taste amongst flower-planters, more local species being planted, and a better sense of community of a committee-ish sort; some map seen somewhere suggests that it works in primary schools and should probably be tried around care homes too. Anyone with control over forgotten verges round playing fields or car parks or old peoples' home gardens is in a good position to organise something. (Anyone good at setting-up groups might try a group to set-up bird tables near old peoples' homes too.)
Another down-side to government funding is that it demonstrates that no similar scheme is available for industry; they realise that there is something wrong when orchards close, but not when the spade factory closes.
Talking of spades for schools and community groups, there is the http://www.conservationfoundation.co.uk/tools/ link suggesting how to give or get them on zero budget.
guerrillas labelling saplings for other guerrillas
Labels and cooking apples are two problems that go together if you have, by mistake, bought some James Grieve apple trees among the bargains. They are bitter to anyone who picks early to eat raw, rather like Czar plumbs, and bruise if left to drop.
After looking on ebay at loop-lock labels that sell for £5 for 50 or 100, I saw that some are made of a non woven material which is better at keeping the ink from a marker pen. The one they use is Tyvek, also used in less stiff form as a roof lining, but any long-lasting fabric such as a weed control fabric could do as a snippet to retain marker pen ink and stick out not too much while all the other trees in the hood act natural.
guerrillas using words like "habitat" & "native species"
Somewhere on the net are details of wonderful resilient apple tree varieties like Bardsley Spartan and Egremont Russet - all available as twigs to graft-on, and one or two free versions of online maps like Fallingfruit.org and Fruitcity.co.uk/the-fruit-map show trees in public places. One group in Hammersmith that shares a good pulping and juicing machine at least once a year - I think it's Abundance - but those details are getting too complicated to think about, as are details of how to cut the toes off an existing tree, use them as root-stock, and then graft a finger-like twig on to the root for free. I can only say that, as someone who does more blogging on the net than real things in real life, I have planted several cheap trees so far. If even blogger can do several, maybe you'd enjoy doing one. Or at least a thornless raspberry from a pound shop.
guerrilla do not know
Guerrilla do not know things.
Grafting. That's the difficult thing to bluff about. No guerrilla should type about grafting without proof of skill; this guerrilla say nothing. But if the system worked well and didn't annoy anyone with visible mistakes, then grafting a disease-resistant fruit onto a cherry tree or a crab apple or whatever takes the graft would make sense.
After planting a cheap fruit tree, is it good to go back and have a pee near it? I suppose so, because it feels good. What distance so roots are encouraged to spread? Dunno.
Is it good to dump a load of compost from a compost bin on or near the sapling? Probably. Blogs from hot climates say that it's good to bury a wet phone directory or load of junk mail next to the tree as a water reservoir. Councils bury most of a watering-pipe, available from outside hoover repair shops and electrical recycling banks.
guerrilla embedding of someone else's youtube videos - introduction ends at 1 minute 40 seconds
There is a one-sheet guide to grafting at guerrillagrafters.org
There are videos on grafting at
The author sells shoes at Veganline.com and has planted several guerrilla fruit trees without much knowledge about whether any of them will survive. There might be one or two waiting to be planted. Note to self: ciderworkshop.com . Oh, here is a seed firm that doesn't sell trees but looks cheap and worth encouraging: realseeds.co.uk