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Conservation Work - Past
This was our first of three visits to Baildon Moor to return to the area we have been bracken cutting for many years. We were going areas that had been cut previously; cutting with scythes and sickles and then raking the cuttings into piles. The aim is to reduce the dominance of the bracken which covers vast tracts of the moor, and give the opportunity for heather, bilberry and crowberry to flower and fruit.
The walling stone arrived today so the first job, for some, was to barrow it over the shed area and sort to assess size. Dennis then set about completing the rectangle to form the foundations. There is more to be done but a good start was made.
We cut branches cut overhanging from around the pond to allow more light in. This will be completed in winter. More water was carried and barrowed from the water butt. Let’s hope it is of help to the pondlife.
The flower bed by Keswick Codling has been weeded and the Field Scabious is looking good. Straw was laid under Beauty of Bath and Katy – the two trees that are most likely have fallers that we don’t want to bruise. Two of the fallen apples were eaten – the first of the year – and no they weren’t quite ripe!
Also more weeding, watering and fruit picking.
More preparation of the shed area was done, including distributing the bagged compost around the trees. Ash from the fire was also sprinkled under the trees and fruit bushes to add potash to the soil.
We started on the hedge cutting tasks with great affect, especially where it will let more sun onto the lower branches of Katy. Of course we now have more hedge cuttings to dispose of after burning the last lot last week. Alison made a start on weeding the bed nears Keswick Codling and Maddy made great progress removing nettles and cleavers from the hedges around the fruit bushes. Safaa and Tesfaye did a sterling job carry water from the water butts to the pond in the far opposite corner of the orchard
Quite a few different jobs to do today, but probably the most exhausting was working through the options for the shed. We concluded with a decision that we would use straw throughout, rather than a hybrid design. Whilst this means we lose some space inside, it makes the build more straightforward. If we have a big crop we will have to juice etc rather than store the fruit; no bad thing.
We also made sure all the tree trunks were clear of grass, we removed the hogweed seed heads (although the flowers are great for the insects we have enough and do not want them to spread further), we laid fabric and bark around the veg beds. We started the pruning of the stone fruit but decided to leave the remainder until the fruit is eaten – there are at least 6 greengages, we don’t want to waste them!
And picking gooseberries and blackcurrants; seems like it was worth netting them this year.
Another hot day and not ideal weather conditions for planting plug plants. Members of the canoe and kayak club are going to water the plants, so we agreed to go ahead with planting. This is part of the scheme to improve the river banks that are liable to flooding – the plant communities will help stabilise the banks once established. The planting conditions were challenging; steep banks, very little soil (we dug some from elsewhere for the planting holes), but we did have easy access to the water for watering the plants.
The planting list included meadowsweet, hard rush, soft rush, common sedge, yellow flag iris, water forget me not, devil’s bit scabious, water avens, sneezewort, gypsywort, purple loosestrife, greater bird’s-foot trefoil, ragged robin, common knapweed and wild angelica. The mix will make a wonderful contribution to both the biodiversity of the river and the stability in the future.
We also pulled a bit of Himalayan balsam.
What a scorcher. Just the weather for digging great deep holes for the remaining benches! We have now completed our replacement of the benches, they are in a slightly different, less symmetric arrangement, but perfectly good to sit on.
Extra netting was added to the fruit bed, which were weeded and mulched with comfrey.
More mowing, more weeding, more watering; all expected fare in June on an allotment.
Hoverflies on the hogweed, ringlets and meadow brown butterflies and lacewings in the grass, bees on the comfrey. It looks like we are managing to attract the beneficial insects required for organic gardening.
Residential 15th- 18th June ; Buckden, Upper Wharfedale, Dry Stone Walling
Quite a climb to our work site this year, and we set about the task of repairing three gaps knowing that this wasn’t landscape walling, but a critical job to create stock proof wall to guard an area that will be planted with trees in the next couple of tree planting seasons.
Big, medium and small; the gaps had to be stripped back to find a sensible place to start the repair – it always feels like it’s better to go further to correct other fluctuations, but we need to be realistic in what we can achieve. The stayed an extra night this year and it feel like we were not under so much time pressure, even though Saturday afternoon was abandoned to the rain, and the chance to sample the gala. It was a nice surprise to spot a BEES waller from resi a few years ago in the fell race. A few steep, very wet fell race. Well done all.
We were a bit bemused by the cavities and hearting that filled the spaces we would expect to see solid foundation stone. By digging and man handling we managed to get the big stone in the bottom of the wall. The largest gap was extremely tall, towering above Sue’s head. An excellent repair. The middling repair felt solid by the end, though casual inspection may struggle to spot obvious courses of stone! The small gap progressed further than we first thought possible, reaching the coping stones in the most part, and with a nicely ordered selection of stone ready for the next volunteers.
We secured posts to support netting over the gooseberries and blackcurrants today, though it exposed the imminent need to replace the rotting bed edging in the near future. More weeding and watering of vegetables and flowers, and mowing of the pathways.
Well done to Tesfaye who managed to coax the reluctant wacker plate into life. We had barrowed 2 tonne of fine path topping to improve the final surface of the shelter, and put some aside to foot the shed.
The comfrey is in flower attracting a lot of bees. It is evident that the frost has damaged some of the flowers as developing fruit is limited, though not necessarily to a bad extent – it will ave thinning out the clusters.
We started the day doing some essential tasks at Culture Fusion. The greenhouses on the meadow had had to be moved for some scaffolding, so these were reassembled and some general gardening done. Meanwhile, in the workshop, a few of us set about separating the bundles of tongue and groove flooring planks which had been given to us as off cuts but had been securely nailed together. No mean feat, but we achieved our goal, measured them and they will just about add up to make a rather posh floor for the apple store!
After lunch we went to the Urban Nature Reserve to cut pathways and clear litter, including stuff that had been chucked in the pond. It’s looking good. Let’s hope the anti-social behaviour is a thing of the past.