Winter is definitely here. A decent cold spell, some frosty crisp mornings and even some snow. This means it’s time to think about all those other winter jobs on the farm. Tree planting is one of them. Best time to plant a tree is when it’s dormant – usually between November and March. For us at Regather farm tree planting (for now) means hedges. So we pick up where we left off with the Sheffield Hedge Fund.
Needless to say hedge planting didn’t go exactly to plan in 2020. The really wet winter delayed planting until mid March. We had one session with volunteers and got a nice 50m of hedge planting, protected with tree guards and mulched nice and deeply with woodchip. Then at the end of March…well you know what happened next!
In the end a small team of volunteers and myself got most of the hedge plants in the ground. However due to Covid restrictions and disruption the planting continued well into April. Very little rainfall saw an increasingly dry ground, which made planting more difficult and some of the plants didn’t make it as their roots dried out.
However it’s probably fair to say that more hedge plants did survive than I expected given the conditions. In fact the first 50m of hedge I mentioned a few lines up has taken really well. We planted into nicely damp ground and then gave it an excellent, deep mulch with woodchip. This not only suppressed weeds but locked in moisture during the subsequent drought and over time the woodchip will break down and become part of the soil, providing a fantastic source of carbon for soil life. Deep, woodchip mulches are clearly one of the best things you can do for any newly planted tree or shrub. We will be continuing with this practice throughout 2021.
I’m excited to see the hedge develop this year. Hopefully becoming even more of an asset. Helping manage water flow and rainfall on our sloping site and becoming more of a home for wildlife. I heard recently that edges of habitats are some of the best places for plants and wild animals to feed, shelter and nest. Hedges provide many edges relative to their overall size so that is good and I got a catchy name for this blog post.
I’ve just received the next batch of hedge plaats for this years plantings. Annoyingly some of the species are arriving “later in the spring” as despite being native UK species they are grown in nurseries in that bastion of plant raising, The Netherlands. Some sort of hold up because of moving goods around between the UK and countries on the European mainland… What a pain. Hopefully we can get it all planted up before March this time. I’ve changed the species mix this time around as well. Still a good amount of Hazel but more Hawthorn this time as I didn’t order as much as I’d have liked last year; the blossom is fantastic in the spring, a great source of nectar for insects and of course all the red haws in autumn to keep the birds fed.
I’ll be needing plenty of help planting hedges so if you want to get involved and help out please get in touch with me [email protected] and I will let you know about any volunteer planting days coming up over the spring. Due to Covid I need to manage this carefully but all the usual Covid safety protocols apply, strict social distancing, face coverings when inside and hand washing as appropriate.
‘Funded by Bettys Trees for Life administered by Two Ridings Community Foundation’.