Yesterday was a glorious day with nice sunny calm conditions and was just too tempting to not be outside in so we made a start on the garden project in the field behind the nursery. Our main obstacle are the rabbits which live in the hedgerows round the field we know that any choice plants or shrubs planted in the field will become rabbit caviar. Presently rabbit damage consists of well mown grass and rabbit potholes all over as can be seen from the photograph.
To combat this problem we are going to have to fence the entire area off. Thankfully now we have had a bit of moisture which has started to close the cracks in the field from the dry spring and summer that we have been suffering from this season. Because the soil is a medium to heavy clay it has been like concrete which would have been impossible to put fence stakes into so we have been holding off with fencing operations until some moisture was present.
To save measuring the distance between each stake a piece of Farmers Friend (baler twine) was cut into a 3 metre length and a loop put at one end so we had a standard measure. Fortunately we have a Caterpillar teleporter which is the ideal machine for putting stakes in.
To get a standard height we put the first stake in to the required depth and then once again farmers friend was used. A length was attached to a weight and then fastened to the forks of the teleporter. Basically once the weight rested on the floor when pushing a stake in we knew we were at the correct depth.
In the process of pushing some stakes in we found the ground to be still very hard and dry and as a result we broke about 6 stakes. Go down about 6 inches and the ground is still bone dry which is a bit worrying because if we have another dry year it will be hard to establish and maintain new plantings but we will approach that problem when we get to it.
On the whole the job went very well so well a coffee break was taken at 10:30 and job finished by 12:30 all fencing stakes in! On the corners we are going to use cut down telegraph poles to take the tension of the top wire but that is another day!
Because we enjoyed the weather we decided we would go for a walk after lunch (Christmas leftovers) round some of the wildlife margins in our fields.
Part of our walk took us round the Miscanthus field which has been planted as an eco fuel crop for pelleting and burning in power stations. The variety of Miscanthus used is giganteus also known as elephant grass. It requires very little nutrient or water and has an ability to sequester carbon back into the soil. We harvest it at the beginning of May and by July it has usually regrown to about 8 feet in height. In a good season it can get up to 12 foot in height quite impressive.
Miscanthus giganteus is a sterile grass and spreads vegetatively via its rhizomes in a prolonged season (early spring -late autumn) with plenty of sun it will flower as it did this year. The flowers have a beautiful pink tinge and look quite spectacular in setting autumn sun.
This time of year the plant is desiccating and losing its leaf leaving the canes behind. It still looks quite impressive at the moment. An interesting feature was that the crop was showing where prevailing winds were coming from and lay in a West to East direction.
As can be seen the flower is still there and has now faded in colour. In the process of walking through the crop we saw two hares a fox and myriad of small songbirds showing another benefit of this crop in providing shelter for wildlife.
Walking along the bare hedgerows we could see the nests left behind by the birds and I just couldn’t resist taking some photographs to share.
A few winter fruits and seeds also still evident.
Something I did not expect to see was flower!
All in all a day full of accomplishment satisfaction and surprise. What more could you ask for at Christmas time!