Sunday 19 April 2015

Plastic fantastic

It's about a year since we started on the project to introduce some structure and habitat to our garden. In fact, all that was done was the planting of some Willow sticks last April, so I thought I had better give an update on their progress.

You may remember these posts at the time, as I took the first tentative steps to create a shelter belt, here and here.

And, in fact, that was pretty much it for 2014's habitat creation. We left the Willows to get on with it and watched to see what else would grow in the rest of the garden.

As it turns out, I hadn't given our wee trees the best start in life. They had to compete with several species of grass and Docks for space, light and water, so were really up against it from the off.

A year older, and possibly a little wiser (though that's probably stretching the truth somewhat), it was time to reassess the situation. A fair proportion of the Willows had put down roots and added some growth above ground too. But all that competing with the neighbours had severely limited their potential, and that's before we talk about gale force winds and salt spray.

As you can see above, growth hasn't been great.

Here, a different species of Willow has made a bit more progress. I recently mowed around this one, so you can see the step in the vegetation behind it, which gives some indication of just what the wee trees were up against.

What I should've done was to engage in some weed suppression, chemical or otherwise. So this year, we have gone with 'otherwise' and dug in some black plastic sheeting, which should help to remove any immediate competition.

And here's a new row of Willow sticks, carrying on from where I left off last year. It will be intriguing, at least to me, to see whether they do any better.

In a similar vein, Our Lass wants to plant out some shrubs, but they will need protection from the prevailing winds. The plan is to erect a couple of shelter belts, in small U-shapes, in the desired location. Phase 1 was instigated this afternoon, before the Willows went in.

Here, the vague U-shape is marked out, in readiness for some fence posts to support the fabric mesh. Our Lass was absolutely distraught at the measurements and calculations that I undertook prior to putting hammer to stake, as she remains steadfastly unconvinced that time spent in preparation is seldom wasted.

But, eventually, I could prevaricate no longer. To the barricades!

We now have two sets of 4 posts awaiting mesh and bracing support, then Our Lass can finally bed in some of the shrubs that have overwintered in pots. After the deployment of more weed suppression plastic sheeting, that is.


Sian said...

Hmm I remember you were very skeptical when I got you to help me put plastic down in the garden to suppress the weeks.. I now have a nicely dug bed to plant into.... Will be interested to hear how your experiment of "plastic" versus "natural" goes. Some willows are really slow to get started anyway so you might find last year's crop sudeenly put on a growth about 10 years time.... ha!

Impressed at your fence post pattern....and yes I'd have been tutting along with Mrs. Tense Towers too. Unimpressed by displacement activity of PLANNING!

Imperfect and Tense said...

It's the mantra of the 7 Ps, Sian.

Prior preparation and planning prevents poor performance.

Yes, I know, that's only 6, but there's usually a short expletive just before 'poor'.