Sowing The Seeds

Thursday, April 4th 2019

Managing a small patch of heathland is not without problems. In order to encourage new growth the Heather needs to be knocked back somehow. On a large moor this is achieved by burning. This method is effective as a fire sweeps across the area and the flames are not too intense. In a confined space however, this is not possible and the fire would be too hot. Several methods have been attempted over previous years to manage the Heather at Foxglove and despite all our best efforts there remain many grassy gaps! It was decided to try rotovating these bare patches and then to plant Heather seed on them in order to grow new Heather shoots.

James Coxon and Brothers found the ideal machinery to turn over just the surface of the soil to prepare the ground for planting. This was an interesting task in itself given the uneven terrain and drainage ditches.

Next, the area was raked over to make the surface as even as possible to prevent the seed from getting washed away by any rainfall.

Heather seed is extremely fine and is harvested by specialist machinery making it very expensive. With this in mind Team Thursday wanted to minimise wastage.

As usual, Ian came up trumps with his farming experience and nipped off to borrow a 'fiddle drill'!

Any visitors were forgiven for thinking that they had travelled back in time as Ian stepped out of the field centre with this seemingly ancient piece of farming equipment! It may look old fashioned but once filled it proved to be an efficient way of spreading the tiny seeds.

It was quite good fun and after a little training everyone took a turn.

There was a fine art in making sure that the breeze carried the seed away from the “fiddler's” face! 

 

In no time at all, two of the main paddocks were seeded.

 

 

With only one fiddle drill, another technique was to sow the seed by hand. So with raking, fiddling and sowing everyone was kept busy!

Volunteers also helped with the final tidying of the coppice block (honest!) and moving off cuts of timber and brash from the lake area where Trevor and Darrel continued with vital bridge repairs. 

Another productive day and a fun one too, thank you to all involved.


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