Thursday 26 June 2014

Is that bracken in the orchard!?

Not any more, as armed with jungle knives we cleared around 2500 square meters on our Thursday volunteer day.

Flying bracken! 

Apple trees growing well.

The bracken will will soon be back in the orchard. It's success lies in its underground rhizome system which acts as an energy store and allows it to spread underground. It is thought a single rhizome may reach 60 metres in length!  Cutting weakens it over time.

Bracken hasn't always been considered a problem, once greatly valued  it was cut and used in a range of ways including bedding for animals, a mulch to suppress weeds, a fertilizer rich in nitrogen and potash  and even a biofuel.

This year we are trying some different methods of bracken control including crushing with a tractor on accessible slopes and a trial area of cutting and composting.

Peter at the new compost area.

Some interesting articles include:

Bracken as a peat alternative

Pigs to control bracken

Ali Murfitt
Community and Education Officer

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