Tuesday 28 October 2014

Winter works in the orchard begin!

Last week we kicked off some winter works in our orchard at Corehead. We have a lot of basic maintenance tasks to do over the winter so under the theme of Apple Day we began to tackle them.

The first job was to finish off staking all the trees. By knocking a small stake in beside the tree and securing it with a rubber tie, we are helping to give the tree a bit of support in windy conditions. As the tree gets a bit older, bigger and stronger we can remove these. A second job to start was giving the current mulch mats a bit of TLC. There are a lot of dominant, thick grasses in the orchard which, under the surface, compete with the trees for water and nutrients. 
The mulch mats help to suppress these grasses but they need regular maintenance. Initially most of them were secured with stones. However as we plan to undertake a proper grass management regime in the orchard (which over time will help to reduce the density) and stones and cutting blades don't match (!!), we need to remove theses, hand weed underneath and around the mulch mats and secure them again with pegs.

......and after!
With volunteer help we made a start on this yesterday but we have plenty to do. 

Volunteer recruitment at the recent Moffat volunteering event
If anyone would be interested in helping us out in the orchard or any other volunteer events we have planned at Corehead then please do get in touch


Site Officer

Woodland Ghosts and Fairy Folk

Its that time of year again, when the leaves fall, the wind picks up, pumpkins appear at windows and the woodland sprites come out to play.

To celebrate the changing of the seasons we gathered in the barn at Corehead for a morning of nature based story telling and mask making. The weather forecast was Autumnal (gales and rain!) so we came prepared with blankets, hot chocolate and some nice new benches to sit on (thanks keith and Lynn!)

First we set out to exploring Corehead to gather natural materials then we got to work.

and here's what we created

Many thanks to Morag for her wonderful story and to Fi for sharing a poem.

That was the last of the October adventure clubs, looking forward to the winter and beyond

Community and Education Officer

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Peat damming at Talla Moss

We've been having a busy time up at our new site at Talla. Added to all of the work Tim has been doing with our contractors Treesurv at Talla Bank, we have recently had contractors on our own patch at Talla Moss.

We've been lucky enough to get funding through Peatland Action for some works up there. This was masterminded by Emily Taylor from the Crichton Carbon Centre who has been doing some amazing work to help us sort the land drains that we found on site. These drains take all the water off the land. By blocking these we are allwoing the water to spread across the site, creating a nice wet peatland site. This has benefits for Co2 absorption, as well as helping with water flow regulation and water quality - the latter in this case applies especially as we are right above the Talla reservoir!

We were given money to put in a number of peat dams across the site. Emily created a map of all the drains on site and got contractors Barker and Bland on board. However before works began we consulted closely with Scottish Water, who after a site visit, gave us their agreement for the works.

Our visit from Amanda and Graham from Scottish Water
Barker and Bland have finessed a number of peat dam blocking techniques and were able to demonstrate 3 of these on site to us. It was their first job in Scotland so it was great for us to have them and we were very impressed with the work they did. 

The example in this video link is one of the techniques they used. 

They scoop out an area across the drain, dig out a lump of good turf and turn it over. This is to give the damn a good seal. They dig out a 'borrel pit' to the side, uphill from where the damn is to be. They take some more good peat out of this and add it to the damn. They then re-profile the sides damn so that it is visually disguised in the landscape. The borrel pit upstream from the main damn helps to act as a drainage area to prevent too much water building up behind the damn and breaking it.

The second example in this video link is similar but instead they make a number of damn along the drain and as they work between them they used the digger to make a few cuts in the peat either side and squash these with the bucket to effectively close the drainage channel.

But the question is..... did it work? Well we've had a lot of rain recently and this picture was taken on site today. You can clearly see how the water is being held back by the dam and is spreading out nicely along the borrel pit - textbook!

All very fascinating stuff and great for us to have Talla Moss used as a demonstration site.

Site Officer

Thursday 16 October 2014

The trees have arrived

This time of the year is always a momentous one at Wildwood - the arrival of the trees for winter planting!

This year the volunteers have 6,045 trees to plant around the site and were delivered to us by Alba trees. Alba is a company we have been working with for many years. When the volunteers collect the seed, this is given to Alba to grow on for trees which we then plant on site. All the seed is collected from sites that are nearby which gives it strong local provenance to Carrifran.

Once the trees were delivered (to our shiny new tree pen no less), the sorting began! 

Volunteers making our new tree pen 
The finished product!
Sorting the new delivery
And we're all ready to go!
We have 3 compartments that we have prepared for planting with spot spraying (see previous blog post Preparation for the Winter) and over 4,000 trees will go into these. We also have a number of other areas around the site where we will plant the rest.

So what's going in this year (drum roll please)

Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea)
Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna)
Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
Downy birch (Betula pubescens)
Downy willow (Salix lapponum)
Grey willow (Salix cinerea)
Dark leaved willow (Salix myrsinifolia)

We then spent the next day delivering the trees to the first of the compartments to be planted this season. It was a misty drive up on the quad bikes but glad to say the trees were safely delivered. 

Bikes with the first load ready
Top of Carrifran Gans. Now where was that tree drop point......
And as we made the drop the clouds lifted and the view down into they valley below was magical.

Towards Talla and Gameshope
As ever the volunteers will have another busy planting season ahead - I think they are rather looking forward to it though....

Site Officer

Wednesday 15 October 2014

Wild Autumn Treasure Trail

In the first of our Autumn sessions with Corehead Adventure club 26 of us many gathered to take part in the treasure trail, here is a glimpse into our adventures on this beautiful sunny Autumn day. 

To the right of the houses at the end of the road,
Once grew a tall tree, upright and proud.
Now it is fallen onto the ground
Look for its stump where the next challenge is found.

 The name of this mushroom can it be true?
Its purple and jelly and thinks a lot too!
Can you guess?
 Purple Jelly B____?

Now open the treasure box behind the stump!…

Many clues and treasures later we made it to the next challenge! 

Make a elf, fairy, goblin or sprite
Or maybe a creature who lives in the night?
It could be an owl a hedge hog or mouse, it could be a worm or a strange mushroom house!

Remember those sticks and the beard you have too
then head onto the stream with your creature new……. 

Leave your creature here!! They are needed to guard the stream and protect the trees whilst you complete your tasks.
Now find your reward J then head for the trees, at about 150 degrees

woodland crowns!! 

Now follow the mushroom with red cap and white spots
There are strange things afoot
Lets see what shes got.  

Well done hurrah, youve got so far, time to head back ta ra ta ra.
Your final prize awaits, back at the barn! 

And the final prize!? A grow your own mushroom kit! 

Join us next week for woodland Ghosts and Fairy Folk. To book please email corehead@bordersforesttrust.org.