At Green Routes to Wellbeing Perth we have been up at St Mags hill working our socks off to battle back the wall of goarse and broom so that whoever has decided to walk to the summit can experience the best view available. Another advantage of doing this is that it gives other trees a chance to grow as when the quantity of broom and goarse is that bad it can dominate saplings putting them in the shade not giving them a chance to grow.
The Green Routes to Wellbeing group in Crieff have been doing a range of activities going from planting bulbs to reinstalling a core path sign. The first session of this year for the first part planting daffodil bulbs at the side of the lade then because we managed to race through all the bulbs we restored a tree cage.
The next week we found a sign that was looking a bit worse for wear as it was completely broken at the bottom so the group got to work using spades and a pinch bar to create a new hole for the sign then put the sign along with a mix of smaller stones, big stones and soil and packed it in with the pinch bar to make sure it was as solid as possible. With the job that they done I think its safe to say that sign isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. After this there was still some time left so we cleared a few ditches to make sure the water was not restricted by leaves whilst going through drains.
Recently a family of beavers have moved into a area at the Lady Marys walk so the task was to walk this path and to keep an eye out for any beaver damage. The day for this was perfect as the sun was in the sky and there wasn’t a cloud in sight combined with the great scenery you experience when you walk Lady Marys.
February & March divides the UK into potential spring down south, and still winter up north. Its tempting to try and get a head start on the season as the day lengthen but be patient! A warm spell can be followed by freezing weather or flood. Spend time removing dead growth and generally clipping back for the season.
As for what you should do for growing vegetables here’s what to do.
- Chit seed potatoes as soon as you have them.
- From mid February onwards sow tomato and cucumber seeds for greenhouse growing
- Plant out garlic and shallots in light soils only
- if you have light soil and live in a mild part of the UK, you can sow Broad beans, carrots, parsnips, early beetroot, salad onions, lettuces, radish, spinach and summer cabbages outside under cloches
- Peas can be sown in old(but clean) guttering that has had drainage holes drilled in it
- Plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers
- Buy new potting compost (peat free and organic) for this year’s sowing and growing. Last year’s product shouldn’t be used as it deteriorates over winter.
- Spread the old stuff over the garden, or use it as top dressing on the lawn.
- Start sowing hardy annual flower seeds in cleaned pots/trays under cover.
- Choose plants that will attract beneficial insects into your organic garden.
- Seed trays and pots should be clean; Potting compost should be fresh; Watering should be from below, and be clean tap water; Keep watering to a minimum; Seedlings must have plenty of light and ventilation, and not be too sown too thickly
- If a frost is forecast, be sure to protect any tender plants.
On the 16th of October I was up St Mags with Joanna helping out a group called the six circle clearing back goarse and broom.
This is a really important job as the broom and gorse are taking over the hill and stopping other plants and trees from growing.
It is also really important as they can block some of the amazing views you can get on the summit.
The group worked really hard and managed to clear a lot, revealing that view of the Tay and the bridge.
I tried my first Cadbury Boost that day and I think its safe to say I found my new favourite chocolate.
On the 25th of October I went out to Pitlochry to help Jeannie out with the Pitlochry Path group. The day got off to a good start as I arrived in Pitlochry and I noticed that the group were very hard workers. The task the group were doing was repairing a path just past the train station.
On the train ride home I was treated to some beautiful views with all the trees turning into really nice reds and oranges and a few mesmerizing streams. When I got back to Perth I went to a Modern Apprentice meeting about how to behave on social media.
What is coppicing you ask? Coppicing is a woodland management technique that involves repeatedly felling trees at the base ,then allowing them to regrow, then providing suitable timber. This technique reigns supreme over replanting as the trees roots have already developed so this means the branches growth would be much quicker and less chance of browsing and shading.
But what can coppicing do for the environment? As trees already shed their branches to extend their lifespan this good be a great way to simulate this to the life of the tree. It also increases woodland biodiversity as more light will be able to reach the ground allowing other species to grow. These species will usually be food for butterflies and other insects which means that they can be eaten by birds and bats etc. It can actually provide habitat as well, is there anything it can’t do…
Its that time of the year again with Christmas just around the corner decorations should be appearing around the street. Another thing that will be appearing in living room windows will be the all important Christmas tree, covered top to bottom in lights, baubles and tinsel.
Its almost strange to think that the idea of a Christmas tree was actually around before the advents of Christianity, as the ancient Egyptians used to celebrate the winter solstice by bringing green palm rushes into their homes which symbolizes the triumph of life over death. Skip forward to the 16th century in Germany when the first use of the Christmas tree occurs. It happened when devout Christians took decorated trees into their homes.
If you have decided to have a real tree with roots this year and want it to last through the holidays then here’s how to look after the tree. First of all you should water your tree regularly and you can also cover the top soil with mulch or reindeer moss to prevent water evaporating and you could also empty trays of ice cubes onto the soil to prevent the water pooling. Only limit your tree’s time inside to ten day stretches as trees are at their happiest at cool temperatures and bright outdoor light. Leave the tree in the container you bought it in to avoid disturbing the roots as you do not want to combine transplanting shock with taking the tree indoors. A tip if you do not like the container your tree came in then you can drop it into a larger glazed ceramic pot or metal bucket which can also catch excess water.
On the 6th of September I was set on a journey through to MaCrosty Park in Crieff to help out Alan with the Green Routes to wellbeing. Unfortunately due to the poor weather Green Routes had to be called off.
Despite the weather Alan and I decided to soldier on and started to work on this over grown lade. Although the lade had started to look like more of a jungle than a lade we managed to get quite a lot of work done and managed to get the lade water back to a good flow.
Although the weather was quite miserable I really enjoyed the day.
There are some hidden gems within our countryside sites. At Barnhill, within Kinnoull Hill Woodland Park, there are some old hay-meadows hidden in the woodland. Over the last several years these meadows have been left unmaintained – almost forgotten and now overgrown. Together with the Kinnoull Hill Woodland Group we have plans to clear the meadows and plant some wildflowers, adding a more plant diversity to the area – turning near-forgotten grasslands into species-rich meadows.
One of the Barnhill meadows
Within these meadows we found several fruit trees, which had been planted to celebrate the millennium. These trees are each surrounded by a cage from when they were planted, to protect the young trees from grazing animals like deer and rabbits. Whilst these cages were initially useful for keeping out the grazers, the trees have grown too large for rabbits to damage, and tall enough that deer can reach regardless of a cage.
Volunteer Jane removing vegetation
Volunteer David pruning a fruit tree
Ranger Calum removing the wire cages
On Saturday 6th October we started the process of bringing life back to the meadows. The first step was to open up the cages surrounding the trees. Once these cages were opened up we could access the vegetation that had been swamping the trees. As the volunteers cleared the overgrown vegetation and pruned back some of the branches from the fruit trees, the Community Greenspace Horticultural Modern Apprentice Adam was also able to prune back some of the surrounding Hawthorn trees to improve access to the meadow.
There are upcoming volunteer days planned within the Barnhill meadows on Kinnoull Hill. Would you be interested in joining? To find out more contact Greenspace Ranger Calum Bachell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01738 476792
On the 4th September I was shown a hidden gem that is the Perth station garden.
This garden is beautiful and full of life. What I got up to when I was there was exploring the garden for any type of insect that was living there. We searched high and low tallying off each bug we found in forty five minutes.
We split the garden into three sections, we had a section for things we found on plants, a section for things we found on man-made objects and a section for things we found on the ground and it was fifteen minutes per section.
We had a list of six special species of which we managed to find three! The ones we discovered were the two spotted lady bug, the leopard slug and the shield bug.