Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Tasks are changing to autumn organisation

It's always a relief when the next 7 1/2 tons of compost arrives as we have difficult access and the driver has to be pretty good to get in. Today's was brilliant, completely unphased by the fact he had to reverse blind (no possibility of keeping any mirrors out) between two solid walls then negotiate a barn and a garage and a standing stone across a very wet grassy area..... He couldn't get down the slope where we usually tip it but it's reasonably near where it needs to be. This is the municipal stuff, black gritty and not altogether pleasant smelling, that I use as a winter mulch when I can. I've still got a few tons of mushroom compost left but have used about 12 tons of that this year already, it's amazing where it all goes. I usually have two loads of the municipal but I need the next lot in a different area so I'm going to have to talk to one of my neighbouring farmers to see if we can borrow something rather larger than a wheelbarrow to get it where it's needed!

It's time to cut things back. Amazing how much growth there has been this year, I'm chopping down the spent Michaelmas daisies to give some air to what's behind and around them, and will probably move most of them to a different site as they are really beautiful in the top garden but spread so quickly because they rather like the conditions, to the slight detriment of any of their neighbours. I discovered a lovely delicate aster with small pink centred flowers that had become completely hidden by larger forms, even the large wedding cake viburnum had completely disappeared behind the daisies, I could almost see it cheering up immediately as I moved a huge clump from its sight line! Euphorbias have done astonishingly well this year and all my small plants have at least quadrupled in size this year so I will be quite stocked come next spring. I'm hoping all my bulbs will have been as happy so there's a wonderful spring display but I fear the mice have been extremely busy. We pulled up the black membrane which we had put down over last year's tulips when they had finished - to stop weeds more than anything - and had obviously provided the ideal quarters for mice and voles. Hundreds of bulbs had been dug up and were scattered across the surface of the soil, and there were tunnels running everywhere.

We're about to start preparing the new tulip area. About 10,000 bulbs are going in this year, a lovely selection I hope, but I'm rather worried about rabbits and rodents. I still haven't rabbit fenced everywhere, I know I should but it is just so so expensive and rather complicated here. I have had quotes from £2000-4500 and immediately retreat and hope I can think of a cheaper way. I do have some wonderful chaps come up from the Welsh valleys every few weeks to catch rabbits - sometimes they bring guns, sometimes dogs, sometimes ferrets but unfortunately the worst warren is along the bank dividing my field from a neighbour's paddock and the paddock is totally overgrown near the hedge which is where all the bunnies are happily hunkering down..  I can't get anyone in to chop down the undergrowth as it's not on my land and it's too overgrown to put long nets for ferrets which are the most efficient rabbiters.  Someone advised me to get some semi feral cats in the tin barn, but I don't think they would live here long because of the dogs, and I also think I'd need a whole pack - some days you can look over the field to the grazing area and can count up to 70 rabbits. One of the dogs has eaten so many she has almost doubled in size, but there are just too many....... All advice welcome!

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