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Rake’s Progress at West Beckham Old Allotments, Shed Completion at Wood Norton

A split work party today: four people at Wood Norton and eight at WBOA. The Wood Norton ‘carpenters’ and hole diggers tussled, successfully, with the completion of the shed and composting toilet, thus providing volunteers with shelter and more. This group – Trevor, John R, Seán and Andrew – toiled all morning, with occasional differences of opinion as to how exact they should be in their measurements and with our chairman at one point nearly disappearing down the hole dug for the toilet. He emerged unscathed and they all departed triumphant at 13.00.

Meanwhile, at West Beckham, we arrived to find swathes of hay left from Peter R’s earlier mowing, strewn across both of the patches of meadow on the east side of the site. Brian and Nick made early inroads raking this into piles, then David R and Peter M took over, pulling tarpaulins of very wet hay across to where the hedge care volunteers needed it for mulching.

These hedge managers – Nigel, Elizabeth and Val – were tasked with checking all of the hedge whips that had been planted down the central strip of the site, first to take out any dead ones (barely any – the survival rate is remarkably high), then to remove guards if the young tree was particularly sturdy, to reduce competition from other plants, and finally surrounding the base with the aforementioned mulching hay.

Nick and Brian moved from raking to securing one of the wooden entrance gateposts with, then joined the hedge team. On the far, western side, Bev and Vision spent the morning steadily debrambling, wherever the briars were threatening to overwhelm the whips and hedge plants that have been planted there in the past three years.

And finally, our new species surveyor and bird ringing expert, John S, surveyed the site, looking for good places to place his nets in future and clearing a gap in the south hedge, abutting the green lane. It is, apparently, good practice to place a net at right angles to a hedgerow as birds tend to fly along a hedge rather than through it, so a gap is necessary to allow the ringer to place the net in the most productive position.

By the end of the morning, everybody, bar the bramblers, was helping with hedge maintenance – a most satisfactory activity, which didn’t, however, always please those with aging backs!

A very good morning’s work on both sites – thank you to all. And we will be back at WBOA on Thursday April 4th to continue with hedge care.

Peter Maingay

March 21st 2024


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