Plant Spacing: In
the beginning plants were spaced at 2 x 2m spacing. This was
changed in later plots as they found the weed growth in the
open areas so vigorous they wanted to restrict its vigour as
soon as practical from shade that would more quickly be cast
from trees spaced at 1x1m spacing.
Weed Control: Each
plant was protected with a plastic tree shelter and had a 1x1m
mulch mat of old woven backed carpet. The trees were planted
in straight rows to make it easier to cut the inter-row vegetation
main task was to prevent the site from looking too weedy as
this would give them a bad name with the other allotment holders.
They always felt aggrieved about this as the plot before was
a derelict plot with much rubbish that they had cleared but
this was forgotten and they needed to show they were responsible,
all be it atypical, allotment holders. Apart from this the main
other task was they replaced the carpet mulch with wood chips
when the carpet deteriorated.
Coppicing: At year
four the first hazel plants had formed robust shrubby plants
with a number of major and minor shoots. They cut out, using
loppers, the 2-4 major shoots and left the minor shots to grow.
This was largely because they have regular visit by people and
they did not want to do a 100% cut which is ideal as for a time
in Spring when they do our open day they would have nothing
to show! Other species such as Ash that forms a single stem
they cut for the first time in 2001. They did this by simply
cutting whole trees and leaving a 5cm high stump, which has
sprouted numerous new and vigorous shoots.
Layering: To make
good the initial wide spacing they have layered a number of
hazel shoots into the larger spaces. This has had mixed results
as the layers were difficult to see and they regularly disturbed
them when weeding the new copse and they formed of a trip hazard,
not popular in a nettle dominated site!
and bluebell bulbs rescued from nearby ancient woodland were
planted at the time of the time of the first hazel planting.
This was a mistake as the flowers were soon overwhelmed by the
vigorous weed growth on the fertile allotment. After three years
of painfully hand-weeding the nettles from around the bluebells
they succumbed to the inevitable and left the flowers to fight
it out for themselves. The only help they now give is by not
cutting the interrows in the area concerned to allow them a
chance to grow and seed after which they cut all interrows frequently
removing the cuttings in the hope they can reduce the fertility
of the site.