Monday, 28 September 2015

The Big Thin

At last we are about to start thinning the Scots Pine plantation. This job, which is the major  task of our management plan, has taken six years for the two of us to arrange, and  involved consultation and negotiation with a variety of people and agencies.  The plantation dates from 1957. Much of  this tree crop was blown down in the 1987 storm, and since then has remained untouched, growing both weedier and gloomier each year. If  a regular thinning programme had taken place we would now have a lot more  strapping big trees;  instead, much of the timber is of poor quality and fit only for woodchip and biomass fuel, though there is also a fair number of large sawlog trees growing too close together. After this initial thin, the remaining timber will be left to grow on, and the thinning process  carried out again in about 5 years time, and subsequently  every 4 or 5 years or so until nearly all of the Scots Pine has been removed, and in its place, regenerated and/or replanted broadleaves.

To get the machinery in and out, particularly the 'artic' truck which will take the timber away,  we are having to widen the new entrance, We initially thought that the old South  entrance could be used if it was enlarged, but its situation prevents easy turning onto the road, and such a weight would not be tolerated on the bridges over the two neighbouring  Hammerponds.   Instead, our  'carpark clearing' track further up the road will be used to extract the timber from the plantation.  Luckily it's in just the right spot to place the timber near the  roadside for stacking  and collection.

Felling to create  a wider entrance and  a timber stacking area
The digger has arrived to widen the entrance

I'm not looking forward to seeing Old Copse in a  mess, but this is inevitable, and as we've seen before, it quickly recovers. We'll  be having plenty of bonfires this winter. The contractor will be leaving the tops 'at knee height', so we'll be clearing  pathways through it for quite some time, until it eventually rots down.

Our first job was to mark the trees for extraction - easier said than done to judge which ones should go, -  looks easy from a distance, but is harder when you are in among them.


Monday, 21 September 2015

Cabin Life

And here's a little something for cabin lovers everywhere:
especially our friends on the excellent Small Cabin Forum :

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Mushroom Foray

Today we welcomed a group of walkers and mushroom enthusiasts led by Ann Axon (walk leader and Sarah's Mum), and mushroom expert Dick Alder from the West Weald Fungi Group The recent weather - warm sunshine and rain,  produced a bumper crop of fungi to be identified by the visiting group. The foray was followed by lunch at the cabin, and then a 5 mile walk through St.Leonard's Forest, returning for tea before they set off home to Surrey. Everyone enjoyed the day and hope it will become a regular event in their walking calendar. See below for a full list of all the fungi seen and identified.

Tawny Grisette

Unidentified as yet. It has a purplish stem which doesn't show in the photo

Charcoal Burner

Gomphidius roseus (Rosy spike) and Suillus bovinus (bovine bolete). Rosy spike is parasitic on bovine bolete.

Umm.......not sure what these are, but they look very appealing.. 

We've been collecting large numbers of ceps (Boletus edulis) during the past couple of weeks, which are now being eaten fresh, or sliced and dried at home.

Fungi found (listed by Dick Alder)

St. LEONARD’S FOREST, 20/09/15
Aleuria aurantia
Orange Peel fungus
Amanita citrina
False Death-cap
Amanita citrina var. alba
False Death-cap, white variety
Amanita excelsa var. spissa
Grey Spotted Amanita
Amanita fulva
Tawny Grisette
Amanita muscaria
Fly Agaric
Amanita phalloides
Death Cap
Amanita rubescens
Amanita rubescens var. annulosulphurea
Blusher with yellow ring
Boletus badius
Bay Bolete
Boletus cisalpinus
Red-crack Bolete sp.
Boletus edulis
Boletus erythropus
Scarletina Bolete
Calocera viscosa
Yellow Stagshorn
Cantharellus cibarius
Coprinopsis atramentaria
Common Inkcap
Daedaleopsis confragosa
Blushing Bracket
Ganoderma applanatum
Artist’s Bracket
Gomphidius roseus
Rosy Spike
Gymnopilus junonius
Spectacular Rustgill
Gymnopilus penetrans
Common Rustgill
Gymnopus erythropus
Redleg Toughshank
Hydnum rufescens
Terracotta Hedgehog
Hygrophoropsis aurantiaca
False Chantarelle
Hypholoma fasciculare
Sulphur Tuft
Hypomyces chrysospermus
Bolete Mould
Laccaria amethystina
Amethyst Deceiver
Lactarius quietus
Oak Milkcap
Lactarius turpis
Ugly Milkcap
Lactarius vietus
Grey Milkcap
Leccinum scabrum
Brown Birch Bolete
Megacollybia platyphylla
Whitelaced Shank
Mycena inclinata
Clustered Bonnet
Paxillus involutus
Brown Rollrim
Piptoporus betulinus
Birch Polypore
Psathyrella multipedata
Clustered Brittlestem
Rhodocollybia butyreacea
Butter Cap
Russula cyanoxantha
Charcoal Burner
Russula delica
Milk White Brittlegill
Russula nigricans
Blackening Brittlegill
Russula ochroleuca
Common Brittlegill
Russula parazurea
Powdery Brittlegill
Russula subfoetens
Stinking Brittlegill sp.
Scleroderma citrinum
Common Earthball
Stereum hirsutum
Hairy Curtain Crust
Suillus bovinus
Bovine Bolete
Trametes versicolor
Turkey Tails
Tremella foliacea
Leafy Brain
Trichaptum abietinum
Purplepore Bracket
Tricholoma fulvum
Birch Knight
Tubaria furfuracea
Scurfy Twiglet

Monday, 7 September 2015

More Experimental Propagation

Collected beechnuts
Beechnuts separated from their casings

As well as mushrooms, we've been collecting beech mast, noticing that this year, some beech trees have produced none at all, while others have a deep layer around their trunks. The first lot collected needed a helping hand with the nutcrackers to get at the seeds inside, but the second lot have opened as they dried out, making the job of extracting the seeds much easier. They need to be kept cold in order to germinate, so will be stored in the fridge until November, and then mixed with some damp compost and put back in the fridge until they sprout. A proportion  will be planted out direct in the wood and be protected with tree tubes from the deer, and with luck,  woodmice, squirrels, and rabbits as well;  the rest will be potted up and grown on, to be planted out in a year or so. A slow process, but arguably better than  buying in 'whips'  with a dubious provenance.In about a 100 years time there should be a very well established Beech Wood at Old Copse. We've also collected some hazel nuts that escaped the squirrels, which we'll leave in a dry place until they ripen, then plant them in pots, and see what happens. There are also a few cherry seedlings to grow on. These were collected  near a couple of  fine specimens on the Ride -side.

Drying out collected hazelnuts 

There are also about a dozen thriving oaks ready to plant out in the wood, and more growing on at home. These were  raised from tiny seedlings collected from the Ride edges , where oak trees are not wanted . We'll plant these out  to make an oak grove on the SSSI side of the wood, once the Scots Pine thinning operation  has been finished, and the ground cleared.

It's interesting how our ideas of woodland management changes as we respond to growing knowledge, both theoretical and practical, and careful observation.  Our management plan for OC2 says that we would clear fell an acre or so in the birchwood and then replant with a variety of other broadleaves.  However, once we  had a really good look at it, prompted by the felling of birch to make a new track through the top end of the wood, we could see that this part of Old Copse is in fact already quite diverse , with a lot of natural regeneration . All we really need to do is to protect and encourage what is already there. Our next task in this part of the wood is to halo thin around the oaks, beech , and then spot replant  where necessary with broadleaves that we've raised ourselves.

Finally, a photo of our latest woodland volunteer. A keen digger who enjoys the outdoors.

This project's called 'Australia'