Thursday, 20 March 2014

Global Warming , Agroforestry, some Coppicing and Blossom as well.

Recent floods after prolonged wet weather have been a salutary lesson for a lot of people and in some cases their business. What I have learned from the Forest Garden is this.

A higher density of trees in the landscape controls the flow rate of excess rain water off the land this combined with the rough pasture underneath the trees adds to the ability of the land to absorb much more water than otherwise. I was astounded to find that I could dig  planting holes for my 20 new trees without finding water and was able to actually crumble the soil in my hands.

Take a typical arable farm with massive field size and monoculture cropping the rainwater has nothing to stop it in the winter and as a result there is run off and or flooded fields. Or look at a dairy farm with cows constantly compressing the soil whilst grazing leaving the fields bare and hard for the winter. Where is all that rain going to go certainly not very deep into the soil.

My Forest Garden has taught me a lot over the years but this years lesson is the most important of all thus far. Trees are a vital part of the agricultural landscape and if we are to avert the vagaries of global warming within our farming communities we need to move away from monoculture and include trees as part of the farming design. It is called Agroforestry its been around for thousands of years and it works. For more information about this type of farming please go to

Lady day is nearly upon us and this marks the end of the coppicing season so since the rains stopped I have spent all my time managing the strips of land adjacent to the hedgerows. Several old willows have blown over and been held up by others so some very patient deconstruction has been taking place and of course the work has given me a fresh supply of firewood for 3 years hence.

Here are some seasonal photos taken over the last few days.

This golden willow is  just 12 years old and is already over 10 metres tall
                                                  A woodpile following coppicing

                                 Blossom at last... this is Nanking Cherry (Prunus tomentosa)

                                      Here we have a Japanese plum var methley (P.salicina)

                      This is Almond robijn (P.dulcis) a Dutch variety said to do better in the UK