Bags of Fun

We had a lovely surprise last weekend when some farming friends came for a long delayed lunch at the corner house. They turned up in the tractor bearing gifts at forks end. In with the newly felled birch tree logs was a branch with large moss covered burr to add to our wood form collection set around the garden. They also bought us a special gift to mark recent celebrations, a baby oak tree from the fine ancient woodlands on their land. Where we’ll put that little beauty to grow on our more modest patch is yet to be decided.

Fungi are everywhere this autumn, a good year for them. Apart from field mushrooms, gathered to add extra flavour to a Sunday breakfast fry up or grace a supper dish, I spy non edibles which I believe to be Protostropharia semiglobata (above) These are small (10-30mm high) slender mushrooms with yellow to pure white caps, common on land like our neighbour’s sheep dung enriched permanent pasture. In youthful years I’d have been far more interested in cropping the similar looking fungi of the Psilocybe genus, (below) otherwise known as magic mushrooms.These days I leave them strictly alone but wonder in passing what effect, if any, they might have on flocks of grazing stock at this time of year.

Our own field needs attention. We’re still waiting for the waller to come to patch our stretch of drystone boundary. Meanwhile invasive bracken from our northern neighbours wood has been steadily increasing its claim on our better grassland so I’ve been down and taken the scythe to it. Makes for hot work and given its carcinogenic reputation have had to wear a mask to prevent inhaling any spores from the dying fronds. The following day loaded and dragged two dumpy bags worth up to the house to spread as ground cover under the mixed tree cover of our eastern shelter belt.

Last grass cut of the season. Hurray! Put the machine away now until next spring. Do a final scarify and rake around the meadow’s east border. Pleased to see the west side is now firmly fixed with plantain and other perennial plants established over the previous two seasons of wild flower sowing. In late September I did another, smaller seeding of annuals; more yellow rattle and a ‘butterfly mix’ that included foxglove, red campion, knapweed and scabious. I’ve collected burnet, fleabane, meadow vetchling and common tare seeds from walks along the lane and have broadcast them in the harder to colonise heart of the meadow. Next Spring should bear witness to the results of these labours.

Every morning I religiously do 10 minutes worth of warm up exercises before breakfast (a hangover of drama school training). Have now added to that routine an occasional wander into the kitchen garden to ingest the get-you-awake autumn air and then empty my bladder over the contents of the compost bins. The body’s liquid waste is high in nitrogen which stimulates breakdown of composting matter and uric acid levels are at their highest after a night’s sleep. Also balance the bins ‘green’ input of kitchen scraps and plant material by adding carbon in the form of ‘brown’ or dry matter like cardboard, paper, leaves and wood chippings. Forking over the rotting mass as much as possible helps air the mix to speed the process. Nothing beats the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made your own dry, rich, crumbly compost ready to add to raised beds and borders.

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