This winter can best be described as incredibly wet. Our land is saturated, and other than a bit of sacrificial field for the horses, we’re keeping off it as much as possible and concentrating on jobs such as harvesting our willow crop for the first time. We’ve certainly learned some lessons. Mainly about how not to treat a willow plantation. Although we mulched the planting areas with plastic, we found out that:
- If you leave any gaps, it is enough for grass to come through and smother the willow.
- If you don’t weight the plastic really well and evenly, either it or encroaching grass with smother the willow.
- If you don’t keep a close eye on the plantation,grass will grow from the edges and smother the willow.
- Any remaining willow that is within the reach of a really keen horse will be eaten.
So mulch really carefully, make sure your mulch stays put, weed often, and ensure that livestock are far away from it, and you’ll have a great crop.
We still got a fair bit this year (don’t worry, that photo isn’t all of it) , and we’re planting back in to replace lost planting, and increase the overall amount of growing stools for next year. Plus of course we now have lots of lovely living willow fences planted which will produce a good crop once they are established.