For the last eight years we’ve been fervently letting everything grow, more or less unrestricted. So for the first time this summer it became really apparent that it was time to rein things in a bit, as the vegetable garden was becoming darker and darker, and just getting around quite tricky. One or two people commented that the place was ‘a bit jungly’ which is a polite way of saying ‘its a bloody wilderness’.

So we’ve been on a pruning bender, taking down the hedge right in front of the cottage (what a difference), cutting back the hawthorn a bit on the west side of the growing field, and removing a few of the fruit trees that we’d finally decided weren’t going to do enough to be worth keeping. It’s one thing having loads of habitat but at the end of the day we have to produce something, so down came a big plum that has never even pretended to produce plums, a couple of apple trees with some kind of wierd canker, and the dwarf apricot in the big polytunnel that definitely wasn’t a dwarf.

The result is remarkable. We’ve a big new space in the growing field that we’ve decided to put up a third small polytunnel on, and for now, its become home to the chickens. It’s right next to the giant kale patch, so they (and we) have a supply of winter food, and they will prepare the ground nicely for the polytunnel when we put it up.

Our next big jobs are going to be all the willow hedges, which can be cut as soon as the leaves are off, and then the coppice trees on the other side of the lane, when the new electric chainsaw will come into its own. It is brilliant. You get 30 or 40 minutes cutting time, by which time its time for a sit down and a cup of tea, it doesn’t hurt your ears, and it weighs very little so the back gets an easier time of it too. I cannot recommend it highly enough. This one is a Stihl, and it uses the same battery as the Stihl hedgecutter, which is handy, and we charge it from our solar.