Pollinator Patch

Some of us have tacked a scruffy patch near the town end gate, clearing a dangerous overhanging ivy-clad dead elder bough, ripping out lots of strong roots of brambles, nettles and other things.  All with a view to creating a Pollinator Patch to compliment the mini-wilding strip opposite which has been surprisingly successful in its first year. The soil is quite shallow onto a stony base which we've avoided disturbing.  Maybe it's an old cart way or just the rubble from when the major drain was put in from the hospital to Victoria Playing Field. We can't go much further south as there has to be enough space for the contractor's mower to turn nearer to the gate.  How far north we get will depend on energy and determination.  Overall, some 60 sq yds, two poles in old money, so far. I've started gathering seeds for the Pollinator Patch aiming to use just what is setting seed on existing plots, without buying in.  So far we have cornflower, corncockle, poppy, rye, teasel, knapweed, scabious, campion, toadflax and honesty amongst others.  Plus kind offers of other seeds as they mature and plants later on. We have the offer of some clover and I would like to source some vetch for early season flowers but haven't spotted any yet.  I'd prefer to avoid generic cheap 'wild flower' seed packs as many contain buttercups which are dreadful thugs and suppress other things, and lots of non-native rubbish that our insects haven't evolved to like. Other interesting, preferably native, allotment produced seeds of prolific nectar and pollen plants would be gratefully received. Please note that the anticipated annual maintenance will be simply to scythe off to two inches each year and rake clear, so any plants that won't like that are best left out.

Working Party - Virtual, to avoid congregating and contaminating each otherThis means please just muck in and do what you want within the following framework, whenever you fancy. Rough schedule: 

  • Extend the patch (until mid-October), clearing the surface and digging out the bramble, grass and nettle roots.  Dump the tailings on the bank of debris along the adjacent fence - enhancing this insect over-wintering / small mammal friendly thicket.  

  • Stake out an approximate boundary.

  • Not before mid-October, scythe and rake off the established mini-wilding patch opposite, gathering up some of the cut material and dumping it on the new PP.  This will transfer seeds such as Ladies' Bed Straw (which have not yet fully set). Avoid transferring nettles.

  • Leave the new Pollinator Patch alone until Boxing Day lockdown release party, or January.  Then, clear the soil surface again, hoe out significant nasty weeds, fork over and leave.

  • Feb / March start broadcast sowing the seeds.

  • Install a child-level sign saying what this patch is about, with a QR link to detail (eventually photos, maybe) on the FLAG website.

  • Autumn 2021 scythe down to 2 inches and clear.  Poldark moment is unlikely.

  • Review how it's going and consider where to do this next.

I'd welcome suggestions, as I know many of you will have very valuable things to say.

Nigel Gale - Plot 5W

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