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Moseley Bog Friends' Blog 04/08/15

Posted: Monday 10th August 2015 by Joe.P

Volunteers spreading seed at Moseley BogVolunteers spreading seed at Moseley Bog

These blog posts are sent in by Mary Girvan of the Friends of Moseley Bog & Joy's Wood to give a personal perspective of a day in the life of a volunteer. She also does the twitter feed for @mosbogfriends.

Welcome to the Weed and Seed Fitness Class. A whole body workout with focus on abs, glutes and upper arm.

Here's how to do it :-

Session 1 - Tree Weeding

Step 1 Start with a warm up walk to the Pensby Close Meadow

Step 2 Stretch tall, loosening the neck and shoulders, and look for saplings among the weeds. Remember to straighten your back

Step 3 Bend forward and then to either side, and cut a circle about 1ft (30 cm) diameter around the sapling with loppers or shears

Step 4 Repeat from 2, for as many saplings as you can find.

For the first few years after planting, trees are very vulnerable. Weeds compete for nutrients, light and most importantly moisture. Sometimes weed choked trees die completely - we can't have that. The Weeds in this case are bracken, which used to be harvested for firelighters and animal bedding, and nettles which can be made into string. If you see Japanese Knotweed, as we did, stop before completing step 3 and step away. To cut it is to spread it, a very bad idea.

Repeat steps 1-5 for as many areas as you previously planted trees!

Session 2 - Ragwort Pulling

Step 1 Warm up walk to the Joy's Wood meadows.

Step 2 Lift your knees high and walk through the tall grass, as if from the Ministry of Silly Walks, to find the Ragwort.

Step 3 Bend forward and stretch your fingers down the stems towards the roots.

Step 4 Pull gently but firmly, so as not to snap, ensuring you get the root. Repeat all steps until the beautiful yellow member of the daisy family is gone in all the meadows. I didn't realise how controversial ragwort is. It has a law against it - The Ragwort Control Act 2003 - though this doesn't mean it's illegal to have it. It can be poisonous to livestock particularly horses if they graze on it, but not dogs (our main livestock). However, tales of its poisonous nature and it's spread can be exaggerated, and it is food for the exquisite cinnabar moth. Anyway, we just wanted to control it by taking it out of the meadows before they're cut so its seeds aren't spread.

Session 3 - Collecting Yellow Rattle Seed (caterpillars, beetles and grasshoppers)

This exercise can be carried out at the same time as session 3, and involves bending forward to put a bucket, safety helmet, cup or other recepticle under the spent yellow rattle and shaking it until the seeds fall out. Remember don't collect all the seeds from one area or one plant. Leave some to spread naturally. 

Session 4 - The Seed Spreader Dance (group activity)

Start with another warm up walk to Pensby Close Meadow. Do another silly walk through the long grass and gather in a tight circle. Slowly move out hopping from one leg to the other dragging and scuffing your heels. The more experienced can incorporate a forward scuff, without falling over. Once you have a bare piece of soil, grab a handful of seed and scatter it. Then complete the dance by stamping over the area. Repeat the dance in another part of the meadow until all the seed is gone. 

Finish the day with a cool down walk back to the car park.

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