Monthly Archives: October 2016

Getting practical part 2 – Measuring out the sand (is nothing simple?)

So now we knew how much sand we would need, and thus what size of containers we would need.  Duncan and I had decided that I would bring 12 ready mixed containers to the trial site on the day of the sowing, so these needed to be both water proof and secure.  I was hoping to use plastic food containers – but what size?  Continue reading

After the planning, it’s time to get practical. (Always a danger when I’m involved). Part 1, finding out how much sand we’ll need

When Duncan, our contractor, and I met to plan our charity’s wildflower meadow establishment trial we agreed that the next actions were down to me.  These were to prepare the seed sowing mixes, and to buy the plot marker pegs.

The sowing mixes will be comprised of just the right amount of each of the four species of seed, mixed into just the right amount of kiln dried sand.  Which, of course, begs a number of questions: Continue reading

This year’s Autumn Fruits walk beats the weather – but Abigail and James steal the show

On 16 October I ran the fourth (I think) Autumn Fruits nature walk around and through Hillhouse Wood, near West Bergholt.  The fact that I am able to make this statement is a slight surprise, because the previous evening’s weather forecast had heavy rain bang on the time of the walk, and light rain for an hour either side.  On which basis I had anticipated being on my own. Continue reading

The Naturetale Restoration Foundation (me) holds its onsite meeting with our contractor to plan the start of our trial – Part 1

So – the pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place: we’ve raised enough funds to enable us to start the trial, we have bought all the seed we need for the first set of plots, and we’ve contacted our contractor, Duncan, to let him know we’re ready to go.  Accordingly I arranged to meet him onsite last week, to agree exactly what we’re going to do, how we’re going to do it, and when it will all happen.

In preparation for this meeting I went back to read the detailed trial design and instructions that Richard wrote two years ago, to see what they actually said!  Two years ago, when we were still setting the entire project up, they had appeared to be very detailed.  But from the perspective of a few days prior to briefing Duncan they suddenly appeared to contain a few holes, such as:

  • Out of the 36 trial plots that we will eventually sow, which ones should we use for the twelve to be sown this year.
  • How should we arrange the four different treatments (1. = no harrow / 2 annual cuts; 2. = no harrow / 3 annual cuts; 3. = harrowed seedbed / 2 annual cuts; 4. = harrowed seedbed / 3 annual cuts) among the twelve plots to be sown this year?
  • How should we prepare the seed for sowing – how should the right amounts of the four species’ seeds be measured, and how should these then be combined for sowing?
  • What dilution substrate should we mix the seed with, to make handling practical?
  • Exactly how should the seed / substrate mix be sown?
  • What markers should we use for each plot, and where should we obtain these from?
  • How many markers will we need per plot, and exactly where should they be located?

All of a sudden it didn’t feel as if we were quite as well prepared as I had anticipated!

However, after a few to and fro’s between Richard and myself, some high level executive decisions were taken:

Because the overall site is quite homogenous, it will be fine to simply use a block of twelve plots at one end of the site.  This will keep things much simpler for the Duncan’s staff, and will thus reduce the risk of a plot accidently being given the wrong treatment.

The trial design requires each of the four treatments to be replicated three times each year (which is why we need to sow twelve plots each year.) To decide which treatment will be applied to each plot, I listed all twelve replicants in order, and then used an online random number generator to create the numbers 1 – 12 in random order.  I then wrote this order against the list of twelve replicants, and this told me how to assign each treatment to each of the twelve plots. More fascinating details next week