Thursday, 9 August 2012

Checking out the local woodland

Lotties Wood was planted by the Woodland Trust 20 years ago on the edge of Sunniside, our village. There is a wide variety of trees and shrubs and it's a great place to go foraging. After the extreme weather of recent month, we decided to take a walk around to see what is doing well, and what's doing badly.

We'll start with the good news. It looks as though there will be an abundant hazel crop. It will be a few weeks yet before the nuts are ready for picking but we should not go short. Hazel is very important to us. They are packed full of essential oils, nutrients and protein. It's one of our primary autumn wild crops.

Rowan was reasonable. Some will be ready for picking within a week or so. We'll use it for making jelly. I'm keen to have a go at beer making and I'm on the outlook for recipes for rowan beer.

Haws were looking poor in parts but then I saw other hedgerows that looked reasonable. Again, I think we will get a modest crop.

Raspberries were also okay but nothing staggering. We'll get enough to make some jams but this ain't a bumper crop.

Rosehips looked okay. Watch out for my forthcoming attempts to make rosehip syrup.

Blackberries are late. In recent years I've been picking them before the end of July. It looks like another month will go by before we can harvest them and they don't look as if they will be in their normal abundance.

And now for the bad news.

Cherries have been a disaster. Some kind of bug seems to be killing the leaves. Cherry crop has been non-existent.

Sloes - these are equally a disaster. There won't be any sloe gin this year. Fortunately I have some left from last year. It means less to go into the hedgerow jelly as well.

And finally, the oak trees look well but there were no acorns. I need to have a look at mature oak trees to see how they are getting on but I am not very confident.

I suspect trees and shrubs that flowered in May got a hammering. Sloes for example normally plaster hedgerows white with flowers in the mid spring. It barely stopped raining in May. The last time we had a very wet spring was 2007. We had no sloes then either. March was dry and sunny this year. Hazel catkins are normally out before the buds are bursting on the trees. They had been pollinated (by wind) before the heavy rains. Their job was done before the rains fell. I suspect that's why the hazel crop is good but others are not in such a good shape.

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