Saturday was one of those classic days we get too rarely here in Snowdonia, the sun shining down from a blue sky with fluffy white clouds floating by. Down on the coast it was T shirt and shorts temperatures but up here at 600 feet higher it peaked at rolled-up sleeves in the afternoon.
My main task for the day was to plant up the wind break. I’ve 20 leylandii in pots to plant and they’re not going to hold for much longer. In fact I think they’re past the point where they should have been either planted or potted on.
The suggested spacing for hedging with leylandii is 2 feet between plants but I’m intending to allow these to grow quite tall before topping so I’m spacing at 3 feet apart. This gives a length of 60 feet. In hindsight, I should have ordered double the amount but then again, would I have got them all planted up in time?
I’d mowed a strip down the other day so I reduced the mower cut and ran over it again, then lowered again for a final cut. I avoided crashing on any more rocks but the mowing did expose a few more.
I started by sticking bamboo canes in to mark the planting spaces for the first ten. After that it was a rinse and repeat job. Cut a square in the turf with the spade, a foot on each side and then slice across the middle to make 2 strips. Lift the turf and then the fun begins.
There are that many stones that digging deeper with a spade is well nigh impossible. Even the fork keeps hitting stones and refusing to dig in so I ended up on my knees digging in with a crowbar to break up the soil.
Using a trowel I took out the soil, separating the larger stones out then break up the base again with the crowbar. Then a trowel full of mixed hoof & horn and bonemeal with a sprinkling of slow release fertiliser granules goes into each hole, mixed well into the soil.
Then a bed of ericaceous compost followed by some mycorrhizal fungi, tease the roots out and plant the tree so the soil level is the same as in the pot.
By the time I’d got the first ten planted, it was eight o’clock and time to pack away. Including a couple of comfort breaks it took six hours, just over half an hour per tree to plant them. Still, they’ll be there for years so it doesn’t really matter in the great scheme of things. I’ll lay the weed-suppressant mat around them another day.
Packing everything away and spreading the grass clippings around the gooseberries left me just enough time to enjoy the sunset with a glass of beer to soothe my aching shoulders before going in.