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Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Alpine Meadow

This week we cut the Alpine Meadow. It’s a few weeks earlier than it has been done in previous years due to work demands.

The original method of maintaining an area such as this would have been to cut the long grass using scythes and then raking it with wooden hay rakes. I can only imagine how exhausting this must have been. Our alpine meadow has been cut using a tractor mounted flail mower for many years and the grass was left to rot down. This, unfortunately, has increased the soil fertility and the vigour of growth of the meadow to the detriment of the bulbs and geraniums which get engulfed in the long grass. More recently, the meadow has been strimmed and the material removed. This is a labour intensive method for a meadow of our size taking two days for one person just to strim.

The mowing regime now is to cut the area once a year with a reciprocating blade and rake off all the grass. This ensures that we reduce the nutrient level within the meadow which in turn will help to reduce the vigour of the grass and weed growth. We are already starting to notice a difference just in two years with our improved mowing regime. We are now using a BCS 740 two-wheeled tractor with a reciprocating blade attachment. We will continue to mow and collect the meadow using a Kubota G23 Rotary ride-on mower until the first or second week in September when the first flowering of Autumn Crocus will begin. If the ground is hard enough in late winter prior to the spring crocus flowering we will try to cut again. This helps to show off the beautiful collection of Crocus, Daffodils and later Camassia.

Nereida cutting the Alpine Meadow with the BCS 740

This year we have also utilised a mechanical hay rake attachment fitted onto our two-wheeled tractor. This gathers the cut grass into rows. This piece of equipment proved to be labour saving. Click on the web link below to see the hay rake in action.

It is exciting to think that even though the days are already getting noticeably shorter, it will not be long before the Autumn Crocus and Colchicums are flowering once again.

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