Greenfingers - March 2020

I’ve been reading up the excellent community purchase of Box Woods and generally about the value of trees, or at least the various ways in which their benefits may be measured, generally reduced to a monetary value. The lowest value is the replacement, though not necessarily with a like-for-like. Next up is the value of the timber, which varies with type and quality, as well as quantity, but is readily priced. Assessment becomes more difficult when we look at the benefits in terms of flood prevention, reduced soil erosion, carbon capture and storage, pollution removal, traffic noise alleviation, wind barrier, wildlife harbour and amenity value. But if we look carefully at each item, and estimate for example, the annual cost of installing and maintaining a fence to reduce traffic noise, as opposed to planting and maintaining a hedge, it is possible to generate a total annual benefit value – and it is far higher than the value of the timber.

I wonder whether the idea of the community purchase of a field local to Minchinhampton which could be planted to create a wood from scratch might generate Greenfingers0320any interest?

The mild, wet weather we’ve had over the winter has been wonderful news for slugs and snails. In checking the pest control options, I liked the name of Mighty Mite, Macrocheles robustulus but it’s not suitable for slugs. And according to the RHS website, copper foil, egg shells, grit and wool pellets are not particularly effective control methods. So traps, encouraging predators and torchlight searches are probably best. Avoid pellets which could harm hedgehogs, song thrushes and other predators.

Now is a busy time for planting seeds, preparing beds, pruning bush and climbing roses, and planting potatoes, onion sets and summer-flowering bulbs, and I’ll cover moss in lawns next month.

A close approach of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn around 18th March will be joined by the waning moon in the pre-dawn sky, to be followed on 20th by the Spring equinox. Venus will reach its highest point in the evening sky on 27th, and will be close to the 4 day old moon on 28th.

Pete Smith