Frugaldom Progress

09 Mar 2015

Sunday saw some frugal activity out at the Frugaldom Project. With around 600 trees to plant, including 420 from the Woodland Trust, Sunday gave us the perfect opportunity to get some serious work done.

This is the Frugaldom Project. It is the result of many years of frugal living - saving every available penny in order to make the dream a reality. For those who don't know, we finally managed to buy sufficient land last year and work began in June 2014. This is where we are now 'at' with the plan.

Aerial diagram of the Frugaldom Project

As the diagram above demonstrates, we are concentrating on the main area surrounding HQ (the barn) in an effort to bring the land back under control and plant a new woodland, orchard, willow walk and gardens. Our new woodlands are being planted with native broadleaf trees, all of which have been donated. Many thanks to all involved, including the Woodland Trust and their associated sponsors, for accepting us onto their World War I Centenary Woodland project, and to Wildforms Gardening for Wildlife.

Green lines within the circle represent the areas now planted with new trees - mainly birch, oak, willow, beech and hazel. The bottom green lines represent our World War 1 Centenary Woodland, where we have already planted the perimeter with dog rose, blackthorn and hazel. Yesterday, we added Rowans to this mix and have 60 wild cherry trees to line the main track into the project.

Black blocks of land marked 1 and 2 represent corrals, or paddocks, of rough grassland that were marked out ready for fencing. Each has been planted along two sides, mainly with birch and willow. That tiny patch between the two paddocks equates to a strip of land 50+ metres long by about 3 or 4 metres wide, so we have planted a small willow bed in there to coppice, the end product being used as weaving materials.

Yellow lines show where the smaller, wild garden areas are located, including the Frugaldom 'Garden of Remembrance', which is gradually being stocked with donated flowers, herbs, shrubs and other plants. Beyond this will be turned over to wild flower meadow, more woodland and a seating area that will double up as a picnic area for al fresco dining while out on site.


Red areas denote orchard and foraging areas, where there is now a small, new woodland of crab apples, hazels, elder, sloes, hawthorn, pear, apple and cherry trees. There are quite a few established Siberian Crab Apple trees that already provide a fair harvest of autumn fruits, mostly enjoyed by the local wildlife, but the larger apples were almost exclusively used to make my own jelly, jams and pie fillings over winter.

Along the side of the barn, we have planted an edible hedge, which may eventually stretch the length of the main driveway, to include raspberries, blackberries, black currants and crab apples. We operate a 'help yourself' policy and have a designated 'trading post' where visitors can leave their plant donations or pick up any surplus available from here on the day. Foraging will be actively encouraged whenever we have fruit or berries available.

Along the green lines outside of the circle is where we have begun planting our willow and wildlife walk. This will comprise a meandering path between willow (Salix Viminalis / Osier) that will be grown into an arched avenue, hopefully leading off to wildlife 'hides', observation points and through the bog myrtle plantation to a beautiful big pond area we have at the far end of the project. Yesterday, I managed to get another 100+ cuttings into the ground and have marked out two new rest zones, each big enough to be used as collection points during harvesting of the willow and bog myrtle in future years.

View from rest area

The above photo was taken from one of the rest areas while I was planting the willow and marking out the path to the first observation hide, which will overlook the winter wetlands, along the side of the river. By the riverside, there are already well established willows and this is where we will be planting many more, plus rowans, hawthorn and hazel.

Along the riverside at Frugaldom

This is the point in the river closest to the first observation point, which is on a raised, dry area nearby, out of reach of any floods that may occur. As yet, we have been unable to determine what may once have been on the site, although there are several indications that whatever it was may have been manmade originally. (There's a bit of metal detecting and mini-excavation organised for here soon, but I'll save that for another post of frugal fun and adventures!)

Along the riverbank at Frugaldom

As you can see, we had an excellent day of winter sunshine for yesterday's frugal fun adventure to the field. I'd filled a flask of soup and packed some snacks, so there was no real rush. In between planting trees and giving the little caravan an airing, I had loads of time to explore, walking around the main part of the project and scaring a Snipe into flight! I also saw my first caterpillar of the year - what looked like a Peacock butterfly.

Willow walk route mapping

I had long, since, run out of willow cuttings by the time I reached the overgrown footbridge, so had to peg out as much as I could with garden canes. The path is very overgrown but still distinguishable thanks to the deer having been making full use of it during our absence over winter. Properly developing what will become our willow walk will need to be a major fundraising event if we ever want wooden slats all the way along it - I have been appealing for old pallets but none have been forthcoming, probably owing to the fact that we'd need them dropped off at the site, but it isn't exactly on a main thoroughfare.

Tree planting at Frugaldom, 8th March 2015

It really is hard to believe that we had such glorious weather for planting trees. This is where we are planting Rowans and, as you can see by the photo, there is already a good covering of bog myrtle in what is a fairly boggy part of the land. If truth be told, I'm stood ankle deep in water to take this, after all the rain we have had. Fortunately, it was a bit too cold for any of our resident adders to have put in an appearance but it certainly has not stopped the moles!

Molehills appearing everywhere!

From whence do these furry varmints come? They seem to just pop up one day to start creating merry hell with your land, while also exposing all that lovely soil that could end up in the recycled-tractor-tyre herb and strawberry beds. These mlehills have appeared within the barnyard area and appear to be heading for the corral!

The corral, also known as paddock number 1

This is how our corral (otherwise known as paddock number one) is looking at the moment. The old posts have taken a battering through the winter but it shouldn't be too long before the new ones are erected. Last year we set up a 'fence post appeal' so if you sponsored a post, your chosen name will literally appear on a post once the new fence is completed. The links for post sponsorship (and sponsor-a-tree, shop online or donate) are included in the Frugal Shop. I hope you will consider taking part in this rather unusual 'sponsor-a-post' event. It's not something you see everyday but we do like to think we're giving our followers, supporters and members some unique opportunities.


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