Updated: Oct 8
Monday 12 July 2021
And the rain came!
We took shelter inside, on the farm.
During moments when the rain ceased, we ventured out.
Nurturing Young Plants
We looked at redcurrant saplings (ribes rubrum) that we’d replanted from a cutting from one of the bushes a few months ago.
Redcurrant (ribes rubrum)
On one of them, there were buds, but it looked brown and dried out and snails were on it.
The others did not have insects on them and they were green and growing with new leaves!
We cleared the weeds and grass from around the young plants to give them space to grow and made sure they had plenty of water. They were growing well in the soil they were in, so we didn't give them more nutrients this time.
Red currants plants produce a vivid pink flower in Spring. They have shiny red sour berries in the autumn, which are used to make jams and jellies and they have medicinal uses. A black dye can be made from the berries and a yellow dye from the leaves. We will try extracting dye from the plant during one of Chilton Magic Garden club days.
Harvesting Willow Shoots
We went around the pond and harvested Water Willow (Salix) shoots using secateurs.
Also branches of unripe fruit and greenery to decorate a vase to decorate our shelter
'Why are we harvesting willow shoots?'
The wood of the willow is fast growing, light and flexible and has been used for thousands of years, for many things like weaving baskets, the chemicals in the bark, tannins are used to cure and tan leather and cricket bats are made from willow wood.
We were going to try weaving the willow shoots.
Once the shoots were gathered, then came the task of stripping the willow of leaves. We ran our hands down the stem wearing gloves. It didn’t work so well running them up.
Bark from the willow shoot can be stripped off by pulling it through a tight fork in a stick. Removing the bark makes it more flexible and easier to bend.
We prepared 6 same length and diameter sticks of willow for weaving.
We crossed 3 over 3 to make a cross. Then with another willow we wrapped it around 3, then twisted and wrapped around the next 3. It was hard to twist the willow shoots.
Next time we will try soaking them in water to soften them more.
One of us made their own invention by tying the shoots together with string. It looked very creative.
We collected some bramble shoots from outside to see if they were easier to work with. We stripped the bramble’s thorns using leather and gloves. Not all the thorns came off completely, so they were a bit spikey and not easy to work with.
A dream catcher was made by bending a bramble shoot into a ring and binding it with string to make the frame. Then a pattern was made by tying the string at points around the ring from the outside going in.
Someone asked to make stick people. We chose sticks and tied them together with string using diagonal lashings and tightening the sticks together with knots. Some were nearly as tall as us, Others made a family of stick people with clothes made from leaves and a grass skirt and the dream catcher used for the head!
Stick person with dream catcher head
We discovered the gigantic burdock plant with its rhubarb-sized leaves and inspected the seeds with their multitude of tiny hooks that can easily attach to animal fur to help them spread.
Burdock is a powerful antioxidant and is used to remove toxins from blood and to cure some cancers and other diseases.
The hooked seeds were thought to be the inspiration for the invention of Velcro, that is used in everyday garments as a very effective fastening.
Burdock seeds with hooks
Velcro with hooks
A brisk walk up the field, filled our lungs with fresh air and immersed us in the greens of the grassy fields and the leaves of the sheltering trees.
We lay in the grass with the expanse of variegated greens and we each read a few verses from a poem by Joseph Cornell about trees.
We discussed how we felt about the words, the feelings of the poem and how we can describe what trees or nature does for us.
We reflected on:
Gratitude – for what trees give us: Oxygen for life to survive on earth; habitats for thousands of creatures; trees provide food from fruit and foliage; shelter; fuel; many other uses; beauty of trees and nature
Attitude- to care more about trees and nature, as trees care for so many creatures
Purpose- to help work with and save nature