A hectare of agricultural land at the top of a southwest slope became available after the wheat harvest. Its elevation was 150 metres and was basically clay with flint over chalk. Despite a dry summer it was not necessary to rip the ground because the rain came at the right time. The stubble was free of weeds and did not need to be sprayed.
Time of Planting
It is preferable to plant in mid-November when the soil retains its moisture and temperature. This helps newly planted trees to establish their roots, whereas in January, the soil is cold and at risk of being lifted by frost.
The Oak Provenances
Rather than put "all our eggs in one basket," four different types (see illustrations) were chosen. It will be very interesting to see whether the stronger Dutch oak from Zevenaar will out-perform the three English varieties. The local Hampshire stock from the Lockerley Estate should do well, whereas the Suffolk oaks may not like the conditions.
All were 40/60cms high, bare rooted stock, 1 + 1.
Time Spacing and Design
The preferred spacing was 1.8m x 1.8m, giving 425 trees for each provenance, in different blocks. These were separated by 5 metre rides. Hampshire Woodlands planted all 1,700 trees informally, ensuring no straight lines. The work was carried out by one skilled man in six days.
The Tree Guards
Self-expanding spiral guards with canes will protect the trees against voles and chemical spray drift.
The Special Fencing
Wessex Woodlands provided their very best quality Deer/Rabbit fencing, with CCA treated soft wood stakes and strainers. (Deer netting = 13 x 190 x 15 LHT. Rabbit netting = 1050 x 31 x 19 g.) The fence was 6 feet high and came with a 4 foot wide self-closing gate.
Walter stands beside his deer and rabbit proof fence.