MCT Activities in March & April 2016

We had cool but pleasant weather on 24th April for our Volunteer session so  were able to do some mowing along path verges and start planting out some of the plug plants MCT has raised to improve the wild-flower meadow (you can see a video on our Facebook page).  With help from Margaret, Lesley, Louise, Paul, Richard and Malcolm we made  good progress.  The plants had to be watered in as the soil is finally starting to dry out a bit.

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It finally stopped raining on 14th April, giving us a chance to use the new Mountfield battery power on some of the path verges.  We’re grateful to the CYC Dringhouses & Woodthorpe Ward Committee for funding for the mower.

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A very useful photo from the MCT Chair, Margaret Silcock, that shows very clearly why MCT has been putting a lot of effort recently into getting the path pack to its former width.  We’d welcome inputs from any one who’d like to volunteer to help with this activity.

Our plug plants are doing well and are being hardened off.  We hope to plant them out at the next volunteer session on Sunday 24th April (from 10.30).  Photo below shows Ragged Robin, which we are hoping to establish on a wetter part of the site.  We also have many more Ox-eye Daisies to plant out.

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We did more path restoration at our Sunday Morning Volunteer session on 10th April. Lesley and Malcolm used 10 more bags of Cotswold chips to widen and improve the section of path with the last remaining substantial puddle.  Meanwhile Paul, Pam, and Louise cut up and composted yet more willow waste material.

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Fortunately it was dry in the morning on April 7th for Malcolm, Dave and Adam to use a tonne of Cotswold chips for path restoration.  They’ll soon weather to the more normal path colour.  Thanks to Pam Brown for the photo.

They also filled a wooden extension to the information board near Nelsons Lane.  This will later be fitted with a leaflet dispenser.

Dave Moore photographed a couple of interesting fungi on the site at the end of March. One we think is Armillaria mellea (Honey fungus), but we’d welcome information from anyone who can identify the other.

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Lesley, Paul, Louise, Pam and Margaret enjoyed a sunny period on Sunday April 3rd to do several more metres of path restoration close to the Little Hob Moor end, prior to adding more Cotswold chips (due the following Thursday).  They scraped away grass and mud overlapping the path that had been churned up by cyclists, and replaced some of the gravel after sieving.  Pam and Louise also cut up willow offcuts from the previous Thursday volunteers session.

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CYC  had to cut down a large (but sadly seriously diseased) willow in the 3rd week in March as it was a threat to an adjacent house.  Margaret Silcock (the MCT Chair) thought some of the offcuts would make useful and attractive seats near the information board.  Once treated with preservative and pegged in place so they couldn’t easily be tipped over they provided a comfortable place to sit with a view through the trees towards the meadow.

An MCT volunteer managed to finish breaking up and sieving the soil/gravel mix  near the path junction on Friday March 25th (photo below showed an earlier stage). He  returned the gravel and added 3 more bags of gravel.  This should improve both drainage and appearance at that corner of the site.

It was a lovely morning on 20th March for restoring a section of path back to its original route. Pam, Lesley, Louise and Malcolm relocated the boundary logs by the info. board back to the original path boundary and then scraped away the soil and grass that had encroached about a meter over the path. Stones were recovered from this material by sieving and returned and 3 more bags of gravel added. A bit more may be needed but we hope you’ll find it more attractive and safer already. Edging logs can now be pegged in place much more securely.

Problems experienced when pegging down the log edging made us suspect that the path near the information board by Little Hob Moor probably had migrated westwards by about 2 feet. Tests (with a garden fork!) an March 17th showed this was indeed the case.

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As the above photo shows we scraped away the mud and grass that had encroached on the west side of the path.  We also dug over compacted soil on the east side, where we then planted 10 young hazels to create a low hedge to delineate and restore the original path boundary. We’ll shortly be adding more gravel to resurface the exposed part of the original path after first sifting out more of the fine soil particles at our next Sunday volunteer session.

At an extra session on Monday 14th March Adam and Malcolm spent a few hours improving the access area to the rear path by adding gravel, pegging down log edges to stabilize them and planting an extra holly.  It’s nice to see the grass starting to recover from the damage done over winter by bike wheels.

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Dave, Adam and Malcolm cut up a spare recycled plastic pallet to convert it to 2 reinforcing strips on 10th March.  These were added to an earlier pair on a particularly boggy section of the rear path, and packed with clay and a layer of gravel.  It’s now much safer and easier to cross.

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They also planted a few extra native primrose plants at the north west corner of the site in dappled shade.  The ones planted there last year have been flowering constantly since early November last year.

On March 6th we decided to do a litter-pick on Mayfields and the adjacent part of little Hob Moor as part of the City of York Council’s clean up for the Queen’s 90th birthday.  Louise, Malcolm and Jean collected 6 bags of litter for proper disposal.

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Spring this year was heralded by the first snow on Mayfields after the very wet but Mild winter!  The soils are still very wet and often slippery, which has prompted MCT to do more work on trying to create safer paths with mini-dead-hedge boundaries.  These protect areas where we are trying to improve grass and wild-flower growth to benefit both pollinators and the landscape by encouraging cyclists and walkers to stick to paths when it’s very wet.  Pam as ever was out early enough to catch the early March snow on camera.

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Make, Dave and Adam after extending the mini-dead hedge on March 3rd, 2016

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