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We bought a Quarry (Feb 2022)

Back in September 2021 we purchased nine acres of land on the Devon/Cornwall border that included an ancient slate quarry with a view to creating the UK’s first ever Palm Farm alongside a re-wilding project and this is our story .

January 2022 was a very productive month due mostly to the favourable dry weather and mild temperatures. We began the month by hiring in some big machinery to top and plough a field of around 3/4 of an acre with a view to sowing a wild flower meadow at the beginning of March. The next stage is to rotavate the soil to ensure there are no brambles or weeds remaining. we have planted a second hedge line alongside the driveway ( around 50 meters) with a new plants called Pseudopanex ‘Moa’s Toes’ whose leaves resemble the feet of a dinosaur. This has never been tried before but I had a surplus of plants I grew from plugs last year and if it works it will look spectacular.

Budget is always of concern so we have been looking for ways to achieve what we want with as little expenditure as possible so we looked at the natural resource we have in the quarry and started to extract the slate from a small area on the north-east side and use this slate to create a pathway around the quarry. The slate tiles are abundant and the clay that and smaller pieces of slate that encompasses them we are using as a hardcore base for the pathways. Where we have needed to feel some of the trees in the quarry for access we have cut up and used as an edging and to support a weed suppressant membrane. For the steeper inclines we had to buy in a few ready made slate stepping stones.

In the Quarry we have also started planting in earnest with Palms, Restios and some very rare Borinda Bamboos ( native to Malaysia) which have blue culms. Its starting to take shape.

Also in January we had an area cleared in the South east corner of the land to accommodate the two poly tunnels and a growing area for the plants but we are still battling with the authorities regarding planning consent which has been frustrating.

Work has continued on the dead hedge which now covers around a third of the surface area of the Quarry and planting of Jasmine, Honeysuckle and Clematis will begin this month to cover the dead wood and provide shelter for nesting birds and nectar for our pollinators. All nest boxes are in position so roll on the spring.

Now we have cleared the pond of any pollution, nasty viruses, Terrapins etc we are looking at how to oxygenate the water to support fish and we have a large cliff face that lends itself to a waterfall so we are currently considering pumping the water around five meters high but not sure what costs are involved but ultimately this water will serve the nursery stock so perhaps a worthwhile excercise. All in all we are still very positive and ideas are evolving all the time.

Spring is just six weeks away.

Kindest regards,

Andrew Pearson