Feeling very accomplished today. Been out with the Lothian Conservation Volunteers on Wester Craiglockhart Hill, and made 3 lbs of rhubarb and ginger jam.

Wester Craiglockhart Hill is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), sitting 5 km from Edinburgh City Centre. It’s also about 1 mile from my flat, so I was very happy to help LCV do some gorse bashing.

The site was designated a SSSI due to its two grassland habitats, one acid one calcareous, which together have to a 133 plant species counted on the hill.

The latest SNH report is that the condition is unfavourable so it’s a good job that LCV did the day’s work; and we made quite a difference: pulling up invasive rosebay willowherb, cutting down oat grass, and cutting back gorse on the grassland and on the access path to the summit.

Gorse grows new spines at the end of the branches, and the old spines dry out and fall off. Hacking away the spine mulch, which can be up to 5cm deep under the oldest bushes, reveals a relatively barren habitat from a botanical point of view. Although I saw several species of invertebrates living there with a cursory inspection, I doubt whether these are specific to gorse mulch. Gorse is also a legume, so it’ll fix nitrogen and improve the soil and, may facilitate the arrival of other species to out-compete the wild flowers.

In other news, Rhubarb and Ginger jam takes ages to boil and reach the setting point. I’m actually quite worried about how much energy it takes to preserve food; this took the best part of an hour on the hob, and I’ve only got 3lb of jam. Putting energy considerations aside, I’ll let you know how the jam tastes…

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