PLANTING IN DRY GROUND

The Easter Bunny this year brought friends and excellent company – and the planting of 182 trees and shrubs

.American Gothic Millie and Tom with mallet and mycorrhizaeTricia as the claw monster

Generally, our method of planting trees and shrubs requires lots of water.  We pour on 10 to 20 litres per tree to give them a head start in our dry landscape.   We add mulch and a stout pink corflute plastic cover to help preserve the humidity, among other things. Then we walk away and hope for the best.  We give them more water if the temperature goes over 40 degrees celsius (that’s 104 in Fahrenheit for people on the old-fashioned measurements).

our truck mounted fire and tree watering pump

Our truck mounted fire and tree watering pump plus 800 litre tank

But out new plants have the best chance of doing well if the general ground moisture is good and there’s regular rain after they’re planted.

Ground moisture when we planted this Easter – nil.

Matt Kilby and his Tree AugerMatt Kilby from Global Land Repair dug holes in the dust with his fancy tree-planting auger.  Auger and pink markingWe had a lot of trouble finding the holes I’d marked out with pink paint on the ground.  I’m definitely going back to using stakes as markers after this, but remembering to spray or slash to the side of them so the stakes don’t have to be pulled up when the hole is dug.  Tree planting hole very dry

Matt and I discussed whether we should put water in the holes ahead of time, but he thought not.  Mainly because the powder would turn into a horrible sticky dirt porridge in the short term. We just needed to give the plants plenty of water afterwards.

Our lovely planting team turned up on the weekend for festivities and planting. My idea for a fun Easter weekend was to fill the five small enclosures we’d created in the central valley on Esdale.  Valley tree to be protectedThree of the areas surround existing ancient Blakely’s Red Gums (eucalyptus blakelyi) which I’m hoping either to save or get their successors started.   Digging holes in the Lucerne paddock gullyOne area was in a small gully that cuts across the arable paddock, and the last one was along a fence to the side.  All of them will in time make new stepping stones for the flight of small birds across the landscape.  They will connect with the five we planted last year, joining Mullion Creek towards the river through otherwise very bare paddocks. From 2015 stepping stone enclosure looking uphill to 2014 stepping stone enclosures Esdale Last year’s enclosures were funded by the Kosciuszko to Coast Foundation, this year’s by NSW Local Land Services, which has taken up the idea of linking landscapes by strategically placed tree clusters.

Even better, we’ll get to see these new trees from the house every day, instead of just the slowly dying red gums.

But in the short term I was pretty worried about putting these lovely green seedlings

Trees and shrubs for planting (photo by Martin Neudert)

into this horrible dry ground.

Closeup banksia planting photo by Martin Neudert

Nevertheless, having wonderful volunteers made it worth trying.  So we dug around in the dust, set up covers, mulched…happy planters Lisa and MillieSarah planting

.planting scene under tree photo by Martin Neudert

and finally, watered them in.

Lisa wateringTricia watering trees

Then it began to rain.  And rain.  And rain.  Perfect timing.

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