It’s that time of year again, when we happily send some young trees out naked into the winter.
The ones that seem large enough have their wildlife and frost resistant covers removed, so that we can recycle them for this year’s plantings. That’s hundreds of covers to be jerked up, flattened and carried back to the truck, then transported to our overcrowded garage for storage.
The weather has continued warm and dry here so far, so the approach of winter still seems hard to accept. Nevetheless.
With the wonderful Georgia Chenevix-Trench, Yin Li and Mum staying for Easter, everyone who was less than 90 years old set off to check out and strip covers from some of our 2014 plantations – the top of the Box-Gum woodland, the first five of our connectivity plots, plus some of the 2015 plots that were missed in our January weed checkups.
The two year-olds were doing well in all the areas, many of them well past the “up to my chin” height standard I use.
As well as collecting covers, this annual event is a good chance to check out and deal with remaining weeds. As the top of the Box Gum area was previously a weedy sheep camp, it’s still got a lot of horehound (marrubium vulgare), but very little of what we worked on last year in the way of Paterson’s Curse (echium plantagineum) and Bathurst Burr (xanthium spinosum). So that’s progress, I guess.
Few of the 2015 trees are ready to have their covers removed.
That is, unless they hadn’t made it through the summer.
That’s not a reason I like. We usually lose between 5 and 20 percent in the first two years. Or, as I like to phrase it, we have 80-95% survival. However, we lost quite a few from the gully in our cultivated paddock. Somehow I’d expected the ground there to be a little damper, as a drainage line, and selected plants accordingly. Unfortunately, it seems I should have chosen differently. One seedling was also wantonly trampled by a wombat who built a new burrow right beside it.
Because we’d labelled those seedlings when we planted them (something I’ve been trying to do more consistently) I could see that the ones we lost were a range of different species, from callistemons to eucalypts and river casuarinas. Hmm. I’d been concerned about the dryness of the soil at planting last year but hoped we’d got enough rain to compensate. Still, the survivors are doing well and are plenty to make a good ecological stepping stone.
Up on the the high ridge planted by the Green Army for Glossy Black Cockatoos (see post here) it was a different story. The mullein weed (verbascum thapsus) needs work, but otherwise things are great. There were a couple of green covers that had been blown away, but otherwise all the plants were thriving. That’s excellent, because it’s a big area, rocky and hard to access. Those allocasuarinas must be really tough. Or they just like rocks.
So, all in all, a lovely Easter.