In a big rush, in the last month I like to plant (August), we got this year’s trees finished. 1200 in total for 2022.
The final big planting day was both horrible and beautiful.
Horrible was the weather, which was wet and windy, with everything mud-coated. Rain-catching coreflute discs that I now use instead of mulch went flying on the breeze. Rhiannon smashed her finger while using a mattock and I had to hunt for the first aid kit – finding only the snake bite kit, which we cut up to make a bandage. Jack also cut his finger on barbed wire. The four extra jackets I’d thrown in the truck, just in case, all got used. Several people had to switch their cold, soggy leather gloves for dry ones after lunch. The slope was steep, and we had to dig all the planting holes with mattocks because it was too steep for the ripper. I wasn’t popular when it was found out that sixteen more holes than we had plants had been dug.
Beautiful was that we had fifteen wonderful people helping, not including those who came on the other weekends. All of them were cheerful and enthusiastic, even Rhiannon when she was suffering from hypothermia as well as shock. Every plant we had (280 of them) was put into the ground. The view was gorgeous, looking over the river in two directions. It was immensely satisfying to have this area planted. It’s at the top of a gully, that we see from Esdale daily, and has very gravelly soil which tends to get easily worn by the sheep into bare ground. I’m hoping that being fenced will help retain the soil. A few holes got dug in the actual gully itself, but didn’t get planted because they immediately filled up with water.
Some of the trees we were planting were a little small. My first principle of planting is usually to only put in healthy, appropriate, native trees and shrubs. I ran short of eucalypts on this last day and dragged a dozen back from the discard pile, figuring we’d give them a try. A few of them had been chewed on by leaf miners. One went missing while it was being planted. It was so tiny it was almost invisible. Luckily (for the tree) I found it in the side of the hole, then dangled it in space and filled soil around its roots. It’s one of the “climate-ready” seedlings, which I’m hoping will do better in the long run than its slow growth so far would suggest. It’s part of the biodiversity we want, if it survives.
Huge, huge thanks to our undaunted crew.
And as we finished, a rainbow.