Global Land Repair

WHERE DO ALL THE OLD TREE GUARDS GO?

covers blown against the fence

It’s an embarrassment that when I see litter in our paddocks.  That’s because it’s usually my own: one of my tree guards that has blown off and landed in the creek, or among the ti-tree, or strung up against a barbed-wire fence.

But collecting them again is the easy part.  The problem is what to do with the hundreds of covers that stay on, doing their job, and then need to be recycled?

If you want a seedling tree or shrub to survive out in a paddock, you generally have to guard it.  Guard it against rabbits, frost, loss of moisture and so on.

Over the years we’ve tried all sorts of protection – from star pickets and mesh, teamed with water-filled beer bottles (worked against rabbits, but were not great against frost and moisture loss), then to big floppy plastic “grow tubes” which were held up by three wooden stakes,  (a lot better against moisture loss and frost,  but needed a fence to protect against the sheep). Then to the recycled wax-cardboard milk cartons, which were smaller, easier to carry but not as much protection.  They mostly disintegrate in a year.  Since 2011 we’ve been using corflute (fluted multi-wall polypropylene) in larger sizes that protect the growing plants for longer.   It’s sturdy against rabbits, frost and help with moisture retention, and is easy to put up, only needing one stake.

2011 planting

The ones we use are a delightful pink, from Global Land Repair, which has the extra benefit of showing up on the hillsides so that I can admire my plantings from a distance.   The pink is also supposed to  encourage photosynthesis and rapid root growth.   One batch of covers faded rather quickly, and it did seem to me that the trees planted in those ones struggled a little more, but I may just have been bitter because I couldn’t see them on the hillside.

We’ve tried several different sizes and settled on a medium-sized Pioneer Plus.   Some of the earlier ones we tried were bigger, but to stop them flying away on the wind, they had holes drilled in the sides, which the branches grew through and were tough to remove.  The large ones without wind-holes are difficult to get a grip on to remove, and heavier to carry up steep hills, not to mention the time I asked my assistant Trent to put out 200 of them some days before we started planting.  When the weather turned windy, they took off like kites and turned up hundreds of metres away festooned like giant pink flowers on a patch of rose briars.  Matt Kilby from Global Land Repair is very keen on having wider tops to allow branches to spread naturally, but I find this just allows more access to the kangaroos to nibble it down to a stump, so I prefer his straight-sided ones when I can get them.

It was interesting to compare the guards used by Greening Australia, which are a conservationist-attracting pale green, ready glued into a straight triangular tube shape.  When the Green Team planted our problem paddock on Adnamira they used rip lines plus the covers, very healthy plants, a rather splintery softwood stake, a staple to stop them flying away, and water.  That was much quicker than our twelve step planting program (hole or rip-line, plant, mycorrhizae, tree-starter minerals, coir mulch mat, cover, stake, extra wood-chip mulch, and water – okay that’s only nine steps, but it feels like twelve).

I no longer spray my rip lines or planting hole locations before I put the trees in, because it seemed to cause more trouble than it was worth.  Instead I use a coir mat and lots of heavy mulch to suppress surrounding grass growth afterwards.  That has the extra benefits of keeping moisture in the ground and breaking down into nutrients for the trees.

Even after seeing Greening Australia in impressive action I still like my pink covers, mainly because they are easier to reuse.  The Global Land Repair covers also have a foot that bends up.  Once installed they don’t usually blow away, so don’t need a staple.  The hardwood stake they’re designed for is much less splintery, and stronger, so I often get to re-use that as well, if it’s not gripped by the ground so hard I can’t remove it.  If the tree has grown quickly, usually a wattle, it’s possible to unfold them to get them off, rather than having to cut down the side or squash the new branches through the original small hole.

A weak point in all corflute covers is the edge of the hole where the stake goes through, which tends to tear to the side.   I’ve tried using duct tape to repair that, but it tends to melt and fall off over time.

Most of my pink covers get used two to four times.   Each year I plant about a thousand trees, and recover about 6-700 usable covers.  If the plants grow slowly, I leave many on for two to three years.  Over the years in the sun they fade a little, and after four or five years they get brittle and have to be retired.

It seems a shame to simply send them to landfill.  I supplied a few torn ones to my neighbour Cathy to see if they’d work as flaps on wombat burrows, but they were too soft.  In the end she preferred pieces of chicken wire that the wombat would see through more easily, and receive its dose of anti-mange medicine calmly.  An angry wombat is something to avoid.

Andrew at Pakaflex 1I asked my brother Andrew, who is in the plastics industry, whether corflute could be recycled and he told me it was polypropylene, which is a Group 5 recyclable plastic, “It’s miscible” he said “Miscible, not mixable, for some reason that’s the term they use, but it means it can go back in the mix with both group 5 and group 6 plastics.”  As I hung up he was still muttering “miscible, what a stupid word”.

I called Matt Kilby from Global Land Repair and he agreed to get the recycling triangle and number 5 printed on the future batches.  On that basis I managed to get some into the recycling containers at the Murrumbateman tip, although the manager was doubtful.  .

The Greening Australia ones don’t have the recycling symbol.  I don’t want to re-use them because I’d have to buy the fatter, splintery stakes and a stapler, and I prefer my pink covers.   So I called Graham, one of my contacts at Greening Australia, and asked what I should do?  I discovered that they were happy to take back any that were re-usable (note to self – take a screwdriver to get the staples out without ripping the corflute).  That covered about half of them.

He said they’d had a lot of trouble trying to find somewhere to send the unusable ones, and the recycling stations in Canberra wouldn’t take them, with or without a recycling symbol.

After talking to  Graham I did a bit more internet surfing and found that Corex in Melbourne will take back pallets of clean corflute for recycling at no cost from New South Wales.    That’s interesting.  Maybe we can get an annual program going to collect it up and send it back????

In the meantime, Craig wanted the buckets of broken covers out of the shed, so I took them to Murrumbateman Recycling Station and hallelujah, they took them because the top one showed the recycling triangle. recycling symbol Together me and the guy on duty stuffed a full bag of Number 5 PP.  I hope they go to a good home.

 

 

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SEEDING FOR BEGINNERS

2011 planting

Extreme tree planting

Seed collecting is a new art for me.  It requires timing, observation and knowledge of what you’re looking for.  Mostly I’m nervous that I’ll just take the seeds off a plant and waste them by not planting them in time. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

THE STORY OF THE THREE LITTLE TREES AND THE CIT STUDENTS

 

IMG_1407Once upon a time, a scientist was interested in the physiology and adaptability of Australian snowgums.

The official name of snowgums is eucalyptus pauciflora because they have only a few flowers (not because their flowers are crummy).   In the mountains they’re known for their twisted shapes and striped trunks.   They’re the highest tree that grows in the Australian Snowy Mountains.

snow gum1

In 1972 Professor Ralph Slatyer, later Australia’s first Chief Scientist, experimented with planting them even higher up than they would normally live, and successfully grew them at 2100 metres above sea level (that’s 6890 feet in the old imperial measures).   In the process he discovered all sorts of things about how plants get water and nutrients under difficult conditions.

Forty years later, Professor Justin Borevitz led a team of researchers back to those same snowgums to collect seeds.  You can see what they saw in his  nifty EveryTrail report.

From those seeds they grew a number of seedlings of which they gave us three to plant at Esdale.   Each tree came with a number and a record of their distant parent. Continue reading