The rain came pouring down as I topped the mullock heap. Drenched, I must admit to descending gloomily to Footrot Flats, a soggy site south of the dam, where I thought our planting had totally failed. Not so – after record spring and summer rains and the warmth that comes with client change, the hybrid eucs and Turkey oaks were rising from the dead. Many were becoming entangled in their plastic sleeves, so I removed the worst cases. Will now have to check whether or not they're more vulnerable to bouncing roos and ravaging wallabies.
Ballarat Region Treegrower members with pruning experience will teach and supervise at the field day, which will start at 11am on Friday 17 October. We’ll stick to forestry trees and practice on invading trees along the 5ha biorich plantation’s edges. Pruning is not just about form pruning for timber values – although if you want to get a sawlog some time in the future, you’ll need to prune. Pruning is also a way of reducing dense canopy trees that are outcompeting shrubs in an environmental planting. And pruning makes it possible to walk and see through what could otherwise become impenetrable scrub. There’s some who argue you can overprune – so come along, learn another skill and be part of the discussion.
Please RSVP to Gib Wettenhall on Contact us so we have an idea how many are coming along. We're meeting at the ImLal display board, 100m past the Ironmine Rd intersection on Lal Lal Falls Rd. BYO lunch and secateurs. $10 for non-AFG members; free to AFG members.
Phil and I have reguarded the redwoods with 1m high roo proof wraps. We managed to discover 15 survivors of the original 67.
We saw a large mob of roos on ImLal North.
From a trial of 67 redwood clones, we have only 12 left. The others have succumbed to frost, grass competition and trampling by a large mob of kangaroos that frequents the more isolated ImLal North site.
Wade Cornell from Diversified Forest Ltd in Queensland supplied the clones almost three years ago. He reports that some of the other trial sites have fared much better, with trees up to three metres, compared to our puny 30cm.
"The exception is [a site] where they planted (against instructions) in a
fresh cut-over where there were no (appropriate) mycorrhizae available
to the trees," Wade says. " Your site would have definitely had appropriate mycorrhizae as they are shared by the grasses that looked abundant on your site.
"Out of season frost can kill young redwoods, but they are usually OK
with -6 degrees and some can take up to -12 degrees in winter. When
heavily frosted they will 'bronze' with the leaves turning a
reddish-brown and take a while to start growing in spring. It's a
little hard to tell from the photo exactly what's going on, but they
didn't look 'bronzed' and more like they are just struggling with other
Phil and I plan to reguard the survivors to protect them from roos. There's still a big enough clump of the sequoia to make an impressive entrance to the ImLal North site.
Phil and I spent a day among the forestry clumps taking out branches to 4m, double leaders and forks in trees. Still plenty to do when we get round to a pruning day.
Greatly improves accessibility and
line of sight through plantation, as well as form.
We are looking to prepare our 1st site management plan. One of the issues we are facing is whether to begin form pruning of trees. Resident printing fanatic Phil is itching to let his secateurs loose.
He argues that it's as much for aesthetics as for silvicultural reasons. If we want the site to be 'park-like' (refer Gammage) and escape the mongrel scrub afflicting many Landcare plantings, we will need to prune and thin, he says.
Forester Gary Featherston agrees that we should start pruning the forestry trees to 4m. He was tactfully silent on the question of widescale pruning.
Thinning he thinks can wait a couple of years. He would leave the thickets of silver wattle (bottom right) to sort themselves out. They're good for biodiversity, he points out, providing protection for small birds.
Imerys Environmental Manager, Brad Haywood, reports that spray contractor Jensans have at last brought on site their 'ecoblade' machine, which cuts and sprays in one pass.
The results of their work can be seen on the grass-covered hill pictured that was until recently covered in gorse. Compare view of hill with previous blog post.
On the direct seeding site, all that Brad could see were some wattles, some up to 30cm high. He counted 15 of these.
On the north site, he noted that some of the surviving redwoods have had a growth spurt (pictured left).
Phil Kinghorn and I spot sprayed gorse, blackberries and feral rose throughout south site with Grazon and a wetting agent. Rate of application was 500ml to just over 100 litres (half a tank).
The south site is now relatively weed free. North site still to do.
It was a balmy, still autumn evening.
Site continues to grow strongly (and that's not just the weeds!).
Finally – two years down the track – Geelong Landcare Network co-ordinator Bronte Payne (pictured) and Steve Murphy were able to carry out the direct seeding at ImLal South last weekend. It's always been too wet to get into this low-lying area, but last weekend the planting conditions were perfect.
"Plenty of soil moisture and the soil was loose and friable when the disc cut through it," reported Steve. "We planted local Swamp Gum, Blackwood, Silver Wattle, Prickly Moses, Prickly Teatree, Woolly Teatree, River Bottlebrush, Native Hemp, Grey Everlasting, Silver Tussock Grass and some Tall Sedge.
"The whole process took about three hours with half the time taken preparing the seed and calibrating the direct seeding machine."
With the good soil moisture and warmth, Steve reckons that the seed should germinate within four weeks.
Phil Kinghorn and I sprayed the proposed direct seeding site using BRT's new spray unit. This usually water-covered, swampy area during winter was at last dry enough for vehicle access. Juncus reeds are thriving here as are woolly tea-tree and blackwood that we have planted on the edges. Phil remarked that the site would seem ideal for water ribbons and other wetland species.
Phil has fixed a spray boom on the back of his ute, which allows spraying of the rows from the comfort of the ute. We worked from the northernmost steel monitoring post, back and forth across all rows to the fence, except the very last row. The spray mix used was glyphosate and simazine with a wetting agent.
It’s great to have the flexibility to spray opportunistically whenever the weather is suitable instead of being dependent on the whims of contractors.
Gib Wettenhall is interested in how we carry out large scale landscape restoration that involves the people who live in those landscapes. That, he believes, would build truly resilient landscapes.