Wednesday 3 July 2013

Planting out in the nursery beds (Week 13, Wednesday)

Today we planted out a few small trees and shrubs in the nursery beds, where they will grow on for some three years before they are ready for their final destination. They will be watered with a drip line and fed once a  month from March to October.

For this task, I was joined again by the work experience lad, in his second week with us.

First of all, we had to mark a straight line 1.5 m away from the last row of plants in the ground. The line has red markers every 25 cm, so it's quite convenient for the job.

Then, we planted all the trees alongside the line, 1.5 m away from each other. We dig a hole so the plant would be planted at the same level in the ground that it was in the pot, at the root flare (if you plant it too deep, the stem might rot or start suckering). Then we filled back the hole and heeled the plants in, so they would not rock in the wind. You can easily feel whether a plant is well planted, by trying to wiggle it a little bit.

Thirdly, we staked the single-stem plants (not the small shrubs), so that:
  • they will not rock in the wind, causing the roots to become dislodged;
  • they grow straight.
Staking must be done as flat as possible to the the stem, and with a cane that is longer than the plant (so that the tip does not rub against it as it grows). I was afraid the cane might damage the roots, if driven too close to the stem, but they explained that it's allright, unless you see the plant bending down on one side when you do it: in that case, you have hit a larger root and should find another place to put the cane it. When the stem is not straight, for example because of a graft, one should try to place the stake so that it straightens the stem up as much as possible.

With a tapener gun (a great device that catches the tape's end at a shallow press of the handle, so that you can pull it to the desired length, and then staple it together by pressing the handles together hard) the stem is tied to the cane, quite tight. The right way to do it is by pulling the tape from the stem side towards the cane, so that you do not catch the stem in the stapler by mistake.

As a last step, we had to connect some extensions to the existing drip line. There are larger pipes on the side that do not have holes in them but carry the water to the actual drip lines. With a T joint, you connect the smaller drip line to the larger pipe. The drip line has a valve in it, to stop the water flow if needed.
In order to insert the pipes onto the joint, you need to plunge them in hot water, so they get soft and are easily pushed on, but go hard shortly afterwards so they self seal. That means that you have to cut the pipe whenever you need to remove the joints.

 Day tree at the nursery over, and the plants ready for a good soak.

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