Growing Tunnels October 2012
 
Dig dig dig ... the site for our first growing tunnel
We planned four growing tunnels, each 4 x 6 meters.

They were on sloping ground so we needed to build up about 400mm to get them level. I will use 25mm pvc electrical conduit to make the hoop to support the plastic and shade cloth. But first we had to dig out all the grass and put in some small foundations with the support pipes for the conduit. Thankfully the ground was soft due to recent rains.


  Beekeeping Course

Our lecture was on splitting and uniting swarms and we learned all about how to use the smoker properly.

In the practical session we fitted floors and lids to our brood chambers. We then headed out to a local farm where Peter kept some of his hives in some old derelict farm buildings. We were shown how to identify drone and queen cells and we split a few swarms into two hives by moving queen cells from one hive to another.

 


  Sorry, Little Black Wattle

The building site for our garage and workshop block still had trees on it! One was an old dead black wattle but one was quite a large live one. We don't like cutting down the trees, but sometimes we just have to.

From our practice in clearing the new road where quite a few larger trees had to be taken down, we were getting quite good at cutting the trunk so that the tree would fall almost exactly where we would want it to fall. We found a very important factor was the wind direction - even the slightest breeze can help, and trying to get the tree to fall accurately against the wind was almost impossible.

So out with the chain saw and with the wind in the right direction we prepared for the felling. The chainsaw made quick work of the tree and we had it down and all the branches stripped off and carried away in about an hour.

We then carried out our standard procedure of digging around the stump, chopping away the surface roots and ripping the stump out with our big chain attached to the tractor.

 


  Second Compost Heap


  By now we had a bit of a backlog of garden refuse bags from home which we put into our compost heap, with some cow dung we collected from around the area between the layers. Yep, order of the day was to head out into the hills with a spade and wheelbarrow and collect it.

This almost filled our first compost heap. So we started building another one next to it.


  New Road Garden

The new road garden was looking good. With the recent rains the seedlings were all shooting and we even had some flowers. But they should have been doing better - seedlings planted at home at the same time were much bigger.

And some of the small shrubs we had planted were still alive and flowering but were actually getting noticably smaller!

We gave it some thought and were sure it was the "compost" we used from under the lapa black wattle tree.

 

  There is obviously a reason why nothing grows under those trees! They must drop some growth inhibiting chemical in their leaves or maybe make the soil too acidic like some conifers. More research will be necessary but we were going to persevere with the new road garden and try and recondition the soil by adding good compost and organic fertilizer without replacing all the soil.