Mon Nov 21st

LAST WEEK OF TECH!  Time has flown by since we began in Feb.  We are out Bannockburn today with Trev but i leave about 9.30 feeling sick as a dog.  The others build picnic tables and have a general tidy up and deconstruct our fences we built.

Tues Nov 22nd

Nursary clean up today.

Wed Nov 23rd

GRADUATION!!!  Morning tea at 10am and graduation at the prespetarian church at 4pm followed by drinks and nibbles at Nichols garden centre.  Back to the real world Monday where i start work with Cromwell Landscapes who i done my work experiance with, atleast 2 months full time so stoked.  After all the humming and harring of about 2 years that it took to decide to do the course i am 100% happy that i did.

To all the teachers, for all your great knowledge and support especially Jo, Alex, Trev, Catherine, Wayne and Marie thanks heaps for putting up with us all and dont miss us too much.  And for the great crew old and new it was a blast – on with the next step, my life really has turned green and ive loved every minute of it!  Watch thispace ………………………….


Mon Nov 14th

We head out Bannockburn today for our second irrigation install on a lifestyle block.  A bit different from out at Richards last week as the planting hasnt taken place as yet. We start by digging where the pipes are going to lay around the house, nice soft soil in most parts which makes the job easier, while Alistar and Judy start joining all the solenoid valves together.  Once dug the boys start laying out the polythene pipe with the aid of the spinning jenny – vital for polythene pipe laying.  Then we are tee-ing and albow-ing our way around the corners with the aid of not so sharp cutters and hot water.  We only have to install a few pop-up sprinklers around the lawn area and the owners will complete the rest and run the pipes to where they want them to go.

We also start raking, and leveling out the soil for the lawn area out the front, me, Sarah and Alistar with a bit of a sing song and boggie to scare the be-jezez out of Sarah, all in all it was a great day.

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the plan.....ready.......set..........go!

Tues Nov 15th

Irrigation install take two out Bannockburn, finishing off the joiners/sprinkler fittings, joining pipes up to the solenoids, filling back over the pipes making sure only soft soil goes on top of them (a rock/stone over time will start to go through the pipe with the movements) we finish by lunchtime, job done!  The boys also lay the lawn and Ali-Stars name is now changed to Donkey! 

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Donkey finally gets to work after all the tom foolary of singing and dancing!

Wed Nov 16th

BEES! for honey, pollination, pollen, royal jelly.  I really think this sort of thing should be common place in all learnings from primary/high school up as then people would know the true importance of these amazing creatures and the population might not be in as much trouble as it is now.  The National Bee Keepers Association has all the information you need to know if you want to get into owning your own bees, becoming a member is a good start.  10000 tonnnes approx of honey is produced in NZ yearly, of that around 2500 tonnes is exported overseas.  Aswell as honey you can get into selling live bees and pollination hives, bees wax, propolis (antibiotic gum/resin collected from plants). 

If you want to have a hive of bees at home you just have to check with the local district bylaws to see what is allowed.  One good home hive can produce about 50kg of honey per year, thats alot of savings in grocerie shop brought honey!  Make sure you arnt allergic to bees first and that their is ample water sourse for the bees near by as this is vital for their survival.

Mike getting kitted up

There is lots of terminology associated with bees, some are:

 Apiary – collection of beehives.  Bee escape – when removing honey you use this board to remove bees from the colony.  Box/super – unit of the hive that holds the frames.  Brood – the lifecycle of the bee.  Capping – thin layer of bees wax used to seal honey in the honeycomb.  Cell – hexagonal chamber where brood or honey is stored.  Chalkbrood – white powder like disease.  Foundation – the thin sheet of stamped wax that forms the basis for cells to be drawn out.  Frame – the square component used to hold the foundation wax and then the honeycomb. 

box/super with frames

Drone – a male bee (for mating only after which they die, they cant sting).  Worker bees – have lots of jobs to do, live round 6 weeks over summer (females that cant mate).  Honeydew – produced by sap sucking insects and collected for honey.  Nectar – sugary liquid produced by flowers, collected by bees.  Nucleus colony – small starter hive with brood, bees and queen.  Pollen – from plants, collected by bees for protein.  Propolis – resinous substance from plants, collected by bees then modified to seal cracks ect. 

foundation wax

Queen – female that develops ovaries and is capable of laying eggs (bigger than most other bees, long and slender).  Queen excluder – a grill in the hive to keep the queen where you want her – lower down in the hive.  Queen substance – a pheramone the queen lets out to keep the hive in order.  Re-queen – replacing the old queen for a new one (controlled by people).  Ripening – process of turning nectar into honey by breaking down sucrose and removing some water.  Royal jelly – the food given to all brood less than 3 days old and queens, produced by bee hives.  Swarm – a coloney that leaves the hive with the queen (usually because you havnt taken care of the hive).  And theres more! 

smoker for calming the bees and honey extractor

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Thur Nov 17th

Out to Bannockburn Rd today with Alex and Trev where they run us through bird control and we learn that we will be the richest people in the world if we come up with a solution to it that works.  There are nets which is not 100% full proof as birds will still be in the nets and very expensice.  Scaring with 22’s, pots and pans, quad bikes, gas machines ect.  If you go with this method you have to use a variety of all methods to compete.  Other methods that have been tried are eagles, hanging cd’s ect.

In the afternoon we use the machinery, Niffey gets stuck into cleaning out the old hive, bees and all and i get into the ute and practice backing the trailer then we go and move some timber for Trev, another beautiful hot day out Bannockburn. 

the gas bird scarer, cover your ears! a good way to make friends with your neighbours!

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Fri Nov 18th

Second to last day in the nursary today, i can see the sadness coming in Catherine already.  We clean out the glasshouse by moving all the plants to various spots and then seperate and pot on.  I get stuck into the cactus and make myself a cool little bits and pieces pot up.  Then i am on pot washing duty as i may have been a bit to smart to Catherine today!

the Indian horsechestnuts are now about 1/2 metre tall!

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Mon Nov 7th

We are out to Bannockburn today to do an irragation job at a lifestyle block installing pop-up sprinklers.  Me, Ju and Sarah start off by inserting the #4 nozzel into the sprinkler head, you do this by lifting up the head with a special screwdriver, inserting the nozzel and screwing it in.  Then we are out inserting the sprinklers (the others had already laid down the polythene pipe into the gullys) into the polythene pipe using a knife to cut the pipe, then inserting it into hot water, fitting the t-bar, inserting the other pipe and conecting on the sprinkler where you have to clip the join.  Once all fittings are done we cover the trenches with soil and compact it down with the ride on mower tyres.  Then its time for cleaning out the pipes, we unscew the top of the pop-ups and run the water till it is clear, then scew the tops back on and run them all individually from the solenoids, its all go!

The day ends up a scorcher!  Richard supplies us with a beautiful morning tea and a lovely bottle of wine from the Wooing Tree vineyard.

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Irish and Scottish hard at it

the plan

Tues Nov 8th

Trevor has a handfull of us out Bannockburn Rd today practicing on the machinery.  I go on the quads, the tractor with the forks lifting empty bins and on the tractor with the little digger on the front.  Beaut day out in the sun.  Me and Anesh check Wayne out as he mixes the spray for the powdery mildew that has got stuck into the apple block.

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Trev convincing Sarah the hydra ladder is all good!

Wed Nov 9th

Blog catch up day today and i finally get my cv done!  Irrigation online test 1st shot, 81%.

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Thur Nov 10th

Into the nursary in the afternoon after an appointment in Alexandra in the morning.  The strike on my crab apples were pretty successful with 6 out of the 16 cuttings good enough to pot up!  At the end of the day we all get serenaded by Ali-Star after he tells us great information about thyme, nearly brings a tear to my eye and a dance to my step.

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crab apple success!

Fri Nov 11th

Out to Bannockburn Rd today where we learn about fruit thinning.  Reasons for thinning are:  Reduce volume (grapevines to shorten the length to harvest, maturity, sizing up (the stone weight stays the same – they form the same size), by thinning we create larger fruit.  Bunched up fruit is a great breading ground for pest and disease, we thin to create air movement and decrease humidity.

Hand thinning – apricots late Oct, nectarines/peaches November, apples December and after their natural shed, and get off before stone hardening.  What happens – flowering, fertilization, fruitlets, cell division (determins final fruit size), cell enlargement, harvest.  More cells = bigger fruit.

The powerhouse of the plant is in the leaf (photosynthesis and carbohydrates) you need around 35 leaves to support one stonefruit.  (200 leaves / 35 = 6 fruit per branch.  When thinning first get rid of diseased fruit, then break up clusters to create airspace for sprays ect, space out (hand spaces apart is best).

You can also thin chemically – you use the timing of the crop for the time to spray (apricots flower before they leaf so spray then as to not damage the leaf at 50% bloom).  Chemicals kill the reproductive parts of the flower.  Apples 3-4 weeks after fruit set spray carbaryl which is an insecticide, the spray rates must be exact!  Also for apples Napthyl acetic acid ANA – which is a chemical formulation which causes fruits to fall off – rate sensitive, temp right, rageime right.  Scientists dont know yet the processes behind it but it works if all is done right.  Lime sulphur – organic fungicide – apples.

Ammonium thrisulphate is a chemical burner fertiliser that can be used to thin all fruitEthrel – peaches/nectarines causes hormone responses in plants, Aussies treat their tomatoes with this to make green tomatoes turn red!  Check out the agrichemical manual for al the information you will need.

In the afternoon we are out on the machinery removing diseased trees with the folks on the tractor and fertilising.

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Alex teaching us the importance of fruit thinning!

Mon Oct 31st

We have our first irrigation class with Alex today and there is more to it than which meets the eye.  Of all the water in the world only 2.5% is fresh, 97.5% is salt.  Out of the fresh water 70% is frozen in glaciers and ice sheets, 30% is in deep unusable aquifers such as the Great Artesian Basin in Australia, of that 90% of the fresh available water is polluted!  Not good stats considering the worlds population reached over 7 billion the other week.  More people = more food = more water to grow the food = less water as there is only a limited supply of usable water in the world.

Proper irrigation management and instilation is a big part of helping the worlds situation of water mis-use, every little bit now will help in the future, limiting water use at home, having shorter showers, piling up the dishes to was together, fixing leaking taps ect can all bring about a change.  The Aral Sea irrigation is a good case study of water mis-use.  The Aral Sea which lays on  Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan was used for the irrigation of the cotton fields, the sea level fell by 16 metres between 1981 and 1990, as the water was taken the salt concentration and toxicity increased leading to the irradication of sea life and jobs.  There is alot to be learnt from the Aral Sea.

In NZ we are quite lucky as the regional councils regulate water use, resourse concent must be given.  Still there must be better education given to people in general about water use and what will happen if the world does run out.  The water charges that will start up in Otago will make a difference and educate at some level once they have to paye for what they waste.  At the moment on average a kiwi will use 350 litres of water per day, in Australia their goal is to get down to 155 litres of water per day per person.

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Tues Nov 1st

Irrigation with Alex again today.  When doing irrigation you have to know when and how much water to put on.  As a guide to get good plant growth you need 25-30mm per week during the growing season of rain, anything less than that you will need to irrigate.  The soil is where the plants get their water and is absorbed by the roots through osmosis where the dissolved mineral nutrients travel through the xylem.

Transpiration is the loss of water from the plant parts.  Evaporation is the loss of moisture from the soil.  Evaportranspiration is the loss of both, or Et.  The Et figure gives us the amout we need to replace with watering or rainfall.  Some techniques can be used in order for soil moisture to hang around longer, these include the use of mulch, compost, earthworms also getting rid of competitors for water such as grass and weeds from around your plants. 

There is lots of terminology in irrigation, the header/main = main delivery pipe, pvc.  Laeral/submain = polyethlene pipe, takes water to the crop from the main pipe.  Dripper = low output, low pressure (vegie crops, public areas ect).   Minisprinkler = lower pressure emitter, 1 – 5 m radius (under tree irrigation).  Impact sprinkler = higher volume/pressure, over 10m radius (established trees) downside to this is the loss of water through the air to wind and creating wet foliage which can increase disease.  Ball valve = hand valve cut off/restrict water flow these are prone to frost damage, leave it 1/4 turn open over winter and drain the system to stop it from freezing.  Gate valve = screw down valve slightly better in frosts.  Solenoid valves = 24 volt or 9 volt electrically operated valve cheaper than a gate valve, wired into the power supply, pulls plunger 1mm down, the weight of the water behind drives it.  Microtubing = polyethene pipe connecting minisprinklers to lateral pipes you punch the nipple into the main pipe with an Alex special!  Lateral grade pipe = polythene pipe, approx 40psi (pounds per sq inch) pressure will run drippers, minisprinklers, above ground irrigation.  Low density pipe LDPE = polythene pipe, approx 65psi pressure impact sprinklers.  Medium density pipe MDPE = polythene pipe, approx 150psi pressure used for headers/mains commonly, need massive fittings to hold this amount of pressure.  High density pipe = polythene pipe, approx 250psi pressure for headers and high pressure situations.  PVC pipe = high pressures of 1000psi+, lower friction mains supply, be careful as pcv pipe is very brittle.  Will last up to 50 years if not damaged.  Joiners, T’s, elbows = fittings to split, corner and join water flow.  Goof plugs = plug to repair small holes.

The smaller the pipe the lower the flow the higher the pressure.  The bigger the pipe the higher the flow the lower the pressure.  Do not bend/kink the polythene pipe, this will crack/snap over time, use joiners.

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irragation done! 18 out of 10

Wed Nov 2nd

Day off today for me in celebration of the Melbourne Cup.

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Thur Nov 3rd

Out Bannockburn Rd today with Alex where we do the practical part of our grafting unit where we graft our scions that we got from 45 South during winter when the growth was in dormancy onto the colt root stock that Alex ordered in that arrived with no roots!  There are 5 of us and only one grafting tool so we take it in turns to set up the scions (finger shortness with 2 buds if possible), set up the root stock and join them together (do this quickly so it doesnt dry out), this is done by joining up the cambiam layers to one side, taping it up with graft tape and waxing the top cut.  Quickness is the key, dont let the scions or cambium layers dry out.

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grafting, Alex, Robe, Irish, Niffy and me

Fri Nov 4th

Fridays are rolling around fast which Catherine loves as im sure she misses us during the week.  Today we are onto softwood cuttings where i propagate white banksia rose from the house i am renting out, softwood/semis softwood, 1/3 std mix 2/3 pumice with seradix 2 then into GH1 with heatbed and mist.  14 cuttings made.  Next onto Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’, softwood, 1/3 std mix 2/3 pumice with seradix 1 and into GH1 with heatbed and mist.  1 x hygeine tray, 77 cuttings.  ‘Grosso’ is used to make lavander oil.

Softwood cuttings root quickly – deciduous shrubs and some trees in early spring, magnolias, hebes, lavenders, lilacs, evergree azaleas.  Cut just below the node (this is where the concentration of hormones are).  Cuttings from young plants root more easily, collect cuttings early in the day, keep moist, remove the flower buds so energy is not wasted on flowers.  You need mist, heat and seradix 1 (which has 1 gram of auxim per kg).  Softwood is a stage of growth. Take cuttings for lavenders mid-late Oct early Nov – they like full sun, no fertiliser, low water, poorer well drained soil, give it a hard annual prune after flowering (to 1/2 off the current seasons growth).

Herbaceous cuttings are plants that never get woody.  Dianthus, herbs, geranium, aster, Phlox subulata, you can take these cuttings any time of year, root anytime, use seradix 1.

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Ju with the peonies and snow on the hills in November!

Mon Oct 24th

Public holiday today for Labour weekend.

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Tues Oct 25th

We have work experiance for the rest of the week where i head off to Cromwell Landscapes to do mine working 7.30am till 5.30pm, back to the real world for a little while atleast!  Teamed up with George today and off to Arrowtown to maintain some mini sprinklers and take out lots of posts holding the trees up. 

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irrigation maintenance with George

Wed Oct 26th

Off to Alexandra with George today checking out a dripper irrigation system is working ok.  When we get back to the yard there are lots of plants for the medical centre planting tomorrow that i weed out so we dont have to muck around tomorrow.

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Thur Oct 27th

Loading up the trailer this morning and off to the new Cromwell medical centre for landscaping.  The boys had already laid down the topsoil, weed mat and shist.  We had mostly natives to plant, pulling back the shist, burning a hole in the weed mat with a gas burner, digging the hole the right size for the plant, planting and laying fertiliser prils on top then watering.

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Fri Oct 28th

Back to Cromwell medical centre today to finish off landscaping job, looks pretty good!

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Mon Oct 17th

Today we are in the nursary with Jo and Catherine updating our prop book and having a clean up of GH1, irrigation system, heatbed table, weeding and waterblasting the floor.  In the arvo i propagate an avacado and cuttings of Lonicera nitida putting them in GH1 with heatbed and mist unit.

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cleaning out GH1

Tues Oct 18th

Out to Bannockburn today where we learn about fertiliser application and fertilise the whole vineyard (minus the olives) in no time at all by hand and by use of a quad and fertiliser hopper.  The best time for fertiliser application is just before the rain (unlesss you live on the west coast before a terrential downpoar as your fertiliser will be wasted through leaching) and applied to the root zone as that is where the nutrients need to go.  Start off with the measurement in a cup and then transfer to the hand once you get the quantaties right and throw from a couple of meters away for an even spread with larger root systems.

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Wed Oct 19th

We are with Alex on machinery today where we run through the safety aspects of quads and tractors and then me and irish go out and mow the orchard with the Same tractor and mower attached.  Attach the PTO left, right, PTO (making sure pin clicks out) put PTO gear into neutral to make it easier, top with two chains and double, triple check everthing. 

Get into the tractor on the left hand side, adjust the seat, make sure it is out of gear, press in the start button, foot on clutch and brake, turn key to start, lift attached mower close to the ground but far enough off the ground, drive to mowing area, select gears,  bring revs up a bit, engage PTO, bring revs up to where PTO needs to drive at, start mowing.

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Alex, Beezi and Alisdair with PTO

Thur Oct 20th

In the nursary today with jo and Catherine doing a big spruce up for the plant sale Friday and Saturday.  Moving plants onto benches, setting everything up, keeping the frost intolerent plants till tomorrow and covering the bedding plants with frost cloth just incase.

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One of my favs in the plant sale, beautiful

Fri Oct 21st

Our plant sale kicks off today for the pensioners and garden club members, start off at 9am moving the frost intolerent plants out to the sale area, gates open at 12pm till 2pm with people lining up at the gates from about 11.30, tomorrow is going to be big for our second sale which is open to the public.

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the vegie crew, no wonder we have lots more to sell!


Sat Oct 22nd

Plant sale today opened to the public, there at 8am to start setting up for opening at 9.30am.  Wayne was on security and counted nearly 600 people through his gate but a few snuck in the other ways. 

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The boys on the tomatoes

Mon Oct 10th

Roger finishes us up on our compost today.

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worms, worms and more worms

Tues Oct 11th

Our last day with Roger today where he runs us through our weed management plan which we are doing on Bannockburn Road.  Once he runs us through that we are out to Central Wormworx for a run down on worm farming where the worms are treated with leftovers from new worlds vegie/fruits, they even get though pineapples and coconuts!  The castings are great for growth of plants as we seen by the substantial growth around the area. 

After lunch we head out to Felton Road Vineyard which is a bio-dynamic vineyard, while we were there they were turning the compost but the day before they were throwing around the cowhorns which would have been very interesting to see.  They buy in the preps from the north island or from a couple of the local vineyards but have there own cow pat pits.

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worm castings


supervising the compost turning

Wed Oct 12th

Off to Lindis Pass today with Jo, Alex and Gary voluntering to help plant tussocks.  There were a few different methods of planting as they were seeing which would work the best.  Me, Alex and Sarah had the easy normal plantings first off, after a great lunch we were off around the other side to plant some more.  The day was a bit cold to start but turned out fairly hot in the end.

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tussock planting at the Lindis Pass

Thur Oct 13th

Out Bannockburn Rd today with Alex and Trevor checking out how the growth is picking up on the grapes, apples, pears apricots ect then on to practical skills on tractors and me, Ju, Irish and Anesh run through the ride on mowers with Gary.  Trev helps us fill up the stray tank with fertiliser and then im the first to give the apples the once over, need to work on my turning at the end of the rows further out when spraying as was giving to much strain on the pto drive.

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whats Irish done now?

Fri Oct 14th

The weeks flown by again as we are back in the nursary with Jo and Catherine potting on, weeding and i give propagating the crab apple trees a go.  Semi-hardwood with 9 parts pumice and 1 part std mix, dipped in seradix 2 and into 2 1.5 litre pots then into GH1 with heatbed and mist, 16 taken so fingers x they work!

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