With most of the tree cages complete and the arrival of our very first specimen trees, it was time to hop to planting and guarding those precious plants.
The twelve varieties we chose were: London Plane, Red Oak, Tulip Tree, European Ash, Purple Norway Maple, Maple Freemanii, Northern Pin Oak, Liquidambar, Honey Locust, Gingko, Golden Robinia, Copper Beech.
We’re definitely keen to restore lots of native plants on our little patch of once-lush-rainforest-cum-vacant-pastureland, but the characters of mighty exotics are too charming to pass up.
The first task is to find the centre of the tree cage and cut away a square of turf. This prevents the surrounding grass from competing with the tree.
Then, dig a hole large enough to accommodate the tree’s roots.
At this stage it is absolutely crucial to have a mischievous feline swat at the loose soil. I cannot stress the importance of this enough.
Next up, bam some slow-release fertiliser tablets in that hole (we use GroTabs).
Drop that sexy specimen into its dirty new abode. Press soil around the sides – remember – roots don’t grow through air pockets!
Now fertilise that leafless mofo. A soil test revealed we were lacking in potassium and magnesium so we used a mixture of blood-and-bone, sulfate of potash, and dolomite lime.
Mix it in, baby.
That’s right. Now we need to tuck this bad-boy in. A weed mat serves as extra protection against opportunistic weeds and grass.
Pin that sucker to the ground.
Now, for added protection, we don the tree guard. This protects from rabbits and hares, but more importantly sheep.
But why did we build the tree cages if sheep can still get in? Ah, you see, it’s ingenious. We decided on a two-rail system, so the cows would stay out but the sheep could get under and graze around the tree. That way, with tree guards equipped, we don’t have to deal with a bunch of long grass surrounding each specimen. Yay, no mowing.
After staking that guard firm and true, that’s one down and eleven more to go. Now we leave it alone and hope for the best. Good luck, you expensive bastard.
Peering outside on a rainy day, I caught the setup working as planned. The cows were very curious about the new construction in their paddock – a superb scratching post. No way they’re getting through that, despite how much they pug up the ground around it.
Don’t forget to thank your kitty for all her hard work getting in your way. It’s exhausting being a troublemaker, ya know…