I am definitely no expert but….
Wow, what a difference a month can make! We’ve gone from almost drought, with stock being removed from land around us; to deluge, and back to hoping for more rain.
Thankfully, the water storage tanks we invested in are now full after about 170mm of rain in 3 days. We had raging water bringing debris down the stream, damning and overflowing, resulting in crossings which were impassable for almost 2 days. Now, 2 weeks later, there is nothing at all in the lower ford and barely a trickle in the upper one.
Immediately during the downpour, the trees which had been suffering were ‘perky’ again with their leaves held high, and the undergrowth sprang into life with numerous species regaining their energy. Paul and I were really excited when we found what we believe to be a baby Matai seedlings growing under one of our 8 huge Matai in the bush area.
The land surrounding Manaaki Mai which was ‘grey’ due to the grazing is showing the slightest hint of green. I am hopeful the land will be left to regain its strength and grow a decent protective layer before the herds of grazing animals return. One of the biggest dangers of heavy rain post a dry period is, without sufficient ground cover, the risk of land slipping is high, and the streams are often filled with the silt runoff – not ideal.
When to plant
These winter ‘U’ months of JUne, JUly and AUgust are usually the perfect time to get planting however post our recent downpour, I was a little surprised when I dug my spade in, to find the moisture was barely 10mm deep and the ground was still solid and dry underneath. Thankfully last night and today are moist and there is promise of more rain in the next few days. Hopefully this will soak deep into the earth and support the trees we are planting.
How to successfully plant seedlings in hilly dry areas
Recently a local here in the bay, Pete, who has been a shining light replanting some of the gullies around Diamond Harbour to improve the water quality into the harbour, showed us how to plant trees to make the best use of any rainwater.
The trick is to dig the hole in such a way that once you have planted the tree, there is a shallow concave bowl on the top in which any rainwater can collect – rather than run straight off. The other equally important part is to identify where you are going to plant and dig a couple of small trenches into the slope above the hole, in a ‘V’ shape so that they can channel water into the concave bowl at the bottom.
It simply gives you the best chance of capturing any available moisture for your seedling.