From Seeds to Trees in Tanja

Pauline Mendes celebrating new growth

Pauline Mendes celebrating new growth

Pauline Mendes made great use of what she learnt at a CMN Seed Collection workshop three years ago. Looking for a solution to rampant fireweed, she now has a paddock of trees which she grew from local native seed. This is what she wrote for the CMN Newsletter Autumn 2011:

I attended a seed collection workshop presented by the CMN and led by Jock Morse at Bemboka, in  2008. I was looking for alternative strategies for managing a 5 acre, south-west facing paddock with significant fireweed infestation, at our property in Tanja. Our long-term aim was to try and reduce the fireweed infestation by providing shade in infested areas.

At the workshop I learnt how to collect and harvest seed from local trees. This knowledge gave me the skills and confidence to select seed pods from a variety of local species in the Tanja area.

I collected seeds from a range of local trees such as: Coastal Grey Box, Blackbutt, White and Yellow Stringybark, Southern mahogany, Spotted gum, Kurrajong, Ironbark, Apple gum, Silvertop ash and Black she-oaks. I germinated and propagated these seeds, which took several months. When the trees were about 8-10cm in height we planted about 150 trees randomly in the paddock, using plastic tree guards and individual fences of chicken wire.

Neil Curry tending the plantings

Neil Curry tending the plantings

My partner Neil assisted the process by carting water and hand watering the trees over dry periods. He also kept the weeds at bay around the base of the trees and handpicked voracious caterpillars off the leaves. The trees required regular monitoring as the fences were often damaged by wallabies and kangaroos jumping into them at night. The rain over the last few months has been a blessing as the trees have had a very welcome growth spurt. Some of them are up to 4 meters in height.

While we are quite a few years away from the intended shade required to reduce fireweed growth, the trees are looking healthy. We are very happy that our labours have helped regenerate the paddock while using species endemic to the local surrounds.

from CMN Newsletter Autumn 2011

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