Today I rised early again and moved several potted cuttings of local hedges and oak seedlings into the potting shed I had cleared out the week before. There were several hundred sprouts prepared by Feargal as he plans to one day surround the boarder of the property with them once they have grown for four or five more years. An area in the garden will be set aside where the small trees will be allowed to grow and then transplated as needed. Once I was finished moving the plants I went for a quick lunch knowing Feargal would arrive soon with a large mulcher, but did not start soon enough as he came before I had a chance to start cooking. I had had a good sized bowl of porage earlier so this was no stress. We unloaded the larch shreader at the lower entrance of the gate where yard clippings and dead trees had been stacked the summer before by other Wwoofers. The machine would mulch anything up to three inches in diameter, but would clog if anyhing to wet or thick was put in. It was clogged quickly given some of the old materials were covered in wet pine neddles and still too green, but once we learned these wouldn't shread well and kept to the drier wood I becan to make good progress. As I cleared an area of the larger material, Feargal gathered the rest with a shovel into bags to fill the holes behind the nearby wall. After about four and a half hours of mulching, and about a tank of petrol gas we had cleared the gateway of mostly everything. We reloaded the very large and heavy piece of equiptment into his truck and moved it up on the hill the several more piles of rubble were stacked. The mulch made by these piles would be used to level out the area at the bottom of a grassy field where we would build frames for poly tunnels. As well as keeping the weed growth back in the garden area, mulches will hold in moisture and insulate the roots. Having a good amount of soil over the top soil will prevent the movement of soil pathogens by water splashing onto leaves. The mulch we make will be low in nutrients and mostly carbon out of the wood. Plants will need to be sowed below the mulch region so that roots can reach the soil and compost that has been put in place. The mulch will need to be kept from holding excess moisture and rotting, causing posible decay of the crops. As well, it will be necessary to watch for the growth of rhizome type weeds which will spread quickly and growing pest populations that thrive in woody materials. The addition of newspapers and cloth materials will likely prevent these issues. We rented the mulcher for one day, but will have it through the weekend, getting as much use out of it as we can in that time. Since I took about three days to myself the past weekend to travel into Dublin, I will be up early tomorrow and work through Sunday to clear all the wood. I have one week left in Knockanode come Monday and then I will be on my way to The Burtown House in Kildare. There is a lot to do this week, including rotavaing and finishing the different jobs, like the raised beds I have started. I can only hope I will learn as much and enjoy my time as I have here. The Burtown House will be a much larger estate with much more workers and family members around. If for any reason I feel the need, I am welcome back here with much more work to be done. Tomorrow I will look at poly tunnle designs usable in our designated area. Premade poly tunnels are available but expensive, so we will likely build frames out of more crates and bent metal bars which the plastic can be attached. We must prepare the beds first and then contruct the tunnels before planting within them. So much work is still left before we are ready for the first plantings. Tonight is a cool but clear night. I'll likely enjoy my whiskey on the roof with Feargal watching for shooting stars as I have been the past few nights.
Cleared this wall of wood debris
The gateway entrace, once the wooden gate is put up with this horizontal tree growing above to drive under.
And this is the view of the house with Feargals attic windows completed. The top layer of scaffolding will come down any day. Its really quite the sight.