New Start to the Year!

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To start off the new year at poly we had an induction day with a BBQ… got to meet some new students and staff and went over all the topics we will be covering during the next two terms….. first up: Weather and Climate! Just happens to be one of my favourite subjects 😀 and Rog is teaching, well, Rog and I are teaching the class haha I have been studying Weather, clouds and Climate since I was very little, I have always been fascinated with the topics and especially clouds!

Below are some photos of cool clouds and Weather I have taken over the last 8 or so years.

So the first two days of poly for the year were pretty fun in my opinion! Next week we are continuing on with Weather and Climate and of course… the assignment… but hopefully it should be pretty easy for me to do!

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As for Thursday and Friday…. work experience! Over the summer (harvest season) I was able to find a job working at a local orchard, Iv’e now been working here for about a month and a half now and its been going really well! They have let me work with them part time through the year while I study and have even asked me to help run and manage the pack house next season! (later this year) So I’d be safe to say that this job is looking pretty well for me, I’m quite excited about it! 😀

Anyway… At the moment I am helping the bosses out in the packhouse and helping train u new staff. I was out picking on a Hydralada and a platformed Rig for a week or two till they needed some help in the packhouse where I have now been working for over a month.

This week we have been packing mainly apricots for local markets and a few Nectarines for export. The Thursday consisted of packing the nectarines into export boxes and green crates for the orchard shop.

The first part of the day was spent putting the smaller sizes of Nectarines into 1kg punnets for local markets and the larger fruit was boxed up into black Export boxes of about 10kg. The Export fruit is of top quality with next to no blemishes, bruising, or splits. The reason for this because when they are being shipped over the course of the week, if they have splits or cuts, the fruit can rot and infect other fruit next to it. Export fruit also expensive and must be of top quality, export buyers will pay a lot of money for top quality fruit.

Friday was spent packing Apricots into the silver local market boxes, as well as a few punnets. Local market fruit (cheaper than exports) is allowed to have some blemishes and minor bruising or splits as this fruit is usually available for people to buy within a few days so the fruit is less likely to end up rotting. The varieties of Apricots we packed today were: Clutha Gold, Clutha Fire, Moore Park and Trevatt.

Thats all for now, more Climate and Weather next week!

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The New Beginning Starts With….. “Soils With Rog”

So its the first week back at polytech… to kick it off we have Rog teaching us more about soils, some topography – about the terraces of the Cromwell basin – and geology (mainly to do with around here in Central Otago as well as looking at the bigger picture – all of New Zealand)

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Theres a small sample of the work we have to do for our assignment! (above)

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We had a small session about how New Zealand and the Southern Alps were created… learning about the Kaikoura Orogeny – the meeting point of the Pacific Tectonic Plate and the Australian Tectonic Plate.. one of my favourite sciences!!

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On the second day we went on a little field trip up to the top of one of the famous Lowburn Terraces, we were able to see all the different levels the terraces stand and could get a sense of just how long it would have taken for these ancient terraces to form. Through multiple glacial advances these famous terraces were formed, as the glaciers retreated and advanced over time, the meandering rivers washed down the material left by these glaciers, leaving behind a terrace each time as the river carved its way down the valley!

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The image above shows the kind of soil that can be found at the top of one of the oldest terraces with a thick top layer of wind blown loess (material that has been picked up by the wind and deposited a big distance away) from the West Coast of the South Island.

That was about it for the week till next time we have Soils With Rog!

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The End is Here

Finally the end is here and I have finished my Level 4 Horticulture course… But I will be back next term to start my 3 year diploma in horticulture!

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To finish of the last week of term we did some fencing… no not the kind you’re thinking of! Wire stuff, end assembly’s, anything to do with a building a fence, we did.

We also did some basic wire knots too…. BIG FAIL!

Olivia’s lovely vine crown… and a wild Jack

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To finish off the last day we had a small function for the students who had finished the course (i.e me and a few others) Had a few beers and pizza’s to share around and we all got to farewell Jack, who is leaving tomorrow for Thailand to see his girlfriend! We will miss you Jack! Here’s Jack and Bev below 🙂

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Until next term, Poo the Moo! -as Dave would say!

 

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A Cold Muggy Week, Some Canes and Spurs, aaannnnd Dave…

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Its been a long, cold, muggy week this week to say the least. While we have been inside during the first half of the mornings for the most part learning about grape vines, the rest of the day from morning tea has been out in drizzle, fog or frost cane pruning and spur pruning out in the vineyard…. brrrr…. By the end of every day everyone was wanting to go chill out at home where its warm and have a beer…. I know I certainly did! A great way to end the days work!

Here’s a few shots of the progress through the first few days of work out in the vineyard. These photos show cane pruned vines, where one cane on each side of the vine from last years growth is left and laid down on the fruiting wire, supplying the buds to form the shoots for this springs canopy and bunches!

The amount of buds left on each cane depends on how many healthy shoots the last cane produced during the summer, based on the total between the two canes, lets say 7 healthy canes per side, equals 14, we must apply a +5 more canes rule to keep up with the amount of carbohydrates the vine’s roots and trunk are putting out. This makes a new total of hopefully 19 canes this spring (14 +5), dividing this number in half roughly, lets just say 18 canes instead of 19 to make the maths easier, divide this by two for both of the new fruiting canes that are laid down so this makes for 9 buds on each new fruiting cane….. and this determines the amount of buds you need to leave on each new fruiting cane when you come to prune “Cane Pruned” vines! …….. Its much easier doing this with a vine than explaining it! haha

Then there’s the other type of pruning… Spur pruned vines. This was an absolute breeze to do!! As seen from the photos below, its simply removing the oldest and highest growth spur(s) and leaving the lower newer spur – cutting it back to the second bud as you can see in the second diagram… now how easy was that to explain! Thats why this option is so much cheaper and easier but it also doesn’t pay as much, where as cane pruning is more costly, harder to teach but pays more, but the advantages to cane pruning are generally better than spur pruning… so take your pick!

Here’s a cane pruned vine for you so you can see what it looks like after it has been pruned…. it has about 7 or 8 buds on each cane laying down and a small spur on the side of the head of the vine.

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The week wasn’t completely boring… we did have a bit of fun… here’s Sam and Dave posing for a photo next to some old style trellis systems especially made for central Otago…. they didn’t turn out be overly popular….. These weren’t overly fun vines to prune to start off with but we all slowly got the hang of it after a few bays down the row!20160622_115620

Thursday and Friday came around and all of us had to face our fears and sit our vine pruning theory and practical assessment… Dave was brilliant to commentate from a distance as seen below, needless to say he gave a few of us a good giggle! Thank you Dave, this is one of the reasons why you’re awesome! haha 🙂

Friday was a pretty chill day for most of us, a lot of us had a small sleep in and came to finish of pruning our rows, some sit there exam and then had an early day. I had Perry and Chase stick around keeping me company for most of the time I was pruning on my row… But that pretty much summarizes my week in grapevine pruning! Its my second to last week this week….. jeeperz! Last week next week….. Then 3 year diploma here I come! I will continue to post on here during my time doing the diploma too. But for now… See ya next week! Here’s some doggies…

As usual, last weeks weather….

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Fire and a Thousand Opinions…

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A fire in the sky in the morning and at night all in one day this week, heeding warning of bad weather to come for winter is far from over. So while the beautiful lenticular clouds ponded and parked up in the skies above Cromwell, we were all enjoying the warmth as we crowded around the frost-pot (below) while we spent the day learning about frosts and how we can manage and protect our crop against them…..

Mmmm…. I miss using our frost-pot out in our backyard every night…… they sound great when ya get them to hum – almost sound like an old stream train before it goes silent for a few seconds then a plume of flames pour out the top and it starts humming again! Love it!

Also looked at a few other methods of determining the temperature or temperature variations in and around your orchard or vineyard with these little flashing gadgets below…. cost ya $100 a pop though but totally worth ya money in the long run!

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The last three days of the week we spent pruning the cherry trees again, going over the rows of trees we had terribly done last week….. haha

And this is where things got annoying…. very verrryy quickly…. well for some anyway haha Luckily for myself I got to sit back and watch and listen to the thousand of opinions being thrown around by 4 people on the ground to the one person on the ladder doing the physical work…. as you can see below….

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As for Bruce… he couldn’t care less to what anyone had to say and was quite happy to just chill up in the tree and contemplate the purpose and meaning of life….

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The below photo shows two different varieties of cherry we had to prune. The one on the left being Santina, a more upward and flat growing habit and is a less vigorous variety of cherry whereas, Cordia, on the right, a very spindly, vigorous growth habit that is hard to manage and control when it comes to pruning. The Santina took half the time to prune than the Cordia variety!

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A fire in the sky in the morning, Shepard and sailors warning….

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Last weeks weather as requested….

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Wayne’s Trusty “Felco Pruners!”

The first two days of the week we finished off “Soils with Rog” so I was a bit sad that’s over but no need to worry, we were left with a shitload of work to do to help remind us of it….. yyyaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyy…. *much sarcasm*

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Had Trevor take us this time for fruit tree pruning this week instead of Wayne so we didnt hear much about Wayne’s trusty “Felco Pruners!” like we did the first week of starting this course…. which is where all My Horticulture Adventures in Central Otago began… While a few poeple in class complained about Trevor’s way of teaching pruning, I  greatly enjoyed it and before long we were all out to meet our customers…. the Cherry trees. The above image shows Trev in the Hydro-ladder giving a demonstration on how to prune back the trees…. and we were told to go hard or go home! Had to lop off a lot of limbs over those two days while we slowly got the hang of how to properly prune back a fruit tree!

Annnndd a wild Jack appears with a pair of “Felco Pruners”….. and well here’s a few photos of us doing some pruning, hair cuts, limb replacements, amputations… you get the idea…

Richard, Trevor and Bruce… Bruce clearly enjoying the day… and the first photo of me on the blog haha It was a good couple of days pruning even though the trees look rather butchered but apparently it needed to be done for renewal pruning and such…. But that’s all for this week, no more prop but I’ll pop by the nursery, mist house and glasshouses next week if they’re open and Kathrine is around! Later guys!

Last weeks weather…. you know the drill….

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“Soils with Rog”

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Finally, the  much talked about “Soils with Rog” is upon us…. Its been an interesting but long few days in class, going over the various types of soils, soils structures and components. We had a closer look at a few different types of ‘Parent Material’ otherwise commonly known as Greywacke, Schist, Pumice, Limestone and Sandstone as a few common examples we looked at. At close inspection, we can see how each of the different forms of parent material is made up/how its structure is different, and how it can affect the overall soil structure for plant growth, nutrient, water and air supply, and much more.

The last three images are the 3 aggregates that help make up the soil and give it structure, whether it be good or bad. This can be a range from clay, clay loam, silt, sandy loam or sand! – those are just to name a few…. jeez! The third to last image is of common gravel, a large aggregate with big micro pores which allow for easy drainage of water and flow of air. Second from the end is sand, this has smaller pores where water and air are stored but water doesnt flow as easily through as gravel material and retains some water but loses most. The last image is fine silt, this retains a lot of water in macro-pores and doesn’t lose too much water through leeching unlike the last two! Needless to say I learnt a lot and found this side of “Soils with Rog” quite interesting!

Everyone who had previously done “Soils with Rog” had said this unit was extremely hard and boring… yet our class is finding it rather interesting as you can tell! Only three or four people have been complaining about the topic but so far the rest of the class is enjoying it! The above photos show Rog digging up some areas of paddock and grass outside the Campus explaining to us how important Humus and organic matter in the soil is – and no its not the food humus!!! Its said ‘hyoo-mus’ ….

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This image was taking from Rog’s place looking towards Mt Pisa Range at the different heights of the river terraces that were formed between 660,000 and 100,000 years ago, the lowest one down by the stream being the very youngest with the least ‘soil development’ – meaning no Horizon structure in the soil because not enough weathering has occurred to leech and erode the parent material enough to form the different layers in the soils; which give the soils its structure and fertility. And the top terraces having the most ‘developed soils’, where all Horizons have been formed because sufficient weathering has occurred in order to produce these different layers and give the soils structure. This process takes place over many thousands of years! I find this all so fascinating as you can tell! haha Ive enjoyed my Geology and earth sciences ever since I was 4!

Some more photos….. Lowburn terraces, some soil structures on Rog’s property…. aaaannnnnddd of course Dave!! He was having a jolly great time as you can see…. and was admiring the view of upwards the Pisa Range on more than one occasion…. But in saying that, the bog we were standing in and dissecting with a shovel wasn’t overly pleasing to the eyes and nose! Again typical Dave, just doing Dave things, as Dave does best. Why? Well….. you should all know by now…. because Dave!!

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I found some horsies while on the trip! And was lucky enough to get a nice shot of them in the mid-ground of the photo!

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Thursday finally rolled around… our last day of prop 😥 Was a good day till it came to an end, no more prop or Kathrine in the nursery anymore! I definitely enjoyed my time working in the nursery and no doubt will be popping back in to say hello again while I do my three year diploma in Horticulture. Below Jack captured a rare sight of Kathrine smiling! Definitely a keeper! Will certainly be missing propagation Thursdays with Kathrine and the gang in the nursery… Thanks Kath for everything you’ve done for us and helped myself and the rest of the class with over the last year and for those who just started!

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To begin the day off we did our usual walk-about around the mist bed and glass houses to see how our cuttings and other potted up material were going… everything is going good just like last week and glasshouse 4 is finally starting to fill back up again for the plant sale later this year…. Which I may come back and lend a hand for! Below are the seeds of Cordyline australis, otherwise commonly called Cabbage Tree – A New Zealand native – that some of the class sowed a few weeks ago… they looked rather interesting so I thought I’d share a photo of them!

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For the first part of the morning we learnt how to do Lily scaling and how they reproduced, which is from the small base on the bottom of the scales that contains all the growth hormones for roots and shoots. Once we pulled these guys apart limb from limb – VERY carefully!! in order not to damage the base of the Lily scale…. and  we then bagged them up in some wet vermiculite and tied them up where they will germinate in the mist house over the next few weeks….. Was certainly an interesting and different way to start off a day of propagation! Very different from what we usually do!

For the second half of the day we did some hard wood cuttings!! …. buuuutttt I kinda forgot to take some photos….. So I might have to take some photos for ya next week… woops haha But our group (Andrew, Jack and I) cut up some Muehlenbeckia astonii – another New Zealand native – to size and put them a hygiene tray which went to the mist house when it was filled up. The last part of the day – since for some of us students leaving this term and it was our last day of propagation, we had to fill out the rest of or prop books… so through much pain, anger, frustration and suffering we searched through Kathrines prop dairy for the last two years to find out what info we needed that we had missed…. took a while but I managed to finish it all by the end of the day…. everyone else wasn’t so lucky….

All and all I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working in the nursery over the last year with the class and grumpy Kathy, and I will certainly miss it! I’m hoping to come back through and visit during my time doing the diploma so if you guys ( mainly pointed at Kathrine) think youve gotten rid of me…. well well well….. I’ll be seeing you guys around soon! 😀 heh heh

Thats all for this week… I’m sure we all enjoyed the fog that kept us company most of the week…. NOT

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Last weeks weather…..

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