• Posted on: 11 June 2024
  • By: ibuchanan

I have been doing a lot of pruning. Not enough, not fast enough. But a lot.

I had talked to a local arborist about getting them in to help speed up the process, but six weeks on and the window of opportunity to force new growth onto the trees has passed. I'll still keep pruning, but the urgent mass pruning hasn't happened.

What I have done as a Plan B is prune the grove into segments. Like a firebreak, and I am doing sets of rows and columns to the grove so its segmented into smaller sections. If we get another outbreak of lace bug after winter, which is pretty likely, I think, I will at least have some sort of quarantining in place.

Anyway the arborists showed up on Friday, took one look at the accumulation of prunings and made it clear that they wouldn't get any more pruning done that day, just mulching.

Last time I did this it didn't go very well. I had originally piled the material for burning. We had a long dry spell, I got distracted, and a long time later changed my mind and decided to get it mulched. The three blokes who came to do the job were pretty unhappy at the jumbled mess of poky, pointy olive branches with grass growing through it all. It took them a long time and ended up being pretty expensive.

So this time I laid them out neatly, all facing the same way so you could drive along a row and drag the branches butt-first into the massive mulcher. Made the job easier, but it's such hard work!

I've previously done this job, working for someone else. Its tough, you are on foot all day, lifting and fighting with quite long, heavy segments. You have to wear safety gear: hi-viz vest, long sleeves, goggles, gloves and ear muffs. For good reason! I am older now, and each year not as strong as I was, and I found it hard going. The two young arborists were tough and thin as nails, and they powered along effortlessly. Next to me was a fourth bloke. In his forties I would say. Usually he drives big machinery, but this time of year that sort of work starts to peter out, so he was working for the arborist as an extra spare pair of hands. Two hours into the shift he stepped aside and threw up. 'Bloody hell, this is hard going!" he said.

It took us five hours. When we finished I came inside and sat down, absolutely knackered, too tired to eat, and ended up having a sleep on the couch.

We finished up with some 30+ cubic metres of woodchip.

Time to do more pruning!