The Cactus guards seems to be effective at protecting the trees from deer and sheep within the spiny cages, but any growth emerging out of the cage has been effectively pruned back up to 1.5m off ground (highlighting the importance of good guards- and a need to guard beyond the standard 1.2m)! One challenge with 1.6m guards and smaller trees is trying to stop the leaders growing through the cages rather than up and out the centre. On the last visit to the trees some time was spent anchoring the leaders to the centre of the guards- and guiding the growth that was emerging outside the guards.
On the whole the trees are looking good. The sheep have been released into the field and the Cactus guards have successfully prevented any damage from browsing animals. I will have to find a way to stop the smaller trees trying to grow their central leader through the guards. A few guards will need to be deconstructed and repositioned and I might have to cross tie some of the tree young growth to the guards to help it grow up and out, not through! It’s been a fairly dry spring and as the trees were planted relatively late in the season I’ve had some concerns about the impact of this on their establishment. Luckily nearly all the trees have leafed up well and not showing too many signs of stress- but I will be grateful for a few extra downpours. Although the trees are too small to start nutting, a few of them have ideas of grandeur, and are displaying beautiful male and female flowers.
Over the May bank holiday weekend the tree guards and mulch mats were installed. To stop the grass growing under the tree guards we used Mulch Organic’s heavy duty biodegradable film (a corn starch based mat that should last 4 years) as mulch matting stapled into place. We used protector cactus tree guards (for more info see page on tree protection https://treecrops.home.blog/protecting-the-trees/). Now hopefully the trees are safe ready for the sheep grass mowers to invade!
Three intense days of planting later- 90 trees in a 4 acre field. The start of what could be a 25 year adventure. Still need to add the sheep guards but luckily we can fence them out for now. The details of why and how can be found on the separate pages.