Ann Fitzgerald: 'Laying the roots for an exciting new venture in forestry'
I'm delighted that we're starting 2019 on an energising note inside the farm gate, as we have just completed the planting of eight acres of forestry.
The work began the week before Christmas. A Hymac came in and, using a purpose-built bucket, dug a shallow channel and deposited the collected soil in heaps on either side, travelling up and down the field, creating some 13,000 mounds in the process.
The 'trees', which are only about 18 inches tall, were then planted into these molehill-like mounds by hand.
We had wanted to plant a patch of native woodland but a soil sample showed that most of it was too peaty, so instead there's 90pc Norway spruce, with the remainder made up of birch, alder and mountain ash, supplied by None-So-Hardy Nursery in Wicklow.
Our forester is Gerry Blake from Offaly and he worked through the festive season, pointing out that the conditions for planting are so good at the moment that he couldn't let it pass. What fantastic dedication and enthusiasm!
We had hoped that the job would have been done this time last year but the required permission took longer than anticipated. We now realise it was probably a blessing in disguise because a lot of trees planted last spring failed.
We visited the 'plantation' (and visitors were all eager to have a gander) several times over the festive season.
On the first occasion, we found the Hymac had lifted the base of a tree about 8ft long. We don't know what species it is but it looks impressive and we intend to place it in the garden as a feature.