Working Bee – 06.02.2022

Was able to do a solid 3hrs on the Saturday which felt quite productive. Great day for bush regeneration with a cloudy day keeping it quite cool and previous rains making the soil easy to work with.

We have had a lot of rain so everything is growing well at the moment.

 

Including the weeds unfortunately. The track from second fall that I normally use had been swallowed by fishbone ferns.

So that was a good place to start… I looked through the fishbone fern for any natives and cleared around those. I found pittosporums, false bracken, blue flax lilly and others who were all doing their best to stay above the fishbone fern. I have done this multiple times now and each time the desired native plants get more numerous and larger. It is all heading in the right direction.

A native olive tree that I had previous cleared around is doing well with new growth showing but no new shoots closer to the cliff were visible. Still, other natives were taking advantage so that’s a win.

Notice the blue flax lilly and elderberry panax in the bottom left corner…

After this I moved down the lower creek section and pushed back lantana around a stand of bracken that I have posted about previously. Unfortunately the rain came in so no photos.

There are many seedlings of desired species popping up at present. Another two years will see a transformation I believe.

One last thing I could not resist taking a photo of was this spider. A beautiful specimen I thought… A golden orb spider I have been informed.

I’m looking forward to next weekend. My intention is to once again look for natives that need some more space to grow but there is also an infestation of Swedish Ivy that needs attention. It has been disturbing to see it popping up in more and more places.

Working Bee – 09.01.2022

Had a chance to get some more done at Dick’s creek for the first time in the new year.

As always, I deviated away from my original target after noting some weeds on the way. On the lower west bank of first fall I noticed a healthy stand of Croften weed & mistflower.

Not surprising of course considering that these invasives dominated the spot a few years ago. It didn’t take long to do some maintenance to get rid of most of it. This area is doing well mostly. Native ferns and trees are growing stronger and the weeds are having a harder and harder time.

I videoed progress while I was there…

I took some video at ‘Site A’ and also after manually removing some lantana behind 16 Green Valley Rd.  I took some more photos and video of an issue I have with lantana rafts taking too much space. I am convinced that most bush regeneration advice is aimed at large sites where rafts can be built and forgotten. However, as there so much lantana at Dick’s creek and the site is relatively small, I find those piles of dead lantana take up too much space so I have tried a few options to speed up the breakdown. Firstly, I was spreading out the dead branches rather than piling them. Normally this is not done as it is possible the branches will reroot but I take this into consideration and find that spreading out the branches is an improvement.

Another approach I have now had success with, is to pile green leafy weeds in with the raft when it is made. It keeps the moisture in contact with the dead branches and hence hastens the process. Key with both approaches is to reduce the size of the branches as much as possible.

Finally, I got to the back of the reserve, near the creek, where I intended to spend most of the time on. Privet is the main issue at this location. I found multiple native saplings taking off at this location so I ended up just trying to keep the privet away from these guys.

In this shot, the pittosporum can be seen. A lot of the surrounding privet has been pulled out and will soon die.


Here we can see a small Cheese tree and another small tree of that as of yet unidentified tree that appears to like the area.

Hopefully I can do more for these in future working bees as they are struggling against the privet.

Lantana debris experiment

I have often been left with large piles of dead lantana after landcare working bees. Current recommendations is to leave those piles on site to breakdown in time. However, Dick’s creek is (well, it was…) a small reserve with a big lantana infestation. Those piles take up a lot of space that I would prefer to see being used by native flora. Those lantana piles take a long time to break down. I have heard people suggest twelve months is long enough for it all to disappear but I have seen piles remain mostly intact for years (see video below).

Following landcare rules makes the situation more challenging. It can’t be burnt, we can’t bring machinery on site to process it, it can’t be taken off-site, no building compost heaps etc. I have often felt at loggerheads with this issue…

As any gardener would know, a compost will only work when there is enough moisture and I think this explains my issue with lantana. As long as the remaining debris stays strong enough to keep it suspended above the ground and hence able to stay dry, it takes a long time to break down. I needed to get the debris into something that will keep it wet. So, what I am trying at present and what I show in the video below, is an experiment to see if combining dead lantana with more fleshy green leafy weeds will hasten the composting process. I am hoping it will.

I picked a few locations, ‘Site A’ being one of them. I tried to brake down the lantana as much as possible by standing on it and breaking it up with my hands. I then raked nearby tard/wandering willy (there is no shortage unfrotunately) into the pile. Hopefully, with some rain, it will break down and more area will become available for the flora that is meant to be there.

Fingers cross this will work so I will have an approach I can use for any other lantana infestations.

Here are some videos I took to describe the issue and the approach I am using…

Working Bee – 18.09.2021

I got a few hours of lantana bashing in on Saturday…

The main pile of lantana at the end of the day.

Mostly I focused on the lantana near the creek towards the rear of the reserve. I had cleared the creek edge previously and this led to some natives taking off. The usual bleeding hearts and sandpaper figs but also a lilly pilly amongst others. Still, I hadn’t moved far from the edge of the creek and the lantana was threatening a return. I put an end to that…

Sandpaper figs free from lantana

That spot was chockers with lantana but now those  sandpaper fig saplings towards the center of the photo should have a good headstart.

I am having to consider where people will walk when an area is cleared. There appears to be enough people going through the reserve now to make a difference. Not a bad thing but something to keep in mind in case some more fragile plants could be damanged. I left some privet and debris to deter people using this area. Easily removed when the saplings become big enough to not be easily walked on.

Just enough debris to deter would be walkers. They can go the usual way…

Here is a summary video I took at the end of the day. Poor quality unfortunately…

That fern tree that can be seen in the video is another win as well. More of those, yes please.

Working Bee – 12.09.2021

A quick session today. Actually classified as exercise rather than bush regeneration 🙂

Once again, just pushing back on lantana. I came across a large sandpaper fig tree that I had previously freed up from lantana. It had since then, fallen over but it continues to thrive. It had once again started to provide structure for the surrounding lantana. I removed the offending lantana and also bits of privet.

Sandpaper fig after I had cleared off the lantana.

I will need to come back to this spot as there is various promising saplings which need defending.

Here is a summary video I did of the site after clearing the fig.

Poison peach tree (Trema tomentosa) vs Lantana (Lantana camara)

While trekking through the bush in Dudley, Lake Macquarie, I noticed a young poison peach tree (Trema tomentosa) near some lantana (Lantana camara). I took advantage of the situation by comparing the two for future reference.

Leaf wise, they are quite alike but with poison peach leaves being more elongated. They main notable difference when they are growing upright from the ground (not that common for lantana) is the leaf arrangement. Opposite for lantana and alternate for poison peach.

Working Bee – 27.02.2021

Dick’s Creek had a visit from the green team from the lake macquarie landcare resource center during the week. Many hands make light work and that was definitely the case on the day. Some good progress was made on the day despite delays due to rain. While there on the day I noticed some sections done previously had sprung back. Namely lantana and privet as usual. I have been quite  taken back by the speed that everything is growing at present. Rain is great for all the plants, weeds included unfortunately.

Yesterday, I had a chance to get some guards around the Cheese saplings I planted a month or so ago.

Everything is looking super green at present. Maiden hair along the cliff face next to the first falls has never been so abundant.

Palm grass is looking a bit too healthy at various places along the creek. At placed, I need to consider erosion control. When the water flows fast, it takes anything that is loose down stream so sometimes it is just better to leave some weeds in place for this reason. Here is what I am describing…

Further along, I am pushing back the swedish Ivy as various ferns show up. Hopefully it is a case of slowly does it. Things are looking much better but it can all go backwards quickly if I don’t keep an eye on it.

A trail that I often used that leads from the second falls around to site A was enveloped by fishbone fern. Impressive. Annoying but still impressive. I cleared the trail. This video shows the area and also one of the areas done by the green team.

Also done by the the green team and I last Tuesday…

Continuing on from that section I cleared lantana and privet back down the creeks edge (which still needs some serious privet treatment).

Here is the summary of the day which I try to do for each working bee. It was a good day…