I had a wonderful time today, soaking up the sunshine, getting dirty with making compost, and grafhting and pruning trees.
We began by making compost. This was very exciting as we began to see the pile being built. The compost materials consists of carbon, nitrogen, and aeration of the pile. This consisted of dried leave, straw, horse manure, freshly cut grass and wood chips. We began by laying a foundation of leaves to the pile. Usually one would use dried branches that would create a raised effect for the compost and allows for air enter from the bottom. We then added the next layer, which was freshly cut grass. This layer was very thin. We then spreaded it out and incorporated it in to the pile. The next layer was straw, which we also spreaded out onto the pile, and next we added the horse manure. Between each layer we added water to enhance the decomposition process. We continued this process layering all the materials together, until we reached a height of 3 ft.
The reason we use the layering technique is to help us gauge the carbon and nitrogen ratio of the materials. Over the next 4 days we will monitor the temperature. When it reaches a temp. of 160 F, we need to turn the compost.
Our next lesson was with Brian, we learnt how to graft trees. This was a very interesting process. We used a pear tree for demonstration purposes. We first began by slitting one end of the stem down the middle. Then we used another stem and created a wedge. The reason for this is to expose the cambium layer of the plant so that there would get some growth that would be able to take place. We also learnt how to prune tress. Trees are usually pruned, either to provide fruit, safety, health and for aesthetics. When we prune for safety it involves removing branches that could fall and cause injury or property damage.
Pruning for health involves removing diseased branches, thinning the crown to increase air-flow, and removing crossing and rubbing branches. We also prune to encourage trees to develop a strong structure and reduce the likelihood of damage during severe weather.
I thought all these techniques that I learnt today is very useful, and it is something that I will surely use in my field of study.