Term-IV, Week-6 (16th – 20th November)

Friday, 20th November : Last day… Going out….

We are here for Morning Tea  at  10:00. A memorable occasion with this campus and our teachers… Lots  of memories…

Thursday, 19th November : Cleanup Nursery….

Miss you.....

Last working day…… As announced before, Alex and Jo sit with us to review the course. They prepared well and asked about each and every topics we studied this year. What changes we need to improve the way of teaching, importance of the topics, theory and practical balance and any new things or points to be added or removed… and all…. Some good suggestions came out.. they noted down all and assured that make them come enforced. Later we went nursery – propagation place for do some final works.. Repotted some Hebe plants. Shifted some plants from shade house to retails. One group was working with Trevor in the Hydroponics to clean and tidy the station. We have finished the day before 3:00. Everybody disappeared soon. I am feeling sad to leave this campus now… It was a great place for last 10 months and tomorrow onwards, we are going to fail to spot in this place.

Wednesday, 18th November : Practical Exam

Exam….., Practical Exam….. I utilized this morning to sleep up to 8:00. Timing for my exam was at 11:45. I had freedom to sleep because I have successfully completed all my assignments. Tension free. Who care about practical exam. It is just a fun. I don’t bother all these. I went to Bannockburn campus before time. I got some fertilisation work.. I done fertilising for Grafted Cherries and  Apples. Beside these I fertilised  Raspberries, Roses and all other front and backside garden. Later on when my turn came, I attend the practical exams. Subjects are like Tractor, ATV, Irrigation, Grafting, Weeds, Propagation, Tools and Weather. It was beyond my expectations and I understood the importance of them. But I am not worried about my level of confidence. I don’t expect to become a best practical student. Later I came back to the town centre and updated my blogs.

Tuesday, 17th November : A day for complete all the tasks

I wake up at 5:30, got ready and went to Bannockburn campus at 7:00 AM. Collected more information and pictures for the Enterprises Report and reached the town campus on time. I got engaged in completing my report. Today was the last day and I decided to submit that before 5:00 PM. There was a ‘Programme evaluation by Alex, Jo and Trevor. They were looking suggestions for improve provision for coming batches of international students. It was an hour programme and later I was engaged in completing my Enterprises Report. Thanks GOD. At last I submitted  at sharp 5:00 PM.

Monday, 16th November: Birds Control, Cricket and BBQ

Gas gun for bird control

Countdown started…… We are at Bannockburn campus. Last topic of this course. One of the important tasks at the Vineyard / Orchard. Bird Control. There are many ways to control birds. During the fruit season, all the birds will get attract  and they damage all fruits. If conditions are in favour for them, they come as big groups and can finish the whole crops with in few days. Ancient methods like sending dongs, produce some sounds and make them scary, provide some lights, light reflecting materials in various places of the blocks  and all gone. Shooting can help to reduce their numbers. Beside these, the modern technology like cover all the blocks by nets, install electronic agitator, use gas guns are also  common now. But all these control methods have its disadvantages also. Gas guns is an automatic device produce terrible blast noise and birds become scary and fly away. It has a controller operated by DC and we can do the necessary programmes like, blast timings, days and pattern and frequency of the blast etc. But noise from these guns can become  disturbance for neighbours. Shooting birds have also disadvantages. If the blocks are close to residential areas, pallets from the shooting become harmful form people. Pallets can damage fruits also. Netting is one of the best solution for overcome all these problems. But some minor disadvantages like temperature inside the nets, damage by rabbits and other animals, annual maintain cots etc. Netting can cost around $35,000 per hectare. This can be the safest way for next 15 years. On an average $2500 per hectare @ annum. Quite cheap and safest way. All other methods are more or less expensive and  success rate is less. Birds will get attract and damage mainly only on  fruits like cherry and grapes. All other fruits will be harvested when they get mature.  So most damages by birds are happens only on Vineyards and Cherry orchards.

After the morning tea, we had a friendly cricket match India 11 VS NZ 11. Staff + kiwi student from horticulture and stone masonry was in the NZ team. NZ11 won the match by two runs.

After the match, there was a BBQ lunch organised by Student Association. Jo and Katherin were on board and lunch was ready when we arrived. Everybody together enjoyed the lunch.

After the lunch I was engaged in completing the last assignment, ‘Enterprises Report’.


Term-IV, Week-5 (09th – 13th November)

Friday, 13th November: Crop loading analysis.

Cherry - crop load

We are at the end of  this academic year. During this year, we have engaged in various horticultural activities. Pruning, grafting, spraying, weeding and irrigation. I was very much keen on while doing pruning that what will be the result during the growing season. Lots of fruits and leaves. It is an important factor for trees further growth and balance. Today we assembled at Bannockburn campus to learn and practice “Crop loading technologies”. Alex started the topic. Fruit thinning is essential for quality fruits, balanced growth of plants, improved size of fruits and reduced risk of pest and diseases. Fruit thinning is essential for almost all pip fruit and stone fruit trees. Some verity cherry has capability to drops an amount of fruits naturally and balance the required number of fruits in plants. Hand thinning is a labour oriented process and cost more. Pipe fruit industry, chemical thinning (using thinning agent – kind of hormones) to drop a limited number of fruits. Another amount of fruits will be dropped naturally by wind / frost and even by birds. After the class room session, we went to Apricot block for do some fruit thinning their. Later moved to nectarine and followed by peaches for fruit thinning and finished that before end of that day. In the afternoon session I was practising Tractor driving with attached implements. Now I am quite confident in driving Tractor in almost all kind of flat terrains.

Thursday, 12th November: Gardening at SHaC, Clyde.


SHaC - Home is under construction at Clyde

The Sustainable Habitat Challenge has nine teams around New Zealand designing and building 7 more sustainable homes by November 2009. Central Otago residents can look at building themselves a better future thanks to a nationwide sustainable housing competition being driven by Otago Polytechnic.

A team led by Otago Polytechnic and consisting of 10 people from Alexandra, Clyde, Cromwell, Queenstown and Wanaka, has been hard at work all year designing and building a straw bale house as their entry for the 2009 Sustainable Habitat Challenge (SHAC).In clyde, this house is under construction and the owner  Sampsa Kiuru is eager to move in to soon.

“Straw bale houses are used extensively overseas, particularly in the U.S. where it’s become a very common building practice. “Straw is a great building material option for Central Otago – it’s cheap, natural and provides great insulation for the dry Central Otago climate. Essentially we’re taking a waste product and turning it into a solid, durable, well insulated and easy to maintain home.

“There won’t be any fossil fuels used in this home. Solar heating and a super-efficient masonry stove will keep the interior warm and provide for hot water needs while keeping environmental emissions to a minimum.

Located at 1088 Earnscleugh Rd, the three-bedroom house is built with non-treated timber and straw bales which give it a high thermal mass and insulation up to two times the building code requirements. Earthen floors, a five-tonne masonry stove, thick earthen plasters and a large central earthen massive wall will act as passive solar collectors, absorbing the warmth of the direct solar radiation during the day and warming the home on cold winter nights. The masonry stove radiates heat over a long period at a fairly constant temperature and only needs to be lit every few days. The fire burns hot and quickly, producing very little smoke, and the masonry stove radiates the heat slowly over a long period of time.

Polytechnic team on planting

Once the Clyde house is finished, Otago Polytechnic plans to build a public display centre dedicated to sustainable building practice.

Otago polytechnic Cromwell centre, horticulture team got a wonderful opportunity to participate in this movement and design and develop a natural garden around this house.

We went to Clyde at 9:00 AM with a trailor load of garden plants like Thyme, Tussocks, Cistus and Iris. Most of all these plants are highly dry tolerant and initial maintenance and  weeding will help to develop a wonderful natural garden at this place. We were pretty strict in planting without making any changes in the landscape or soil structure. Executed all planting at 12:30 PM and returned to campus. After noon, there was a visit from NZ Friend  for complete the application formalities for our next visa process. A great day with lots of new developments, knowledge and fun. We got a chance to place our hands for this house and its garden.

Wednesday, 11th November: Tutorial Day

Last tutorial day  for us. Next Wednesday will be the day for practical exam. I wake up at early morning and reached polytechnic before time. I decided to finish my Unit – 1670, ‘Plant collection records’ There was some minor corrections and I need some more new photographs to complete these tasks. I have successfully completed all these before lunch and submitted that. Jo verified that return it with in half n hour. I successfully completed that task also. Submitted the weed collection record to Roger and hope that will be back soon with some minor corrections. It was an opportunity to complete my blogs and make some more works in the Propagation records. Hope that I can submit my propagation record by end of this week. Enterprises Report is under construction and will be released by mid days of next week.

Tuesday,10th November: Bees

Bee hives



We are learning about bees and beekeeping today. I am little familiar with bees and beekeeping and so I was not much eager about things. But I did not skip the class because it was an opportunity to hear and refresh the knowledge. So I call that ‘ learning is a never ending process’. I am very much happy that, Alex was appreciating my knowledge. All the apiculture equipments like frames, bee excluder, smoker, uncapping knife, bee suit, gloves, honey extractor and queen breeding cup were available in the class. We can not present live bees in the class, so we used some big posters, pictures and even some slides and videos for teaching purpose. Everybody was keen in the whole class and it finished at around lunch. Bees have a valuable important roll in the horticulture industry. Pollination…. They do a great service to us on free of cost basis. Other side, they provide honey also. New Zealand is one of the best quality honey producing country and 25-30 % of the countries total honey is exporting to Asia, Europe and U.S. Manuka honey is well known and expensive and gets from North Island. In south Island, we have Thyme honey and it has also a huge demand in the market. New Zealand have many commercial beekeepers and most of them have quiet good turn over. Beside honey, there is huge demand for other things like bee wax, propolis, pollen, commercial queen breeding and nucle hives and  bee venom. Alex has a great knowledge and marvellous ability to express these knowledge to students with in a short duration. Overall it was interesting session and hope that everybody enjoyed a lot. After the lunch, we were win the computer suite and I was working with updating my propagation record. During these time, Mr. David from NZHITO made a visit and we all had got a chance to meet him and discuss some ongoing issues.

Monday, 09th November: Irrigation – Practical

Today, last day for the subject ‘Irrigation’. I was quiet sure that this day will be a practical day. Alex started the day with some important points like – ten more days to end this course, this week programmes and today’s tasks. We were doing some more irrigation tasks like putting new line and installing pop-up sprinklers in the grass area, pavement near the office.  Other things like some repairing works in the irrigation lines in the turf area in front of staff room, filling up the trenches made on last week by putting top soil etc… I have made some new trenches in the morning followed by some trenches on the bitumen placed road area. When others started to install  lines and sprinklers, I have moved with few others to the turf area and repaired some pop-up sprinklers damaged by mower. There was a BBQ lunch by OPSA and we all enjoyed that during our lunch time. After the lunch, I have assigned with some more works in the turf area. Rabecca and myself were working together  for placing a separate irrigation line for the mini sprinklers and pop-ups irrigate the plants near and around the catering institute its east side. End of this task, I was much satisfied because, we made a very clean and tidy work in the turf area. If someone new comes and look, it is very hard to find that, placed a new irrigation line here. Turf placed back in a well looking manner. As announced before, I had an interview with Rotary people for the selection of educational scholarships. Hope that luck may be in favour. A great practical day with full of work and outcomes. Little sad that, our Rabecca got little angry and complained about me when I used the word “Use your brain”. Hope she will be fine later.

Term-IV, Week-4 (02nd – 06th November)

Friday, 06th November: CV – Work ready: Computer room

Course is going to finish soon. Everybody wants job. For reaching to an employer, a well fabricated CV is very much required. The first part of the selection happens when an employer go through the presented CV and, you will pass the first hurdle of  the rout. For developing a good CV, need little efforts and skills. for this purpose, one day has included in the course and, today everybody got that opportunity to execute the task well.  Computer room no.8, community learning centre Instructor, Lyne is well expert in providing support and advices to fabricate a good CV and we all were sitting with her in the morning. She provides some good books which have useful hints for making CV. Beside these books, there was some supporting notes and other useful information also provided by her. MS Office-2007 has a huge number of templates for fabricate a CV. After  the introduction, I moved back to the students computer room and working with my Weed collection assignment. By end of the day I have completed that task successfully. I need to print them and submit.

Thursday, 05th November: Propagation – Nursery

Peony Garden

Peony Garden

One of the last day for us to engage in the Nursery propagation activities. We are at the end of the course and no more days for here. There may be a chance to come back for  few couple of hours in another day for just clean and tidy up the nursery and surrounded battle ground and say good bye to all.. Alex, Jo and Trevor were present in the room number – 4 and they have explained and discussed the coming two week activities. Alex made a couple of points regarding, scholarships, practical exam and best practical student. This is the crash hours to complete all pending tasks like assignments and projects. Jo has a word regarding the plant specimen collection records and propagation records update. She made a monthly chart in the board regarding the suitable timing in a year for making various cuttings for propagation. After the morning tea, we moved to propagation room. Jo demonstrated  the process of making softwood cuttings and it propagation methods. We chose Lavender for propagate by softwood cuttings. ‘Pacific Blue’ Lavender is one of the best Lavender verity grows in this cold climate. Except Gandhi and me, everybody engaged in making Lavandula‘Pacific Blue’ cuttings. We prepared two trays of Lavender (Lavandula ‘Grasso’. Cut very soft, new growths from the plant, made a clear cut just under one of the nodes, removed leaves of two  – three internodes and trimmed off the flower bud from end. One inter node choose with half cut leaves. Prepared media by half portion standard potting mix, half portion sand and added some quantity of pumice for better AFB. Through out the process, we made sure that, cuttings have needed moisture and sprayed little water for that. Send the trays to GH-1 under mist.  Later we repeated the same process for propagate some Rosemary and English Box.  After lunch, we had various tasks in the nursery. Group of people engaged in cleaning and tiding up the shade house. Another group shifted some plants in various places. Some people busy with hydroponics. Some of us including myself planted some vegetables in the nearby veggie garden. I have planted few chillies, ladies fingers, lettuce and cucumbers. There was a photo session at just before end of the day and we all back grounded with in the peony flowers. Later Jo was assisting us to complete the propagation records. I was quiet unwell and moved away after the session.

Tuesday & Wednesday, 03rd & 4th November: Field Trip (proposed but cancelled)

Spraying in progress

I reached at the Bannockburn campus on time. Few people turned around little late. Alex and Trevor were ready with Tractor, ATVs and Sprayers. They briefed about the days programs. Few of us do spraying herbicides at Stone fruit and pip fruit blocks. Some others sprayed herbicide around the corners of the campus by using knapsack sprayers. Other group designated for spraying herbicides at the driving range. For me, it was an opportunity to measure, mix, spraying herbicide named – Roundup- (Polaris-450). More over it was an opportunity for driving Tractor around the blocks. Finished spraying before lunch. Afternoon, I have watered the compost heap and cleared some trellis wires, irrigation pipes and posts from the Berry fruit garden. Later we worked in the front side turf area where couple of pop-up sprinklers damaged by either wheels or frost. Day ended with hands on practical experience.


Wednesday, I have turned around on time and we were waiting for more people. But only couple of people came for that day. Because it is practical. During the opening talk, Alex informed me that, I have selected for the scholarship  and final interview date will be announced later. Then we moved to the Iris garden and joined with our Jo for doing some major weeding in the Iris bed. There is an Iris flower competition is going to be happen soon at this place. Finished weeding and meanwhile others completed fertiliser spreading at the vineyard block. Then we took the tractor  for more practical. Assembling, dismantling implements like sprayers in the Tractor. Everybody executed the task well and finally Alex announced that we all have successfully completed the practical side of the Tractor operation. Another practical day completed successfully.

Monday, 02nd November: Irrigation

Popup sprinkler

We all back after a long work experience. Alex  asked everybody to express their experiences and started from one end in the class room. Most of them were happy and expressed their views. I also got a chance to present my experience. Later we entered in to the subject. Irrigation practical starts here. As a prior, asked everybody to fabricate a square model with one ‘T’ connecter and one small sprinkler or dripper. Clamps, elbows and  polythene pipes were available in the class. Trevor supplied some hot water and cutting tools for fabrication work. Everybody made this model with out much efforts. Later we went to the garden block adjacent to the office for install a fully automatic controlled irrigation system. It includes couple of solenoid valves, 20 mm pipes, 13 mm pipes and number of pop-up sprinklers. Alex and Trevor marked the trench routs and supplied necessary tools. We made trenches, laid lateral pipes, connected them with T joints and ended with pop-ups. Tested and confirmed that there is no leaks or faults and then covered the trenches gently and neatly. Day ended with hands on experience in installing an irrigation system.  During the day their was an announcement from the staff that, the proposed study tour to Dunedin has been cancelled due to drops of people for trip. As an instance, we can utilize these two days for do some more practical in Tractor, ATV and Spraying at Bannockburn campus for improve our skills.


Term-IV, Week-3 (26th – 30th October)

Tuesday – Friday, 27 – 30 October – Work Experience…


Working with bees


Beekeeping site (Apiary)

We have a work experience programme for a week long as part of our studies. This is the time to choose and industry to work after successful completion of the studies at end of this term. Most of us chose Orchard as an industry. Few people chose Amenity Horticulture and Viticulture for their future. I have some previous experience in Beekeeping and would like to choose Apiculture Industry.  Polytechnic arranged  a place for my work experience in near by town. A place with an average commercial bee keeper. I was working with this beekeeper for four days. During these days, I really enjoyed every moments. Nice person, helped me in all the manner. Explained every queries and beyond. He was much interested to teach me new skills and it helped me to gain that new skills. I really did not feel that, I was working with someone. It was like family kind of atmosphere, and recollected some memories of working with my father during the childhood. At the end of the fourth day, there was a photo session for ‘The Orchadist’, leading horticulture magazine in New Zealand. Hope that I will be there in the front page of  December issue of this magazine. I am much confident in my skills and if I get a chance to work with in this industry, that will be my carrier….. of course it is my passion. ….Thank a lot for the polytechnic team for their great help to provide an opportunity to work with this employer.

Monday, 26th October: Labour Day – Holiday

We have got three consecutive holidays here. Today is one of the  public holidays here in NZ.  Labour Day…

Term-IV, Week-2 (19th – 24th October)

Saturday, 24th October: Giant Plant Sale….


Waiting for buy plants...


Vegetable plants sections


Peony wase and vine.....

We are selling our kids… no.. plants which are propagated and cared by us. We came at 8:00 AM. Plant sale starts at 9:30 AM and needed some preparation in the morning. Enthusiastic people from the town and nearby places arrived in the gate before time. At the time of opening the plant sale, there was a massive gathering around 400 people at the gate. During the first one hour itself, we sold out almost 80 % of all and 100 % of vegetable plants. Flow rate become slow at around 12:00 noon and we closed at 2:00 PM. There was one counter for selling our vines and another counter operated by our food science people for selling refreshments for the buyers. I was in the entrance and welcome people, guided them, controlled the parking and availability of the trolleys, collected feedback from the people and such things. There was a heavy lunch at the end of the day with beer and some soft drinks. A wonderful result of great team work and collective efforts.

Friday, 23rd October: Propagation – Nursery


Ready for sale

Another frost morning. Frost machines in all the Vineyards and Orchards were running in the morning. Plant sale is going to be opened today for the Senior Citizens and Industry people. We done some tidy up works in the nursery. Shifted the plants like tomatoes, cucumbers and pumpkins to the “Cold Frame” and arranged their display. Made sure that all the things are in order and placed label for all them. At 11 AM, we all took brench and moved came back to the nursery for the official opening of the plant sale.

Really amazing that, our senior citizens were lined up before 12:00 PM. They were so hurry to grab the best plants.. still in thrill. All of us including staff located every corner of the nursery and helped the people to choose plants as per desires. I was in the gate to welcome them, say bye to them and bring the trolleys back. I got a wonderful opportunity to know people’s taste and selection of plants. Most of them have vege garden at home and more people like other garden stuffs. There was a huge demand for some selected items here. There was a massive rush till at 3:00 PM and we finished the day at 3:30 PM. Lucky that all the trolleys are in-house at end of the day.  It was a lovely day… warm enough and temperature was above 20 Degree. Need a big preparation for tomorrow’s giant plant sale….

Thursday, 22nd October: Propagation – Nursery


Final touch

Usually, I reach polytechnic before time. Today, I become little late and somehow managed to reach their one minute before. We have to clean and tidy up everything in the nursery for our big plant sale. Next two days are the examination for our nursery team… and defiantly for also… We are selling our plants (kids) to our local community. End result of the one year work. Various verity of plants. We arranged all the sales desk and placed them in various places of nursery. Installed entry and exit points, cleaned nursery and propagation room. Watered all plants. Later one crew including me were working in our peony division. Lots of weeds were and removed all. I really love these peonies. I know that people will come and look these on coming days. After the session, I was sitting with my Enterprises Report to make a visible start on it.

Wednesday, 21st October: Tutorial

Yes.. I had a list of tasks to complete in this day. Alex, Jo and Trevor were in the classroom to discuss something about the weekend plant sales. Jo prepared and assigned a list of tasks to all the students. After that Alex and Trevor explained about the on coming work experience week. Most of the people have job chances in the proposed employers and if they work well and prove their skill, they can grab that opportunities. I am the only one going for work experience in the Apiculture Industry and, they were making comments about bee stings. Trevor supplied a pair of Gumboots for me for that week. Thanks…. After the morning session, I was working with my assignments and some other pending task. Afternoon, Wayne was with us to explain some points which we had doubt about in the “Firearm Safety”.

Tuesday, 20th October: Enterprises Report – Diary

As I thought, Jo used this day for a “push” to start the ‘Big task’, making an Enterprises Report. Teachers know the students habits well. They are aware that we have not started the report yet. Jo explained all the points again and requested everybody to start and finish this task ASAP.  After her brief, I moved to the computer suite to finish the documentation for the weed collection. Weed collection is still pending with me. After the lunch session, I went to Bannockburn campus to collect information for the Enterprises Report. I did not sit for a long day in the computers, because I was little tired this day..  Hope that the details I collected will help to start my project soon..

Monday, 19th October: Irrigation


Type of Irrigation

We continued the studies of ‘Irrigation’ on this Monday. Study was a mixture of theories, problem solving and some little mathematics. Relation between ET (Evapotranspiration)  and irrigation are important. Evapotranspiration (ET) is a term used to describe the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth’s land surface to atmosphere. Evaporation accounts for the movement of water to the air from sources such as the soil, canopy interception, and water bodies. Transpiration accounts for the movement of water within a plant and the subsequent loss of water as vapour through stomata in its leaves. Evapotranspiration is an important part of the water cycle. An element (such as a tree) that contributes to Evapotranspiration can be called an Evapotranspirator. By irrigating, we fill that much escaped quantity of the water to the soil and make them available to plants. Pump is one of the important equipment used for irrigation purpose. Water gets in to the pump by atmospheric pressure and pump pushes that water to the destination. Watering early morning is the suitable time. Use soil moisture sensors to know that water availability in the soil. This day also helped a lot to gain new knowledge and skill about irrigation.

Term-IV, Week-1 (12th – 16th October)

Friday, 16th October: Grafting Practical


Grafting - Apple tree - Rind (Bark) Graft

As part  of our course, we have theoretically studied the grafting and budding couple of months before. Now the time for use these knowledge in to  and complete the practical skills. We were at Bannockburn campus. Alex and Trevor were their. Alex spend some time to refresh the theory studies in this subject in the first hour. After the tea break we moved to the ground. Trevor prepared some apple trees for the Bark (Rind) grafting. We had ‘Sunrise’ verity of scion in the stock and grafted them. We worked on pairs. Myself and Suzetai were working together. We done the grafting quiet well, cutting scion, opening bark, insertion of scion, taping and waxing well. In the afternoon session, we have grafted some ‘Samba’ cherries and later some ‘Southern snap’ Apples in the root stocks at the garden bed. I am waiting to see the result of my grafting and hope that most of them will success. At the end of the day, it was sad that, some of the grafting knifes were stolen by someone…..

Thursday, 15th October: Propagation – Nursery


Hedge trimmed Buxus...

This propagation – Nursery day is sued to be a preparation for the giant plant sale at out polytechnic. We have cleaned all the parts of Nursery, hydroponics  and shade houses. Weeding,  setting plants and shifting them for hardened off before selling were the main tasks. Myself worked with some others to complete the hedge trimming of ‘Lonicera’ and ‘Buxes’ used as a garden fencing at the polytech compound. A great experience in the hedge trimming of these plants and done quiet well. At  the end of the day, Calum presented the plant profile.

Wednesday, 14th October: Tutorial

Yes… tutorial day.. I always like the tutorials day because it is a chance to finish all the pending tasks like blogs, assignments and projects. This morning, Alex carried out continuation of the irrigation studies for an hour. Later we all moved out and engaged with completing assignments and such tasks. I used this day to complete my ‘Compost’ assignment and submitted that.

Tuesday, 13th October: Irrigation

Today,  we continued with irrigation topic. Irrigation systems design required some calculations. Calculating volume of water, size of the water storage, length of the lines, radius and area of the sprinkler delivery, water pressure and size of the pipes are really interesting and useful. Design and installation of automatic irrigation systems – Solenoid valves and controllers need little basic electrical knowledge..  I am little familiar with all these before. We turn around the places to see the irrigation systems, dams, water sources and various irrigation methods. Some brain storming – mathematical questions were really helped to keep away the afternoon hangovers in the classroom. Another day with bundle of knowledge in the field of irrigation….

Monday, 12th October: Irrigation


Ruben flowers at campus..

Welcome back to the polytechnic after two weeks holidays. I was working with Vinetech, a viticulture contracting company at Cromwell. We were doing pruning at Gibbston valley near Queenstown. It was a great experience… A wonderful time to experience the studies in practical. At the end of two weeks work, I have been selected as a best pruner, fastest pruning without loosing consistency. Ms. Andrea, business partner of the Vinetech awarded me a bottle of ‘Red Tussock’  vine. I am much excited for appreciating my skills. I strongly believe that, the full credit for this appreciation will go to my teachers at polytechnic.

This is our final term during this one year full time study. Much more things to be completed during this short term. Some work experiences, field trips, plant sale, learing and practicing subjects like Irrigation and bees. Practical skills for grafting plants, shoot thinning and fruit thinning etc. prepare and present an Enterprises Report before end of this term is going to be a big task. One practical exam just before at the end of the term. Yes, off course, there will be a great moment… big fruit.. our Graduation  Ceremony  at the end of this term….

Alex, Jo and Trevor were welcomed  all us. Alex explained a brief about this term activities. Later today, we started to learn design, install and maintain an irrigation system. Water is a necessary thing for the plant growth. Place like Central Otago is well known for drought area and need a strong irrigation system for the healthy horticultural activities here. For install an irrigation system, a well design, quality irrigation equipments and accessories and a water source are much needed. We are going to cover the areas like  irrigation terminology – the bits and pieces used for irrigation systems, various types and styles of irrigation, fundamentals of designs, installation methods and techniques and maintenances.. Drippers, mini sprinklers, over head sprinklers,  overhead sprinklers and popup sprinklers are well known and common. Travelling irrigators are becoming popular in the farming activities. They are comparatively very expensive.  Day ended with a vast knowledge in the field of irrigation…

Term-III, Week-10 (21st – 25th September)

Friday, 25th September: Propagation – Nursery

Sudden changes in the weather caused a snow fall in the night. It was raining in the night. Morning was cloudy.  I reached polytechnic little early. I looked through the internet to find the official declaration of presence of water in the moon. We had a great mission called Chandrayan-1 and it stopped responding after ten months. NASA also had one payload with this rocket and specifically focusing on the moon water presence. Final announcement was positive. Yes… there is water in the moon. Because of my excitement I spared this to everybody and they all were laughing. 



Meanwhile Jo declared today’s agenda. No seed sowing or pricking out today. Potting up of some Asparagus, weeding and preparing community vegetable garden etc.  She has given some good details of Asparagus. We have some more than two years old asparagus plants on the veggie garden adjacent to the propagation room. We had a look around that crowns. We had a collection of some one year old plants in the nursery. We potted them  and send back to the nursery to grow further more. After that done some weeding on the nursery near by shade houses. In the afternoon session we, one group went to the garden located near the Cromwell  junction. One part of this garden is managing by the Polytechnic as a community service. This is a dry garden. No watering for the plants on this place. They looks well. After the little spring cleaning works, we went to our Bannockburn campus for make some preparation on the community veggie garden. It was a chance to do some weeding and fertilising on the Iris garden also. Came back to the campus at three. Today Vikash and Sreekumar presented the plant profile. Vikash Chose Italian Parsley. Sreekumar chose on New Zealand native plant from the garden. I forgot the name of that plant. At the end of the day Trevor has arranged some holiday works for we few people. It was really a great help. I was much worried on this days.. because of money problem. This works will help me to clear my debts during this holidays. Jo officially announced the two weeks holidays.  A day, week…   no…. term three ended with much more new knowledge.  I am updating my blogs here… 

Thursday, 24th September: Propagation – Nursery

Fancy basket flowers

Fancy baskets

It was freezing in the morning. Weather has changed from yesterday afternoon. When I arrived in the class, Jo was arranging today’s propagation programmes on the board. Then we all had a small discussion about yesterday’s wind storm in Sydney. Later on we moved to GH-1 and further to GH-4. Ten minutes weeding was more enough to pull all weeds from the pots at GH-4. Meanwhile people from Alexandra Blossom festival came to pickup the Fancy – Hanging baskets. All baskets are full of flowers. Really beautiful flowers.. different colours. It was really paining to handover these lovely kids. I  prepared some punnet mix for seedling pricking out. After the Morning Tea, we carried some pricking outs. I pricked out the Broccoli seedling and potted on the punnets. Send them back to GH-4 for further growth. Later I helped Ken for pricking out some Silver leaf seedlings. Later we sow some Lettuce on the punnet trays and send them to the GH-1. Sowing them directly on the punnets took little more time, but  no need to prick them out. People who buy these punnets can plant them straight away on the garden. Good idea. After the lunch I prepared some more punnet mix for sowing more lettuce. Then potted some July Muscat – Ornamental grape vines. Cleaned the propagation room and moved to GH-4 for shift some pots to Shade House and some other plants from Shade House to Retail Garden. End of the day Suzzeit has presented the day’s plant profile. She brought one Tulip plant with beautiful flower from her garden. A fully engaged day with lot of outcomes and new experiences.

Wednesday, 23rd September: Theory Exam – Term III

Exam fever…… I was feeling much sleepy in the morning. I was thinking that, what I will study at this 12th hour. I did not even open the books this time also. I was ready to write whatever I have in mind from doing assignments. Some people were putting their best efforts to study all subjects. Taking leaves and sleepless nights. As usual I reached before time. Everybody was well prepared and present before time. Some people were catching some last moment points. Why do carry much tension. If I had dedication like these people, I might have been an Engineer  before. Alex distributed the question paper just before the time and exam started on time. For me questions were simple to understand. But answers were away. I have answered some questions from  pruning and weeds and rest I skimmed with some answers. After the exam most of the people are confident and saying a better score above 80 %. Now I feel guilty for not preparing for the exam. I will be happy if my expectation works ie, score between 45 -50 %.

Tuesday, 22nd September: Fertiliser application

Another consecutive day at Bannockburn campus. Today we have practical learning of fertiliser application. Alex and Trevor have made all arrangements before time. ATV with fertiliser spreader and Tractor with Spray tank filled with digester. Alex started the topic class with some importance of fertiliser application. He brought the copies of the soil test report of the campus vineyard. We gone through each and every point of the test report. Continued with the importance of fertiliser applications. Fertiliser is a ready made support for the soil nutrients. Plants absorb and use nutrients, some nutrients lose from the soil  by drainage. In central Otago, we have a less rain and controlled irrigation helps to control this kind of nutrient lose. One important point that, even if we have soil test report and  better combination of fertilisers, if we apply fertiliser on the wrong way, if can make negative effects in the soil. After the morning tea, all of them divided in to small groups and assigned with various task like Fertiliser application, Digester (beneficial fungi used for breakdown the mulch and other plant materials in to the soil) spraying, Herbicide (polaris450) spraying, pruning apple trees, using hydralada, using ATV, weed control with mower, dropping down the trellis wires, fixing irrigation pipes etc. I have assigned with chemical store inventory. I have prepared a computer record of the same and handed over to Alex. After noon session, with the help of some others, we have cleaned the workshop and  nearby places and set all tools and equipments in order. Later we have fixed some external spare parts of the SAMI tractor. A wonderful day with verity of tasks. I really enjoyed the day. Most of us rushed for prepare the exam.

Monday, 21st September: Compost

SunnyLast class for compost making theory and practical. On the way, I have got a lift by Sreekumar. Some more Cars added for these people. Roger arrived with soil assignments and distributed that. Somehow I have managed to pass all. I think that Roger was thinking in mind that, I can not understand more than that of what I have written in the assignments and giving more chance for correction will not work.

Today we have covered the topics like Biodynamic composting, materials can and cannot be use3d for compost making and Vermi composting. Biodynamic composting method originated in 1920s. Biodynamic compost preparation use almost all the basic materials. But use some liquids for enhance and strengthen the biological process. They called BD preparations. They are very from 502 – 507. Most of them made by herbs. Example:- 502 made by yarrow blossoms, 503 – made by Chamomile blossoms, 504 – made my  stinging nettle, 505 – made by Oak bark, 506 – made by Dandelion flowers and 507 – made by Valerian flowers. Preparation method 505 – is cleaning cow heads before stuffing  with oak  bark and submerging in a pond for autumn and winter. It helps calcium forces in soil and combats fungal disease. 

We can use almost al the materials for compost making. Green stuffs like vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, grass clippings and manures. Brown materials like leaves, straw, paper, sawdust, animal beddings etc. cat or dog wastes and diseased plant materials should be avoided in the compost. Making compost by using earth worms called vermi compost. It is also called worm casting. All composts should be matured before using in the soil. Matured compost can be identified by various methods like colour, smell, shape, volume etc. After the completion of theory, we went to the compost heap to check the temperature of the compost heap. Some heaps were working nearly 40 degree and some other heaps working below 30 degree. I have watered all the compost heap. Day finished with lots of new information and ideas.

Term-III, Week-9 (14th – 18th September)

Friday, 18th September : Firearm Safety – Range day.

Shooting Day

Shooting Day

Using Pistol

Using Pistol

Yessssssssssss. We are going to shoot today. Most of us were so excited till reaching the pistol ground at Alexandra. We had two vans to go to the shooting range. Alex and Trevor were with us. Mr. Wayne was in the pistol ground with two other NZMSC volunteer instructors and made all the preparations before our arrival. After the brief introduction, we went around the pistol club. Later on divided in to two groups and half went for pistol ground. Others selected for target shooting by shot guns and semi automatic riffles. Seven people sat together with  individual seating arrangements. Unloaded riffles were on the table and instructors guided on each and every steps carefully. Shooting stated and most of us done  well. After that we have got a chance to shoot with black powder guns and later fired with SLR – Russian riffles. After noon session, I was in the pistol ground with pistols and revolvers. It was a great fun at all the day. I really enjoyed a lot. End of the day I had a great satisfaction of become one of the best shooters in the pistol ground. Thank you for Wayne helping and teaching me all the shooting lesson with all the safety point sides.

Thursday, 17th September : Propagation  – Nursery



I was really tired in the morning. There is no interest to go to polytechnic on these days. Instead of improving their qualities, some people depriving that. I am worried that when they become mature. They have not had responsibility in the life and  grown with poor qualities like cheating people, telling lies, steeling other’s things and even make money through illegal activities  are annoying me too much. Support from the polytechnic people helps a lot to overcome these problems. As usual Jo announced a list of days action plan. It includes potting out of some seedlings, ferilisation for plants, weeding and shifting some plants from Green house to Green House, Green house to shade House and Shade house to Open ground. As usual we went around GH-1 and GH-4 and had a glimpse around. Seeds are germinating and growing. Some plants in the pots grows well. Some plants made flowers…. Really exciting to see them. We moved all the hanging basket from GH-4 to the shade house. Full of flowers on them. They are getting strong enough to move to Alexandra for the blossom festival. Pricked and potted some seedlings in the propagation room. Most of the time I was engaged with some other people for moving plants from one location to other and making space for new plants in the GH-4. My broccoli seeds are germinating and hope it will be ready for pricking on the coming week. At the end of the day Joy and Prasanth done the plant profile presentation. Plants like Lavendula Pacific blue, cistus‘ Bennetts and Bay leaf. I was not in a mood to enjoy the day…. But done something….

Wednesday, 16th September : Tutorial day

One more tutorial day. Tutorials day realy helps to complete all the pending task like completing assignments and blogs. Alex came with some days reminders. Some people have  not submitted their soil assignments yet. Due date is on coming Friday. He explained some more details about preparing Enterprise Diary report. He explained all the details which should be included while making report on the Bannockburn campus.  After the morning tea I went to computer suite for complete my some pending assignments. Some visible outcomes on this day…

Tuesday, 15th September : Enterprises report and Diary

A new thing… Enterprises Diary Report (EDR) for us. As part of our study, we have to prepare and submit a property details – including land profile, farming activities, soil properties of the land, management systems, products and services from the property, futured expansion plans and many more all including the total details of the property. We all can chose any property either our Nursery garden or Bannockburn campus or any other outside property. I have selected our Bannockburn campus… because it is much familiar for me. I have a clear picture in my mind about land shapes, activities and all other setup on that property.  Jo showed us some sample reports which made my the previous students. She has supplied much information and tips and tricks for making a detailed report. Some “Smart” guys took away one of the sample she showed.  After the morning tea, we have got time to start the report activities. Some of them went to library and worked with assignments. I was in the computer room till late evening and working with assignments.

Monday, 14th September: Compost

Delta Compost Plant

Delta Compost Plant

Matured Compost

Matured Compost

Today we had a filed trip to Wanaka where a compost plant run by Delta. Conal, an alumni of polytechnic is the in-charge of the plant.  They have a medium sized plant spreads around 7 hectors. It helps the nearby areas to dump their waste materials to this site. They use only plant materials for making compost and planning to develop  another plant for food waste processing.  They have huge machineries like chipper, shredder, loader and segregator on site. This is an open air compost making process and adopting all the regulations and norms of Dept. conservation and Regional councils. They sell the compost for $ 35-40 per cubic meter to the public. It helps to reduce the landfill and pollution in the nearby areas. Conal explained all the steps he use for compost process. It was an opportunity to discuss all the points related to the compost process. Later on we had small time to visit recycling depot near by. In the afternoon session we went to Bannockburn campus and continued with Bio – Gro composting standards. Bio-Gro New Zealand approved compost have certain qualities. These standards include some criteria like PH level is between 5.5 and 8.5, particle size must be 15 mm or less and must pass germination test. Bio-Gro standards insist the compost testing and keeping the records of all the compost activities. End of the session we went to our compost heap to check the temperature level. It was just picking up. I have done watering on the compost heap. Hope the process will pickup soon.


Term-III, Week-8 (07th – 11th September)

Friday, 11th September: Firearm safety.

Firearm safety

Firearm safety









We are getting a chance to study the theory side of the firearms. It all are the safety side of using firearms. Wayne King is our instructor here. He was away to Europe and retuned couple of weeks before. Today he is with us to share his knowledge and experiences related to firearms. Firearms are used for pest control in the horticultural industry. A license from the Arms Officer is must for buying and using the firearm. They are lethal weapons and very careful while using. Mr. Wayne is a voluntary Instructor of New Zealand Mountain Safety Council. He has various endorsement in his license to handle different type of firearms. He explained all norms related to various firearms and demonstrated different type of firearms and how it works.

Seven basic rules are very important for while using firearms.

1 Treat every firearm as loaded
2 Always point firearms in a safe direction
3 Load Firearms only when ready to fire
4 Identify your target beyond all doubts
5 Check your firing zone
6 Store firearms and ammunition safely
7 Avoid alcohol or drugs when handling firearms.

 Firearm are different types and all these have various functioning  actions. Bolt action, lever action, pump action and semi automatic. Cartridges are also in different types. Short cartridge, centre fire cartridge, rimfire cartridge and rifled slugs – for using in shotguns. Pistols are designed for held and fired with one hand. It includes all the firearms less than 762 mm length. Old method firearms were worked by black powder and makes smokes and pollutions. All new firearms are smoke free and even silenced firearms are available on these days. Some new models have telescopic viewer better sight.  It was really enjoyable and lots of new information  about firearms achieved at the end of the day.

 Thursday, 10th September: Propagation – Nursery

Buxus semperviren

Buxus semperviren

A cloudy morning. I was sure that, it is because of the  low pressure coming from the west side of the country. No chance of rain. A mixture of stationary, warm and cold fronts here. There is a chance of little wind in the night. Tomorrow afternoon is going to be clear. Jo has made a list of things to do today and it was displayed in the board. Sowing tomatoes, red onions, leeks, Florence fennel and perennial rocket etc. She talked about various tomato verities and its market demand. We have a giant plant sale is coming soon. It is the time for sell of al the cuttings and seedling we prepared in the nursery. A huge selection of ornamental plants, garden verities, lavender, rosemary,  grasses etc. now we are preparing different verities of vegetable plants. Tomatoes, chillies, basils, red onions, corianders, broccolis etc.  Went around the GH-1, GH-4 and hydroponics.  Moved some seedling trays to the GH-4 for harden off. Some trays picked from GH-4 which are ready for potting up and pricking out. Today some of us pricked out Petunias and Salvias. Some people potted some more stone crops. I have chosen Broccoli ( Purple Sprouting Early), Chilli Pepper ( Hungarian yellow Wax) and Capsicum (Californian Wonder) for sowing. Used Standard potting mix and sand on 50:50 ratio on the hygiene tray and sowed them gently on various trays and covered with little layer of vermiculate and send them to GH-1 for germination. Chilli and capsicum seeds trays are covered with glass pans to protect them from over watering. Later on Some of us shifted number of pots  which plants grown well to the GH-2 . It was necessary to make more room in the GH-4. Much pots, punnets and trays are getting ready here with vearious verities. In the afternoon session, I have trimmed  some Lonicera nitida plants which are sprawling out of the pots. I made them bushy. Later on I trimmed some Mint bush to get them more bushy. Done the hair cut on two Buxus semperviren  plants. One is looking good in its pyramid shape. Some Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) and other plants also got a chance to get trimmed by me. Later I decided to do some weeding and prepare the veggie garden. It is thee o clock and time to twist –up the day. Jo made a recap of the day – all the activities executed and Rebecca presented today’s plant profile followed by this. She chose one Iris family plant  for this. Great efforts.

Wednesday, 09th September: Tutorial

Another tutorial day after couple of weeks. Tutorial days are really helpful for completing  the pending tasks especially assignments. Alex was waiting for us to pen his diary. He started with  the price of a brand of Roundup herbicide. Polaris 450 glyphosate (Roundup) 20 litter container cost $ 189 (including GST). As he suggested that, if we are buying house in rural areas with agricultural land  will help to get lots of tax benefits from the government. All kind of fertilisers, herbicides and other agricultural products which we buy for this property will come under the category. GST paid for these products will be refunded periodically from the Tax dept. Even GST amount paid for buying house + property will be  refundable. I have an idea to buy a minimum five hector land with one small house in the rural area and do some works in that soil. After that he has approached everybody and confirmed their areas of interest where we are going to work on after study. It was a time for updating the assignments submission status. It was a reminder for us to complete all the assignments before this term. At the end of this term, another theory exam is coming and he described about the subjects of questions for this exam. Time to prepare for that. After that I moved to computer room for complete my Soil assignment. After completing the same, I started to work on the assignment for ‘Hand pruning grape vines’. Other assignments like Compost, weeds – including Weed management plan and Weed collection reports getting due.

Tuesday, 08th September: Propagation – theory

Lonicera nitida

Lonicera nitida

As per time table, today is the day for propagation – theory. Jo was leading us today for this. We have  propagation records which carry all the details of the propagation activities we conducted during this academic year. Various type of seedlings and cuttings we propagated through out this year. Some herbaceous, soft wood, semi hard wood and hardwood cuttings. Beside this we done many kind of seed sowing, seedling pricking and  potting. Different methods used for preparing, sowing, germinating and pricking out these seedlings. Many deciduous and evergreen cuttings. Divisions used for propagating peonies and Iris.. Scaling is the propagation method for lilies and other such verities.  It all are in mind and we need to record them in a systematic order in to the Propagation Record. Different growing media used for different propagation activities. Standard potting mix, seed sowing mix (50:50 of standard potting mix and sand), punnet mix and hydroponics mix used for all these. Used Rockwool in the hydroponics. Mist bed, heat bed, harden off  are various methods used for germination and pricking out. Stratification (provide an artificial cooler temperature for seeds to germinate fast – use chillier) and scarification (scratch the seeds in the sandpaper or rubbing agent and help them to germinate fast) are the different method used for some kind of seed germination. Seed sources like private garden, polytechnic campus or nurseries are also should be recorded in this book. A systematic work can help to achieve twenty credits easily. Some times we forgot to record the continuation of the works. Some cases somebody else carried out the following work in the nursery propagation room. We all went around GH-1, GH-2 and GH-4 to find out the yellow and white labels. Yellow labels have the name of the person carried the work and its date.  White labels have details of the plant. It is the only method to complete the records. We have carried some weeding in the GH-4 and moved to the hydroponics and spend some time make this floor clean and tidy. Some hospitality people from China are going to visit our campus and surroundings soon. Got little time to do some wedding in the peony garden also.

Afternoon session was a time to complete al the pending diary and assignments. I have worked with Soil assignments and completed almost all. Much satisfied outcome for this day.

Monday, 07th September: Compost



Another one more day to learn about and compost, its importance and making techniques. We gathered at Bannockburn campus. Roger started the topic with the definition of compost. It is a natural process of decay to change all organic wastes in to a valuable humus rich material. One compost heap is collection of great number of bugs having  a large time consuming a mountain of food. Micro-organisms like Bactria, fungi and other bugs need a suitable condition to do this process. The rate of composting is affected by nutrient balance, moisture level, temperature and aeration. Carbon nitrogen ratio is also important for compost process. 40:1 is the best suitable level of Carbon Nitrogen in the compost. But if the ratio is >30:1, it will make the compost process slow. If ration is < 25:1, excess nitrogen will be escaped to atmosphere as ammonia. Mineralization is the process of release of  Nitrogen  from the organic matter by decomposition. 60 % of moisture content is ideal for compost process. More or less will make compost process slow. Aeration control the compost process getting too hot. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the product of compost process reaction. Temeprature of the compost process can go up high as 65 C. Bacteria is the  smallest organisms in the compost process. Mainly three different kind of microbes work in the compost process. Thermophilic bacteria (hot bacteria >40C), mesophilic bacteria ( mid temperature bacteria between 0-40 C) and psychrophilic bacteria ( bacteria which works in lowest temperature level – between -20C and 13C) When the compost cools down, all the mesophilic  bacteria again re-colonise and predominate at the 0-40C temperature range. Fungi is the second most efficient decomposers in the  process. Actinomycetes, Centipedes, Millipedes and Springtails are also play important role in the compost making process. Different type of ready made compost bins are available in the market. We can make simple compost bins with out much efforts.  Unused pallets and wood peaces are useful for making compost bins. In the afternoon session some of went nearby sheep farm to collect sheep manure for compost process. We made a huge compost heap using all dried materials, saw dust, dried leafs, green materials and added sheep manure and activators. Watered them at last. We have used the temperature probe to check the heat level if the compost heap we made last week. It all was less that <15 C because of the coolest weather on the previous days. Hope that temperature will come up on coming days and compost process will get fast. 

Term-III, Week-7 (31st Aug – 04th September)

Friday, 04th September: Motorised Sprayers

One more practical day at Bannockburn campus. As usual Alex and Trevor were ready to help us. Alex started the class with spraying techniques. Calibration of the sprayer is an important part of the spraying process. All the chemicals we spray in the property should be in the recommended format. Excess application of chemical or herbicides can make negative impacts on the soil. If we are doing organic production,  wrong use of any restricted products can cause loosing the certification. Under usage of any chemical will not provide the desired effect. Recommended level of quantity and application rate is very important. As an example, required minimum quantity of the copper spray is 3.75 Kg @ hector. But it should be 190-250 gram @ 100 litter water. In this case, spray output per minute (V), width of the spray pattern (W) and speed of the sprayer (Tractor speed in kilometre @ hour)  are the important factors. Formula for finding the right figures  of Application Rate per Hector (ARPH) is  ARHct = 600 X V / W X S. Speed = 3.6 X Distance / time taken.  Simplest way of find the spray out per minute is Load full tank of water in the spray tank, run the nozzles exactly one minute and add water to the tank and measure the level of added water. That is the spray output per minute. Simple……. Alex and Trevor demonstrated the process to us in the outside. Meanwhile they have explained some more interesting details of the sprayer. After morning tea, some people leaded by Trevor to do the copper spraying for the peaches. Others went with Alex for pruning pears. It was really interesting and a new experience to do the pruning on pears trees. After that we pruned apple tress. Pruning apple trees continued till the end and later on the class room session Alex declared that everybody has successfully completed the practical assignment of pruning and training mature fruit trees.  Thank you for the support. A day with handful  experience. Great support from Alex and Trevor.

Thursday, 03rd September: Propagation – Nursery

Another propagation day. Frosty morning. Temperature was below minus two. Jo had a  friendly talk with everybody about the Oamaru trip. Everybody enjoyed that well. Great response. After that she presented the days programmes. Deck walk in Glass Houses. Look all the seedling and cuttings in the glass house and if anything is required to move for hardening or potting, removing the flowers from the hanging basket plants, thinning off of basil and coriander seedlings and potting of raspberry etc. We all went to Glass House and had a look around. Some of the ornamental grape vine cuttings were ready for potting and moved them to propagation room for further process. Later on went to the Glass House -4 and pricked out all the flowers from the hanging baskets plants. Continued some weeding around. Collect some seedling trays to the propagation room for pricking out. Thinned off basil and coriander seedlings. Kept only 5-7 basils / corianders in one pot and removed the rest. Some of them transplanted to new pots. Good root growth for these seedlings. Right time for transplantation. Chris and myself were busy with pricking out of Chives which are seeded by Gandhi. It was really a task to relocate these chives from hygiene tray to punnets. Some others pricked out some pansies and potted them in the punnets. Used punnet mix for all these punnets as growing media. In the afternoon session we went to Bannockburn campus and collected some autumn raspberries (autumn bliss) and potted nearly 110 of them. Some others worked in the hydroponics – adding some fertilisers and doing some cleanings . Before the end of the day we have done some preparation and weeding in the proposed veggie garden in front of the propagation room. Someone has supposed to present today’s plant profile presentation. Ironically he become absent and there was no presentation in this week. Busy with tiny activities and at the end of the day, it all got counted as a good experience.

Tuesday & Wednesday, 01st – 02nd  Sepetember: Field trip – Oamaru.


Oamaru (Click here for Video)

Yessssssssssss!!!! We are going to Oamaru…. We want to explore whole Waitaki valley (North Otago). As part of our study, we have to visit some places out of the campus to see and understand the horticulture and related industry. Our Alex and Jo were with us to help.  We all went in a bus driven by Alex. Our principal lecture is a multi skilled person and I really admire him. A good teacher, friend, son, father and husband for the family, highly skilled horticulturist and a good driver – Truck, bus, tractor and ATV. He cooks well and sometimes serves tea and coffee for us. What else we need???

We started the trip at 8:00 AM, Weather was looking little unattractive and I was worried about rain during the trip. When we reached at Lindis pass, it was  snowing lightly their. Get out of the bus and enjoyed the snow little and continued the tour. At Omarama we stopped for little refreshments. After  that the we moved towards Kurow. On the way we have seen the places like Otematata, Avemore dam and Waitaki dam. When we reached at Kurow village, it was around 11:30.  Kurow means the mountain of ‘many mists’. We went out see the Kurow Estate, a vineyard  and its  winery. Mr. Jiff  explained all about kurow  vines and  some other specialities. They have verity of vines like Riesling – GT, Pinot gris, Pinot blond and Rose-1. A good winery is just operational. It all was really interesting to see and understand all the knowledge, techniques and implementations.  Then we moved towards to Oregon Nursery. A ‘Small !!!!!!’  nursery produces millions of Pine (pinus radiata)  and Leyland cypress trees every year. Beside these , they have a wide verity of amenity, forestry, shelter and native plants developed from cuttings and seeds. They have a huge collection of stocks (bud wood) of Populus and willows. Some interesting facts like Growth factor, not using any fertilisers in the potting mix, use their own rooting hormone  and different hardened off methods like details were really new for me. This nursery spread around twenty hectors of land. One green house which covered more one hector has a full capacity of handling five million plants at the time. It is totally controlled by the computer system. We spend almost one hour in the nursery to see and understand all the process. A great experience. After that we moved toward to Headford propagators. It also an another average size nursery handle thousands of plants useful for gardening, landscaping, amenity and shelter purpose. It was really attractive that their systems to store seeds, making potting mix and potting up process. Spend almost one hour with them to move around and see their cuttings, seedlings, green house and stocks (bud woods). Then moved towards see penguins at Oamaru sea shore. It was nearly five o clock. We spend almost one hour at their to see blue  penguins. ironically  there was no penguin movements during that time and we went back to the town  and ended the day programmes at the hotel.

Place which is arranged for our night stay was excellent. Myself and Ghandi shared one room. Nice bedding and other facilities. After refreshments, we went out and had a look around in the town, had the dinner and came back to the place. I spend little time to check my email and update them. Later on I went to bed at around 10.30 and had a lovely sleep. Some people got a chance to see  penguins at the car park behind  the hotel. Wake up at 6.30 AM and got refreshed and then moved out for the breakfast.

Alex and Jo were waiting for us to continue the second day programmes. We headed to one cherry orchard who planted some amounts of Tart cherries. On the way  I got some leaflets  from Jo to read. Tart cherries are something special. They have great medicinal values.  Mr. John from Cherryvite was waiting for us. An enthusiastic entrepreneur. He is basically a dairy farmer. But he got interested with Tart cherries and went to US and Europe to find more about them. After the return he took some helps from Horticulture research station located at Clyde, Central Otago and started his venture. As part of his horticulture efforts , he has got awarded with Business excellence, Winner for emerging business from Westpac Otago Chamber of commerce. Tart cherries have medicinal values as a pain killer, sleeping pill, good for arthritis and even effects for preventing cancer like deadly diseases.  He supplied some samples of Tart cherry fruits, dried tart cherries and Packed (concentrated) cheery juice. While talking with him, I cam to know that, his entire family is very much interested in this business. Spending some golden hours with him, we continued our trip. On the way we visited Elephant rocks. It is a kind of lime stone shaped in various forms especially like Elephants by weathering. It a one of the attractive tourist location in South Island. Some film set was also visible in that place. On the way back to Cromwell, we enjoyed the beauty of the snow from lindis pass. All the Lindis pass meadows and mountains were covered with white blanket.  Around three O clock, we ended our two days tour programmes at Polytech campus. Thank you very much for Alex and Jo for their supports, service and care.  Really memorable and enjoyed a lot.

Monday, 31st August: Compost (Unit-21045)

No need to worry when you hear about compost. We  know the value of this black gold. It is an active part of a farmer – like me. We make compost at our place and use them for all the agricultural purpose. As part of my Horticultural study, toady  I started to learn the technical side of the compost. Composting is the method of speeding up the decomposition of organic materials. As per the basis of compost , nothing is a waste. By composting, recycling the organic matters, reduction of waste going to the lands, saving money, conserve water, adding humus to the soils, preventing pollution and fire and improves the soil organic properties. Humus is the stable part of soil organic matters remaining from the decomposition of plant and animal remains. It improves the cation exchange capacity. Humus has a large surface area  and better water holding capacity. Decomposition  (making compost) process are mainly in two types. One is  with the help of oxygen (aerobic) and mostly happen in the nature. Other process is fermentation – with out oxygen (anaerobic). Air, water and activators are important for compost making.

There was a half an hour video session about compost making has played before lunch. It was really useful one. Roger brought  one bucket (bokashi)  for making compost indoor. This system commonly used for making compost inside the house. Some of us brought some kitchen waste and we filled them in the bokashi bin and kept them for breaking down. In the afternoon session we went to nearby dumping area for preparing a compost plant. We used damaged wooden pallets for making the compost plant (aerobic method) It has four section and one section is separated for dried materials. We used green materials and dried materials in other three sections. Used some activators and saw dust while preparing the compost beds. Waiting for coming days to monitor the breaking down process. Good theory plus practical day. Hands on experience.