Archive for November, 2009

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.