Posts Tagged 'Potting Mix'

Term-II, Week-8 (15th – 19th June)

Monday, 15th June : Soil-less media



Second day class of the topic, Soil-less media. After the day’s programme anouncment, Jo has handover a sheet of Cross-Words to everybody. It was totally related to the topic and simple. Callum has completed the Cross-word in least time.  Few others have also completed followed by him. It was a serious fun for study the things. After that, we have started assignments of the topic. It was nothing to much boring. Make the recipes of the Standard Potting Mix, Punnet Mix (Short Trem Potting Mix) and Mix for hydroponics. Calculate the cubic meter cost of each recipes including freight and GST. Completed and handover the assignments before the Lunch.


Compost Plant

Compost Plant

During the second half of the day, we visited a Worm casting farm in the Cromwell Industrial Area.  An enthusiastic and energetic person named  Robby  is running this Warm Casting Farm in the name of Central Wormworx Ltd. for last ten years. He uses all the damaged fruits, vegetables and other such materials in an around Cromwell  to produce the compost. According to Robby, there is a huge demand for compost and vermicast products in an around Central Otago region and people are fond with his products. He sells the products in small packets like 20 litters and even in big quantity.  Also runs a small organically controlled vegetable farm adjacent to his Worm Farm. It includes  some Apple trees, Cherry trees, Vegetable garden, Flower Garden and all inclusive. It was an interesting thing to see and understand all the related process for a worm casting unit. Thanks to Jo for arranging this trip.

 Tuesday, 16th June: Organic Certification

A great day for learn all the aspects of Organic Certification. Wayne King was the tutor for this  topic. He started the introduction with benafits of Obtaining and Maintaining Organic Certification. It is a vital part of being organic. This means to ensure you meet the fair trading act and the consumer guarantee act. But it is expensive and time consuming. It is one of the very powerful marketing tools for the products. Organic means evertything like tree, trunks, leaves, branches and soil. It required lots of dedication and time. Organic production all over the world is increasing 10-20% every year. As per the latest records, New Zealand is having around 100,000 hectors  area  for organic production. High demand of organically produced products and best market prices are the attracting factors for this growth.

We have to put lots of efforts  to become an Organically Certified production centre. IFOM, CODEX and EU are the main Certifiers around the glob. BIO-GRO, DEMETER and CERTENZ are the national level certifiers in New Zealand.

 Biogro                         CertenzOrganic





IFOAM – The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements is an agency to provide standards and authoritive information about organic agriculture and to promote its worldwide application. IFOAM accredit certifiers who can meet their standards. CODEX is an agency to provide standards for Food Safety and Production. EU – Europien Union  guidelines are some standards for organic production.

BIO-GRO NZ  is  NZ’s leading organic producers  organisation and organic certification agency.  It is a premier trademark for New Zealand organic products.

DEMETER is a world wide certification system used to verify to the consumer that food or product has been produced by biodynamic method. This was established in 1945 to promote Biodynamic methods.

CERTENZ is a part of AGRIQUALITY NZ, a government owned agency that certifies product including organic.

In the second half session, we were working with some assignments related to these Certification Agencies.

Wednesday, 17th June: Tutorial Day.

Jo has announced the day’s and coming programmes for next weeks.  There will be an exam on 01st July (Wednesday). It will be a theory exam and cover the topics like Pest, Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Plant Biology and Weather.  There will be a short term Grape Pruning session on  second half  of 22nd June (Monday).  Some of us sitting in the library to workout the Pest, Disease and Disorder Assignments. Some others working with their blogs to complete.

Thursady, 18th June: Propagation, Nursery

Fig 'Lesa'

Fig 'Lesa'

Today, one of the coldest day in this season and  temperature was nearly -5. But  not feeling much cold. Ice was all around. Jo and Trevor were waiting for us. They announced the day’s programme and we were just getting warm inside the class. We decided to do some more hardwood cuttings today. Trevor has already arranged some deciduous hardwood cuttings like Figs and Black currant from the Bannockburn campus. Nursery room pretty warm and we have worked with Black currant Ribes ‘Magnnus’, Fig ‘Lesa’ and Parthenocissus quinquefolia. We used three litter pots  filled with half sand and half potting mix, dipped in the rooting hormone – Seradix –B3, and kept in the GH-1 for root developments. As an experiment, I have chosen some Fig ‘Leas’ cuttings. I just removed the apical bud of these cuttings and  kept them for root developments. Let me see the difference when it develops the growth.  After completing this task, I have selected some Hebe for making semi hardwood cuttings. Heliohebe hulkeana. Jo told me

Heliohebe hulkeana
Heliohebe hulkeana

that this  Hebe is one of the favourite Hebe items in the New Zealand.   Saji, Cindy and myself  made around hundred cuttings of this item and used Seradix B2 rooting hormone and kept in the tray  which filled with 3:1 soil and potting mix. Send them to GH-1 for root developments. Sreekumar and some other guys were working with Hebe cupressoides ‘Nana’ and using the same methods for its root developments. Some guys were working with Hydroponics routine works like trimming and cleaning.

In the second half session, we few people went to Bannockburn campus with Trevore for make some pinot noir  grape cuttings. Others were working with courtyard garden. After making the grape cuttings, we have also joined with this people to maintain the garden. Some of us were trimmed some Griselinia littoralis and Pittosporum tenuifolium. Our Molyneux restaurant Chef has served some Soup with  Bread. It was much enough for getting energetic at the end of the day. Thanks for restaurant guys for the lovely soup.

Hydroponics Stuffs
Hydroponics Stuffs
Hydroponics Stuff

Hydroponics Stuff

Friday, 19th June: Pruning

Ice blanket on branches

Ice blanket on branches

It was wonderful in the morning. Winter exquisiteness everywhere. Temperature was above -6 and all the places where covered with white blanket. Reached timely on the Bannockburn Campus. Today, Trevor was  waiting for us as a substitute for Wayne King. I Went out with my Camera and clipped  some ICY images. It was very nice to see that all the deciduous tree branches covered with snow…. Trevor started the topics with different techniques of pruning young trees and pruning matures trees. Some general pruning techniques and ideas to apply at all times like, it is easier to start at the  top of the tree and work to way down. Removing pruning caught on the tree on the way down. Sunlight is an important thing for tree’s growth and better fruit production. More light means better sized and better coloured fruit on the tree.  Ones we do

Lovely pets  on ICE

Lovely pets on ICE

proper pruning, beside getting better sunlight, it will be helpful for good spray penetration, better ladder access, reduced fruit damage and better wood renewal. We have gone through the points like different pruning timings and different types of pruning techniques in trees like Apple, Peach, Nectarine. Apricots, Plums, Cherries and Roses.  In the second half of the day, we were pruning Peach trees. One more experienced day for pruning.

We were engaged with weekend works on Saturday and Sunday. It was really freezing on both days.  We have terminated work on Sunday at lunch time and engaged with some ice funs. It was really wonderful moments to laugh together

Ice Fun

Ice Fun (Click the Image for VIDEO)


Term-II, Week-7 (08th – 12th June)

Monday, 08th June : Soil-less media

SunnyToday we have learned a new topic, Soil-less media. We had little idea about all these things. During the topic introduction, Jo explained about use of soil less growing media in horticulture industry.  A growing media is the substances in which a plant can grow. Soil less media is always called Potting Mix.  Soil is always not enough  for growing  plants in containers  due to its poor level of aeration, drainage, water holding capacity and sometimes may contain pathogens.  But potting mix like growing medium can provide a stable anchor for roots, an excellent reservoir of all necessary nutrients, enough oxygen for roots and sufficient water for plant’s growth. Beside these functions, potting mix should be  weed free, heavy, light enough to handle (transport etc), well drained and better water holding capacity. While arrange  a potting mix we have to consider the following factors like  cost, availability of the materials, consistency  in batches, stability of the media overtime and environmental issues.  Most common materials used for a genuine potting mix are Peat, bark, Sand, Pumice, Perlite and vermiculite.  Other materials like coir, sawdust, green composted waste, vermicast, grape marc, brewery and tobacco waste, cotton seed and rice hulls, oat husks, sure cane, polystyrene, lignite, paper and rockwool can also be used for making a growing media. Physical, chemical and biological characters of the materials are important while considering these things.

Physical properties like AFP (Air Filled Porosity), RAW ( Readily Available Water), bulk density, partical stability, wettability, flowability and infiltration rate.  Chemical properties reflect the level of avaiilabe nutrients. Biological properties may include pest, diseases and disorders, environmental issues and its kind of characters.

PH level is an important factor for a plant’s growth. 7.0 is neutral, below 7 is acid and above 7 is basic or alkaline.

Peat – dugs from swampy areas in temperature zons like New Zealand, Ireland and Canada. It is a mix of partly decomposed remains of plants that grow in swamps. Sphagnum mosses like things.

Bark – Pinus radiate bark used in New Zealand. Softwood bark is the better choice. This stripped barks composted using CAN for 4 – 8 weeks. When the bark goes black and loses resin smell, it can be used for making a media.

Sand  – Most common material, used for making the a growing media. It improves the drainage. Avoid calcareous  or coastal sands.  Particle size of the sand is an important thing to improve its water holding capacity.

Pumice – Mined volcanic pumice. It provides aeration and improves the porosity.

Vermiculite – Is a mica mineral produced by heating. It supplies potassium and magnesium.

Perlite – Is also a heat expanded volcanic rock.


Tuesday, 09th June : Growsafe

Wednesday, 10th June : Growsafe

 We are going to cover the topics of Growsafe on today and tomorrow. For me it is an interesting subject. From my agricultural (family) background, I had already experienced advantages and disadvantages of the  use of agrichemicals. I still remember that during my childhood, my  grant father was using DDT (Dichloro-Diphenyl-Trichloroethane) for most of the pests or insects. Later on we realiazed that all of the good guys including worms  disappeared and most of the pests achieved a kind of self immunisation to overcome the effects of this DDT.  Later on we have started to make our own compost and organic supplementary for our plants. But it has taken a long time to go back to the previous stage and still struggling in some cases. Lack of awareness was the main reason for this mistake.

Today we have covered the topics like Management of Agrichemicals, Transporting Agrichemicals by Road, Storing Agrichemicals, Using Agrichemicals, Calibration, Disposal and other supporting information. Management of Agrichemicals include The product label, plant protection products – label information, veterinary medicines and animal health products – label information, priority identifiers, schedule heading, hazard classifications and packing groups, toxicity and LD50 figures, agrichemical residues in food, poisoning, protective equipments (PPE) and clothing and respirators. Section named Transporting Agrichemicals by Road include Transporting agrichemical – land Transport Rules and General requirements for transporting agrichemicals. Storing agrichemicals include Physical features of the store, managing the store, agrichemical use and tracking records and Location Test Certificates. For Using Agrichemicals, Notifications, sensitive areas,  handling and mixing,  signage, avoiding or minimising the spray drift, cleaning and decontamination and records including spray diary.  In Calibration, Calibration methods, calibration phases, volume based spraying and area based spraying and its calibration steps.  While covering the disposal  section, we understand that the disposal of concentrates, disposal of diluted ( mixed) agrichemicals and disposal of empty containers including triple  rinsing. Supporting information like useful contacts, RMA definitions, HSNO regulations, HSE definitions, spray equipment components and droplet size, non application periods for substances toxic to bees and measurements and symbols.

During the second half we were working with its assignments to complete them on time. Most of us have successfully complete the assignments next day during the first half. On Wednesday, the second half, I was working with Pest, diseases and disorder assignments and still pending that. 

Thursday, 11th June : Propagation – Nursery

Grape Cuttings

Grape Cuttings

Welcome back to Nursery. As I told before, most of the Thursdays, we will be in Nursery to learn some new techniques of propagations. As an introduction, Jo told us that, today we are going to do some deciduous hardwood cuttings – Grape cuttings. We have selected some ornamental grapes and “July Muscat” for propagations. Softwood grape cuttings will take 7-10 days root developments. Semi-hardwood cuttings of the grape will take 15-22 days and Hardwood cuttings of the grape will take 25-35 days for its root developments.

We have selected Vitis ex Jo-ornamental, Vitis ‘July Muscat’ and Vitis ‘Ornamental ex- fence’ for making cuttings and propagate. Cutted all separately with three nodes and removed bottom two nodes, used Seradix No.3 rooting hormone, We have used some pots with Perlite, some pots with Perlite and Potting Mix and some other Pots with Potting Mix and sand at 1:1 ratio for this propagation. Send them to Glass house-1 for roots developments. After that we have selected some Cistus x corbariensis from the Glass House – 4 (from the harden off) and potted in the 1.5 ltr pots and send back to GH-4 for grow. Some others potted  some Hebe ‘Oratia Beauty’ and sowed  Arbutus undeo seeds and Plagianthu regius seeds.

Golden Hands

Golden Hands

After the lunch, we decided to go to Kawarau Gorge Mining Centre for Gold Hunting…  This centre is a part of Otago Goldfields park and looked after by Department of Conservation, New Zealand. This field is a 25 hector reserve covers an area ones known as Gee’s Flat. Ground  Sluicing was the major technique employed by the first miners on Gee’s Flat and because there was always  a shortage of water, the method continued to be used by the men forced in to mining by the long Depression of 1880-1900. In 1900s there were major changes happened and lot of new developments occurred here. 1930, they started to use crude metal nozzles attached to canvas hoses to washed down the deposits. During this time, lot of underground works also started here. Tunnels and shafts are the visible marks for this development. In 1969, miners used to panned off his concentrate and for the final time saw the gleam of Gee’s Flat Gold at the bottom of his dish. In 1981, Crown purchased the site and under the management of the Department of Lands and Survey.  It was developed as a demonstration site for Otago Gold Fields Park.


After gaining the entry, we went to all the parts of the Gold Field. It was noticeable that “Chinatown”, the colourful memory of the history of Central Otago. Lot of Chinese Gold seekers rushed to this place and made a contribution  in to the culture and welfare of the  of the country. The cottages, were constructed in 1991 for a film set reflects the type of cottage the Chinese miners lived in.  Things like Tunnels, two interconnected Dams, Modern Hard Rock display tunnel, Stamp Mill and Gurdy Wheel (impulse turn system) used for pumping water for washing off the mud are wonderful memories.

They have helped us through a briefing of the history of the site, different qualities of the Gold, different gold mining technologies and many other useful information. Then we  went to recreational area for Gold panning. It was a really really enjoyable moments to doing the Gold Panning. One pan ( One scope of gravel) is guaranteed a minimum one or two small flakes of  gold. Everybody got some pieces for the memory. Returned at 3.00 PM and ended the day with small flakes of Pure Gold.







Friday, 12th June :  Pruning

Third day of the Pruning Classes. Wayne King was waiting for us to start the class. I was keeping in mind that, there will be no practical for this day because of the bad weather. During the first one hour session, we  have covered details of the pruning systems like Cordon, Tatura Trellis, Lincoln Canopy, Ebro Espalier, A or Y Frame, Axis system. As soon as we  making a pruning cut, we kill some surface cells. Suddenly a mass of new cells are formed from the cambium layer  and these cells are called Callus. They repair the wounds. Pruning in winter stimulates new bud and shoot developments. But pruning in summer will not develop bud and shoot for deciduous trees. The Top bud of the tree called Apical Dominance and shoot vertically with very little side branches. They are very common in pipfruit and cherries. Removing this apical bud at planting will remove the habit to grow up and produce side branches early in the tree. A Hormone called “AUXIN” (Indole acetic acid- IAA) is responsible for this. This hormone commercially called Indole butyric acid (IBA).Strength is an important factor for a tree to carry leaves, fruits, water at the time of the irrigation etc.

Pruning young tree is important and relatively simple. It sets the style and growth habit for the future years.  During the first winter prune the tree at one meter above the ground. Select four fruiting arms  in this layer and train them  grow horizontal for increased fruit production. Remove all branches below this layer. Remove all fruits during next spring. Next winter redefine the first layer and make second layer nearly one meter above the first layer. Remove all dead, diseased and damaged branches and allow other branches grow horizontally.   Enjoy the first fruit on the  summer. After the Cup of Tea, we started the pruning and done some pruning in Apricot,  Plum and Peaches trees. I am confident that, with the help and training  of Wayne King and Trevor, I can be an expert in pruning soon. Real experience.


Saturday, 13th June :  Weekend work


Sunday, 14th June : One day course – Relating well in New Zealand.

For building a better relationships at work, at home and in the community, Relationship services – New Zealand Immigration Services has organised a training programme in our campus. It was a one day programme and started at 10.00 AM and ended at 4.30 PM. Counsellors named  Sonya Antonsen and Bradley Terry from Relationship services Otago office presented this programme.  It was really useful for understand more about New Zealand Culture, new Zealand People, Country’s history, words and phrases commonly used in the conversations, their expressions and many more.  It was an extended opportunity to develop  knowledge and skills about migrants settlement process.  Training programme included discussion, group presentations and expression of future vision of us  through a colourful drawing . At the end of the day, everybody has awarded to the Certificate of Attendance.  Thanks for Yvonne Fogarty, International Student Adviser – Otago Polytechnic and members of the Cromwell polytechnic for arranging this programme for us.