The wonders of horse manure

I’d always had it in mind to terrace off the area where my poly tunnels were. More for the convenience of being able to walk around on the flat. Storm Hannah made me aware of just how vulnerable the poly tunnels were to North gales. Thankfully the frames survived with very little damage, though it took me about five weeks to get to the point where I had the covers back on and another three weeks from there to complete the renovations.

One fabulous blessing in disguise was that I discovered the wonders of horse manure. I had been planting my Eucalyptus in a mixture of topsoil and peat, with a few pellets of poultry manure for fertiliser. I thought I was doing well, and my Eucalyptus seemed to be flourishing.
As an added defence from the storms I decided to incorporate a Eucalyptus Gunnii hedge. I’m still astonished at how quickly it has become established and the blueness of the foliage. It seems to have been immune to windburn The thickness of the foliage is also remarkable, far denser than any of the other Gunnii that I have planted, both here in Ireland and in Scotland.

Eucalyptus hedge 300619 poly tunnels storm hannah
Eucalyptus hedge close up 300619 poly tunnels storm hannah

The photos below of the Gunnii hedge are from the 12th of May and give an indication of just how much lush blue grey foliage growth they have put on in around six weeks, the photos above are from the end of June.

I layered in the horse manure with topsoil. Generally the before and afters including of the seed trays that got blown off the staging and I scooped up what I could. Remarkable how many survived and are now flourishing

In chronological order.

Storm Hannah arrived on the evening of 26 of April 2019, and this is what my infrastructure looked like the next day. I cut away the covers and holes in the doors to prevent damage to the frames which were remarkably robust

The day after storm Hannah 27th April

I did have it in mind to terrace the area in front of the poly tunnels, and after some clearing up and rescuing what I could, I started the foundation trench for the wall around the 30th, and completed it around the 2nd of May.

Full trench 2nd May

The pressure was on the get my business up and running again, though I was genuinely surprised by the speed at which I got it done. The foundations laid and some blocks by the 4th, and the wall finished by the 7th !

Wall finished 7th May

I started layering in the topsoil that I had left over from digging out and levelling the ground where I located the poly tunnels, with the horse manure that the farmers in the area donated to my cause. Can’t thank them enough, a huge thank you !

110519 poly tunnel terrace c

By the 12th of May I was ready to place Eucalyptus Gunnii poly pot trees into the trench I’d left behind the wall. I added a few pellets of poultry manure and a teaspoon of mycorrhizal fungi at the base of each poly pot tree

Poly tunnel terrace 220519

Around the 13th I finished filling in behind with what was left of the topsoil.
Moved all the rocks that were to some extend holding down the skirts of the poly tunnel covers around the 14th into the terrace, and once again the farmers helped out with yet more horse manure .

I needed to modify my staging, lay blocks around the edges of the original blocks the poly tunnels stand on for the new method of securing the skirts. I always knew that the original holding down with sand and rocks which is the conventional method wasn’t going to work in this instance, especially at the front with the slope. The North facing slope an open invitation for Storm Hannah to enjoy the destructive part of her nature

So I was a bit delayed in getting the covers on which happened around the 31st

First cover on 31st May

A few days afterwards and all three covers were on and I was operational again. The rendering of the wall and making the steps and a few minor adjustments internally, and by the end of June I’d finished

Again a very big thank you to the farmers for their support and the rocks to finish off and make everything look like a grand job, I’m very pleased

Eucalyptus hedge top 300619 poly tunnels storm hannah

Catching up to do and one of the jobs was pricking out the rescued seedlings from the trays. These were out in the elements during May and June which were windy, often with driving rain. I was astonished at how resilient they were.

The trees in the plug trays on the staging fully exposed to the relentless coolish winds have recovered remarkably quickly. In a natural forest small trees are protected from the elements by larger ones.

Eucalyptus are certainly tough !

Eucalyptus water logged seed trays 2