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Temperatures April 23 ๐ŸŒก

I’ve been concerned about climate change for many years. When I left my job on the oil rigs, back in 1993, I enrolled for the Open University, and one of the first modules I took was “renewable energy”

This year, 2023 has so far, April, felt much colder than the previous six years I’ve been here in Ireland, and I started searching for comparisons. It seems there wasn’t a great deal of variation, perhaps a degree or so centigrade. However the extremes were more pronounce, especially the extreme cold snap at the end of 2022.

I was keen to get Blue Tooth thermometers to automate logging the temperatures in the poly tunnels and the new grow room, and got one for outside as well.

April 23 temperatures at Clounsnaghta:

  • Average – 9.31โ„ƒ
  • Max – 18.75โ„ƒ
  • Min – 0.44โ„ƒ

The historical average for Ireland from the World Bank show temperatures just below those I recorded here at Clounsnaghta.

Other sources I used:

Here are the average daily temperatures:

DateTemperature โ„ƒDaily average โ„ƒ
1 Apr 20234.388.75
2 Apr 20236.317.27
3 Apr 20237.698.93
4 Apr 202310.639.85
5 Apr 20237.6310.88
6 Apr 20233.698.05
7 Apr 20237.507.60
8 Apr 202310.0010.06
9 Apr 20238.8810.86
10 Apr 20234.697.75
11 Apr 20232.255.82
12 Apr 20233.885.43
13 Apr 20233.946.00
14 Apr 20234.196.99
15 Apr 202310.447.43
16 Apr 202311.9413.58
17 Apr 20237.3112.26
18 Apr 20236.1911.34
19 Apr 20238.259.10
20 Apr 20235.569.84
21 Apr 20238.508.75
22 Apr 20236.257.95
23 Apr 20236.318.99
24 Apr 20233.387.67
25 Apr 20237.316.67
26 Apr 20239.319.93
27 Apr 202310.9411.77
28 Apr 202311.8813.19
29 Apr 202312.3813.91
30 Apr 202311.1312.75
Max temp18.75โ„ƒ
Min temp0.44โ„ƒ
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Walkabout May 23

2022 was certainly a challenging year for everything growing here at Clounsnaghta:

  • Very dry conditions during most of the year
  • A severe -7โ„ƒ cold snap at the end

The only thing missing was a severe gale, and interestingly there wasn’t much in the way of strong winds.

So now it is May 2023 and time to take a look at and see what has recovered, what grew despite everything and what won’t be coming back to life with the warmth and sunshine ๐Ÿ™

I encouraged, that the vast majority have not only survived, but are thriving ๐Ÿ™‚
A few that have succumbed, I will persevere with:

  • Regnans
  • Fastigata
  • Leucoxylon which I neglect to mention in the video

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The aftermath of the December 2022 severe weather event.

I am describing this as a severe weather event due to the prolonged frost, eleven nights below zero, a couple below -5โ„ƒ The other factor that for me categorises this as severe was the freezing fog especially during the mornings on several days. On a few days all day !

The coldest temperature recorded in Ireland was way back in 1881, -19.1โ„ƒ. During the freeze of 2010, the lowest temperature in Ireland was -17.5โ„ƒ
Source Met ร‰ireann

I couldn’t find any information pertaining to the average duration of frost periods, though other than the freeze of 2010 when I was in Scotland; I’d estimate less than five days, probably closer to the occasional day or two here and there.

So given that this was a particularly severe and unusual weather event, I am very pleased to report that the vast majority of my Eucalyputs trees are doing well.
The Paulownia are hardy to -20โ„ƒ and they are dormant at the moment, so no issues coping with -7โ„ƒ here.

The nice surprise is that the Regnans have done so well, and the disappointment, though not particularly a surprise is that the Robusta and Botryoides look like they have perished ๐Ÿ˜ข as I say in the video, I will persevere, this has been an unusually severe weather event.

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Trees regulate temperature ๐Ÿ˜‰

I already had some inkling that trees regulate temperatures from reading some reports and watching a few videos; here’s the evidence ๐Ÿ˜‰

Besides being a positive for farming, increasing the number of weeks per year livestock can graze outside, because it regulates temperature, it should reduce your energy / heating requirements during the winter, AC during the summer; an additional benefit to planting trees.

Eucalyptus grow fast and provided they are spaced far enough apart, will have access to nutrients and hydration required to enable them to retain their thick lush foliage.

There is a lot of overlap in the content I post to my web sites and social media, quite a lot about my weight gain and loss experience.
Besides the interesting information about the increased number of weeks livestock can graze during the year, what the gentleman in this video has to say about the micronutrients in food correlated with my own experience, i.e. I was malnourished because I wasn’t either the food I was eating didn’t contain enough of the nutrients I needed or my body wasn’t able to absorb them. Either way, other research I have done into mycorrhizal fungi suggests that fertiliser grown crops don’t establish mycelium networks and therefore don’t absorb the other nutrients that food should have as detailed in the video.

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Properly frosty โ„๏ธ

Today, the 9th of December 2022 is the first severe frost I have experienced while growing Eucalyptus here in Ireland. It’s about -5โ„ƒ and this cold and frosty weather is set to last another five or so days.

I’m confident that most of my Eucalyptus trees will be fine, and the freezing temperatures may actually be helpful and kill most of the Psyllid, larvae and ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿปeggs as well ๐Ÿ˜ though there are a few varieties that might be borderline survival ๐Ÿ™
Only time will tell…

The cold frosty weather can be very beautiful and although there was quite a lot of freezing fog first thing this morning, it was a magical experience ๐Ÿ™‚

Snowy morning with moon
Frosty Pulverulenta
Frosty Pauciflora
Frosty Parvula
Frosty Cinerea

The fog soon burnt off and it was a crisp blue sky day

Mini forest trees in the frost
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Paulownia & the Fox

The end of the growing season for the Paulownia for sure, with most of the leaves having fallen off, a slight frost and the rest turned Black and then shrivelled and turned brown.

The Eucalyptus carry on regardless, so although I am very curious to see how the Paulownia develop, I am still very much a fan of Eucalyptus and increasingly so:

  • To start with I was growing the Eucalyptus and the Paulownia for firewood. I won’t give up on the Paulownia just yet, though the Eucalyptus are so far much better at growing sustainable fuel.
  • Floral foliage wasn’t something I’d considered, though it is very popular
  • Flowers for bee’s. I’ve had quite a lot of flowers in the last year from my Eucalyptus and the bees love them ๐Ÿ with the Paulownia renowned for masses of purple flowers in early spring, another reason I am not giving up on the Paulownia.
  • Constructional timber ๐Ÿค” both Eucalyptus and Paulownia provide good quality timber with varied uses and as I am very keen on my wood working project, I look forward to trying to mill and use my own home grown timber ๐Ÿ˜‰

The Fox

Those of you who have followed along in the last twelve months will have noticed videos featuring my tame fox which I now think may be pregnant, its certainly become quite fat in the last four to six weeks !

The fox isn’t just for amusement, those it has been great to have it come visit.

There are Hares around here, and I love seeing them as well, though Paulownia are particularly palatable, and I doubt I would have had anything left with out the presence of the fox.
Lets consider the economics ๐Ÿค”

  • The fox has been 100% effective at keeping the Hares away
  • It costs perhaps โ‚ฌ5 max per week to feed the fox a few hard boiled eggs and the occasional chicken; it also gets the left over bread and other scraps from the kitchen including cheese.
  • I have around a hundred Paulownia, so if I was buying tree guards, around โ‚ฌ3 each and I doubt they would be 100% effective as Hares like other animals looking for a meal can be very determined.

So the fox is good economics ๐Ÿ˜‰ as well as being fun to have around ๐Ÿ˜

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First storm of the winter November 22

A very wet October and that looks to continue during November.
The forecast today is for 50kph sustained winds with gusts of 100kph ๐Ÿ˜ง I don’t think we are actually getting that here, more like 40kph and perhaps gusts of 80kph. Still a strong gale.

As I’ve said before, its not just the wind which is a factor affecting how well Eucalyptus and for that matter all trees fare during storms, its also the moisture in the ground. One benefit of this years dry spring and summer is that the Eucalyptus will have been forced to grow their roots in search of hydration, so I’m hopeful they will be even more wind resilient this year.

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Walkabout September 22

Despite the dry conditions, very little precipitation during the spring and summer, everything continues to grow, with the Eucalyptus Regnans, Nitens and other varieties putting on considerable growth in a year ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
There’s been a considerable increase in the amount of Eucalyptus flowers that have bloomed this year and many more of the Eucalyptus trees have developed flower buds, so I am expecting even more flowers next year.

I’ve started experimenting with Paulownia and Robinia Pseudoacacia.
Initially I’d hoped the Paulownia would produce rapid growth and good firewood fuel, though now don’t think they will be a major contributor to my renewable energy needs. Instead I think they will provide biodiversity and an abundance of flowers during the early spring.
So far I have only planted a few Robinia, Black Locust, though like the Paulownia some expectation of firewood and a high likelihood of increased biodiversity and an early blooming flowers.

I’ve started on my journey towards growing more of my own food, and part of the preparation involves digging out the pond area and using the soil for the salad beds in the poly tunnel.
Pleased to be making a start on this, the fresh food will help me with other goals I have set myself, and digging out the pond area and establishing a pond for wildlife will further increase biodiversity ๐Ÿ™‚

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New plantings

Its always going to be a value judgment as to when the best time of year to plant Eucalyptus trees is ๐Ÿค”

What I can say is that I don’t sell, or plant bare rooted trees, so they can be planted at any time of year ๐Ÿ˜‰
I did get luck with my planting in the video below as it rained heavily the next day and is forecast to rain for the next few.

If it is dry, then providing the plantation isn’t too big or inaccessible, then you can water artificially if it is very dry.

Once thing I would definitely recommend is some shelter from the winter gales and this is going to be an ongoing focus for my plantation, i.e. deciduous companion trees, particularly fast growing hybrid poplar to take the sting out of the worst of the cold winter gales.

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Substitute Mahogany

With actual Mahogany going for around โ‚ฌ1500 per cubic metre, there must surely be a market for a good alternative ๐Ÿค”

I did attempt to grow Eucalyptus Robusta a couple of years ago without much success, though I would put the failure down to the area where it was planted. A very exposed part of my small patch of land where the ground isn’t particularly wet; Eucalyptus Robusta’s common name is “Swamp Mahogany” which will give you a good indication of the conditions it prefers.
Anyways I looked for a more hardy alternative and came across Eucalyptus Botryoides which is claimed to be slightly more hardy and adaptable ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ
I didn’t get a good germination from the Robusta this year, so the four additional ones I planted in the new area were all I had. I haven’t given up on Robusta, the foxes or the rats dug up most of the winter planting, but one remains and although blasted by the strong winds is is now recovering fast and putting out good strong basal growth. This is in contrast to the one I planted a couple of summers ago up on the bank which although it tried putting out new growth, was always weak.

So why am I so keen on Eucalyptus as a Mahogany substitute ?
My interest is commercial, say you plant some shelter with tall Hybrid Poplar and perhaps some lower, but fast growing trees to give even better protection while the Robusta and Botryoides establish, then a potential return on investment of โ‚ฌ10,000 per acre per year ๐Ÿ˜

Say you plant 400 trees and with the companion tree protection, at least 250 of these live till they are 10 years old and produce 2m3 per tree, this is conservative, both of these mahogany substitutes are fast growing and could reach a height of up to 20m in ten years.
So 2m3 per tree and 250 trees, 2 * 250 * โ‚ฌ1500 = โ‚ฌ750,000 in 10 years ๐Ÿ˜ โ‚ฌ75,000 per year per acre ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

Let’s not get too enthusiastic ! this isn’t actual Mahogany, though Botryoides it is very high quality dark red hardwood and is currently grown commercially for constructional timber.

Lets be very conservative, unless you have a shop or retail outlet, you aren’t going to get โ‚ฌ1,500 per cubic metre ๐Ÿ™ Say around โ‚ฌ800 here in Ireland if it was actual Mahogany and as this isn’t actual Mahogany, let’s say around โ‚ฌ400 per cubic metre.
American White Oak currently goes for around โ‚ฌ4,500 per cubic metre retail, high quality timber does command high quality prices ๐Ÿ™‚

โ‚ฌ400 * 250 trees = โ‚ฌ100,000 / 10 years = โ‚ฌ10,000 per year per acre gross without subsidy.

NOTE I am not including any planting, harvesting, transportation or processing costs, though ALSO NOTE that I am not taking into account large inflationary pressure on timber prices, rapid deforestation or other environmental pressures which may impact the rising cost of constructional timber.

So all in all I am personally convinced this is worth a punt, the initial costs are low and the potential earnings in the not particularly long term, ten years to harvesting are substantial ๐Ÿ˜‰