Back in February, Pierre approached a Tea Tree farm just south of the border and asked whether they had any unwanted trees that we could collect. The owner agreed and we went to visit the farm in late February. He was intending to remove a section of the farm trees to replace with flowering Grevilleas. This was to encourage the beneficial insects that prey on those that feed on the Tea trees. He gave us permission to collect a number of the trees that were to be bulldozed and we made plans to come back in 2 weeks to collect.
The Tea Tree farm grows Melaleuca Alternifolia which is used to produce therapeutic grade tea tree oil. The trees we were allowed to collect were planted 25 years ago and are harvested every year by cutting off the top growth just above ground level. The oil to be extracted this year is earmarked for European buyers.
Our first attempt at the dig in March was a washout due to the prolific rain SE QLD has had earlier this year. The farm is also in a low- lying area and floods if there is a lot of rain. On our fourth attempt in June the weather held enough to complete the task and it was just in time. The coming week the trees were scheduled to be plowed into the field.
A digger and truck were hired for the task. Committee members Keith S, Pierre and myself spent the day bagging up and loading the truck with over 50 trees that the digger had scooped up. The following day the trees were unloaded, trimmed and potted up into their proper growing bags/pots. They will now be looked after for 6 months to a year to get them established.
Since the trees were cut close to ground level each year, they have multiple leaders growing with a lot of wood underground. This has produced short stumpy trees as well as others suited to raft or clump style. We are confident that they will recover well as this species can take a lot of punishment and grows well when supplied with lots of water.
The plan for the 50 plus trees once established is to offer them as a resource to members to purchase or to be used for club activities.
We would like to thank Paul, the farm owner for the opportunity to collect the trees. I would also like to thank fellow committee members Keith S and Pierre for the hard work put in to collect and pot up the trees and also Tony S for supplying the potting equipment. Tony unfortunately had a scheduling conflict for the dig day and could not attend. Stay tuned for updates on the trees over the next year.