I have been shoveling, digging and ploughing like a madman lately (all for this project). I imagine the mare in the neighboring field warning her little baby to stay away from this crazy scientist-gardener, who seemed to be randomly digging circular holes in the field.
That was serious business, as the present vegetation had a dense root network. I tried to remove as many of these roots as possible, as I want to prevent harsh competition of my seedlings with the other vegetation within the gaps. Luckily, I got some help from a local hardworking mole, who had been putting a lot of effort in the building of molehills all over the field.
As these kind of natural disturbances are exactly what I want to simulate with the experiment, I thanked him kindly and added his gaps to my experimental setup.
Now all gaps are set and ready. I installed a first set of soil temperature sensors and quickly checked the effect of the warm spring weather on within-gap variation. Everything seemed to be going as planned. The north-eastern side of my gaps (the sides that face the afternoon sun) quickly heated up to well above 30 °C. I wanna see those gap invaders cope with that!
The gap invaders themselves have to wait one more month before they can show what they are capable off. I need the temperatures to be just that little bit more extreme over a long period to establish a clear difference.