Monday, September 23, 2013

The Orchard

Recently we have had a gorgeous Swedish backpacker helping out during mustering. Before coming here she was working in a small country pub in the Great Southern grain growing region of WA, regularly chatting to farmers.  Working together in the kitchen one day, this self confessed 'city girl'  made the comment that she, "Would never complain about the price of food again after seeing the effort that goes in to producing it." She went on to say that she thinks all city people should spend some time on farms to learn a bit about where food comes from.

I was thrilled that her time here, feeding chooks and pigs, watering plants and helping mark the lambs has had such an impact on her thinking. If only we could better educate the entire population about farming and food production- what a difference it would make to today's farmers to feel valued by society, as they once were.  Unfortunately I think that until Australia is importing a vast quantity of its food and/or facing food shortages this is not to be, and I don't think I'll see that in my lifetime.

On a lighter note, it is such a fabulous time of year for a gardener! Practically everything that flowers is blooming and new growth is prolific. The scent of citrus flowers in the orchard is almost overpowering (in a good way) on a balmy evening and, in a very dry year in the bush,  the flowers are providing otherwise scarce nectar for the native bees. If you look closely you can see a bee on the flower in the photo.

The peaches are growing at a phenomenal rate. They flower in August and will be ready for picking in about late November so I guess they have to grow pretty fast. The tree is pretty loaded so I will have to grit my teeth and thin it out a bit to get good quality fruit....or we could just have lots of small ones! 

Upon visiting the orchard my father in law came up to me and whispered in my ear, "I think your husband spoils you," to which I must agree because look what, with a bit of help from the 'kids,' he built to protect the stone fruit trees from birds. This structure is made with 9 metre lengths of 50mm poly, curved over and pushed over star pickets securely hammered into the ground. It is braced with wire crosses between the pipe and has three lengths of wire running across the top, to which shade cloth is attached. The shade cloth runs the length of the tunnel and will protect the trees from the full impact of

high summer sun.

                                     With the trees growing so fast it is important to keep feeding them and I am putting the manure from the chook yard to good use. A good way to share it around is to make liquid manure using a shade cloth 'teabag' filled with manure  and suspended in a drum of water. (left) This might not be such a great idea if you live in gets pretty stinky!

Happily for me my Dad likes growing things
as much as I do and we often
exchange plants and seeds. Below
is a photo of some horse radish that Dad grew in a pot and I have planted in the orchard. I'm not sure how it will go in the heat here but I will cover it with some shade cloth and hope for the best. It is certainly pretty happy at the moment.


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