Sunday, December 13, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Spring Orchids were out - A wee Chiloglottis....
And is was just generally very pretty weather.
There seemed to be some damage from slugs or snails and some leaf sowing caterpillars on the pome fruits. hopefully the little birds will come in and take care of them. Speaking of snails though - i was shocked to discover them all over the established lemon tree - right up to the highest branches. One day they'll be a good supplement for the ducks or maybe the families diet if i work out how to clean and cook them.
The mulching worked well with some clear evidence also that water had been channelled into my contours that fed into the fruit tree holes. There had not been much growth between the fruit trees where the soil had been scraped back, which is not so bad at the moment but will need to be rectified eventually to return life to the soil.
So many trees had fallen down that with the weeding (which had me walking 18km and a back pack) and the trees there was not much time but to look at the orchard and confrim that nothing disasterous was happening.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
I had contacted Peter the permie to source my fruit & nut trees and berries.
Peter turned out to be a fountain of knowledge and a man whom i would like to spend more time time with, in order to pickup his pearls of wisdom. i may even do one of his permaculture course one day.
Peter was a great resource for us because his property was almost identical to ours and much of his hard earned experience could be tranferred directly to ours. Peter recommended the varieties i should grow - important local advice was that late apples would never actually ripen at my altitude, so i avoided them.
I left Peters house loaded up with my heritage apple tress, peach almond, pears, apricot, berries, plums, brambles, cherries, figs and chestnuts - a trailor full of dreams bumped off down the road.
We still had a bit of preparation to do on the site before the trees went in so with limited time we hired some machinery. Sounding a bit like some back yard blitz thing isn't it? We had large old stumps to remove and a bit of tea tree regrowth and we also decided to establish some lanes amongst the orchard and a few other jobs.
Casey from Healesville did a marvellous job and a great guy to boot. We picked out bracken and roots while he worked and luckily no rain to speak of.
This was fairly straightforward although it involved a lot of thought. Peter recommended putting similar trees in rows because the need the same treatment and if you net them off it's much easier. We put some of the trees which needed good air circulation up the top of the hill such as almonds, apricots and peaches.
We planted brambles in-between some fruit trees with the ultimate plan to divide them up when they are big enough. With the berry varieties we tried several that were available to see how they would perform. we could then propogate more of the good ones somewhere down the line.
Peter Allan assured us that he had never irrigated any of his fruit trees apart from the initial planting. Although i did beleive peter i decided to make some diversion banks around every hole that would direct any run off into the root zone of the fruit trees.
Compost was incorporated into the hole where the trees were to be planted (thanks to Casey the holes were easy!). The trees were planted and then the surface was mulched with straw. Beyond and on top of this straw , a mulched of wood chips was applied to keep the weeds down.
Another sugestion of Peters, learned through hard earned experience was to net in our whole orchard and veg garden area. Sounds a bit extreme but the list of critters are many. Several types of parrots and cockatoo, bowerbirds, currawongs and possums. I would take Peters suggestions very seriously. After many years of persevering this is exactly what he is about to do. I think we will take his advice - although the upfront cost will be large i think it is a worthwhile investment that will save time, stress and heartache.
Friday, October 30, 2009
Ideally we would like this to be well established by the time we move into the property so we don't have the years of waiting until the trees come into production.
Wildlife are the main complication with this idea. We talked to some friends in the area bout how they kept the critters at bay. They had constructed a pretty neat fencing system that kept both wombats and deer at bay, so we went to have a look.
What a construction! It seemed this fitted the bill, but did it work? YEP - they said. They never had a wombat breach the defences - except they accidentally fenced one inside, but it soon found its way out.
The fence consisted of strainer posts on each corner, with very long star droppers in between, and three strands of wire. Over this wire is layed chain mesh, including a ground hugging skirt of about 40 cm. This is to stop the Womabts - and no - they are not smart enough to work out how to get under. If they do start digging you just block up all their holes until they get bored and change their habitual routes.
Above the chain mesh is chain link - which is high enough to deter deer.
This seemed like ther prefect solution so we set forth to construct our own.
We chose an area not too far from the house because this area was to the vege garden as well as the orchard. We also situated it not too far from where the chook house is as one day the chooks could free range in the orchard paddock. we also chose a site with a good northerly aspect, not too steep and with good access for vehicles. later on the pig pens and composting areas would be situated above the paddock so that the fertiliser materials do not have to move too far to get to the garden, and the pigs can easily be thrown scraps.
We discovered a great fencing product called mega anchor which made putting in the strainer posts a dream. A business in Lilydale sold us the materials and the jack hammer thing which allows you to put the struts in place. Anyway the end result is an extremely sturdy fence post.
We set to work learning fencing and it was surprisingly easy once we got the knack of it. It took us a couple of days to build a fence to cover the area of a very large suburban block and we were learning so it would take less time if you had experience.
And there we have it - a completed fence ready for planting of our orchard.
Of course it is also wonderful to have these and other animals. They make the place that bit more amazing. Lyrebird calls penetrating through the forest, wombats bustling across the paddocks in the dim evening. The calls of black cockatoos and Gang gangs lif tmy heart up and usually make an appearance some time though the day. Satin bowerbirds and their many green mates - what a treat.