Saturday, October 31, 2009

The orchard

In the depths of winter we journeyed down to put a spade into the ground and establish a little part of our future nourishment and enjoyment.

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.

Site perparation

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.

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