Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Visit to Allowyn gardens

Now I'm not averse to looking at pretty gardens with manicured this and that, so with this in mind we stopped into Allowyn gardens on the Yarra Glen road while Dad and other relatives were off gawking at Marysville.

However i found these gardens were a bit of a treat as they had incorporated fruit trees into large portions of the garden and had lots of vegetables to display as well.  Not a bad way of encouraging people to squeeze more food plants into their gardens. We were welcomed to pick an apple or two so while i strolled around munching i took a few photos.

Now the other strictly ornamental bits are very nice too and the creators of the garden are lovely people with passion and one has to appreciate the work that has gone into creating this garden. Oh - yeh - has coffee too if you are feeling the need.

Plan of attack

So instead of getting straight into the orchard we thought we'd wear our bodies out a bit first by slogging away at the gravel on the roads to avoid them deteriorating more. Nothing like hacking away at solidified road metal and scraping away at stony gutters - so good for the abs.

After a couple of hours on the road we were due for a lighter job so we thought we might go into the orchard and slog away at some of the blackberry growth and try to pull it out by the roots. This is so not the permaculture way of doing things. A goat or a couple of pigs and a couple of months would be how they would deal with our blackberry issue. however - i am keen to fast forward the tape on food production and goats and livestock are out for now as long as we aren't living here full time. So we made lovely little piles of blackberry focusing around the trees first then working our way out.

 Eventually we said stuff it and slashed the rest with a brush cutter and save that job for a little later. maybe the goat will be around later. We also did the same with the bracken after getting jack of pulling it out by hand.

The plant which has made a star appearance in the newly planted orchard was sorrel. i didn't think we had much of it but now i think that it is going to be quite a challenge to control (especially in the vege garden) as it is quite happy poking its way up through significant layers of mulch, and has lots of roots in the soil which it can resprout from when it is cut off. And i'm not sure any animals like eating it either - except perhaps people.

last year in spring when i was weeding i direct seeded a range of plants where there were holes left. i also planted seeds in the unused fruit tree holes.  Hey presto - we have pumpkins which grew on natural rainfall without any additional watering. We also had a couple of Zinnias and sunflowers and red clover making an appearance.

Once enough of the weeds were cleared away it was time to put the berry vines on a trellis. Not knowing any better we used two strands of wire with a couple of support poles. i think i have seen something like that while "u-picking" raspberries.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring report card

The orchard growth has surpassed my expectations in most cases. This was probably partly due to a wet and warm summer which meant there was no water shortage on the unirrigated orchard. Star performers were just about everything except perhaps the almond and fig although they were probably still quite good .

The Loganberries and Boisenberries were also quite amazing and put out 2.5 meter long canes in all directions. These were planted as mere twigs last winter so i quiver to think how much growth and fruit they will deliver after this winter.

The Rasberries had not grown as rampantly but had put up plently of suckers uner the ground, while my Autumn fruiting Rasberry gave us our first fruit , which were very welcome little jewels.

The mild Autumn that prevailed in southern vic also led to us getting our first figs from our tree that have never before ripened as far as we know. This hasn't stopped the Currawongs eating them green though. This year the birds were not all over them (although the king parrots did stop by) despite the ripe fruit so we easily had our fill although many more will not ripen with the weather turning cold now.

King parrot in fig tree

A few trees were bashed around by pear slug - most notably the pears while the cherries seemed to outgrow their attentions.


The most recent pest outbreak seems to be copious numbers of small brown striped grasshoppers which are usually found on the pasture. They gave a few trees some trouble including the almong and the currants also seemed to be popular. These will not be so much of an issue when we have hens on patrol down the track.