Category Archives: Orchard

A little oregano garden

All of our oregano is up by the road. It’s dotted around the place and is certainly ample for our needs for most of the year, except around the end of winter when the old growth has aged and yellowed and the new growth is yet to emerge.

A couple of flower heads were planted in seed-raising mix a little while ago, and they sprouted much better than expected. They were starting to get a bit big for their seed tray, so they were put into their own little oregano garden down in the orchard. We’ll plant other herbs down here, too, to make it a one-stop food shop.

Leaf curl horror

The spring so far hasn’t been very springy; it’s been wet and cold. The peaches and nectarines have all come out with really bad leaf curl fungus. Despite this little guy emerging on one of the peaches we don’t hold out much hope for any fruit.

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The nectarines are looking really bad, too, after putting out some nice flowers. Actually concerned that they might not survive.

Orchard topping

We’re getting the topping layer of mulch onto the orchard/grey water mulch pit, and with blossom and leaves coming out it’s starting to look as intended.

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We have a bit of cleaning up to do around the middle and at the other end, weeding, moving the charcoal pile, and raising the rock seat at the centre of the pear circle so it’s not covered by the mulch.

Almonds and flowers

The almond tree was the first to emerge from winter hibernation, in mid-August. It burst out with a bunch of flowers, and now there are loads of almonds growing! Yay!

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The nectarines are next off the blocks, with a lovely show of pink blossoms.

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Up the hill, the peaches and the ornamental cherry have also come into flower.

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And after having one lone red tulip emerge a couple of weeks ago, all the rest are starting to wake up.

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Grey water outlet

We had the outlet of the washing machine just dribbling onto the ground in the orchard. With the grey water mulch pit done, burying it was just one of those little jobs that don’t get done because they seem too little to bother.

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All done; all grey water is now reticulated into the pit.

Mulch pit filled

A lucky break down at the mulch dumping spot meant that we could get three ute loads of mulch at one time.

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One afternoon fetching and one afternoon carrying it all down to the orchard level leaves the pit filled! Yay!

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Unfortunately, it’s not “finished” yet. Each new load of mulch generally came from a different kind of tree, so there’s discontinuities all the way along with the different-coloured chips. We’ll do another thinner layer on top, now, to make the whole thing uniform and level.  We have to wait for another lucky break at the mulch dumping spot, since we need the same type of mulch to cover the whole length of the pit.

First we have to tidy up some of the dirt towards the back of the trampoline base, which still hasn’t been levelled. The rock and the two little plants in the foreground of this picture are also too low: they need to be taken out and some dirt put in underneath them, so that they don’t get swallowed by the mulch.

Orchard planting done

The weather fined up after a night of rain, so we were able to get the last trees in to the orchard. A short trip to the nursery procured the last plum – a satsuma, and the Granny Smith apple and one of the pears from up the hill were dug up and moved down the hill.

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The satsuma plum was selected to help pollinate the other three Santa Rosa plums.

The Granny Smith had grown quite big in its two years up the hill, but we had to cut it right back for transplanting. I hadn’t pruned it before, though, so it was getting very rangy and needed a good chopping.

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Granny Smith with 3 stakes at the left compared to the (almost invisible) Pink Lady to its right
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Looking east from the pear end. This spot is in shade all winter and the ground is very wet.

The final tree count is:

  • 2 Burré Bosce pears
  • 3 Bartlett pears
  • 1 Josephine pear
  • 3 Santa Rosa plums
  • 1 Satsuma plum
  • 3 Nectared nectarines
  • 1 Van cherry
  • 2 Morello cherry
  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 Pink Lady apples
  • 1 Fuji apple
  • 2 Royal gala apples
  • 1 almond
  • 1 Meyer lemon
  • 1 Lemonade lemon
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 imperial mandarins
  • 1 Tahitian lime
  • 1 Kaffir lime

33 trees! Combined with the trees we put in just for looks (1 Siberian larch, 1 Norway spruce, 1 Himalayan spruce, 1 Indian spruce, 2 maples, 1 claret ashes) we’ve planted a total of 40 trees in the bottom garden.

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Boulevard of sticks

We’re on a mission to get all the trees on the orchard level planted while it’s bare-rooted season.

We got three nectarines, another of R’s favourite lunch box items.

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We moved the Van cherry from up the hill, where it stood alone and struggled with ants, aphids, pear and cherry slug and nothing to pollinate it.

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Behind this guy will be one more plum, for pollination of the three across the way, and one of the other pears that is growing up at the front of the house. The hole is dug on the other side of the old trampoline base to accept the single Granny Smith apple that’s also in the top garden, leaving 2 pears up there.

The vision of a boulevard of trees is coming together, but it will be some years before they’re big enough to have their full effect.

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Plums and cherries

It’s now bare-rooted tree season, and we’ve got a few more to put in down in the orchard. We’re going to move the Granny Smith apple and the Van cherry from the front yard down there, but that still leaves about 11 slots for more trees. We were in Emerald so we decided to stop and get some more today: 3 Santa Rosa plums and 2 Morello cherries.

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These plums are R’s favourite for his lunch box: he’ll choose these over any other fruit that’s on offer.

The most-western of the new plums is actually sitting pretty much on top of one of the big rocks that couldn’t be moved earlier. I expect its roots to find their way around the rocks, but it will be an interesting experiment to see how it fares compared to the other two.

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New plum is pretty much sandwiched between the two rocks at the back

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The two cherries go on the sunward side as they’re shorter and won’t shade the apples on the other side of the row.

We can get three more trees straight away for the northern row, but the others on the southern row will require the earthwork to be completed on the trampoline base. There’s still a pile of sticky compost there that needs a home.