Preparing for Spring

Get down and dirty growing your food...
Shadowgirlau
Posts: 2281
Joined: Sun Mar 30, 2008 4:57 pm

Preparing for Spring

Postby Shadowgirlau » Fri Aug 14, 2009 10:13 am

Spring is a busy time in the orchard with lots of jobs that will help our orchards start the growing season with a strong burst of growth. Fertilizing, weeding and mulching are tasks that if completed in spring if not just before; will ensure strong growth of your trees and a bumper crop of fruit.

Keeping your fruit trees free of competition from grass and weeds is one of the most important jobs in the orchard and as the weather warms up it can become one of the most challenging to keep on top of.

I have always believed that “Little by little” is not a bad way to start, if a weed is pulled out when you see it that little job is done. I have even approached this task by choosing one particular weed to remove and closing my eyes to the rest, obviously if you can get them before they go to seed this will make your job much easier in the long run, as the old saying goes, one year of seeding means seven years of weeding. Have to admit though, that as much as I get out there and weed the little blighters seems to multiply regardless. However, I have noticed that slowly they are improving and I am managing to keep on top of them somewhat this way.

The evidence was in my total neglect over the past 6 weeks. Instead of doing a little every week – nothing had been done to the garden and so last weekend I had a marathon weeding and tidying up day in the veggie garden followed by a marathon weeding around my fruit trees day. Didn’t I curse at the time and then pledge to make myself up a weekly schedule of what must be done and when in the orchard and garden.

So what is now on my list on should be on yours? –

Weeding, fertilising, composting and or mulching are all on my list.

I have done most of it though not all.

The fertiliser that you choose will be determined by your gardening practice. There are several things that we can all do to recycle nutrients from kitchen waste into our gardens. Compost heaps, worm’s farms and other recycling systems ensure that nothing is wasted and that all the things that can be recycled as nutrients in your garden are returned to the soil for the worms to relish in. Compost is the most fabulous substance when it comes to gardening and anyone who makes it will know that there is never enough to go around. Even your weeds can be returned to the garden as a liquid fertilizer by first killing them in a bucket of water where they may need to be soaked for some time before even the seeds are destroyed, the liquid can then be strained off and diluted as liquid fertilizer.

A beautiful thick layer of mulch is the best thing for any tree. It retains moisture, keeps the soil temperature even and most importantly as it decays it breaks down to feed your tree. The best idea when you select you mulch each year is to choose something different from the previous year. This will create different particle sizes that break down at different rates as well each type of mulch will contain different nutrients. I find that by laying down newspaper a minimum of 8 sheets thick around my trees under the mulch also helps to keep invasive weeds like kikuyu grass at bay, (for a little while at least). It also recycles my old newspaper pile into worm food, you can check with your local paper as to the type of ink that they use if you are concerned.

As far as my orchard goes now there is only one last thing to be done and that is decided on how best to guard against fruit fly? And I may also have to do something about netting individual trees this year. I certainly won’t have time to net the whole orchard this time so individual methods look like the go for now.
Would love to hear what others are doing in their orchards and veggie gardens for the coming new growing season.
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
- John Lennon

jessicanorris
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:07 pm

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby jessicanorris » Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:37 pm

We've just put some new fruit trees into our yard, going for an espaliered approach to maximise the space down the side of our driveway. We have two apple trees: Pink Lady and a Gala, a peach tree and one of those double grafted plums (I can't remember the two varieties, however). We netted them individually because the Pink Lady was decimated by a possum with its first spring growth, and is seriously set back. We just used bird netting you can buy from Bunnings (I think about $6.50 for 4m x4m). This covered most of the trees because they are on espalier frames, and therefore pretty flat! We're planning to cover the whole lot with the bird netting, now, so we can get inside and weed, etc. as the black net is quite unobtrusive, and the trees march quite soldierly down the fenceline, so the frames are already there.

We're planning to remove the grass from around the fruit trees and replace it with Lucerne and flowers to attract good bugs (like Queen Anne's Lace and Alyssum, etc.), but we have to paint our nursery (the indoor type) first!

As for the rest of the garden, my daily patrol is turning up all sorts of scale and sooty mould growth on the old established plants (we moved to this house in June). Lots to do still in terms of getting on top of these pests, but happily our new veggie beds and fruit trees are doing well so far! Cross fingers.

-jess

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby minnie » Fri Sep 18, 2009 6:54 pm

Hi Jess,

Watch the black netting it can trap birds and other creatures in it... I know people who get it to trap brown snakes and the snakes get caught and can't get out... but it's a shame when they catch the black as they eat the young brown.

Where are you?

Possums are clever, I think there's an organic product to keep possums off things? I know one of ours (released on our property) got a thing for spuds and very nicely pulled each one out and ate it. She loved mangoes as well so I got the bags from www.greenharvest.com.au and I bag what we want and leave the rest for the possums and birds. ;)
:D
Vicki

jessicanorris
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:07 pm

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby jessicanorris » Mon Sep 21, 2009 10:07 am

Hi Minnie,

We're in Berowra, and the possums and wallabies here are a little voracious! The second day after we'd moved in they had eaten the tahitian lime to within an inch of its life! (It is in a pot, and otherwise survived the move well). So we researched possum repellants widely and came to the conclusion that physical barriers were the best. Now we have a fantastic arrangement with an electric possum fence (gives a decent zap, but nothing like a cattle fence). We've constructed a chain-mesh fence through half our yard to keep the chickens out of the veggie beds, and along the top there are three electric wires, basically. Several mornings I've come out and found the middle wire either tangled, or pushed free of the mountings, so we know *something* has been tangling with it. You'd be surprised how many people want us to set up a video ... :)

The orchard trees are outside the fence, though, and we also want to protect against birds eventually, so we're using bird net strung very tightly over our espalier wires. We're planning to do the same to make a tight tent over the whole thing. Apparently that will not entangle the birds, since the net won't be resting against any branches (or so I'm told). I sure hope the snake thing doesn't come into play, considering it is our driveway and front yard! And I'm told my chicken house is snake-proof, but I really don't want to test it out, that's for sure.

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby minnie » Mon Sep 21, 2009 1:33 pm

Hi Jessica,

Berrowra is a lovely spot (a friend lived there some years back, sadly she had to commute to Paddington each day for work!).

Many people up here (Northern NSW Lismore/Casino/Byron etc) try not to kill the red belly black or black snakes, they're not that aggressive and will readily run when they see you, but they eat the young of the brown who are aggressive. Unfortunately the blacks eat cane toads and in some areas it's decimating them and the brown population is really growing.

We get a good number of the python here and they've eaten chickens... we've had a couple of big carpet snakes came inside, I did worry about my little tonkinese cat who is quite small.

The electric sounds a good idea for the possums, what about rabbits and hare's, do you have any in your area? It's possible that other animals are eating things as well.

We get wallabies in the veggie garden but they don't seem to eat anything we don't want them to, other than corn... so eventually we'll fence with wire netting to keep them out.

We haven't (nor my Mum who has a big lime tree) had any possums eat the limes, or any of the citrus. They do eat the mangoes, and they even eat all the mango and leave a seed hanging by the stem from the tree, now that looks funny. They've eaten other stonefruit and the newly planted spuds as well. So I bag the the fruit, which is good for fruit fly as well. The cattle love the citrus leaves though. ;)

Hmmm maybe a video is needed to see the culprits. :lol:

Remember with bottling tomatoes to add a good tablespoon of high acid lemon (eureka if possible as that has the highest acid).
:D
Vicki

jessicanorris
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:07 pm

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby jessicanorris » Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:04 pm

Oops! Sorry Vickie, I used your login name by accident. :oops:

Something certainly ate the leaves on both the tahitian lime (left maybe three leaves) and the Kaffir lime, believe it or not. They either were full by the time they got to the Kaffir, or the more strongly flavoured leaves put them off only half way through. Once fenced, however, we've had no damage at all, so we're really happy with the electric fence!

I think we may have rabbits in the general area -- our fencer was doing a job out at a nursery in Dural to keep the rabbits out -- but I have only seen them up at the Berowra library, so far! I think our chain mesh fence and electric fence should keep those blighters out, too, though. We back onto quite a steep bush cliff (wallabies get up it, we've found scat) and we have heaps of great wildlife (I startled a bearded dragon on Sunday, and the birds are widely varied and beautiful singers). I'm hoping that the section of the garden we're calling "The Wilderness" will be a haven for these creatures, since it has an established grevillea, a wonderful (young) grass tree that we've been growing for a few years in a pot, and a whole lot of other natives including a Sydney Leafless Pea, which was a bit of a bonus.

Mind you, "The Wilderness" and "the Orchard" are just my names for delineating what is otherwise a suburban backyard ... we don't have much space (that isn't cliff bush), but what we have I can't help being romantic about. I sure hope we can get enough produce to bottle! :D

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby minnie » Tue Sep 22, 2009 9:12 am

Hi Jessica,

You don't need acres of space to grow more than enough to bottle, like anything you can use small amounts of land and do amazing things.

We only have just under 8 acres, with 3 alpacas and five dexter cows, a dexter bull, a steer, two calves, two heifers and our new young bull. Which is way too small but, we hand feed, break into small paddocks, use the garden when required and a grassy lane that has about two acres in it.

It's amazing how much you grow in a small patch.

We've found the best thing we've done (just wish we'd have done it earlier) was send off a soil analysis to SWEP (with the extra to speak to Pat Coleby). Boy did we find out why so many problems with blossom end rot on our tomatoes, and our absolute failure with potatoes and why we get no winter (we're frost free) or spring pasture growth! Now when the veggie garden goes in again it will be with 2 ton of gypsum to the hectare! :o as recommended by Pat, SWEP said 20 ton to the hectare, but she said two and build up over some years.

The thing with growing your own, don't give up!
:D
Vicki

jessicanorris
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:07 pm

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby jessicanorris » Tue Sep 22, 2009 12:54 pm

I've really very excited today, having just finished making a batch of pesto based on our first Mizuna crop. :D

We harvested 400g of leaves this morning (DH thinks about the same is left in the patch) and this yielded 630g of pesto (which I'm hoping will be a little like those rocket and parmesan dips you get from the supermarket). It sure smells delicious! Now I'm extra glad I have a side-by-side freezer, with five containers of the stuff. :)

So I'm pretty buoyed up about that. Still so newbie at this vegetable gardening that this is exciting for me!

-jess

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby minnie » Tue Sep 22, 2009 5:29 pm

Hi Jessica,

I read somewhere (and did it) to freeze the pesto in ice-cube containers or small ones and then when frozen push them out and zip lock bag or vacuum seal them. Then when you just want a bit for pasta etc you only take out the amount of cubes.

It's worked well for me, I did basil, rocket and macadamia pesto... and it's lasted well in the freezer.

Sounds really yummy from the mizuna, what sort of nuts did you use? I did the maccas because we've got macca farms up the road and we get bags of them when in season (DH slows roasts them in the wood stove, they're so good when warm but I have to watch not to have too many or they get my stomach in knots).

:D
Vicki

jessicanorris
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:07 pm

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby jessicanorris » Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:25 am

Hi Vicki,

I froze the pesto as you've suggested, with a little olive oil on top to stop freezer burn (mind you, DH has already eaten two of these as a dip, so I doubt they'll be there long enough to burn!).

I just used toasted pine nuts with olive oil, a little garlic and the mizuna: very simple, and not totally bland, since the mizuna has a fair bit of flavour itself. DH has mixed in fresh chilli (which was great) and also goat's cheese, which gave the mix a more creamy dip-like consistency. All in all, a success, although we haven't tried it with pasta yet! I planned a few too many meals this week, forgetting we were going out for tea on Wednesday. Heh.

Today I've been planting water chestnut corms, for the first time. I wonder if anyone else has tried these? Looks like some fun, so we'll see how they go!

-jess

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby minnie » Fri Sep 25, 2009 2:09 pm

Hi Jess,

I put Parmesan in the pesto I did, but the soft cheese sounds yummy.

Are you doing the water chestnuts in an old bath? I've never done them, not something we eat a lot of but I think I read about doing in old baths???

Sounds interesting, let us know how you go.
:D
Vicki

jessicanorris
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:07 pm

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby jessicanorris » Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:58 am

We have a very large rectangular plastic tub (the kind that upsizes from a window box) which we had lying around from our 'portable veggie garden' days. We decided to plug this up with silicon to keep it watertight and use that (we're actually overplanting it slightly by putting in *two* corms instead of just one!). Reading about the care of water chestnuts we discovered that it wasn't enough just to seal it, we had to be able to drain the water at the end of the growing season, so we installed a little plastic tap in the side (the kind you get on big water bottles). We then wondered how on earth you would drain your bathtub, since the plug would presumably be sitting under a great deal of soil and water, and pulling the plug would be tricky! So, we're happy with our tap solution. We used pebbles in the bottom since it won't drain the entire container completely.

I'll let people know how it goes come autumn harvesting time!

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby minnie » Mon Sep 28, 2009 10:38 am

Hi Jess,

It's intriguing the whole thing of growing them, will love to hear how they go.

What a good idea with the tap, sounds much better than a bath that's for sure.
:D
Vicki

Huxter
Posts: 224
Joined: Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:03 am
Location: Goulburn Valley Nth Victoria

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby Huxter » Sat Oct 24, 2009 5:59 am

With reference to the bird netting mentioned here ,a more bird friendly version is available and its white to differentiate it from the other .The birds can't get through it unless its settled on the fruit but can't entangle in it either .We get Lorikeets coming through when the apricots are ripening and they die in the thousands in the commercial vineyards although a lot a switching over to bird friendly netting ,or completely enclosing their orchards in netting to exclude all birds and stop hail damage .They then keep bee hives in the enclosures for pollination .It must cost millions to cover a 50 acre orchard !

Paul
The world needs you to grow your own food!!

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby minnie » Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:23 am

Hi Paul,

I know the numbers were there for netting the stonefruit to keep out fruit bats and they made their money back in one year I think, and still some farmers won't net but would rather kill the birds and the bats, just shake my head.
:D
Vicki

Huxter
Posts: 224
Joined: Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:03 am
Location: Goulburn Valley Nth Victoria

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby Huxter » Sat Oct 24, 2009 11:17 pm

Last year on about Dec 17th we had freak hailstorms that wrecked my garden but commercial fruit under netting nearby was saved .Some farmers would have saved millions of dollars worth so it paid off in one season .

And most farmers get the message ,if not push the message about conservation .Its the larger corporate farming entities that ignore the environment in pursuit of the dollar .We have many dairy farms around here being bought up by investor/specualtors that put in robotic milking systems ,sack the workforce ,and truly ,oversee the operation by video link from offices high up in Hong Kong skyscrapers .A mate of mine sells them the Lely Astronaut Robotic Milker .Several investors last year were interested to see one in action before committing the huge funds required .None was available to see up and running here in Australia ,so they flew ten investors to Israel for a week to see a robot milker in action there .Good trip for my mate but imagine what it cost !!!

These are the sort of people that need to stay away from food production or the industrial-led food famine will be here sooner than expected .They will drive decent hard working dairy farmers off the land when ,in cahoots with the supermarkets ,they grind down the price paid to the small farmer .

Not much to do with Preparing for Spring --on my soapbox again --sorry

Paul
The world needs you to grow your own food!!

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby minnie » Sun Oct 25, 2009 7:24 am

Hi Paul,

I found this so concerning... when people stop contact with the animals that we want for dairy and meat, it's a road to disaster for the animal and people who buy the products.

Just look at egg production!

I think Kathleen said a while back about seeing a doco on a commercial dairy that the cows spent their entire life instead a shed. And I know I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a herd without tails driving to Brisbane some time back, how on earth can the poor animals swat a fly off themselves.

The only way forward in my mind is for as many as possible to try to produce as much as they can and share and swap with neighbours and friends and boycott those corporations that think nothing of our health or the health and well being of these creatures.

You know I still get surprised when I see someone buying 'caged eggs' and I think you'd be better to get two hens in your garden, it would be cheaper and the eggs would be better. People are funny creatures aren't they!
:roll:
Vicki

Mojojo
Posts: 501
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:01 pm
Location: Perth and Donnybrook, WA

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby Mojojo » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:11 pm

I'm with you Vicki on the caged eggs, I grimace in the supermarket (can't have chookens yet, but so looking forward to when I can). Not to mention the flavour difference. I tried a new (non-cage of course) brand last week, and actually had two double yolkers! Have not seen that in bought eggs in forever, but we always used to get them from our own chooks.

The other one that gets me is that recently I've noticed that all the people we talk to (meat eaters) about planning to have cows when we are on the property (30 days til settlement!) pull faces at the idea of them being sent off to the chop shop and going in the freezer. :roll: Where do people think meat comes from? Its like everything that we buy in the supermarket, people are so disconnected from thesource of food.

I've just come back from a lovely week in Thailand. I was only gone for 9 days, but so much has changed in my 'pot' garden (rental house with just a small patio back yard!)
The cherry tomatoes all have flowers and even some little tomatoes on, the rouge de marmande tomatoes are flowering, the three lemons and limes in pots are all flowering and one has lots of little limes on it, and the peach tree I put in a pot three months ago I have just thinned out to have only a couple of dozen peaches on it, will thin it out more shortly - its only a baby tree! I must have picked off a hundred. Spring onions and basil and radishes and beetroot all doubled in size while I was away. Oh and the parsley all went to seed.

Thaland was great as always, my favourite destination. This time we went to Koh Samet, and island only 3 hours from bangkok (by road and boat) nice clean beaches, lovely food. The monsoon was not quite over, we had a few sudden downpours, which I really like... just sit on the verandah and watch the rain storms blow through. Get a pancake from the pancake carts, noodles from the noodle carts. Lots of relaxing!

Then we had three more days in Bangkok, the highlight of which was finally going to see "Jim Thompson's house" he was an American man who started trading silk internationally before disappearing in Malaysia many years ago, no one knows what happened to him. Anyhow, the tour lady at the house said there are only two silk making families left in Bangkok, if we want to go visit them its walk down there then cross the canal then take the second alley on the right and knock on the third door down the alley if it is not open.

So we did go there (door was open) and we got waved in, two ladies sitting there on the big silk looms, stomping away on pedals and pulling levers and strings, weaving away. They showed us how all of the machines work, and then when the man who spoke English came back, we looked at silk to buy. I was not expecting to buy any, but then... well, I went a little nuts. 15 metres in four different colours (a pale gold/cream, dark lustrous purple, burnt orange, and lovely green). All at 300 baht, or $10, a metre, for beautiful hand operated - machine woven thai silk, from one of the two remaining traditional silk makers in Bangkok. Could not resist. Probably should have bought more.
Now I am not sure exactly what I am going to do with it all.... :)

*and... off topic again, oops.
~ Jo
_________________
Two roads diverged in a wood and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost

minnie
Posts: 2700
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:23 am
Location: Alice, West of Casino, NSW
Contact:

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby minnie » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:23 pm

Hi Jo,

Ah I'm sooo envious the silk sounds beautiful, I don't sew but would find someone who could for that beautiful silk. :mrgreen:

As with you the people that say 'oh you won't eat them or how could you'... gee whiz what do they think is on those polystyrene packs!

My Mum found this and we put it in a small newsletter we do, I think you'll like it, it's titled 'You can't fix stupid' and was written in to a paper by someone:
To all you hunters who kill animals for food, shame on you. You ought to go to the store and buy the meat that was made there, where no animals were harmed.
By Anon (who'd want to admit to this?)
:roll:

Caged eggs I just find amazing that people still buy them... I often feel like saying something to people when I see them in their trolley, especially in a country town where all and sundry have a few chooks and are always trying to give them away. It's like they think if it's from the supermarket it's safe and from a farm or house it's poisonous... weird things these people things...

:D
Vicki

Mojojo
Posts: 501
Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 8:01 pm
Location: Perth and Donnybrook, WA

Re: Preparing for Spring

Postby Mojojo » Mon Oct 26, 2009 3:38 pm

Oh, I love that quote! Stored that one away in memory!
~ Jo
_________________
Two roads diverged in a wood and I -
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost


Return to “Aussie Gardening - Growing your own food”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

cron