Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Jan 09 Activities

The weekend before last I took advantage of the offer of free sheep manure and collected a big load of the stuff. Half of that went on topping up vegetable beds here at the farmlet, in preparation for the winter crops. The other half took a trip out to the new block with me this weekend just gone.

I measured out two rows 40 metres long, and dug myself 30 holes in total, on 2 metre spacings. We've decided on the espaliered high security orchard up near the house, as this will be easiest to maintain and protect over the next year or two. In the plan I'm allocating enough room for 5 such rows in total, giving space for 75 plants, though I'm only going to tackle two this season, or maybe three.

Espalier orchard is the long lines to the top right.

We'll get 15 trees from Woodbridge, enough for one row, and stock the other with grapes, unless I get really keen and put in an extra row further down the hill, and get enough extra work to afford more trees from Tassie. The holes are now filled with the black gold, and I've got my fingers crossed hoping the rabbits and hares don't dig it all out making themselves new burrows whilst we're not there.

I've yet to decide on the best way of fencing them in and protecting them from said rabbits and hares, it's either a small fenced area to keep the goats out, with individual guards round each tree to protect from the vermin, or aiming for a truly high-security rabbit and hare proof fence around the whole lot. I'm doubtful about the reliability of a fence around the lot, and it would be quite a bit of work, so I think we'll end up guarding each plant.

Site of the new espaliered orchard.

I'll need to go and get another load of manure, and should be able to put in a heap of random trees in the forest area with that bounty. In addition to the high security espalier I'm thinking a food forest style arrangement may work well further down the hill, with trees on their own roots rather than dwarfing stock.

If we want to plant even half of the stuff we've got here in pots I've got a lot of planning to do between now and winter (and a lot of digging!) Where am I going to put the woodlot? What about all the odd fruit trees, such as figs, pomegranates and citrus? Where do I want the stone pines and carobs to go? Besides having to pick a nice spot for these things, I need to make sure it doesn't interfere with future plans such as the olive grove and stock routes.

Still no DA for the shed, I called them on Friday and they tell me it's with the engineers for a checkover, and should be out to me before too long. My fingers are firmly crossed.

We desperately need some rain across the region, but I'm thankful we're not suffering as our southern friends are. I've attended only one firecall so far this summer (touch wood), and I don't think there's been too many more than that. They really need to start working on that old inland sea idea :-P


Bron said...

It's great that you're thinking about the big picture out at the new block...with a blank canvas, I've always found it hard to work out what should go where and more often than not I do nothing becuase it overwhelms me! It's a great idea to get started by planting the orchard.

Geoff said...

I'm usually exactly the same when staring at a blank canvas! Here it was easy to make most decisions as we worked around what already existed, but out there, there's nothing. I've found thinking in permaculture zones has helped, but the main advantage has been the terrain which has dictated many things.

The hilly nature of the block has helped a lot with deciding, there was really only one sensible spot to stick the shed area, and the orchard spot was the best with respect to aspect, openness and soil, as well as relationship to the household zone. As more and more things get put into their spots there's less possibilities for the remaining things!

One of our biggest concerns about leaving this place behind was going for up to three years without fruit, so the orchard was pushed up on the to-do list to eliminate that. It's risky because we wont be there full time to look after it, but it may have the advantage of getting us over there more often in our attempt to keep it alive. The more often we're there, the more we'll get done (hopefully!)