Planting Our Orchard

Posted by Nick  | 01 Oct 2015  | 0 comments

An orchard is one of those endeavours whose rewards take time. A long-term investment, if you will. That’s why we decided to make a start on one fairly soon after moving. Apart from planting up more native shelter belt and specimen trees, creating an orchard has been our main goal over this cold season.

First of all, here’s a flashback to when we planted a shelter belt for the orchard – you can see standards erected where we intended to plant our fruit trees:

We ordered a variety of trees from an online nursery which had a broad and comprehensive selection. Some of the varieties were bare-rooted, and came packed in damp straw.

Bare-root trees should be replanted as soon as possible. So naturally, the day they arrived it was, of course, raining. Despite getting saturated ourselves, the wet weather was probably a good thing for the trees’ exposed roots.

We separated the varieties, putting the citrus aside for the moment – they could be planted another day, since they came potted. These included varieties of lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, and a couple of non-citrus like mulberry and pomegranate.

We initially focused on planting out the bare-rooted trees, which included varieties of apple, cherry, peach, apricot, and nectarine. (Yum!)

There were also a couple of potted plants of ours that we’d been carrying with us for years, knowing someday we’d plant them on “our farm”. Here’s our seven-year-old olive, poor thing:

I somehow fell into the role of digger, as usual.

I’d excavate and shape the holes while Char followed behind with a bucket of fertiliser and a boxful of weed mats, transplanting the awkward-shaped roots into their fertile new homes.

It was tough work in the rain and the dwindling light, but our excitement to finally see our orchard come to life pulled us through.

As we neared the end of the day and I had finished digging all the holes, I began erecting the stakes and guards to protect the trees from the sheep we’d eventually let in to graze. We barely finished by dusk. I remember hammering in those last few stakes with Char in near-darkness.

A couple of weekends later we had some friends over. As well as tagging sheep and lighting a bonfire, we had them help with planting out the citrus trees. Many hands do indeed make light work!

After we’d erected the guards around those, too, the orchard was finally starting to look like a real place.

Try to imagine five metre tall nectarine trees here, their canopy edges brushing one another in the wind, dropping succulent fruit… and being mauled by possums.

With the shelter belt planted at the south and the west, these fruit trees should have adequate protection when they grow up a bit.

The final aspect of our orchard this year is to build a post-and-rail fence bordering the shelter belt, to allow sheep to freely graze around the fruit trees. This project has already started, and it’s going faster than expected, so stay tuned!

Now that spring is here, the signs of a successful planting are becoming apparent.

It seems the cherries and nectarines bloom first, and we’ve also noticed that the guards act as miniature greenhouses, encouraging early growth at the lower parts of the tree where it’s insulated from the cold.

Char’s like a giddy little school girl when she sees the blossums and leaves unfurling from their buds. Okay, I won’t hide it, I’m like a giddy little school girl too.

Bring on the noms!

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