A recent bout of the flu slowed down the plans for planting more productive trees and herbs, as well as the cooler weather and the likelihood of losing plants to frost.
However, over the last month a lemon tree has been planted where the “wild area” meets the paddock and seems to be surviving quite happily.I keep meaning to take up some citrus feed for it….and to start looking around for some other citrus varieties such as oranges, mandarin and grapefruit to plant nearby as well.
A passionfruit vine has been planted along the fence that marks the paddock boundary and I discovered that getting organic certification for the property will not be possible – even though most permaculture sites have articles about safely composting everything – including properly composted humanure – and no pesticides or chemically based fertilizers will be used. Its new leaves and tendrils have been a little tinged by the frost, but otherwise seems to be liking where it is.
The plan is to have mini orchards or small groves of productive plants scattered around the property, modelling permaculture principles. For instance, the pomegranates will go on a slope below the labyrinth where the Biddy Bush has been cleared and to the south, on the rockier slope near the wild area, is a site more suitable for a small stand of olives. Both are relatively hardy species and should do well.
Had the government kept the Carbon Tax, I could have planted an area of non fruiting trees for carbon credits, which would have been an appropriate thing to do as we are spending a lot of time travelling back and forth from the city to the retreat. Not to worry, I shall proceed anyway….it’s all in the planning of where the best locations are for various species.
Already the damp winter has taken its toll on the Pinwheel Hakeas – they were originally found in Western Australia – a couple have “turned up their toes” and fallen over. I’ve harvested a few seed pods and they reside for the time being in a paper bag on the dash of the car, where the heater warms them up. Once open, the bag will be held over an open, smoky fire to encourage them to germinate.
An almond tree and the pomegranate trees live in pots back in suburbia for the time being and will travel up to the retreat in the next couple of weeks to acclimatize before planting out. I’m thinking that the almond tree will replace one of the fallen Hakea trees (which means I will have to get a couple more- maybe 3 – for pollination) along the driveway. That will certainly add some colour and if the almonds set, I’m sure that the Cockatoos will be pleased.
At present there are a couple of varieties of wattles in glorious yellow. One of these is a Flinders Ranges Wattle according to a weathered nursery tag at its base. I will have to watch this one and quite possibly won’t be propagating any more from seed- if it sets any. It’s not listed as a weed in Victoria to my knowledge, but is in Western Australia. Over on the north eastern edge of the property is another small stand of wattles, which I think are bent leaf wattles. Around the cottage and the labyrinth are Mallee Wattles, whilst the wild area has some scattered specimens of Spreading Wattle – which is white and quite prickly and has been happily flowering since mid May.
To further attract the bees and to add more riotous colour to the driveway, I would like to put in some Jacaranda trees. They seem to grow quite happily in nearby Tatura and Shepparton, but I need to investigate further to see if they are likely to end up as a weed. Because the retreat is close to the State Forest, I’m happy to include other species of deciduous trees and shrubs if they are productive and contribute to self sufficiency.
The labyrinth sage still seems to be quite happy and the kangaroos still have enough feed to ignore it. A couple more weeks to go before I start to grow more from seed to plant out in springtime. A Rosemary cutting has been planted near the fire pit – nice and close to reach for if there is roast lamb cooking in the camp oven! The mallee wood burns well, but it was a little too chilly this weekend to stand outside in the evening to enjoy the fire! Very grateful that it wasn’t raining as well.
With the low temperatures this weekend, there is serious investigation into purchasing a wood heater for the cottage. The small electric heater that is installed is not very efficient at coping with O’ C and below and extremely power hungry. The challenge now is to find one that is the right size for the current cottage and will also be efficient in heating any planned extension. With plenty of fallen wood on the roadside verge and around the property, this seems to be the most cost effective heating option.