9 July 2007

Growing organic fruit

One of my current projects in the garden is to cultivate more fruit. I would love to be able to have days when I eat all raw food, preferably my own home grown organic fruit. If all of our fruit plants produced as well as our lemon tree, I'd be one very satisfied woman.

When we moved here ten years ago, we planted a few fruit trees but we didn't look after them; they didn't die but never really produced much. A couple of years ago I started fertilising with blood and bone and potash, giving each plant the required amount of water and everything turned around, we started getting healthy looking fruit trees. This year we allowed the flowers that developed on the trees, shrubs and vines to produce a few fruit and this is the result from one of the Washington Navel orange trees. I picked this orange yesterday afternoon and ate it last night, it was delicious and juicy and everything a good orange should be. And true to the saying: you can't judge a book by its cover, the skin didn't look too appetising as it was a bit mottled and had blotches on it. It didn't look like the perfect orange, but it was! Long ago I stopped judging books by their covers, and I like getting reminders along the way that reinforce that clever strategy.

The Washington Navel tree is on the eastern side of our vegetable garden, so it doesn't shade the vegetables. In that same vegie garden we are also growing some rhubarb, a peach tree and a nectarine tree. I pruned those trees a couple of weeks ago as I want them to remain small enough for me to net them. Last year we grew about 200 perfect peaches and nectarines, and then fruit fly found our garden and we ended up eating five. The chooks got the rest. This year, more care and vigilance, and fruit fly baits, will hopefully reward our efforts.

Just outside the fenced garden we've planted four blueberries. They've been producing in small quantities ever since. Hopefully when spring comes they'll bush out a lot and grow lots of berries.

Our main fruit growing area is on the other side of the garden. There we're growing new sultana grapes, lady finger and dwarf cavendish bananas, a pink grapefruit, a mandarin, passionfruit, raspberries, loquats and another navel orange. In the past they've always suffered from lack of water so we installed a water tank near them last November and they're now getting enough water to thrive. I'm also growing vanilla orchids in the bush-house and avocados in the front garden.

Last year's bananas.

We're still a long way from being self sufficient in fruit, but that is our goal. Like many other things in this simple life, it's small steps all the way. We've put in the hard yards during the year so I'm hoping that like the orange, our other fruit plants will produce abundant harvests for us in Spring.
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