I have fond memories of growing up on a dairy farm in Loxton North, South Australia. Dad and Mum were share farmers and took a third of the profit from the dairy and the owner took two thirds. We lived on the farm for about 12 years.
There was a large fruit orchard next to the farm house and as kids we used to play there all the time. My brother Jim and I would climb the massive apricot tree and scoff down so many apricots that we would burst. We would try and pick oranges (Navel and Valencia) without getting pricked by the thorns. Of course there was a lemon tree, apple tree, quince tree, huge fig tree, pears, nectarine, peach and I think an almond tree. All trees were irrigated and it seamed that we were never without fruit. We even made the mistake of trying to eat a quince raw. Yuck, so horrible.
I think Dad pruned them each year and sprayed cow manure sludge from the dairy a couple of times a year. Mum used to preserve peaches, apricots, nectarines and pears with her fowlers-vacola kit each summer. We would have these fruits as desert with fresh cream from the farm every couple of days. I don’t think we ever bought fruit from the shop the entire time we lived on the dairy. Back in those days there were no such thing as getting fresh fruit out of season from interstate or overseas.
The sad thing is that the dairy farm is no longer due to climate change. As the Murray Rivers flow has slowed, there is not enough water to go around for all of the irrigators. Their water allocation gets cut smaller and smaller each year. As we were in such a dry area, the only solution to keep up production was to irrigate. The dairy supplied some of the Riverland’s milk each day (we had about 120 head of dairy cows), and our farm was surrounded by Orange groves and vineyards. The dairy is now just a dust bowl, and the oranges and grapes are all drip irrigated instead of open channel irrigation as in the past. Far more economical for them, but you just can’t drip irrigate pasture for cows!
Anyway, this brings me to the point of my post. I already have the following fruit trees growing on my suburban farm;
- Blood Plums
- Dwarf Jonathan Apple
- Dwarf ‘ANZAC’ Peach
- Tahitian Lime
Not content with that lot, Kim and I decided in late February to get 10 more fruit trees and create fruit orchard in the front yard. As my attempts to grow vegetables in the front have failed dismally due to the lack of rain and being able water with mains, we decided to put in drip irrigation to help them survive. It will be much easier than watering garden beds once a day. So here is what I bought from the Diggers Club and they arrived in the mail today in a huge box. The post lady struggled to get it through the gate!
- Dwarf Apples 'Cox's Orange Pippin',
- Dwarf Apple 'Granny Smith',
- Cocktail Pear 'San Giovanni',
- Cocktail Pear 'Lemon Bergamot',
- Cherry 'Stella',
- Nectarine 'Goldmine',
- Peach 'Anzac',
- Apricot 'Moorpark',
- Plum 'Santa Rosa', and
- Plum 'Satsuma'
I will post some pictures tomorrow, as it was getting dark when they arrived. This lot set me back $210 which I personally think is a bargain. I will recoup it easily in the second season. Only nine of the plants came today, with the ANZAC Peach being sent in November. Apparently the heat wave we had in summer damaged a lot of their fruit stock.
So, over the next few days I will be preparing the holes for each of these trees in the front yard. I have to pull a few dead shrubs out that popped their clogs over summer and dig heaps of cow and chook manure into the beds. It will take me a while, and I will only be able to do it while Kim is sleeping in the afternoons, but I will get there. Maybe my strapping son Adam will volunteer to help me out on the weekend!
With lots of TLC and a good irrigation system, they will get through the first summer and fruit in the second. All of my childhood memories will become reality for my kids. What a great legacy to pass on and we should be self sufficient in fruit for our family. We might even be able to sell some of the fruit when all the kids leave home, or use it for barter. Either way, I am looking forward to getting them in the ground and giving these trees the best start I can.