Monday, 30 November 2015

Chemical Woes

Over the past few weeks we've both been up to our eyeballs in reading technical agricultural documents about bore water and potential problems with it.  We know our bore water has a degree of salinity, but not a lot, but what we don't know yet it what those salts are comprised of.  Apparently the salinity of ground water is comprised of a number of salt compounds, such as sodium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride to name a few, and if one of those in particular has a higher ratio than expected of the total salinity reading, then it can cause problems with some plants.  Our total salinity level shouldn't really affect all but the most sensitive plants, particularly if we make sure we don't wet the leaves.  On the whole most plants here are okay for now, but there are problems showing up here and there.
The orchard, which is made up of 25 mixed fruit trees is on the whole, happy.  Except for two trees, the O'Henry peach and the Flavortop nectarine.  Look at the sad, sorry O'Henry peach tree above, it looks dreadful.  It's almost limp, like it's had no water, and the edges of the older leaves go brown and dry, then the leaves fall off.  I think the tree has lost half its leaves.  Oddly the fruit doesn't look too bad, although some of it is dropping.
The Flavortop nectarine looks much the same.  I've worked out the one thing in common with these two trees is that they are on dwarf rootstock, whereas our other trees are not.  After exploding my brains reading masses of chemical articles, the symptoms seem to fit a sodium toxicity, but there are a number of other mineral issues that it could be.  We are going to get our water tested by a laboratory which will give us more detailed clues.  For now we are going to alternate rainwater and borewater watering to hopefully lessen the problem.  It's all a bit of a worry, and a bit disheartening.
 What is odd is that we have another peach and nectarine tree in the orchard, and they are absolutely fine.  Below is the Angel peach, which initially had a problem with leaf curl, but that all fixed now and the tree is growing well, the leaves looking healthy and green.
This is the Goldmine nectarine, that is growing right next to the sick Flavortop nectarine, no problem with the growth of this tree either, and the foliage looks great. 
 This is the almond tree, which is also growing well with no leaf issues.  Almond trees are apparently known to be sensitive to salinity, so the fact that this tree gets the same water, go figure?  As I said, my brain feels like it's going to explode with all the possibilities of what the problem is!  We will know more once the analysis comes back, then we can work on the water management problem and how to lessen any bad effects.
The apples trees are all quite happy, no problems there at all, I enjoy seeing the growth of these pretty Sundowner apples.
 Moving on, we spent this morning cleaning up our harvested garlic for storage and use during the year.  I love the colour of the skins.
 We've had a bit of an issue with sogginess,  we watered a bit too much towards the end of the growing season..... you are not meant to water garlic during its last few weeks of growth to enable it to start to dry off, but as ours was growing in with spinach that needed watering, the garlic got a bit too much water.  We've peeled a lot of the outer layers off, to let the cloves get as much air as possible, and pulled off any that have started to rot.  Below you can see a clove at the front that has changed to a browny colour and it's squishy and starting to pong. 
 The globes that look dried out well enough we have left whole, but any that were looking dodgy we broke apart, chucking out any bits that were soft, and the remaining cloves we peeled and we'll freeze them.  I never knew you could freeze garlic cloves, but our friend Laurie assures us that you can.  It's all a learning curve! :-)
 What I love this time of year is seeing all the huge rolls of hay lying in the paddocks.  One minute there are vast paddocks of green grass, next day it is all cut and lying on the ground.  Slowly it turns golden and the farmers cross their fingers for no rain.  Then after a week or so the big machinery lumbers in and gathers up all the loose hay into these big rolls.  It looks so pretty.  Not a very good photo but I stuck the camera out the car window and crossed my fingers :-)
The grass is quite happy with our bore water and we are determined to keep a lot of our grass green around the house every summer.  We figure it is good for fire safety, it looks nice and it gives the roos something to eat.  They rather enjoy lazing on the damp, warm grass as you can see.
 There are a lot of bulging pouches around at the moment, and a few of the joeys are making their first brief forays out in the big world.  Lovely to see.
 The magpies still turn up regularly for their afternoon tea of a few rolled oats.  They yell out to me if I make them wait too long.
 I was thrilled with this sight the other morning.  People in Perth will think nothing of seeing a New Holland honeyeater as there are scads of them in Perth, we used to have lots in our garden.  But I've never had one in my Albany garden until now, and I'm very excited to see one.  We had very few nectar birds here when we first moved, so I made a determined effort to plant lots of nectar plants to encourage them.   So it is very satisfying to see some, the Western spinebills have been visiting for a couple of years now, and now hopefully the New Hollands will become regulars.
We had an enjoyable weekend with our friends Angie and Andy who came down to stay.  Here they are up at the National Anzac Centre with that magnificent view behind them.  It was great to see you both xx

Friday, 13 November 2015

Upside Down Pears

Well, I was slack last week (reading binge :-) Phillipa Gregory books ) and didn't blog, consequently I have a gazillion photos for you today! 
 It's that time of year, everything is growing and growing and growing, weeds included!  The fruit trees are netted to keep out the parrots.  We didn't bother netting the almond in the bottom left, we were too late, the little green feathered bastard got in there and left us with one, ONE almond!  And here is it, lonely larry almond.... ha ha, we shall call it Larry :-)
The citrus thankfully don't need netting.  They are growing really well now, with loads of small fruit developing.  We have so many limes we don't know what to do with them all! :-)
 Look at this!  These are teeny tiny Williams pears, aren't they cute, little upside down pears.  I never stopped to think that they grow upside down until their weight turns them downwards.  Apples grow the same but the pears are way cuter. 
 These are Sundowner apples.  We are growing five apple varieties, to give us apples over a longer time period, but they've gone bonkers this year with the weird weather, the Sundowner is supposed to be the latest fruiter, but no-one told this tree, this tree is going to be the first fruiter this season!
These are Angel peaches, the flat shaped ones with white flesh.  We had trouble with a bad dose of leaf curl on the tree this season (my fault for not spraying with copper before the leaves started growing) so there's not a huge amount of fruit, maybe a dozen or so.  But we will enjoy them, we got six last year and we still remember how delicious they were.
 I love the new foliage on apricot trees, so so pretty.  This tree has gone beserk with growth, only two apricots but lots of leaf and branch growth.  Next year we shall glut on apricots, I am confident.  :-)
  The Italian Sugar Plum has also gone crazy with tree growth, but it forgot to do its magic with fruit, there is one, just one.  But I look at it regularly, I am very fond of it, looking forward to tasting it.  Perhaps I should name this too?
Nectarines, these are the white fleshed one, called Gold something, Goldmine maybe.  Dumb name for a white fleshed nectarine methinks.  There are about thirty of these on the tree, I am guessing they will be ready in a few weeks.  The other nectarine is a yellow fleshed variety - Flavortop, that has more fruit on it.  Can't wait to start eating our own fruit! 
Michelle, look!  Feijoa flowers!  Hopefully we will get some fruit this year.
 Six months ago Steve planted then lovingly tended 100 garlic plants. Yesterday was harvest day.  It's always a bit tricky working out when to pull them, but a good indication is when the foliage starts browning off at the tops.
 Steve got the spade under each one and I pulled, they had an impressive root system.
 Look at the size of this monster!  It's done so much better this year, last year's garlic was puny, and not just ours, it seemed to be common all around Albany.
 100 healthy garlic globes drying on the racks, very satisfying.  We'll let them dry out for a few days then trim the roots and tidy them up.
Albany and Denmark do an annual Open Garden thingy, to raise money for the Albany Community Hospice.  This started up after the official state Open Garden program turned up its toes.  There are about 12 gardens open over a few weekends.  We decided to choof along and see a couple. 
 Wow, amazing!  We wandered around magnificent lawns meandering through lush garden beds.  This garden had a stunning big pond at the bottom, with a huge weeping willow overhanging it.  We already have a big hole dug ready for a pond, it has sat idle for about 18 months while we tackled higher priority things, but seeing this pond has got us thinking that we must get moving with ours.  
The garden below was like a pristine park, it was predominantly roses which are not really our thing, but we admired the fabulous way the beds were set out and the immaculate lawns.
 I am on a mission to find out what the lovely little plant is, it was in one of the open gardens.  It stands about waist high and looks a bit like an abelia, but not quite.  If anyone knows what it is, please can you tell me!  Meanwhile I shall toodle through Google and hopefully find it.  My garden needs one of these!
 I've been busy in the back garden this week.  I want to widen the second tier of garden beds, so I cut a meandering edge around the grass, then started digging.  I've replanted the grass runners in a bald area, now to think about what plants to put into the spaces.  I like having spaces, gives me food for thought for what might like to grow there. :-)
We've only got half a dozen strawberry plants this year, in my back garden beds.  It's a fight to get a strawberry actually, usually I find the strawberry has a little hole in the underside, and inside is a fat, well fed slug!  I've put them in an area that is too overgrown and the slugs know it!  Next year I shall move them, meanwhile I am sort of hitching the strawberries up and over the leaves of the plants, getting the berries up off the ground seems to fool the slugs.
 Mum, this photo is for you.  Remember when I took a few cuttings of your lovely begonia with the apricot flowers?  Well, they sat stubbornly in pots for a couple of months, died right back and I thought they had carked it.  But no, look what is emerging, it looks like they will survive, hooray!
 Isn't this a beautiful flower, it's a Buddleia, or Butterfly Bush.  This is the first flower out, with masses of buds so there will be many.  Then I hope to see them dripping with butterflies.
 The warm weather brings out the bugs in force.  The giant hornets are zooming around now, in their hunt for spiders.  This one caught herself a big fat spider, stung it to paralyse it, then dragged it away to her underground lair to lay an egg on it.  Gruesome.
 It's nice to see some kookaburras around, they have been rather scarce this year.
 The hens are going well, and have feathered up nicely.  This week we have had five eggs every single day!  They are very happy girls.  
Sadly we lost Bridget, one of the old girls.  She was poorly for a couple of days and I was sitting in their yard, nursing her in a towel when she did a couple of gasps, a bit of a quiver and then died in my arms!  I cried a little bit, she was a lovely hen, quiet and friendly.  I think Angie, the last remaining original, misses her.
Speaking of eggs, we are always thinking of ways to use them.  Steve's signature dish is a cheesy omelette.  OMG, the way he makes them, they are sooooo delicious.  He cooks the omelette until it is not quite set on top, then adds some grated mozarella, and in this case, chopped spinach too, then folds it up and plates it.  The mozarella gets all oozy and glorious, yum!
My clever husband has been busy on his Book Box.  Isn't it lovely, the grain in the she-oak is just gorgeous.  Now it looks like a book with a lock on it to keep it closed, yes?
Da-dum, it actually opens the other way round, with the lock actually being a hinge.  Good job my dear.
I will finish with these photos that Michelle took, of me and Neo.  I love this one, Neo looks utterly content, having a cuddle.
There is a time limit on cuddles however, then you get bashed in the nose.
He's a beautiful boy.