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


  1. What a beautiful place you have. Roos are such characters, I love seeing them around when we stay in the country on our forays from Melbourne. Hope you get to sort out your water issues, so frustrating!

    1. Thank you Michelle, we love it here. And we love the roos, despite the fact that they love to eat our plants :-)
      Looking into magnetic water purifying units as an option, watch this space!