Some More Structures

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Following on from the completed compost bays, I thought I would share some of our other handiwork in the garden.  Unlike the compost bays, we needed to purchase the materials for our latest endeavours.

Growing food crops invariably invites other critters who also deem it to be food.  While I am reasonably happy to share, I am not keen on seeing the entire crop destroyed.

This year has seen the inclusion of an additional pest in our garden – the citrus fruit piercing moth.  From what I have read it would appear that this is as a direct result of the extended period of drought last year followed by good rain.

We have an orchard of numerous citrus trees which generally produce a bumper crop each year but 2020 is not shaping up so well.  We have lost the entire crop of Washington navel oranges as well as the majority of the grapefruit.  These are the earliest maturing of the citrus and we are less able to assess the losses on the two Valencia orange trees as well as the two mandarins.  Fortunately, the lemon and lime trees do not appear to have been attacked much at all.

In normal seasons the only real pest to the citrus trees seems to be the scrub turkeys helping themselves.  They particularly like the mandarins.

I had previously read about using poly pipe and star pickets to create a frame for netting to cover fruit trees, however, we had never implemented this method.  A few years ago we had simply tried draping the netting directly over the tree but while it was relatively effective the netting ended up with rips in it.

The arrival of the citrus fruit piercing moth spurred me into action and we bought the supplies to create the poly pipe frame for the mandarin tree.  We chose to do this one first as it seemed to have very little damage so far which is probably due to the fruit still being quite green.  Everything I have read plus my own observation indicates that the moth attacks ripening fruit.

We used an unused net which we had over the new poly pipe frame.

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The net barely reaches the ground and I am not sure how diligent the moths are when it comes to finding their way in.  I plan to extend the length a little by adding an extra piece of netting to the bottom edge.  This will be salvaged from the previously damaged net.

The next job is to monitor the tree by torchlight at night to check for any moths which are already inside the netting.

If the netting of the mandarin tree proves to be successful in eliminating the moth as well as the scrub turkeys we will consider doing at least some of the other citrus trees.

While we were buying the supplies we made sure we also bought enough to create poly pipe tunnels over at least a couple of the garden beds.  The critter I had in my sights this time was the white cabbage moth.  Unlike the citrus fruit piercing moth, there are many and varied home-remedies to deter these pests.  However, the best prevention is to eliminate them from the brassica garden entirely.

I am determined to grow a successful crop of cauliflower this year so I  used more of the poly pipe to create hoops over the bed.

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Using some of the damaged fruit tree netting I set about making a cover.

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I included shaped ends so that it fits neatly over the hoops.

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There are a few holes which need to be patched but I am confident that this will make a difference.

I regard the money spent on supplies to create these exclusion zones as a worthwhile investment as there are a few hundred dollars worth of produce at stake – and that is just in one season.

 

Seasonal Produce

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There are many good reasons to eat what is in season where possible.  Food miles are reduced if you eat local seasonal produce.  It is more likely to have been picked ripe and have better flavour.  An abundance of a particular crop will invariably see the best prices for the consumer.

Most of all though, if you only eat items that are in season you will appreciate the wait for those crops which only bear at a particular time of the year.  Like the first sweet bite of a new season mandarin.  In our climate we pick fruit from our mandarin tree during June and July which are our winter months.

Once the fruit are ripening I have to cover the tree to protect the fruit from the local scrub turkeys.

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You can also see one of the orange trees next to the netted mandarin.

This afternoon I removed the netting and picked the last of the fruit.

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We have picked a lot of mandarins over the past month or so but these are the last 30 of them.

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We will savour these fruit as we know it will be another 10 months before the next crop is ripe.  In the meantime, there will be plenty more seasonal delights as the months roll by.  Imagine if I could eat these all the year round.  They would no longer be anticipated longingly and the delight of that first burst of delicious flavour would soon become ho-hum.

We are fortunate because we live in a temperate climate so many crops can successfully be grown during most months of the year.  However, seasonality still exists for the citrus trees, raspberries, mangoes, passionfruit and avocadoes.

What is in season at your place?

This was our glorious winter day here today.  No, it has not been photoshopped – the sky really is that blue.

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Garden Progress

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After our visit to the Garden Expo on Saturday, we spent Sunday afternoon out in the garden.

Our first project was to remove the old bird netting from the peach tree and to prune it.  This is what it looked like before we started.

Peach tree
This is one of the nets which we bought at the Expo.

Fruit tree net
The nets will protect fruit trees or garden beds from birds and pests, including fruit fly.  I had been looking at them online but when I saw them at the Expo I decided to go ahead and buy 2 of them.  Here is the website.  We bought the 2m ones.

It is recommended that you do not put the netting on until after the fruit has set otherwise it impedes pollination.  Since it is likely that the time to install the netting will be while we are away, we decided to have a trial run after pruning the tree.

New netting
While this would be sufficient to keep the birds away, you need to gather the fabric up and secure it around the base of the trunk to be sure of eliminating any fruit fly infestation.  We will ask the housesitters to put the netting on at the relevant time and hopefully look forward to a crop of unblemished peaches.

We also pruned the fig tree, grapefruit tree and one of the lemon trees.

Next weekend I will be planting as I have ordered some rhubarb crowns and asparagus.  I had a phone call today to say that they are ready so I will pick them up on Thursday.

Don’t Forget the Peaches

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Most of the sewing I have been doing recently has been clothes for various members of the family but I have been doing other things as well.This bundle of fabric has been in my sewing room for a couple of years since I bought it at the op shop with the vague idea of using it to exclude fruit fly from the stone fruit.  We have since removed the peach and 2 nectarine trees that we planted because, although they produced heaps of wonderful fruit the fruit fly infestation was just too awful to contemplate.

However, we did keep the dwarf peach as it seemed less vulnerable to attack by the fruit fly and also it would be easier to manage some sort of exclusion since it is a relatively compact tree.

I had hoped to use this fine mesh curtaining to cover the whole tree but that was not an option so I have been making bags to cover at least some of the fruit.

I sewed the bags and then threaded kitchen string through the mesh using a large, curved needle to make a drawstring.

The finished bag ready to be used.

Here is the peach tree and the photo below shows a close-up of some of the fruit.  I hope I am not not late in covering the fruit.  I do know that I will have all my resources prepared and ready for next spring.

Here are some of the bags in place protecting the fruit.  I am looking forward to a harvest of unblemished fruit.

I have about 12 bags on the tree so far and about another 20 to finish making.  Some will be a sleeve with drawstring openings at each end so that I can slide them over the branch where there are a lot of fruit along the length of the branch.

We are very lucky in our garden as we generally do not have extremes of temperature, frosts or long periods without rain.  Too much rain and fruit fly are our only real challenges.  What pests and hazards do you have to cope with in your garden?