Preparing for Apples

Gypsum to turn in
Sand on top
Elizabeth ClayThe final dig in
Mulch at the ready

This weekend I've been getting ready for apples, and maybe, pears. Both these fruits metabolise without a big sugar spike, according to my doctor. They are also lower in sugar than tropical fruits.

I've had a spot chosen for some months where I've been assiduously destroying any hint of couch and also spot spraying the sour sobs. We will put in several trees together, as apples don't self-pollinate, and need another variety which flowers at the same time. From what I can find, Ballerina, Jonathon, Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Fuji would be a great mix.

Apple trees can become quite large, so I will be looking for dwarf varieties when Bijil and I head out to Virginia Nursery tomorrow. Size is not a problem for the area of our garden, but too much height makes netting the trees much harder.

Our peaches and apricots are in the area of 3 metres high, which makes netting them really difficult. Even if I cannot buy dwarf varieties, planting them close together will slow down the growth. I am told that this makes pruning easier than trying to maintain the balance on a multi graft tree.

Step One has been to remove a barrow load of Elizabeth clay from a 1.25 metre circle. This has gone straight into the the current compost bin. I then tipped a dozen large handfuls of gypsum over the area and forked it in.

Step Two: One the way back from the compost I collected a barrow load of sand left over from Bijil's house plaster and spread it across the new tree space. This was forked in as well. The sand and the gypsum together should lighten up the clay.

When we first moved in, the old dog was suddenly limping around during the first winter as though he had some kind of rapid onset arthritis. He had picked up clay just like it was sticking to our boots, and it had set in between his pads and was crippling him.  We had to soak his feet in warm water and massage the stuff out. He didn't mind the massage  part of the process at all, especially as he was able to sit in front of the heater!

Step Three involved a trip back to the mature compost and the transport of a barrow load onto the tree space.  After another forking in we are ready for the trees and the subsurface irrigation.

I then pulled the electric hedge clippers we inherited from Wendy's dad out of the shed, and trimmed back the Rosemary bushes which have been taking over the intended apple space, and a pelargonium which has been overgrowing one of the garden paths.

The good thing about a very relaxed pruning regime is that I am never short of material for mulch.  I will cardboard over the pipe and around the trees once they are in, and then cover the cardboard with rosemary and pelargonium cuttings. I'll need to watch the pelargonium; that stuff will send out roots after two weeks on concrete!

Soursobs are a pest in this part of the garden as the photo shows. I have been trying to spray around the rosemary, and in underneath to get some control. Where the rosemary has been well advanced it seems not to have bothered it too much. Where it was a bit less robust, it seems to have taken a hit from the glyphosate. 

Weekend of August 24, posted October 22 2013