We are firmly on the down hill run to spring and the final weeks of winter are imminent. Ordinarily this fills me with excitement and a large portion of my being is jumping with joy. The rest of me really wants to apply some kind of seasonal hand brake. There is still too much to be done. I have my lists and a loose sense of order but my thoughts lately are lingering on the orchard.
Winter is the best time to plant trees and if I want to get back to the point I was in the old garden I really need to get them in this season. I have been mulling over a long list of things I want. The length of the list surprised me, as it is pretty much what we had before. But a couple of trees here and there over ten winters can be almost imperceptible growth. This time I want to be more strategic. I want to plan the fruiting season so there is almost always something in harvest to minimise the glut. I want to select fruit because of their qualities, not based on availability at the garden centre closest to me and purchased on a whim while there for compost!
I still have time to carefully consider this, however there is a bit of a problem in the spot I want to plant them and so I need to address this sooner rather than later so when the time comes to planting things it will go smoothly. There are several large thickets of Boxthorn. Gosh I hate the stuff. You only need to stand on one of those thorns to know all about it. It hurts for a long time.
The early farmers thought it would be a good idea to bring these babies over from South Africa to make a good hedge to keep those colonial cows contained in fields. Unfortunately, the plant likes it here too much and has taken over, especially in coastal areas. I think we will have a long-term relationship with it to get rid of it, but the best way is to chop it back and then dig it out. That sounds like loads of fun.
The good people at Gardena couldn’t have better timing when they asked if I could give their Lopper StarCut a go. In years to come, it will be a pleasure to prune wayward fruit trees but for now it is this is the perfect tool for this job. I don’t mind a tedious, mind numbing chore in the garden. Weeding really doesn’t bother me, so, as long as I am well protected with thick gloves and a telescopic lopper then I think I am prepared to tackle the boxthorn in my soon to be orchard. If I keep in mind the taste of a crisp apple or the juiciness of a sun warmed peach, I should be able to get through it in no time at all. Then we will have a big bonfire and celebrate the efforts with toasted marshmallows and mulled wine.
Wish me luck… I’m going in.
Come again soon – hopefully I won’t look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards, bleeding from the cuts of a thousand thorns.
Sarah the Gardener : o)