Another season starts in a wobbley manner- 2013

After a particularly dry spring we are now having a very wet spell with some flooding last week.

our dam fills up overnight and is seen here over flowing. Fortunately the repairs carried out in the past have held up well.

our dam fills up overnight and is seen here over flowing. Fortunately the repairs carried out in the past have held up well.

The wet weather here last week is certainly a mixed blessing. Obviously you do need rainfall especially as the dam empties which happened last year. But once I get my

We were going to use new ground for tomatoes but it wasn't prepared in time. So made three rows with garlic in between.

We were going to use new ground for tomatoes but it wasn’t prepared in time. So made three rows with garlic in between.

irrigation going in many ways I can do a better job supplying water than coping with such heavy downfalls. The sandy soil we have here is so erodible particularly when ploughed.

But there is so much happening in spring and most things at that time of year depend on steady weather conditions. A major set back this year is the lack of pollination and hence poor fruit set due to trees blossoming in wet or cold conditions. These sort of circumstances keep the bees away.

Another thing is there will be so much grass to mow once I can get my tractor out on the paddocks once they dry off. And all our tomatoes were damaged with weeds taking over especially oxalis which must be the worse weed around. The leave look much like clover but it puts out millions of bulbs all of which sprout the following year. The more you try to move them the more they spread. And the worse thing is there is no herbicide other than maybe fumigation which will get rid of it. Just have to let it lie fallow I guess for a few years.

Wallabies seem more determined than ever to get into out paddocks and eat the things we don’t want eating. They don’t seem to eat the grasses but concentrate on the young trees which after continual denudation give up. Not so long ago I decided that my fences need another update as the wallabies were ignoring the electric and getting in. It was obvious that they were not jumping in but going through the fence as the trails went right up to both sides of the fence. So in the end I contacted the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE) and was fortunate to have discussions with Mr. Robbie Gaftney. I had envisaged Baiting as a last resort but he supplied many tips some of which I will explain to you now.

As I said they were getting through the net. Apparently they can open the wires up with their paws and use their tail to propel them through between pulses. He recommended that the hot wire system be replaced with wallaby wire. That is both an expensive and time consuming operation. What I have done seems to be working. The idea came to me when I was repairing the cherry netting which these same varmints had punched holes in. So I am now in the process of attaching birdnetting over the hot wires. The theory is that this will impede the roos pushing through the wires as they are still active behind the netting. As they are polyester they are not conductive and in dry weather the fence behave as normal.

here is a tree not destroyed by the wallabies

here is a tree not destroyed by the wallabies

the wallabies have stripped this tree bare

the wallabies have stripped this tree bare











We have had some great help come to us this year. Last week we had 5 helpers come to us via Helpx. The picture below shows Michel (Holland) and his girlfriend Ludi(France) who came for a week. Also shown is Mizuki from Japan. Mizuki is here for a while and seems to like most things on the farm and might I even say it is getting used to weeding.

Autumn Changes

looking down on our farm and shop from our berry patch. Scamander river is in the distance


Last week say the 5th May we picked the last of the apples. These were mainly ‘granny Smith’ and ‘sundowners’. But our main activity now is cleaning up the paddocks and getting things tidied away before winter overtakes us. We have had a good year but have been rather busy just keeping things ticking along that maintenance has gotten out of hand.
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Tomato Day and Fertiliser Spreading

Fertiliser was spread on all paddocks today.  We have a rotary spreader with an agitator built in . The blend used was that recommended by  Impact based on the  soil sample taken from one of the rows of the Eureka Paddock orchard. The same mix was spread over all paddocks at about 300-400kg/ha.  The blend used was adjusted as follows the trace element manganese sulphate was removed from the mixture, the zinc sulphate  and boron additions were doubled (38kg/t,76kg/t respectively).  I decided to do this as zinc has been consistently low and the boron form is slow release and therefore unlikely to cause any toxicity problems.

Today has also been a tomato planting day. We use the old strawberry rows which were mounded and covered in plastic to plant the tomatoes in. All the tomatoes were planted in the one area this year. This is the paddock we call the Greenhouse paddock.

Unfortunately this section  can get waterlogged particularly near the bottom of each row which is low lying. Lisa prepared the rows yesterday turning over the soil in the existing holes and adding compost.

spreading compost

Today we planted two rows of field tomatoes variety K2 and 11/2 rows of roma tomatoes. About 300 tomatoes I would guess. Keith Mason generously grew the seedlings for us from his own seeds. Both Keith and John Bushing used to supply us with tomatoes which we use mainly for cooking. But both gentleman have now retired so we thought the easiest situation would be to grow our own.

Last year we tried out the idea on old strawberries in the Hill Paddock. Unfortunately we didn’t give them much attention with the result that much of the fruit became diseased and the plants were not fed a great deal.


Good weather at last

We are getting things ready again.

Shop is going in a nice simple manner. Coffee and biscuits. Icecreams and jams and chutneys available again. Quite a few orders coming in for our jams not just through the internet but also via our retail outlets stocking up for the summer. We have resisted price increase so far as we know a lot of businesses are hurting but will have to increase prices soon at the wholesale level due to all the price increases we have had to absorb.

On the farm side of things the strawberries are starting to look good although we have had lots of difficulties with water coming down the hill due to the extraordinary amount of rain we have had  this year.  We have put in diversion trains now which is helping in the area where the strawberries are growing but is causing water logging in the area where this water ends up.

This has made trafficking very difficult and mowing impossible. Also we have had a soil analysis done which shows that the soil in this area in addition to being nutrient deficient is showing salinity.

We will improve the drainage in the wetter areas soon and correct some of the soil nutient problems also when it dries out.

But the strawberry rows have all been tidied up and side dressed with compost as well as some fertilisers added. Another major problem will be keeping the wildlife out. This morning we found 3 wallabies in the paddock in the middle of the day. They are either jumping the fence or their is a weak spot in the fence. The top of the fence is electric which usually is a sufficient deterrent.