The Orange region has a lovely climate; very warm summers with low humidity and cool nights, cold winters with relatively few really cold days and most importantly, good rain, unlike much of the rest of Australia. A great climate to produce fine wines and grow fruit and vegetables (One of our neighbours established the first vineyard in the district in 1983). Unless of course if you live on a sheep station on top of a mountain (it’s a high hill
really - 750m above sea level – but it feels like a mountain) where strong winds from every direction batter your newly planted trees, flower beds and
horror of horrors, your lovely, organic vegetable garden. Hot westerly’s and
north westerly’s can singe even the most robust of plants in the summer and the easterly’s (which can go on night and day for 7 days any time of the year) flatten everything in their path and virtually blow the roof off your house. Ah well, the views are absolutly beautiful…..
We allowed ourselves to be seduced by the views, knowing this would be a challenging place to establish the vegetable garden I’ve been thinking about for a few years now. The whole venture has been a challenge really. We bought the 8 acre bare parcel of land, a small part of a former sheep station called "Windera" about 280K west of Sydney and 10K north of the city of Orange, in late 2005. Bare only in that it didn’t have a single tree on the whole block, it was in fact covered with lush pasture grasses. Grasses that can grow to about 6 ft tall (and did), there are weeds like gigantic blackberry bushes (that are home for snakes and other nasties and are almost impossible to eradicate) and lots and lots of rocks both small and large. My husband reckons some of the big ones go from here right through to China! They make slashing the long grass impossible and so we had to cut much of it by hand (using a brush cutter) until we were able to remove as many of the rocks as we could and then use the ride on mower to control the grass that can grow while you watch it during the spring and summer months!
We fenced off the lower 5 acres and placed there some living lawnmowers and fertiliser producers (cattle), and through much dedication and a little hard labour we finally managed to get a small one bed-room Cottage built on the top block in February 2008. We had about 300 native trees and 20 fruit trees planted the year before and the cottage will serve as a base, a week or so on, 10 days or so off (we are still living and working in Sydney) from where we can plant more trees, plan and create the gardens, and supervise the building of the main house. We christen the place ‘Mount Sugarloaf’ and look forward to the next few years dodging the brown snakes, knee deep in compost and manure. The trials and tribulations, and there were many, can be found by clicking the links below.
Getting started is often the hardest step and it proves to be the case - about Heirloom Seeds and a Mustard Pickles recipe to have with your Christmas Ham. MORE>>>
- The local residents have trampled many of our fruit trees and the hares have had a go at eating the remainder and the raised beds still haven’t arrived and a Prosciutto and Rocket Pizza recipe. MORE>>>
Lots of rocks but no fencer, will we sow this time? Quick and easy Chicken and Leek ‘Pie’. MORE>>>
Fly veil for protection against the swarms of flies, gum boots for (some) protection from the brown snakes, if my friends could see me now - Pasta with a White Wine and Cream Sauce and Marinated Prawns. MORE>>>