Kembla Cherry Orchard Royalla: Seasonal maintenance starts from the ground up
Plant growth has slowed with the onset of winter, which is the perfect opportunity for gardeners to take stock, catch up, and carry out a range of maintenance tasks. Owner of Kembla Cherry Orchard in Royalla NSW, Martin Corby, focuses on soil health at his property during early winter, and also just before spring, to ensure his cherry trees produce a bumper crop the following season. In fact, Martin stresses that maintaining excellent plant nutrition and carrying out soil improvements at this time of year are critical to superior fruit quality and increased harvest potential.
Currently, Martin is in the process of applying a light covering of sawdust and animal manure (not chicken) in between tree rows before broadcast spraying a combination of: nitrogen rich products, trace elements, molasses, and kelp. These additions, along with the fallen leaves from the Cherry trees, are judiciously injected into the soil surface with a purpose-made aerator. The mix is geared towards feeding and encouraging soil life, as well as nourishing the nearby trees. Martin explained that kelp also reduces the impact of frost on crops and maintains active plant growth for longer periods than would otherwise be reached.
A green manure crop will then be sown to make the most of the revitalised soil life. Martin generally uses cereal rye, a hardy and vigorous crop that tolerates a range of conditions including cold temperatures. The crop will be chopped and dropped as a nutritious mulch just before spring. At this time, Martin will apply a second soil application of trace elements and soil microbe sustaining goodies.
Martin suggests a similar maintenance regime can be adopted in your own backyard, regardless of whether you are growing plants for your eyes or your stomach.
We also discussed a bunch of other interesting stuff, including: