Well, it’s been a ..I want to say year, but in fact closer to four years since I updated this.
In the meantime, we actually moved out and into town for 2 years because roadworks on the main road up here were making our commute to our on-premises, in-town day jobs miserable. Then there was Covid-19, and a few changes of job situation, and the roadworks finished (finally!), so we moved back in.
The farm is still going, in spite of 2 years of not living on the property, and slowly, slowly, our plans are coming together. Not helped by the kangaroos, which are a menace. The rest of the world thinks roos are cute? I’m sure anyone who lives in a country that doesn’t have deer ringbarking and/or eating the growing tips of their young fruit trees thinks deer are cute; spoiler alert: they aren’t, and neither are kangaroos.
Amongst those plans is a series of paddocks, with English-style hedgerows dividing them. Obviously the plant selection will not be what it would be in merry old England, given the climate here, but the overall idea is sound. Our hedgerows will have a spiny backbone of osage orange (Maclura pomifera) and Lombardy poplar (Populus negra ‘Italica’), with some citrus, and a shrub layer of bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.), scented geranium, and whatever else I can encourage to grow. I would, however, love to include some sloes.
Which is tricky, because there are no nurseries or garden centres (wholesale, retail or specialist) in WA who grow or sell sloes. There is one garden centre in Tasmania which has them for sale, but it doesn’t ship to WA because we have ridiculously draconian quarantine regulations.
(And they are ridiculous – the complexity of the multiple inspections required, at $60 or more per 15 minutes, means that most accredited nurseries and commercial growers simply refuse to even try to ship to us here, and the inspectiosn themselves are a joke, completed by undertrained quarantine staff who don’t know what they’re looking for other than the certificate. The legal hoops just to get vegetable seeds into the state require similar inspections, during which the inspectors check to see if the full botanical name is listed on the outside of the seed packet, and do no further checks. I tried to get an unusual lemon variety shipped here, and the retailer claimed that their inspected and certified packages had in the past been opened by WA quarantine for no reason and reinspected at a cost to the buyer of $300 or more; when I queried the reasons why that might happen with someone at quarantine, she was unable to explain it to me and implied that the registered and accredited nursery had not in fact done the required inspection & certification. So. It’s an annoyance.)
Sloes (Prunus spinosa), otherwise known as blackthorn trees, in my opinion, are one of the best of all possible stone fruit. They are the flavouring agent for sloe gin (which I adore), and they make some of the best jam I’ve ever eaten. Which I know, because – here’s the most ridiculous part – it is perfectly legal to import the fruit without an inspection or permit. Which I did.
I then laboriously de-seeded the fresh fruit to get the pits, and planted them. And made jam with the fruit, because after 2 full days of work seeding the things I didn’t really want to waste it. Such good jam. Seriously. There are 2 jars left in the fridge, and I would import more of the fruit just for that.
But one day, I won’t have to. Because, as I noticed just today, I have a sloe seedling!!! Just one, so far, out of the hundreds of seeds I planted, but I only need one to start with.
So that’s really my news and my reason for posting today. It worked! I have a baby blackthorn!