Completing the Spring-Summer Slashing at the Wangandary Olives ‘Organic’ Grove
Every year in early summer, since the olive Grove was planted nearly 15 years ago, Bill Baxter slashes his 40-acre grove with his trusty old red Ferguson tractor.
Bill’s desire for the sustainable organic production of olives started with the comprehensive research of the property’s soil types and topography which lead to his process of promoting long term deep rooting of the trees.
Once planted and watered in, every tree was initially mulched with the equivalent of a full copy of Saturday’s Melbourne Age newspaper around it. The area was then further hand layered with 26 round bales of straw from a nearby Thoona property. Thanks to very careful annual shaping and pruning of each tree, all 2000 trees came through 10 years of drought without loss.
Walking through the Grove now it feels almost like you’re walking on springs. Layer upon layer of mulched grass as well as all the prunings from the olive trees creates many years of continuously organically enriched soils. This inclusion of prunings into mulching also obviates the need to use a mechanical chipper around the grove.
For most people organic farming means ‘growing without the use of chemicals’. For practicing organic growers like Bill it means much more than a list of chemicals, which he cannot use. For Bill, it is growing with nature as the model and includes many positive practices that totally replace chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
Soil and clean water are renewable resources in a healthy world but the necessary conditions for them to be renewing are sometimes not present in our modern landscapes. Organic growing recognises these resources as being of prime importance and treats them with proper respect and care.