Growing Oranges – one of the simple pleasures of suburban ‘peasant’ life….

My mother sometimes gets quite incensed when I refer to myself as a simple peasant (‘un semplice contadino’). As she likes to point out, whilst I am the son and grandson of peasants, I am not one, and have never suffered from the deprivations and hardships which they have.

Indeed, through the expectations and encouragement of my parents, and, to some limited extent, my own exertions in terms of my education and office job, I enjoy the lifestyle and material affluence of the lower middle class, with all its suburban, bourgeois banalities (I doubt any real peasant would talk like this).

As a colleague pointed out fairly recently to me, the value of land in Greater Melbourne, to say nothing of the cost of water, means that growing one’s own fruit and vegetables in a suburban backyard is probably far more expensive than simply buying them from the supermarket.

[There might be a point there – if my house block was valued by the square metre, it would be about $1400 per square metre, and I would want to get quite a handsome yield of home grown produce ($70 worth per square metre per annum) to cover the opportunity cost of NOT subdividing and selling up to some developer hellbent on converting my block into townhouses. But I digress.]

16 years ago, when I took up residence in the 1960s brick veneer dump I now call home, I planted a lot of trees. Some, surprise surprise, were natives. But mostly, I went for fruit trees. Apricots, peaches, and many citrus. There are a rather unsuccessful lemon, a more prolific lime, and four orange trees in my back yard – along with some more recently planted fruit trees in the front (where I finally tore out the ivy that had been slowly strangling some shrubs).

The orange trees are a Mediterranean Sweet, a Washington Navel, a Valencia, and a Blood Orange. For the first time last year, some of the fruit from the Blood Orange (four out of roughly forty) blushed enough that the insides were red. Apparently this type of reddish juice is even more healthy for you than the usual orange juice.

What is interesting is that whilst so few of my fruits from that tree actually turn red, quite a few from the Navel have been doing so, at least partly, but sufficiently as to provide me with blood orange juice when I squeeze those.

Fascinating. I suppose that the bees are to thank for this – they must be fertilising the Navel in part with pollen from the nearby Blood Orange tree.

Published by Ernest Zanatta

Narrow minded Italian Catholic Conservative Peasant from Footscray.

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