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Challenges Faced By Australian Farm Hobbyist

Spring time in Victoria is the certainly the most beautiful season. Unfortunately the weather is often windy and changeable. Without windbreaks plants will quickly be damaged and young plantings are literally torn out of the ground in very exposed situations. My most urgent task is to develop and plant effective windbreaks. I have chosen some of the hardiest of natives such as Myoporum insulare. Melaleuca and Eucalyptus species for boundary windbreaks. Within this windbreak will be a row of Carob trees (Ceratonia siliqua).The carob is an extremely hardy tree which can tolerate extended drought and it produces an edible pod. It is often mentioned as St. John’s bread or the Locust bean. The foliage is an edible animal feed and the deep rooted tree brings up valuable nutrients which are recycled when the leaves decompose. Some of the new varieties now available have in excess of 50% sugar in the pods and there are endless uses for the pods and seeds. To cap all of this off the tree has a beautiful and glossy evergreen canopy which also acts as an effective windbreak.

The second urgent challenge is to develop a reliable store of fresh water. Most of southern Australia has had below average rainfall and water restrictions are in operation in most areas. This will cost a significant amount of money to establish but there is little chance of success without an effective water harvesting system. Drainage contours will need to be established and tanks and pumps will need to be installed. At present I rely on town water and as a result will not be able to plant many trees until Autumn due to water restrictions.

The third challenge is to deter the resident rabbit population without turning the place into a killing field. Suitable fences will need to be built in order to keep the rabbits away from vegetables and young plantings. There are several predators and introduced viruses which generally keep the rabbits under control, however, during springtime numbers can rise quickly.

The fourth challenge is to get a noxious weed under control. The weed –Serrated Tussock (Nassella trichotoma) has become a serious problem in the grassy plains west of Melbourne and landowners are required to implement a control program. It is a quick way to become unpopular with neighbours if this work is not done diligently.

About the Author: Ben is a close associate of Alf, the proud owner of a hobby farm in Australia. Ben encourages Alf to share his wealth of hobby farming experiences by writing articles and books. Ben helps Alf to luanch the website Ben is also in the process of helping to get Alf's books published.

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