TONY MELTON: What’s old becomes new again
This country boy just got back from Italy. Wow! We never seen such in McBee.
Granddaddy’s old house, barn and outhouse could not match those Roman ruins. I’ve never seen so many naked statues in all my days. I guess that is why Mama and Daddy were sensitive about taking us kids to Brookgreen Gardens.
Good to know and see the past so we can excel in the future. In fact, Italy excels in intensive fruit and vegetable production.
First, all of the peaches and apples I saw were trellised. They were pruned to grow in one lateral direction, held up by poles and wires like a vineyard, and rows spaced 7 feet apart. This allowed them to have four rows of trees where we have only had two rows, twice the number of trees per row and three times the number of trees per acre.
More trees equal more production, and this type of production makes mechanical management and harvest more feasible, reducing labor costs. However, it must make the fruit more prone to sun scald, because most of the orchards were covered with shade cloth.
Next, most of the vegetables except for greens were planted using black plastic mulch and trickle irrigation, and they were covered with clear plastic mulch to increase earliness. We do the black plastic mulch and trickle here, but the clear plastic would burn plants up in our roller coaster temperatures. They also had a form of flood irrigation I have previously seen in Florida where water is released in ditches spaced every 100 feet to raise the water table in the fields. This system works only in certain soil types where the water table is near the soil surface.
Finally, their ornamental growing systems would not work here in our heat and humidity. Honestly, they murdered their trees in nurseries and the landscape, like what a lot of people do to their crepe myrtles in South Carolina. They probably get away with it because of their nice weather and lack of insects and disease. I personally think limbing-up and topping large trees is an unnatural way to maintain trees.
Since it is Mother’s Day, I must mention my mama and grandmama. They loved their plants, but in those days, the only way they got new plants was to divide and swap.
The Lake City Bean Market at 111 Henry St. is bringing back the past by having a Plant Swap at 5 p.m. Thursday. Everyone is welcome. Just bring a plant and take home a different plant.
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