So you’ve already guessed I’m not from Aberdeen then?
Like many folk, I grew tired of the inclement weather offered by life around 53 degrees north, and decided to head south for semi-retirement by some 16 degrees. My plan, perhaps a little naively, was to tame an overgrown patch of land in the foothills of the West Taurus Mountains of southwest Turkey.
Better introduce myself I guess… I’m Uncle Spike, and I happen to a guest blogger in response to a challenge that Annette, your host, set me after winning one of my ‘Guess What’ photo challenges on Uncle Spike’s Adventures. Her return challenge to me was this: “Write a guest post for me about SUN – something you get too much of at certain times. I would be interested to hear what strategies you employ to help your plants and vegetables cope! This is not a problem we ever have in Aberdeen.”, so here goes.
A number of years ago, I found myself on a plane with a one-way ticket, a bag stuffed full of personal belongings, a camera and a small wodge of cash. I had been left widowed quite young(ish) so I decided to sell up, quit the office drudgery and head for the sun. It was a plan ‘we’ had been aiming for, but circumstances forced a timetable change along with a host of more challenging upheavals. Little did I know back then that I would eventually become a one-man band as a citrus fruit farmer, rarely leaving my rocky 7000m2 patch of Turkish hillside (and never heading north again).
Sounds wonderful I know, but it’s not as it easy as it all sounds; you see we suffer severe extremes of weather here, which make it a wee bit interesting at times. For starters, we have one of the hottest AND wettest climates in Turkey. Summers are HOT, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Winters are warm, and actually very sunny on the whole, but with electrical storms like you’d never imagine, bringing deluges of around 1300mm a year no less, so just behind that of the southern Grampians so I believe (ergo, wet). And yes, so you thought Turkey was arid and dry – not all the time, believe me!
It’s true though, we do get hefty deal of sun here, around 300-330 days – that’ll do me…. not into the “Have you got your brolly love?” as used to be said on a daily basis. In mid-winter we can still see temperatures a couple of hours a day reaching 18 or 19 – quite respectable really. And then we have summer, or the non-winter season, when our thermometers work overtime, recording daily ‘lows’ of 25 Celsius (around 2-3am) and nicely opposing daytime ‘highs’ of 42-46 Celsius (well over 32 by 7am usually). The weather is predictable here at least, and almost to the day, I know it’ll be dry from May 10 till September 20. This summer has been pleasantly mild, at around 38-40 most days, so much more bearable than the 47 we scored 2 years back.
Much of the farm is set to large citrus fruit trees, which now has a drip irrigation system that pumps 60 tonnes of fresh mountain water over a 6 hour period every 8th night, sourced from 121 metres below us via an artesian well.
The ‘house garden’ is another matter, with some 2000m2, or about half an acre, set to raised flower beds, shrubberies, rose beds and a bone dry patch where one could have a lawn, except you’d be watering every 47 minutes to stand a chance of keeping it alive; not that brave or stooped.
Oh plus the veggies, which occupy a couple of areas around 200m2
Long ago I learned to accept nature’s rules and regulations. If it don’t like it here, don’t grow it! Many plants survived a short time, then succumbed to the ferocity of our incessant sun. But there are also others that seem to love it, and yep, that’s what we stick with now… The other challenge are our scorpion-munchers, or chickens as you know them; who also adore chomping the best looking flowers and foliage I can muster.
As for watering, well that’s something I do for 1½-2 hours most nights, on a 3 day rota (1: east, 2: west, 3: veggies). If it gets silly hot (i.e. hitting 45 or 38+ and a hot northerly wind 20 hours a day (had that last week), then I have to ramp up the watering to every 2 days.
The soil is not bad here, but very rocky. In fact, for the house base we collected 300 tonnes of rocks by hand – no trips to the DIY store for us! But it does mean that whatever water is applied sinks in within seconds, so I have to go around and double or triple water everything as a matter of course.
Keeps me outta mischief though, and as back-breaking as the first few years manual graft has been (I’ve destroyed 4 long steel pickaxes to date), the current state of play is manageable and dare I say it, ‘almost’ as relaxing as farming life in the sun should be….
Many thanks to Uncle Spike for this interesting post. If you have enjoyed it why not pop over to Green Lizards blog. She shared the prize with me and also won a guest post from Uncle Spike. If you have not had the pleasure yet, you also need to check out Uncle Spike’s Adventures – a great mix of life in Turkey, farming/gardening, photography, puzzles and much, much more.