Day 9 – Progress on the Orangerie

We raised the basic framework about four feet off the ground.

We raised the basic framework about four feet off the ground.

Around here Bob and Vera Duncan are famous – at least in certain circles. On their small farm near Sidney they grow a spectacular array of fruit trees. [I’ve taken the liberty of cutting and pasting the list of goodies they offer – if you are curious about what they are growing, scroll down].

Like many local farmers and gardeners, we were totally intrigued when we heard it was possible to grow oranges, lemons, figs, grapefruit, olives, and more right here on the Saanich Peninsula. I had always assumed such a project would require a heated greenhouse, but in fact, climate change has nudged our already balmy (for Canada) climate up a notch making it possible to grow quite a few citrus varieties with minimal protection during our infrequent chilly spells.

Poly being pulled into place over the frame.

Poly being pulled into place over the frame.

Encouraged (and, loving fresh oranges and lemons and feeling very guilty about how many miles our citrus must travel to get here), we decided to build an orangerie. Unheated and extra-high, this very simple structure was made using the framework from one of those shelters under which people store their fancy cars.

Tall guy, T. on an orchard ladder still finding it a stretch to get the poly over the top.

Tall guy, T. on an orchard ladder still finding it a stretch to get the poly over the top.

To gain a bit of extra height Dad and T. built a low wall about four feet high on the downhill side on top of which they anchored the car shelter framework. Then T. in-filled with some 2 X 3 wood framing. The whole structure is remarkably stable and, with the extra framing, there was something solid to which to fasten the plastic cover.

Today we pulled the strong poly sheeting over the top and fastened that to the framing using those cool roofing screws with built-in washers.

Those trees can grow nice and tall inside their new home!

Those trees can grow nice and tall inside their new home!

As per Bob’s instructions, we’ll wrap our trees in remay for the winter and deck them out in Christmas lights to help keep the chill off the fruit when the temperature threatens to dip below freezing. Which brings me to a problem – a few years ago we pitched all our old-fashioned outdoor Christmas lights – you know, the kind with the bulbs that got hot, which made them instantly uncool because of the energy they wasted? That energy is exactly what we need now! The new LED lights just don’t cut it for this purpose. If you happen to be in the area and if you are upgrading your outdoor lights, please consider sending your old strings our way instead of to the landfill. We will happily trade for orange futures…

Wimpy struts in to check out our progress.

Wimpy struts in to check out our progress.

Here’s a video of Bob talking about one of his lemon trees.

Bob and Vera Duncan’s Fruit Trees and More – What a list!! For more info, visit their website at: http://www.fruittreesandmore.com

Over 300 varieties of fruit trees to choose from.

Specializing in dwarf apple trees – over 200 varieties of heritage and family favourites including unusual, connoisseur and hard to find varieties.

Other fruit trees – over 80 varieties – pears, plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, figs, grapes, kiwi, quince and medlar;

Citrus – over 30 varieties – some of which are hardy enough to be grown outside;

Hardy subtropicals – over 15 varieties – pomegranates, persimmons, loquats, feijoa, jujubes, olives.

Interested in learning who else is participating in the 30 days agriculture blog-a-thon or the five things Holly Spangler will be talking about this month? Head over to Prairie Farmer to find out!

6 responses to “Day 9 – Progress on the Orangerie

  1. What a great idea! I’ve been thinking about a polytunnel and the temporary carport frame is a great alternative and gives the extra height too. Thanks for the how to.

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    • You see them around all over the place with shredded tarps and no cars inside… we are really happy with the way this is coming together and I’m thinking of starting to look for more used carport frames online.

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  2. I have yet to visit the Duncan’s place, though it’s on my list of must do’s. Two years ago at the Harvest Feast, I was sitting with one of the people who won the draw for a slice of lemon meringue pie made with some of their lemons. Delicious!
    My neighbour has an unheated hoophouse, probably about 30 years old by now, wherein he grows several mandarins. We don’t interact with him a great deal but one year we helped them out with a fallen tree, and he brought over an ice cream bucket full of homegrown mandarins – fresh off the tree. In January.

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  3. this is BRILLIANT!
    o – for the lights, maybe you could post something on Craigslist or local paper??
    thanks for sharing
    looking forward to seeing the evolution of your Orangerie

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