The New Orange Grove
For the past few months one of my neighbours has been transforming the fields around me. The purpose has been to plant more oranges and lemons. They started clearing the land last year, and then bulldozed the area into channels. Then they appeared to have abandoned the project. Winter came and with it the rains. I assumed that would be the ideal time to do the planting, but apparently not. They have waited until the rains have finished now until probably the last week in october, also the sun is getting hot, but that is when the guys suddenly reappeared, cleared the winter growth, dug holes, and planted the young trees, and then staked them. So now all across the field the other side of the stream we have a cross-hatching of nursery trees.
It does seem to be an odd choice of crop because we have a big problem with water here. I’m sure we are technically in a desert area. The rain used to fall copiously during the winter and spring months, but not any more. The stream used to flow from early december to mid june. Now we are lucky if it starts flowing again by mid or late january, and for the past two or three years it has run dry by mid april. I think they would have done better to grow some jatropha trees. They can handle such dry conditions, but oranges and lemons cant.
Here’s the old orange grove, or part of it. This is mine:
The reservoirs are already well down. We start the summer with the local reservoir containing only 16% water. That’s crazy, so how this extra drain on the water supply is going to work out remains to be seen, but it doesn’t seem to be a good idea. And there is no water rationing, and vast quantities get sprayed over the gold courses, and people are still using the car washes.
The pool water is lovely and warm and we can go swimming every morning. The plants have stopped growing and nothing now will grow now until the rains come in november.
We used to have a useful burst of rain round about september 10th, and that relieved the stress the trees were showing by that time, but although we had a small shower round about that time last year we have generally lost that refresher. I dont know whether the climate is getting warmer, but it is certainly getting drier. The sea levels haven’t changed. The tidal level in the stream has not changed during the twenty-five years I have lived here, and the high tide marks at Lagos are exactly the same as they were when I first came down here in 1969.
I am prepared for desert conditions. We do have cacti in the garden, and they are coming out in flower at the moment. Here’s one of them:
We had a spectacular show last week. My daughter and some friends came to stay last tuesday. An otherwise rather boring looking cactus excelled itself for the occasion. It obliged by bursting into flower the morning after my guests arrived. I’m sure you’d like to share the sight. Previously I’ve had three or four blooms burst forth at the same same, but never twenty. A great shame they only last one day.