A TRIP DOWN YORKE'S PENINSULA
Agricultural and Horticultural Shows ought to give one a pretty fair idea of the prosperity or otherwise of the districts in which they are held, as well as of the perfection or imperfection of the methods of cultivation pursued by the farmers, modified more or less by the seasons with which they have been favoured. Complaints against the present season having been very freely in dulged in by moat of our Northern farmers, while rather cheerful accounts have come from those resident upon the Peninsula, I thought it would be a pleasant thing to pay a flying visit through the Peninsula, taking the Kadina Show at one end and that of Yorketown at the other on two following days as a criterion of the progress of cultivation and the condition of the crops. Upon the railway line from Adelaide to Kadina the crops of wheat and hay appear to be very short and thin, though what there is of crops still looks very healthy and may yield fairly well in grain, but not of bay. Here and there the crops give much belter promise than the great majority, and there are not a few fields that are miserable indeed. Several hundreds of acres will not return the seed that was sown upon them, whilst there are a few 'volunteer' crops that may possibly give 4 or 5 bushels per acre. Some of the best crops upon the Peninsula are to be found in Kulpara, along Yorke Valley, about Minlaton, and in the neighbourhood of Yorketown. Of course I can speak only of those crops' which can be seen from the box-seat of the mail coach, and as the road appears to be carried over the highest levels it is possible that there may be better prospects further down upon the right and left. Near Mount Rat, as well as in the immediate neighbourhood of the mining townships, the whole of the crops seem to be very short; but about Maitland they are much better. Between this last town and Mount Rat there are several good healthy-looking fields, and about 6 miles before Mount Rat is reached there is a field of about 7 or 8 acres of potatoes and 2 acres of peas which look exceedingly healthy. Although there are very few farmers upon the Peninsula: who try to grow anything except wheat, barley, and hay, there are a number who have proved that it is possible to do a great deal more. At Wallaroo, Moonta, and Kadina there are a great many small gardens in which all kinds of vegetables and flowers and a good many varieties of fruits are being grown— not all kinds in one garden, perhaps, but some in each. The show of vegetables at Kadina was really very creditable, consider ing the very dry season and the scarcity of water for gardening purposes. The cabbages were quite as good as those shown in Adelaide, and the lettuces were better, whilst in several lines the vegetables and flowers were excellent for growth and quality. These capital examples of the gardener's art were really grown in the neighbourhood of the mining townships, I was assured, and not brought up from Adelaide. Indeed, I went about the three townships and actually saw similar examples in the gardens. The cultivators have learnt the value of deeply cultivating where the soil is suitable, of manuring, and especially of keeping the surface well opened with the hoe, and of mulching during hot weather.
Coming down to near Minlaton we passed Mr. Charles Smith's place, He is fortunate in having good water at a short distance below the surface. He is a very progressive farmer, as well as a butcher by business. It was he who first amongst the Peninsula farmers imported the Poland-China and improved Berkshire pigs from Sydney, and now the Peninsula is fully supplied with these splendid animals, He has put up 'wind-engines' for Dumping water from the wells, and there are pipes in all directions conveying the water to the beds in an extensive garden as well as to the sites, stables, and other places on the farm. The garden contains all sorts of plants for culinary use, as well as a great variety of fruit trees. Besides these he grows a number of kinds of fodder plants, such as vetches, man golds, beet, swedes, kohlrabi, &c. Of course, where a farmer or gardener has plenty of water and manure, and a fair soil, he can grow a deal that others cannot touch, and it would not be fair to cite Mr. Smith as an ex ample to be followed by those who have dry limestone country with no water available. But there are other farmers who have been successful in growing mangolds, peas, dhurra, cabbages, and other vegetables, fruit, and flowers without a drop of water from wells or otherwise— not one farmer in perhaps an exceptionally favourable locality, but several farmers. Perhaps one of the most successful of these has been Mr. F. Wurm, well Known to old colonists for his enterprising spirit in respect to white mulberry-trees and serici culture at Unley several years ago. He has long been established at Stansbury — once known as Oyster Bay— and has established a garden of about 100 acres upon the sea coast northwards from Stansbury. This place is margined on the east by the Gulf, and the soil consists of a loose calcareous sand, with a great quantity of lime stone nodules— and no fresh water at any known depth. In fact, the garden is dependent upon the rains that descend from the heavens. There are many thousands of vines, some only two years old, and some in f nil bearing. The place seems to be exactly suited to the requirements of the muscatel grape, and Mr. Wurm showed me a number of boxes of muscatel raisins in bunches or 'layers,' with a beautiful bloom upon them. They were quite equal in get-up and appearance to the best Valencia, and in taste were superior. These are intended for the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in London. He also showed me a quantity of pudding raisins of equal quality, but loose. The apple-trees have made great progress, and there are a very considerable number of them. Olives are planted in great numbers, and by being properly pruned from the first have made wonderful growths— as much as 2 feet in a season. The almonds seem to grow ' like magic,' and there are a great number of mulberries, chiefly Morus alba and M. multicaulis— the only kinds, Mr. Wurm informed me, which are fit for feeding silk worms. He says that the mulberry-trees which are being so largely propagated are not the true white mulberry having small hard leaves, whilst the true white mulberry bears large tender leaves. The apricots, peaches, plums, and other trees have also made great growth, and many of them give promise of good crops. Besides fruit-trees he can produce flowers and culinary vegetables of which he has no reason to be ashamed. But perhaps some one will object that although Mr. Worm occupies a most un promising piece of land, it is situated so near to the sea breezes that the plants are benefited by the moisture evaporated from the briny depths. Therefore I may cite one or two other successful farmers in the district. By the kindness of Mr, Edward Newman, of Stansbury, I was conveyed to several prosperous farms a few miles inland. One of these belongs to Mr. B. Cornish, between 5 and 6 miles westward (I think) of the township. Here was a surprising garden, that has been established for several years, and contains several acres. Peaches, almonds, apricots, and all sorts of trees here are growing most luxuriantly and bearing heavily. Some cherry-trees were quite heavily laden with fruit already of a good size. Most of the trees had quantities of fruit set upon them, and the most surprising thing to me was the bed of strawberry plants in full bearing. Mr. Cornish was good enough to set a basket of this fine fruit before me, and said that he had been picking strawberries for about a month past, and had taken several pounds to Yorke town a fortnight ago. His garden is upon a sandhill which is entirely different to that of Mr. Wunn's, He grows vegetables and flowers of all kinds and of splendid quality, besides other crops upon the farm that should be grown by every progressive farmer. The rest of the farm consists of sandy loam with a calcareous substratum at varying depths from an inch to perhaps a foot or more below the surface. Leaving Mr. Cornish's I proceeded to Mr. P. Anderson's, where we found another garden with fruits, flowers, and vegetables intermixed, and all doing well. The owner was engaged in hiving a swarm of bees, which he did in anything but the orthodox manner, but heterodox as his procedure may have been, I think he was successful, and escaped without a sting. He simply shook the bees off the branch upon which they had clustered and then placed a bar-frame hive, minus the bottom board, over the thickest portion of the swarm, afterwards covering the hive with a sheet. I had but a few minutes to spare, and therefore I could make but a very hasty survey of Mr. Anderson's place, but there was plenty of evidence that good vegetables and fruit can be produced upon the Peninsula if people are earnest in trying. Here the soil was a ferruginous clay mixed with sand upon a limestone foundation. Another very pretty and exceedingly well kept garden we saw belonged to Mr, C. Brundell, It also had a mixture of fruits, flowers, and vegetables in different beds, with not a weed to be seen, and the paths well kept and made. This garden was not very far from the coast, and consisted of a rather dry calcareous loose soil upon limestone and limestone rubble. I need not refer to the gardens in the neighbourhood of Yorketown, the produce only of which I saw at the Show, but there was evidence enough in the large mangolds, &c. as well as in the "Kitchen sasa'' and the flowers to prove that there are possibilities before the farmers of the Peninsula for growing a great many crops besides wheat.
One thing which I noticed upon the Peninsula was some very grievous. Some seven or eight years ago I travelled over much of the same country aud found it densely covered with timber— chiefly mallee. Now the greatest part of the timber has been cleared off, and the remainder will soon be gone. Long lines of valuable wood— hundreds of tons— were lying upon the newly cleared land, some of it burning, the rest waiting for a few days till ready for the fire stick. What will the farmers upon Yorke's Peninsula do for wood for domestic purposes and for fencing a dozen years hence? and what will be the effect upon their crops and their cultivation, when the land is cleared so that the winds can sweep unrestrained across their fields and gardens ? It is more than time they considered this matter. Efforts should be made at once to establish shelter belts across the lines of the prevailing winds. It vf&s necessary to clear the land, I admit, but the clearance has been too extensive. Some trees ought to have been left around the boundaries of each selection, adding to the beauty of the scenery, sheltering the land, and providing firewood and fencing. It is a serious thing to denude a country of its timber, and when once it has been completely denuded it will be a herculean task to re-establish trees. '