A passion for horticulture is providing an alternative enterprise for Kirsty Reiersen and her family with the first harvest at their Christmas tree farm, Tarrington Trees, in south-west Victoria, now underway.
After many years spent travelling overseas, Kirsty and her husband, Adrian, who both originally hail from New Zealand, decided to settle in Tarrington, near Hamilton, to give their children Rhydian, 9, and London, 6, a country upbringing, as well as fulfilling their dream to own some land.
They explored a range of horticultural pursuits, but after an injury to Adrian’s back forced an early retirement from shearing, they decided on the less labour intensive operation of a Christmas tree farm.
‘With Adrian’s injury, my full-time work, and two young children, we needed an enterprise which I could basically manage by myself,” Kirsty said.
Their search for a suitable property took more than three years, with the family eventually buying four hectares on the edge of town.
Specially selected Christmas pine tree seeds were sourced from New Zealand with Kirsty successfully growing the seedlings at the Arborline nursery in Hamilton, where she works.
The Reiersen family’s first 250 Christmas trees were planted in August 2015 and are now ready to be harvested for this year’s up and coming festive season.
“We didn’t even consider not being able to sell the trees because everyone likes Christmas,” Adrian said.
“We want people to start their own Christmas tree tradition by coming out to choose and tag their own tree, it’s a great family experience.”
They currently have two ha under production with the capacity to expand the operation, depending on sales.
Although Kirsty admits there has been some trial and error along the way, the venture has been very successful with the trees requiring minimal management, aside from yearly pruning and fertiliser applications.
“They are very tough and haven’t needed any supplementary water, we have actually found they don’t like it really wet.”
- Visit tarringtontrees.com
How to grow the perfect pine tree
Kirsty Reiersen is very happy to share some of her tips for successfully growing Christmas trees.
In the future Tarrington Trees plans to offer seedlings for sale to those interested in setting up their own Christmas tree farm.
Kirsty’s Handy Hints:
- Plant in August to give them time to establish before summer.
- Ensure the planting hole is deep (at least 15 to 20 centimetres) to aid root development.
- Apply a pinch of fertiliser (a high nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium mix) in the base of the planting hole.
- Push the soil firmly around the seedling.
- In the following autumn apply 50 grams of fertiliser per tree around the drip line. After that applications are twice yearly, spring and autumn, at a rate of 100g per tree.
- Remember to apply fertiliser just prior to a rainfall event.
- A gentle pruning of the tips twice a year will encourage bushy, natural-shaped growth.