Cherimoyas and Irrigation on the Costa Tropical

This is a guest post, written by a fellow blogger who lives in  the hill-top village of Salobreña about a half hour´s drive further along the coast, east of Málaga.  The area is known as the Costa Tropical and is noted for growing many tropical fruits, not least of which is the cherimoya – which you may know better as the custard apple.  Anyway, after reading Marty´s post, why not pop along and have a look at her blog and revel in her wonderful photography. 

Water can be seen zigzgging its way around the individual trees

On my trip into the campo yesterday I came across this orchard expelling its excess irrigation water into one of the ubiquitous concrete channels that cut through the countryside here.  Life giving water is diverted to the farms and orchards throughout the area.  A complicated grid of canals ensure that each farm is supplied with water by diversion from the canals once or twice a week.  Each farmer on his scheduled day diverts water into his farm and that excess is then collected and carried on to next farm.  You can thank the Moors for this ingenuity.

Saturation point

The excess water makes its way back to the canal to be carried on to the next farm

Sediment and plant life take hold within the canal

In the orchard, water is carried around each tree in zigzagging trenches designed to slow the flow of water so to ensure that the soil all around the tree is sufficiently saturated. The excess water then simply falls back into the canal and is carried away.  Along with the water, is carried important nutrients for and from the soil as well as small stones, and sediment.  These heavier items gather in the canal around the entry point and eventually plant life takes hold and life shoots up, seemingly out of nothing.  Due to this fact, the canals are dredged regularly to ensure the flow of water continues.

Cherimoya middle of November

This particular orchard is consists solely of  Cherimoya trees.  These are a delicious winter fruit grown only in this region in all of Europe.  One of the unusual things about the cherimoya is that it is hand pollinated.  Scores of men and women, paint brushes in hand pollinate each flower to ensure a good uniform crop.  Within weeks of harvest, the trees are pruned,  stimulating new growth and making harvest the next year simpler.  It is easier to pick fruit from  smaller trees, less goes to waste due to being out of the reach of the picker.

A friend with a ripe cherimoya ready for eating

In this last photo, my friend  and I stopped and spoke to a farmer about the cherimoya, which instigated an invite onto the finca,  followed by a sampling of cherimoya, guava, oranges, lemons and avocados to take away.  A great day!

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