In the Orchard with Eddie Romero
by Katie and Denny Culbert
Eddie Romero is living the good life. Figs, muscadines, peaches, persimmons, citrus…. Romero literally lives off the fruits of his labor. Every day he drinks a glass of blackberry juice. It’s like drinking a fine wine he says. He even occasionally manages to grow a pineapple or two. But in the beginning, things were not always so peachy. He started with three apple trees and a cherry tree. a few apples grew, but the cherry tree, no luck. Those days have long passed. Today Romero operates a thriving orchard business with more fruit and vegetables than he ever dreamed of.
(This post originally appeared in volume 3 of Runaway Dish Magazine)
BUY LOCAL TREES FROM A MOM AND POP NURSERY THEY ARE THE ONES THAT WILL SELL YOU STUFF THAT WILL GROW DOWN HERE. ROY YOUNG IN ABBEVILLE, HEBERT’S IN NEW IBERIA, AND CHASTANT BROS. IN LAFAYETTE JUST TO NAME A FEW.
SPRING IS THE TIME TO FERTILIZE AND KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR WHITE FLIES.KEEP GOOD AIR FLOW THROUGH YOUR TREES. IF YOU DO GET FLIES, MALATHION OIL SHOULD TAKE CARE OF THEM.
COLLECT YOUR OWN RAINWATER. IRRIGATE EVERYTHING.
GROW YOUR TOMATOES AND SWEET POTATOES IN POTS. YOU CAN CONTROL THE SOIL AND GRASS AND YOU DON’T HAVE TO BEND DOWN AS MUCH. USE A FIVE GALLON DRUM AND CUT IT IN HALF.
COFFEE GROUNDS IN THE SOIL. IT’S YOUR SECRET INGREDIENT. STARBUCKS OR PRETTY MUCH ANY COFFEE HOUSE, THEY WILL KEEP GROUNDS FOR YOU. YOU JUST GOT TO ASK.
IN THE SUMMER, GET UNDER YOUR TREES, TAKE A BREAK, AND ENJOY THE FRUITS OF YOUR LABOR. IF YOU HAVE PEACH TREES, PRUNE THEM IN THE SUMMER WHEN THE LAST PEACH IS PICKED. SHAPE THEM INTO AN UPSIDE DOWN UMBRELLA CONFIGURATION. AS YOU MOVE INTO FALL, SPRAY TREES WITH DORMANT OIL TO KEEP AWAY THE SCALE. JUST THE BOTTOM HALF WILL DO.
GET READY TO BUST ASS WHEN WINTER ROLLS AROUND. DECEMBER, JANUARY AND FEBRUARY IS FOR ALL OF YOUR PRUNING. WAIT TO PRUNE YOUR CITRUS AFTER THE LAST WEEK OF FEBRUARY. IF YOU PRUNE CITRUS AND A FREEZE COMES, YOU GONNA KILL YOUR TREE DEAD.
MOLASSES. ONE TABLESPOON FOR EVERY GALLON OF WATER. THE EARTH WORMS WILL GO NUTS OVER THAT.
IF SOMEONE TELLS YOU YOU CAN GROW CHERRIES IN SOUTH LOUISIANA, THEY ARE JUST TRYING TO TAKE YOUR MONEY.
VISIT THE ORCHARD
5119 Freetown Road, New Iberia, LA 70560
Want to learn more? Romero recommends joining the Louisiana Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. For $25 a year, participate in field days to orchards all over the state, listen to speakers ranging from scientists to farmers to medical professionals, and get a big fat book with all the knowledge you need to start your own Garden of Eden. Romero is the President, and that’s reason enough to join.