The subject title of this post was supposed to be 33 Knots, but just as I started writing, 36.9 Knots gust slammed into the house. My plants ain’t happy, the birds ain’t happy. The 48 hours continued gusting invokes a sense of helplessness in me as a human because in all our quest to subdue nature, we are unable to subdue the elements. On the other hand, we are subdued by the elements instead!

On the other hand, its good to know that all the structures that I built on a budget are still standing, flexing in the wind. Nothing has been blown off yet.

My winter legumes were attacked. Most of the peas have been chewed almost back to the ground. The 3 culprits are rabbits, slugs, and caterpillars. Not taking any more risk, I implement a 3 prong defensive strategy. I went all out setting up plenty of beer slug trap in the tucker patch, sharing my precious beer with the slugs. Be careful, binge drinking is deadly and you may drown happy. I have chosen neem oil as my only defense against bugs because it only harms anything that harms the plants by chewing or sucking. I have also completely fenced off the tucker patch to fend off the rabbits. I don’t think rabbits would do a 30cm high jump to the other side when there’s grass right where they are standing on.

A note about neem oil and used of pesticides in general. My believe is to apply on a re-active basis and only on affected area that truly needs to be remedied. If we went all out and kill all the undesirable, it will also cause a reduction in beneficial insect population as they run out of prey.

We pruned some apricot trees this week just to get the hang of it. As the trees are trained on a trellis frame, the pruning approached thrown me off my sense as I am so used to pruning trees as a modified center leader or multi-leader vase. At my first try, I tried to do it like how one would prune a hedge, comb through from one end to the other end. But that ignores the structure of the tree and its multiple leading branch. In the end, the improved technique is similar to how one would do a center leader or multi-leader, pruning by following each leading branch. Prune the tree, not the hedge. I believe the reason it was trained onto a trellis is to maximize production, much like kiwifruit growing system, cover the whole trellis with fruiting wood so that the whole trellis will be covered with fruits!

I was at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens earlier. I saw this at the vege garden section.

They planted mustards and lupins as winter cover. Guess what’s happening in my tucker patch right now?

Great minds do think alike! Now, I just got to wait for the minus 3 degree Celsius to winter kill the mustards.

I saw a few cloche design at the garden as well, which reminds me I have yet to figure out the most ideal design that I would like to use in tandem with a raised bed system. It needs to have dual function, one that would protect it from the frost and wind, which will feature a frost cloth, and another that would protect it from birds and rabbits but not exclude bees, which will have a bird net. The other issues are sufficient height, ease of use, single user operation, affordable, easy to build, etc etc. I am now thinking along the line of Lego pieces. Before this I was considering a skeletal structure with the bird nets and frost cloth as a curtain and shade system.

The thinker shall continue thinking.