Winter started off well with plenty of rain in June. Somehow things ran out of steam in July, we have only like 3 rain events so far and none have been quite as meaningful. I was expecting quite a few does of 10-20mm rain. It was quite warm for a bit too! One of the trees in the orchard yard is now in blossom!

I went down to the orchard and check the temperature logger. Based on Richardson Chill Unit calculation, we have accumulated about 700 chill units so far. RCU is also called the Utah Model.

  • 1 hour below 1.4°C = 0.0 chill unit (CU)
  • 1 hour between 1.5-2.4°C = 0.5 chill units (CU)
  • 1 hour between 2.5-9.1°C = 1.0 chill units (CU)
  • 1 hour between 9.2-12.4°C = 0.5 chill units (CU)
  • 1 hour between12.5-15.9°C = 0.0 chill units (CU)
  • 1 hour between 16-18°C = – 0.5 chill units (CU)
  • 1 hour over 18°C = – 1.0 chill units (CU)

Some of the varieties in the orchard would have accumulated enough chilling now and if we happen to have 2 weeks of consistent warmth, they would wake up and start flowering. Which I hope the good weather will not be here until Spring! Else we will be having frosted flower petals for salad for the rest of the year.

We are going to change the pruning method from VSP to spur pruning in Okana Vineyard this year. The benefits are an obvious reduction in cost, at the same time, the bunches of grape generally don’t develop secondary shoulders which means you now get a more consistent fruit maturity and less work in bunch thinning. I really like this method as you don’t have to wrestle the canes off the wires, the barrel pruner will do it for you!

I have got my new season supply of seeds all lined up! 3 varieties of corns companion planted with 3 varieties of climbing beans.



8 varieties of tomatoes companion planted with 2 varieties of basil.


Red mesclun mix, 4 varieties of dwarf beans, soybeans, 3 varieties of carrots, beetroots, and swedes as a combined community sowing.  I go forth this with confidence thanks to my rather successful trial in my scatter seeds 1.8×1.8 cloche.


2 varieties of brussels sprouts, and onion for mid-late season follow up.


Baby carrots, and leeks for mid-late season follow up.

Zucchinis, eggplants, and bell pepper mix.

Most of the varieties are chosen with hardiness and heritage in mind. Otherwise, novelty. Much like the many black tomatoes I have got lined up.

I might operate on the wildflowers meadow next week. The idea is to put the lawn mower on high and run it through the meadow to cut things up. It will help to speed up the decomposition.

I have also done my final tree planting yesterday! Koroneiki Olive, Monovale Almond, Alexandra Hazelnut, and White Heat Hazelnut. They are planted at the back of the wildflowers meadow, when they mature they will start to help with as a minor windbreaker.

Devouring agricultural books have been my main focus in Winter. The latest book I have read is The Biochar Solution by Albert Bates. I have been trying to piece things together as there seems to be a division and separation among the authors, as if each is trying to show that each individual efforts is just good enough that you don’t need combined knowledge.

The charcoal from The Biochar Solution, the compost tea from Teaming with Microbes, got me thinking about Rudolf Steiner’s Preparation 500. The charcoal used in agriculture served as a sponge with tons and tons of micro-pores which serve as home for microbes, it is like a high density residential block. Applying this into the soil essential increased the surface area underneath the soil, therefore increase the population of microbes greatly! I would think of the cow horn of P500 as the charcoal, buried in the ground, it invites microbes to come and take up residence. Then with the cow dung stuffed inside it, became food for the microbes to digest. However, when the food runs low, the microbes will probably go dormant or set spores. We take this fermented cow dung and stir it in a bucket for an hour, which essentially aerates the water much like the making of compost tea. Perhaps, through this stirring, we wake the dormant microbes and spores up, they quickly multiply, and we apply them onto the ground. This is however a mere scientific theory and has yet to incorporate the cosmic forces that entered the preparation via the tip of the cow horn, and the vortex of stirring, as according to Steiner.

My upcoming project is to make my own Cow Pat Pit, and make an aerated tea out of it! There will be some special ingredients involved.

I took Caesar out to meet the sheep yesterday. He wasn’t quite as enthusiastic.