Cold Northerlie wind for the entire week almost got me screaming in madness. Gusting winds always have a way to get on my nerves. They made me feel very helpless. Worst when they give you the wind chill on a sunny day. The persistent wind delayed our black cherry aphids spray until today, on a Sunday morning, I got into the spray tractor and accumulated gazillions of bad karma killing imaginary aphids in the orchard.

I don’t mind driving the spray tractor at 6km/h but topping up the tank with chemicals is a revolting process. Take a townie and put him in-charged of fungicide, pesticide, insecticide, herbicide spraying and he will turn organic within a week. You can see, smell and sometimes feel the texture of the stuff. Spring oil smells like rotten eggs. Preglone is blue but turns yellow when it goes into contact with water, burns your throat like aerosol paint. I would be a lot happier spraying a slurry of cow manure or compost tea than a 2200L tank of watercolors.

We spent the entire week working up the ground in Block 1, marking out the rows, digging holes, and planting and transplanting all sorts of fruit trees into it. There is now a selection of apples, pears, cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, peacherines, peachcots, plumcots, and plum rootstocks. We are on a mission to discover low maintenance crop which are naturally healthy. At the same time, to trial natural method of remedying soil and tree health.

I just finished reading The Winter Harvest Handbook by Eliot Coleman. And I quote, “Insects and disease are not the problem. They are, rather, the symptoms. their presence is a visible exterior indication that all is not well with the plants. No one would be so simple as to think that scraping off the spots – the visible exterior symptoms – could cure a child’s chicken pox. Similarly, removing pests from a plant does not cure the problem or eliminate the cause. All that it accomplishes it to throw a cloak over the problem.”. He could not have said it better. Chemical agriculture is like sweeping rubbish under the carpet, one day we will run out of carpet to hide the rubbish.

Please don’t accused me of fear mongering. Our consultant and chemical salesman often tell us, “if you don’t spray enough copper on during leaf fall, your trees will die of bacterial blasts”, “if you don’t paint all your cuts, your trees will die of silver leaf”, “if you don’t spray protectant fungicide on every 7-14 days, you will lost all your crop to brown rot”, “if you don’t pile enough N-P-K on, your trees will have nutrient deficiency”, “if you don’t have a herbicide strip, your trees will not be able to compete well for water and nutrient”. Fear mongering? Could it be a coincidence?

I bought this book, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. At the back of the book it says, “The Diet Dictocrats don’t want you to know that… your body needs old-fashioned animal fats… new-fangled polyunsaturated oils can be bad for you… modern whole grain products can cause health problems… traditional sauces promote digestion and assimilation… modern food processing denatures our foods but… ancient preservation methods actually increase nutrients in fruits, nuts, vegetables, meats and milk products!”. I’ll put this book and Change of Heart by Kay Baxter to good use when my garden comes into full production again.

I only planted 2 crops last Autumn to over-Winter. Broad beans are now flowering profusely and the bumble bees just love them! Peas on the other hand got munted completely by the birds late Autumn and subsequent attempt to resow them remain unsuccessful with the last sowing completely washed away by the flood. I’ll sow again tomorrow and hopefully I will get some peas before they have to make way to put the Summer crops in.

Citrus trees don’t like open spot. They hate the wind. Even Lemon Meyer, a hardy lemon hybrid hates the wind! I did not do it justice exposing it to the double whammy of both Northerlies and Southerlies. So I pot it up in a sweet “little” pot and give it the primo spot in the house. Then, I got an Apple tree named Mother on a m9 dwarfing rootstock and planted it in the Lemon’s old spot. (c.1844) Mother a widely acclaimed late red apple which is highly recommended for every fruit connoisseur`s garden! The flavor is excellent: sweet, perfumed and distinctive. The tree is very upright. Bears fruit when young and is a heavy but not always regular cropper. I have more Apple trees coming, but let’s keep that in suspense.

Everything is moving! Blueberries are stretching themselves up!

Nashi pear showing white tips!

The Simon Peach started to flower. I named it the Simon Peach because Simon, the previous tenant who rescued this tree from the orchard do not know what variety it is and insisted that it is a Nectarine and not a Peach, but fruits don’t lie,  its furry.

The Gold Bar Apricot that I rescued from Block 35 is starting to move, I am actively removing as much flower buds as I can and retaining a handful to reduce transplant stress on this tree. Talk about Apricots, some thief conveniently took a dozen of bare-rooted Apricot trees heeled in the sawdust in the orchard last week, but karma has already been dealt as those trees are all self-sterile, hohoho! Beautiful Spring flowers though…

No plums this year, just leaves.

At one end of the Tucker Patch, I left the mustards untouched, they are now flowering and will start to attract and feed the beneficial insects population.

The wildflowers meadow is full of seedlings! I did my second batch sowing today. Can’t wait to be surprised this season!

Spotted this solitary White Borage in the wildflowers meadow making an early dash.

Strawberries are starting to crank up production, yays!

1st generation Orchard Cottage Calendula! Self-seeded last season. Edible flowers, yum!

Lavenders have started their flowering. I’ll be taking cuttings of Lavenders and Elderflowers next week for propagation.

The loot from Le Bons Bay. Thanks Colleen!

Remember my strawbale live compost making attempt? The Crimson Clovers are growing neatly in it and I have just sown Blue Lupins among them.

Comfrey twins coming up among the Crimson Clovers at the Citrus Corner.

Getting a head start with my Summer crops, 8 varieties of tomatoes as promised! The Zucchinis are going into larger newspaper compost filled pots tomorrow. I would highly recommend the use of vermiculite for starting seeds. I filled the punnets up with Dalton’s Organic Seed Raising Mix, an itsy-bitsy-tiny-pinch of Koanga Seedling Inoculant, sow the seeds and top it off with a thin layer of vermiculite which helps maintain just the right amount of surface moisture so crucial for germinating seeds.

The largest bunch of Endive I harvested from the cloche! Wait, this is Endive right?

And to finish this entry off with Caesar. If you can’t see the eyes…

FLASH!

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