Barefoot running is painful. I hit the tar road like an elephant, I can feel every single dent in the road, its as bad as taking a barefoot stroll down one of those foot reflexology path. I ended up running on the grass, which wasn’t all that bad. I think barefoot running is quite nice, I will do it again next week. My friend told me it would take a while before I re-learn running barefoot. Then, I tried barefoot walking, and it is equally as painful, and for a longer period too since I cover grounds slower.

A sore foot did not stop me from doing some gardening though. I found a quick and easy way to control the height of the ground cover without using any tools, be it hedge shears, hedge trimmer, line trimmer, or the chainsaw perhaps.

It’s a bit like hedge laying. All I did is to go along and step them down, folding them down with my feet. Into nice little squares they go. And they stay down, yet alive, and flowering, mostly. Now I can see my berry plants again! They were previously hidden away nicely by the ground covers.

I’ve been scoffing on the strawberries almost everyday. I made a pact with the slugs and snails too. They get free beer from me, and they leave the strawberries alone. In fact, I did the same on the tucker patch so that they will leave my veges alone too! However, I am such a cheapskate for feeding them the cheapest beer I can find in the supermarket, Tasman Bitter it is.

Of the day neutral varieties, I really enjoy the Sunset Strawberries for now, they don’t grow huge, but they are extremely fragrant and sweet, a more complex flavor instead of just sugar. Seascape Strawberries on the other hand size up really well, and I find that the ones that didn’t size up enough do not have much flavor to it. Temptation Strawberries are still a question mark, I have not been wow away so far, still waiting.

The upside down Camarosa Strawberries have also been re-potted. Instead of being upside down, they are now on their side instead. I hope they will recover soon and start contributing some delicious strawberries to my tummy.

On the other hand, if one is looking at strawberries for ground cover, the more exotic and expensive and original version of strawberry, the Alpine Strawberry, even though advertised as runner-less, runs like crazy. They are like ultra marathon runners! Believe it or not, one of them even tried to run out of the raised strawberries bed, from the middle.

We are looking at starting PYO Cherry next Thursday. The orchard will go boom boom boom, and honk honk honk for the next 6 weeks or so. That’s our bird annoying bike. We call it the Bird Banger 2.0. The original version, Bird Banger 1.0 only utilizes a gas powered canon that emits a loud boom. This new version, we also added on a 2 tone horn, as loud as a BMW horn. And also a pole with lots of fluttering blinks that will definitely piss off the stubborn wood pigeons at the top of the canopies.

This Spring turned out to be like last Spring. A Wintery Spring. One that left you feeling short-changed. But as orchardists, we shall soldier on! I might not have any peppers this season. I wonder if I could get my hands on grafted peppers. Hmmm, I just asked Google, and I was told that I can graft peppers onto tomatoes! That will be it next season as I will be saving seeds for tomatoes root stock!

Yays! I just did my first swim in the pool before Spring ends! We have a hot afternoon today, and now the clouds are rolling in again. Bugger that.

This post is a bit all over the place because it was written on Saturday, and Sunday! I’ve been busy. I went over to Governors Bay 2 days in a row to help new friends out with their permaculture section with a great view. It is the first time I use a grubber. It is also the first time I figured out how to prepare beetroots fresh from the ground, you have to peel them. I helped dug a swale for the first time too! Taught them how to manage Peach Leaf Curl as well.

So, here it goes again. No matter how many chemical sprays you put on, you are still going to get Peach Leaf Curl. In UK, they grow peaches and nectarines in greenhouse, so that the rain don’t splash on the leaves and ending up with leaf curl. I think that’s too much for commercial growers who only get about $3 to a kilo at best. Anyway, first up is pruning for good air flow, and planting in a spot with good air flow too. If you observe the shape of the leaves, you will notice that they are rather narrow possibly indicating their adaptation to lots of wind. The best way to manage Peach Leaf Curl is with one hand holding a plastic bag and another pinching out any leaves showing possible signs of infection, right at the start of the season when the leaves are starting to come out. The early signs are tiny red blisters on the leaves. Take out individual leaves for a start, and those you miss at the start will usually infect the entire shoot and you will need to remove them whole as soon as you spot them. Do it every year. Do it every time you take a stroll around your trees. It therefore pays, to have your trees pruned to a reasonable height where you can reach them easily. Though I must say, I am not a fan of the modern dwarf peach and nectarine variety. They are too stunted, the growth too bushy, and is a prime target for pests and diseases, think Brown Rot. One way for height control would be trellis, which is done in the UK greenhouse. Another would be planting 3 or 4 very close together as a guild, closer than the recommended spacing from nursery catalogs, root competition will help restrict growth. Or, maybe throw a tarp over your tree in Spring, or a greenhouse film!

It always amazed me to see people staking their newly planted trees. So much love! We planted quite a lot of trees in the orchard, and we did not stake any of them, except for taller trees, that is, anything taller than me. So, in my own garden planting, none of my trees are staked. The only time a tree fell over, is when Caesar knock the pot over. I get gusty wind here too! So, I think staking is over-rated. But you could possibly argue that staking helps the tree to establish themselves faster. Therefore, let’s agree to disagree and do what makes you feel better at the end of the day. Oh, I did stake the Apple Mother on a M9 root stock, it helps me to sleep at night. Cheers!

I’ve got some Powdery Mildew on the Pinot Gris and Apple Tropicana. Sprayed Thuja C30 on them, and I will need to monitor the condition and do a Thuja C200 on them soon. I did remove the infected shoots off the Apple Tropicana. The spray seems to help as the signs are easing on the Pinot Gris. I have somehow decided as a principal not to use elemental Copper and Sulfur in my own garden, not even spraying oil, except Neem Oil. It is totally hardcore soil health and plant health.

Coolest portrait of Caesar so far. I figured something out about him recently, being of a Border Collie and a Labrador Retriever cross, he must have got his wiring mixed up. He is now retrieving the sheep, and rounding up fallen game.

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