You are currently browsing the monthly archive for March 2013.

Check out the Paraketia potatoes!

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Its not a lot, its my first time growing them. I’ll do better next year. On the plus side, I like how small they are! Feels like eating baby potatoes all the time!

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That’s the story of 3 giant beet roots fitting in a 3L jar. My first time bottling something. And I really love pickled beetroots. Here’s to a good start in preserving things.

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Was reading newspaper while at work. I can’t help it. This newspaper was printed even before I was born!

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Those were the days when good old milk bottles are still in use.

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Sex sells. Its a proven concept.

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I found this too! That’s 29 years of history there…

We moved everything out of the loft onto pallets in the yard, so many of them. I even had a nightmarish dream, lying in bed in my dream, same bed that I am sleeping on, in the same room as my actual room, but surrounded by crates of them history, all around me, and mice scooting and scratching about… And I didn’t realize it was a dream… Until I woke up, and got out of bed, took a piss and brushed my teeth.

Come Tuesday, we will start harvest our final vintage on the vineyard. I am very nervous and excited at the same time, I’ll be fully in charge of the whole process for the first time, uncharted waters in my own life process. What makes a man?

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I tried to put the strawberry and yogurt in the blender. The taste was not too bad, but its a stark reminder how much sweetening has actually been done to commercial yogurt! This will be my last batch of yogurt as I have ran out of the pro-biotic starter. I’ll be embarking on blue cheese making next. That salty stinking stuff, yum!

I am also on to this Royal Butter Oil/Fermented Cod Liver Oil Blend Capsules from codoil.co.nz. People who follow Weston A Price will know what I am talking about. And to be able to obtain it in capsule form in NZ is just bliss! Living in a world surrounded by food that not only do not nourish us, but degrade our body and soul, there’s only that limited amount of things that we can add to our diet to truly balance the scale.

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Caesar has been having a feast on possums out of the possum trap! I found out that DOC have tested the possums in the area and find them to be free of  TB. Now, that’s a cheap source of dog food. Will probably shoot some hare and rabbit next time for Caesar too.

 

 

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51mm of rain! That wasn’t too bad. It helped to germinate the little seeds on the floor of my forest garden, which I then happily spray off. Now, I have to wait for the next big rainfall and I will be out scattering seeds of a low growing blend of wildflowers. A wildflowers meadow is nice, but if you are tired as heck after waddling through to the middle of it, its quite tiresome.

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When you neglect your strawberry patch. You get giant strawberries!

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When you neglect your vege patch. You get giant beetroots and radish! I am going to pickle those beetroots. Yum! I love pickled beetroots! And that giant radish is now in the oven turning into crispy baked radish chips. Red carrots going to be dinner tonight. And I will need to identify those beans before I know what to do with them.

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I start cleaning out the Summer crop, most of the tomatoes bite the dust, except for this. Indigo Rose. This variety gave me the benefit of the doubt, I thought it was a sissy variety, but now its the last man standing. I’ll grow it again next year, grafted onto a wild tomato rootstock.

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The most cutest sunflower I have ever grown just became the most cutestest sunflower I have ever grown.

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I learned my lesson with bell peppers. I am going for the mini peppers next season instead of the full size ones. My climate here just seem to be not conducive enough. What do I need? A heated greenhouse will be nice, not just a greenhouse. I’m growing the Pepper Jingle Belles from Kings Seeds next season.

On the other hand. Planning for chooks next season, I need a chook house, with a walk-in enclosed run, and an elevated coop, so that when it floods, all the chooks need to do is to perch it out in the coop. I can either have a $700 one, that house 10-12 chickens, that fits all the requirement, or a $200 one, that I will need to put it on stilts to sit it higher, and DIY a walk-in run, and that fits 6 chickens.

I am only planning to have 6 chooks. A Wyandotte rooster which is of a heavy breed. An Araucana hen which even though is of a light breed, still makes a reasonable table bird, and goes broody. The other hens, Ancona, Campine, Hamburg, and Minorca. All these are selected not because they lay heaps of eggs, but because they are good foragers. I plan to have some for the roast too, which is to cross the Wyandotte with the Araucana. I am particularly interested in Minorca because it does large size eggs, extra like.

When the new fencing is done, I will start grown preparation on that side as well. Chicken greens, and herbal ley. A feijoa hedge.

That’s it for now, going to try out my crispy radish chips!

 

 

 

I love working in my garden. I envisioned what it can be and set out getting it there. My muscles may be sore at the end of the day, but I am definitely not tired! Its a feeling of accomplishment. Especially when the garden stops looking like a lawn with mere native hedges planted around it.

Have you ever had corn in a cup? I have almost never seen one in NZ. I like my corns in a cup, then I can touch other things without making a sticky mess and have corn at the same time.

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I planted the Lemon Meyer out in the heat trap corner, and took the Lemon Yen Ben out in a pot instead. I bought the Yen Ben when it was about 120cm high, but it ran into some mite trouble and suffered, badly. So, I gave it a drastic prune back and pot it up, indoors, protected from the elements. The fruit from this plant is acidic enough to be used for preservation unlike Meyer.

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Perennial peppers! I have never had a good size plant before as I have always planted them outdoors in the open. And there’s always something interesting to try with them. Like, over-winter them indoors. The plan is to cut them down to 3 buds, and keep them at about 2 leaf or so through winter. Might get a head start for the season. A bit like an induced hibernation.

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Save seeds for tomatoes. The 2 big red ones are the wild tomatoes for rootstock. From this year’s harvest, I find out my preference is for medium-small to cherry tomatoes. Ping pong ball size is just perfect! Though, the big yellow one is Dagma’s Perfection, a Koanga heirloom variety, so I will be keeping that on as well. There’s also the Oaxacan Jewel and Black Cherry which I will also be growing next season.

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I was dealing to the aphids on my brussels sprouts and roses with neem oil when I come upon this. I have never seen a praying mantis in nature before! And to see one in my garden totally made my day! But praying mantis vs aphids? Its a bit of an overkill really.

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If you like sunflowers. This is the most cutest ever. The fluffy thing. Sure glad I took a picture of it this morning, its pouring down right now. The dry spell has finally been broken. Just in time, I have mulched all the newly planted trees in the forest garden. The rain will give the soil a good drink, germinate some dormant seeds, which I will kill off before I put the rotary hoe through and then sow a low growing blend of wildflowers.

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Chili! In Chinese, we call this pointing sky chili. Its really hot. I finally have some to add to my home cooking.

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Caesar is back! He is always around. He is not allowed to be out around the garden unsupervised lately because he figured out a way to escape, and roam the lands beyond…

 

 

I just finished planting up the ex-wildflowers meadow according to the forest garden design. Dismantled one of the strawberry beds, but I left the strawberries in the ground as they are not in the way of the other plants. I will dismantle the other beds soon and figure something out about the strawberries.

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It feels really good to be not planting in straight lines! There’s a mixture of curves, hexagon, wavy, and triangles. Drip irrigation is used in this case as the soil is quite heavy, almost. It will be loamy in time. And with drip irrigation means that my pitiful gravity fed water supply will be able to irrigate the whole lot in one sitting.

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As you can see, all the trellis have been taken down, and the cancel fighting apples transplanted to their final spot. That’s the only 3 that have been dug out from the ground and moved. The rest, were in pots. And the strawberries bed looks really neat without the whole fittings on, except now its a bird buffet.

So now, I am a few trees short to complete it. 3 more apple trees. 3 plum trees. And an olive tree. Then the main planting will be done. The rest will go along slowly, which in my case, slow is really as much as can be done in a day or two. If you are paying me to work in my garden, I will probably make it a 24 hours job.

Next up will be the tucker patch by the fence, some small plants will be moved, the currants and berries in this case. And then some trees from the orchard will be transplanted here. Peachcot, and Nectarine Mabel. Essentially, the tucker patch will be a Summerfruit strip, except for the 2 odd pears already in there. And companion planted with currants, berries, and grapes, among all the flowery bits.

There’s a lot of things to do. But I am not going to throw my full financial into it this time. Got to be more discipline in my savings/expenditures. Need to hire that rotary hoe too. So there’s going to be some interesting time ahead. And if you catch the drift, it do looks like I am staying put at the Orchard Cottage!

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Here’s the corns! I know we are not supposed to plant different varieties close together, but I did it anyway, as an experiment. From left, Early Gem, Rainbow Inca, Silver Platinum. Note the size difference, Early Gem are capable of growing quite rapidly, and that should also explain the larger size corn. Rainbow Inca is quite pathetic, mostly small plants, and that’s the only corn that I am able to harvest of a reasonable size. Silver Platinum is somewhere in between, but also the most outstanding in terms of flavor and texture, though I have reasons to believe that Rainbow Inca if given a longer growing season will be quite competitive.

Looks like I am still not able to grow corns well enough out here to justify saving seeds on my crosses. Come again next season, and I will setup more contraptions to get them growing hot.

I’ve been out and about lately. Been traveling around the Southern half of South Island the past couple of weeks with my parents and sister from home. Its an amazing experience. The diversity of landscape is just stunning, vast farmlands, then rain forest, etc etc. There’s no tangible words to describe, you just got to go and experience it yourself.

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I also found out that my 23 year old car is more intelligent than it looks. The power window actually works within minutes of turning ignition off and pulling the keys out. Good for people who always forget to wind up their window before they stop the engine. One of the doors has a knack of auto-locking after you open the door. But its a really mean car maneuvering all that crazy steep roads of NZ. I didn’t even know it will survive the trip, but given that it has, I think I can sell the car at a profit some time in the future. Guess what? I managed to lost one of the wheel cap again, this time, for good, in Paradise, the land of sand flies.

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My garden greeted me with abundance when I came back. At night, possums greeted me with their devilishly red eyes up in the trees, they thought Caesar and I was gone for good and they can have all the tomatoes and strawberries for themselves. There’s no real sign of drought in my garden too! NZ is going to be in drought soon, given the mediocre rainfall of 0.6mm this morning, and nothing more.

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As for the orchard, its over. I will be there for it when the final and last tree gets lifted out of the ground and thrown into the bonfire. Pulling the orchard out is the easy part, deconstructing the vineyard on the other hand will be challenging. Its interesting that there are contractors in OZ that does decommissioning but not in NZ. Our loss, is everyone’s loss. PYO cherry orchard is a rarity in this region, and our exit will create a big hole in the market, our customers will have one less avenue to get good fresh cherries for Christmas.

I have an interesting conversation with my mum during the trip. Its about how naive the society has become. The pursuit for cold hard cash, and forgetting about the root cause of living. What if one day, the farmer refuse to sell you his crop regardless of how much you are willing to pay him? You are screwed. The shutting of this orchard is just an example. Think about food resilience. Life skills, a skill that many has forgone in the pursuit of cash.

Our future remains unwritten. But one thing is for sure, I will never buy anything from Mrs Jones Fruit Stall again!

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