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Goodness gracious, Mother Nature heed my call and decided to be good on me today! I labored in the garden from sun rise to sun down, dedication, determination, insanity, whatever you call it.

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The cherry trellis was built on Monday standing at about 2 meters high. It runs 4 meters along and has a t-bar at the top spanning 1.2 meters wide. Netting can then be easily draped over the whole thing and keep the birds out. I’ve planted a Dawson on edabriz interstem in there, and I’ll be planting a Lapin on edabriz interstem next to it. I plan to plant one or two comfrey beneath, creeping rosemary, lavender, calendula, and some other beneficial plants. Perhaps a drift of hardneck garlic bulbs too!

There’s this thing about planting bulbs beneath deciduous trees as a beneficial groundcover that looks good. I’ve decide to take it a step further. Bunching onions, hardneck garlic, anything that is allium and divides, will be going in. Growing from seed, they will be cheaper too, compared to the rather pricey but dashing spring bulbs. Will it work? Wait and see. That, also sent me on TradeMe bidding on all the hardneck garlics like Kakanui, Roja, Serpent…

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I built this today. Its still a work in progress. I still need to install the roof structure, and the support on the side. Yet, I’m quite amazed at how sturdy it is already. Then there’s the door to build. Then to wrap the whole thing up in mikroclima. It is also raised by 30cm, with all round 60cm wide beds. The floor will be covered with river stones which are dark color and will hopefully help with heating. I might consider building my own chicken coop after I’m done with this project. There seems to be no stopping me.

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What’s the rest of the garden doing? The corn is dying down, a rather natural process process instead of being chopped down. It just wasn’t on my priority list really. Furthermore, the nasturtium is having a good time beneath. Hopefully they will last, until some hard frost come along. Hopefully they will self seed too! I’m still waiting for the brussels sprouts to come along, remind me to plant them somewhere with afternoon shade next time, please.

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The Orchard Cottage is expanding! As usual, expansion happens in a non-organic way. I personally find Glyphosate a cost efficient and effective herbicide, and a user-friendly one. Trust me on that from all the weed spraying experience in the orchard and vineyard. Sure, there’s organic ones around, but they just don’t pack the punch. By the way, I’m not paid to write this by the chemical big brothers. The good news is that from the ruins of the Glyphosate, the beautiful garden of eden will emerge. Just wait for it.

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Caesar inspecting the property. Too many thistles, he says. The far side will be chook paradise. Note I have the fencing post at 2m high with netting at 90cm only, the idea is to fix up windbreak all along to reduce the cold Southerlies. There will also be a shelter belt of Manuka and Tagaste Tree Lucerne. The far end will be for the chooks, so the shelter belt over there will have some hedgerow addition like quince, crab apple, sour cherry, and fig. The chook house will have an additional feijoa hedge for shelter. I also plan to plant 2 macadamia trees in there somewhere frost free, as Caesar will not be able to access it and poison himself. An avocado tree will go in behind the sleepout on the far side by the new gate, yes, I’ve got an extra gate to this tiny property! Citrus trees like mandarin, orange, and grapefruit will go also behind the house, maybe behind those pittosporum and bath in the hot afternoon sun.

That’s all for now, my dinner just came out of the oven. Any idea how to make sure Caesar don’t kill the chooks?







Boohoo~ I want to work in the garden… I want to dig holes and build things! Its pouring. Its pouring yesterday. Its pouring today. Its going to be pouring for the whole week.

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Though, I managed to fit a few things in between. I built a new set of steps for the patio that lead straight into the forest garden. Its the first project where I ever used a chainsaw. Its part of my chainsaw training. My second chainsaw training, I took it to whack back the hedges, now I understand why people prune their roses with chainsaw.

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Started working on the new vege production area as well. I like raised beds. It gives you a weed free head start. At the same time, ideal for root crops because you won’t have to screen through the soils to remove stubborn bits that makes your carrots grow wonky. It will also be psychologically warmer because the plants are growing 30cm off the ground. In this case, raising it by 30cm also protects it from the occasional flood. The four stakes on each corner, plus an extra taller one in the center of the bed will serve as a supporting structure to drape frostcloth or netting over with plenty of headroom for the plants beneath to grow. I’ll be using leaky hose for irrigation. They also gives a bit of structure. The surrounding floor will be planted with beneficial plants, mainly alyssum. I wonder how would alyssum take to mowing. Another way would be to cover the ground with black stones, but that will be a costly exercise. Still pondering.

Further back in the photo you can see I have laid down the outline for the mikroclima greenhouse. This 3.6mx1.8m greenhouse will also have 30cm raised beds, but with permanent mikroclima covers, and a door. I like the idea of breath-ability and that rain water can permeate through and refresh the soil beneath. It will also be irrigated with leaky hose. I plan to grow tomatoes and peppers in here.

Ooops, it just dropped into my mind that I may just have the micro-climate to grow avocado, macadamia, and citrus on the property! That got me really excited for sure! I think you only need 1 avocado plant, but 2 macadamia. Grapefruit, mandarin, and orange! They can go in a tidy spot behind the house! However, macadamia nut is poisonous to Caesar, so I will have to plant that into the chicken run.

Truly, a lot of things on my mind now. A T-trellis, 1.5m high and 1.2m wide for growing the raspberries and boysenberries in pots. Yes, pots! Will it work? Not sure. I will also put my blueberries in pots in there too, so that they can all go under the bird netting together, and also irrigated together. Hmmm… interesting!

All this imagining is so much fun! I think its what you do, when it rains, and you are stuck in the house. You let your imagination run out, out into the garden, and create and design things…

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Or even to go and cart a cubic metre of compost while the internet is down and its drizzling outside. That’s 2 raised beds filled and ready to go. I plan to sow peas and carrots into them. And maybe something extra.

Oh, did you notice the name change? Its now The Orchard Cottage, and I’ve got my own domain, I’m unable to register The Orchard Cottage as a domain as it turns out there’s plenty of Orchard Cottage around… =.=”’. Anyway, I’ve always been thinking of Almost Organic as a brand. What does almost organic mean to you?

Finally done with the grape harvest. Machine harvesting is so easy. However, it is a significant disadvantage to the wine grower.

First of all, only the grapes are harvested, leaving the stalks on vine, that’s quite some weight there on the stalks combined. So if the buyer is paying you by weight, you loose out compare to hand harvesting.

Second of all, the machine harvesting did not shake everything off the vine, yet again, loose out on the weight which usually gets counted when hand harvesting.

However, one will only know once a cost-return analysis has been done.

That aside, I’m glad that its all over. And I can add that experience to my portfolio. Who would have thought I could pull it off?

I’m supposed to take a break tomorrow and spend the day in my garden. However, some big rain thing is coming this way and I can’t leave the nets sitting out there. A wet bundle of net is a heavy and yucky thing.

Now its the time to refocus the efforts back to the Orchard Cottage. To continue with the project that I started. To build a set of steps the patio. To build the raised vege beds. To build the microclima greenhouse.

While cleaning out the loft on Saturday, I stumbled upon some treasures. A huge 4 pane glass window about 2.4 by 1.8. What can I do with it? And a smaller 2ft by 1ft glass window, which I can do up a cloche. Am I going to do it? I doubt so.

Chooks are coming to the Orchard Cottage come Spring! I’ve decided to get some books from the library and see what it takes for me to build my own coop. I’m definitely building one for the broody hen and its chicks. I also need another one for the rest of the family.

I’m so necked. I’m going to sleep.

What do you do when it rains, and it looks like its going to be pounding?

Sow wildflowers of course!

I have been really busy… We have had a wonderful harvest, more grapes compared to last year. One vineyard down, one more to go. It felt like an achievement. I have never been given this kind of responsibility before. We have a great team too! On average, everyone took in about 300kg of grapes each for a day of work.

There’s plenty of holes in the nets on the other vineyard. Those bloody old nets. I had to release a hawk trapped underneath it on Friday. I tried to talk it into calming down, so that I can lift the net and it can fly out. It sort of did, but it never sort of say thank you when it flew back out into freedom. What am I expecting? Perch on my shoulder and ruffle up my hair?

I’m planning to have the guys do the chasing birds out everyday from now until the harvest. Those birds. Chase the birds in the morning, go check the nets in the afternoon, and I felt like I am back in enchanted forest once again. Surrounded by birds. How did they get in? Oh… the holes. What about that pheasant? A rabbit hole maybe.

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This is the magical product that I am talking about. Cod liver oil and high vitamin butter mixed together into capsule form. How simple life is when you can have Weston A Price in a pill?

I’ve also been thinking, that there, is a product, perfect for a multilevel marketing scheme. $72.50 for 60 days. How would you like to invest $1.21 a day for good health? Totally beats the price of Body Balance of $6.39 for a singles-to-go stick a day.

Side note. Now, there’s also the plan to rename this blog. Maybe to “The Orchard Cottage”… Or “Justin’s Almost Organic Garden”.

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What would Caesar say?

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