You are currently browsing the monthly archive for June 2013.

Do you believe in karma? I do. In a freak accident, a pair of ducks attempted to cross the road, and one of them was unfortunate to end up as a roadkill. I immediately felt really bad. I felt sad for the other duck, they were a pair, and ducks were known to pair up for life. I have just widowed a duck. That night, I came home to find my letterbox sitting on the post in a mangled state, with mud all over it.

Camera 360

Some farmer, once again knock it over into the dirt, sneakily picked it up and put it back on the post, without even screwing it back in, and pretended nothing happened. That will be the permanent spot of the mangled letterbox now, to serve as a reminder, to those who don’t really have the sense to truly qualify for a driving license.

Camera 360

And so, I have to buy a new letterbox, and install it while the sun is setting, so that the mail lady can drop off my stuff. If some bugger knock it over again, I will put the mailbox in the middle of the road, and share the trauma with the next unsuspected victim, probably a farmer.

Camera 360

Mum commented that I have been spending a lot of money lately. I was known among my colleagues as a tight arse, which I proudly called financially discipline. Well, not really, I am cheap, but I can drop big dollars too. Hopefully this new contraption will see the end to the poor roses being stripped of their foliage by possums.

Camera 360

The experts says that one should not till the ground when it is too wet. Well, I just can’t wait for it to dry up in time for me to plant more garlic bulbs! So, in I went on Friday, gloves in hand, grabbing all the tenant by their collar and yanking them out of the ground. Then, the hoe goes in to pull out anything else that remains among the dirt. Next week, the garlic bulbs will go in.

Camera 360

My greenhouse is doing me proud. In fact, it is probably one of the best thing I have ever put together. And to see the seedlings growing within it is just so fulfilling.

Camera 360

 

The plums arrived today. Coes Gold Drop, Damson, and English Greengage, all of them on St Julien rootstock for added dwarf-ness. I got them from Wairere Nursery in Hamilton as they seem to be the only one who is able to supply them in St Julien rootstock. In fact, the Orchard Cottage is a national melting pot of fruit trees hailing from all over New Zealand. And so, the experts said that one should always source their plants locally, I am nowhere near that. For even more dwarf-ness, the plums are planted in a triangle with 1 meter spacing from each other.

Camera 360

 

The almonds have also arrived. The lone Monovale who is still in leaf in the background will not be so lonely anymore. It will be in the company of CY750 and All-in-One. These, I got them from Southern Woods Nursery. Locally sourced, and experts approved.

On a similar note, I have also dispatch an email to Diacks Nursery to confirm my plant orders, and also add on Raspberry Ebony, Kaituna and Tulameen, all which claims to be spineless. Woohoo! And these are not experts approved as they will be coming from Invercargill. Oh, I can’t wait for more pre-1800s apple trees to arrive from Thunder Mountain Nursery too! Again, not experts approved, Whangarei, the northernmost city in New Zealand.

Finally, to sign off, I’ve got a -1.9dC frost this morning at 8:36am. The coldest day is yet to come, slightly less than a month away. Stay warm. Keep dry.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Weather bomb. That’s what they call it. Its suppose to rain snow like hell freezes over. It got people into panic shopping stripping supermarket shelves of bread and milk. It got me to drop $199 on a pair of snow chains for my car too, I never needed one, buy hey, better be safe than sorry. Instead, what we get is more rain, and that got me eyeing the river flow chart warily. The very placid Kaituna River came to life early this week, just short of causing a scene. Now, without the promised snow, its spiking again, and dropping, and spiking again… This is my 4th winter here in this valley, and this is the first time I have encounter such weather phenomenon in June. Looking at the weather map, I’m just glad that all this will officially be over by midnight, and then comes the frost.

Kaituna Riverflow 130622

 

The river is hanging out at about that level. Small streams have started to form around the gullies bringing water down from the hills. How do they cross the road? Well, they cross the road by crossing the road. The mikroclima netting on my front fence is officially damned to be replaced, and I’ll get on to that with proper windbreak this time, leftover from my previous project. It also warms the heart that the council planned to open Lake Ellesmere to the sea to drain the water. Care on SH75 as there’s some surface flooding between Tai Tapu and Summerhill.

Camera 360

All that rain did not stop me from making a run for it during a break yesterday to plant some garlic. Its all about upholding tradition, where garlic are planted on the shortest day. I planted them in the greenhouse, and also under all my deciduous fruit trees. I still have got more garlic to plant about, which I will do so next week when the weather clears. It also gives me opportunity to check on the progress of my seedlings.

Camera 360

Peas are definitely growing. The mikroclima greenhouse is doing the job, moderating the micro-climate, helping the plants to grow. It is also the perfect place to over Winter my newly acquired Avocado Hass and Avocado Bacon.

Camera 360

I bought them on TradeMe, came all the way from Hastings. I have plans to plant them behind the house using hugelkultur as the foundation bed. I also plan to use hugelkultur system for the citrus that I planned to plant behind the house. Behind the house, is a relatively frost free area, and also gets a good baking in the afternoon sun, not to mention, very fertile ground. The addition of hugelkultur will raise the levels, remove drainage issue, and serve as a very cost effective way to make raised beds. After all, I have access to plenty of cherry wood. There were also plans to dig a drain to divert water away from the house to the ex-river. I’ll be use the excavated soil on the hugelkultur beds.

Camera 360

My firewood arrived today. Despite my access to piles and piles of cherry wood, I’m still pondering if my time is better spend turning the logs into firewood with a chainsaw (which cost me my time, chainsaw maintenance, petrol, and transporting), or just buying them in, delivered. Some things in life are priceless, but for everything else, there is Visa. Welcome to Capitalism. It seems that the best time to procure firewood is in Spring/Summer, I’ll do that next time. I got Oregon this time, I might try Macrocarpara next. I had my fun with Poplar, Cherry and Bluegum. I guess its all about finding the right type of firewood for a lazy stingy man like me. Looks like the Cherry wood has found better use in hugelkultur, I’ll also probably have some hugelkultur vege beds spread around in the Orchard Cottage.

Camera 360

My possuminator arrived in the mail this week. Its still in the box, I have yet to set it up. Where should I set it up? Under Simon the Tree? Or the old oak beside the house? Or the post with the Pinot Gris growing onto it? Where are the possums hanging out now?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I can feel the Winter weighing in. When the body just don’t feel like doing much anymore, and the mind, is behaving just like the mind, as usual. In tune to that, I’m keeping up with my weekly seaweed foliar spray which also gives me the opportunity to make sure all the plants are still alive and well.

Some plants are really reluctant to go dormant. The Santa Rosa plum especially, but finally I can see the changed in the foliage, Winter is here, better drop them leaves quickly. The flowering plum too, quite reluctant, they didn’t go dormant at all last Winter after the possums ravaged the foliage. Mother apple, is still holding on to its foliage too, given that it is after all just beside the patio. I hope I will be able to establish 2 levels of espalier next season.

Camera 360

A week ago.

Camera 360

Now. How they have grown!

Camera 360

Curly kale and rainbow chard. I’ve also sown Broccoli Precoce Romanesco towards the edge, yet to come up.

Camera 360

 

I did a shoddy job planting out those Onions PKLK seedlings. I pretty much yank them off the punnet and shove them into the bed, leaving a lot of roots behind. They were laying down sideways for quite a while before they finally find their feet again. Sprouting broccoli among them too!

Camera 360

I don’t really recall what I have sown in there… Those are definitely dwarf peas, Petit Provencal. Maybe more Onion PKLK, Leek Carentan Giant, Beetroot Chioggia, and something… Red Mesclun Mix! It’s mainly from whatever is left over from my seed bank.

Camera 360

 

These are mainly new batch of seeds. Asparagus Pea, Kale Cavolo Nero, Chicory Sugarloaf. I think that was it. My memory is poor, and poorer if I have not had them written down somewhere.

Camera 360

That tiny seedling there, is a Black Salsify.

This week is more of a shopping week. I’ve to get all my Winter gear. New boots as my existing one sounded like the ones that little baby wears, goes squeak squeak squeak wherever I walk. Winter pants, apparently a pair of jeans is not really that Winter-proof. Another base layer, when one base layer is not enough, layer it up. Electric blanket, this is the killer, I’ve got a queen bed, so I got a queen size blanket, it came up 2 individual controller, and the element is split up, so you can’t control the entire blanket with 1 controller. Now, what should I do when I am sleeping in the middle of the bed? I’ve also got the slow cooker coming in the mail. And the Good Nature Possum Euthanizer. My new old car also got a new set of speakers fitted, and sounded much better, it still look stock, which is fine by me, lower risk of broken windows.

I’ve also spotted some really ragged looking Blueberry plants marked down at Bunnings, from $19 to $5, that’s a bargain. I picked up 2 of the only Blueberry Blue Magic. There’s a Tasty Blue but it looks like its already gone beyond the point of no return, I definitely don’t want to sell my soul to the devil in order to bring it back to life. There’s also plenty of Blueberry Blue Muffin, unfortunately that is a Northern Highbush variety and I am only looking for Rabbiteye. If you are in for a bargain, those plants are at Bunnings Tower Junction.

There’s also a change in my poultry plan. I’ve decided to hold off from chooks and just stick to Muscovy ducks, 1 male and 2 females for the time being. I simply do not have the time to deal with them based on my new work schedule. Ducks, on the other hand are quite low maintenance. I’ll get a tray of water for them to bath in, they can have Caesar’s old kennel. And I’ll just fence off the area that I intended for the chooks. Easy! Get a couple of 150cm Y Post, whack them into the ground, and some cheap fencing, all done. I’ve already got the gates, so I’ll just need to get the gudgeons.

I’m no longer getting Macadamia nut trees too. Instead, I’ll be having a Avocado Hass and Avocado Bacon coming my way, and they will be over-Wintering in the greenhouse.

Camera 360

I don’t want to risk Caesar poisoning himself from the Macadamia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why not? Because Alex says I will get $300 for the car based on the info and photo I have provided. Ali shows up late, rude, ask me to pop the hood, says there’s no turbo in it, and will only pay me $200 for it, and take it or leave it. I tried to negotiate for $250, he dagger stares me, I caved. He attempts to write my details down on the receipt book, both earphones still in his ears, proceeds to hear every alphabets incorrectly. Why does he expect me to have a screwdriver to remove the license plate? He is the one who comes and remove my car and return my license plate to me, why does he expect me to do the work when he is already ripping me off? Why does he piss on me when the guy who owns the place that I parked my car in front of, offers a screwdriver? “YOU SAY YOU DON’T HAVE A SCREWDRIVER!”, says Ali. “It’s not my fucking shop”, except I am too refined to mention the F word. There, the ill feeling is done, embedded. He drove my old car off, it rumbles, as if it has got 500hp under the hood. I got into my new old car, and drove past him as he load my old car onto his truck. There, I realized, he has not given me my copy of the receipt. Seriously, how do Auto Removals stay in business all this year with such poor service? I felt bad now that I did not send my old car to a proper death. It’s like the undertaker who simply dump your dead grandpa into a hole into the ground, spat his chewed up tobacco into it for extra fermentation, without reading a single word from the bible, hop onto the bulldozer and push dirt onto the body, and proceed to drive away on top and over the so called grave.

Camera 360

So, there, the car when it arrived in 2011. And having took it for some really long touring drive, it finally succumbs to engine trouble. It happened one day, when I started the car, and I sensed a different rumble from the engine, it don’t feel quite right that I took it to the mechanic right away, and was then advised to get another car quickly as this one will give anytime.

Camera 360

How does it feel like to be driving around Christchurch with a car that sounds like it has got 500hp under the hood? Road rage, I tell you, road rage. Someone did a close contact overtaking and almost side swipe me. Others tailgate me. Some tried to show me their car can go faster than my 500hp car. It’s not just the guys. And all along, I was driving my car as gentle as I can, obeying the speed limit, and tried not to get pulled over by the cops for noise pollution. Talk about small dick syndrome.

Life in the countryside is much better. There are, of course less cars about. And the neighbours are really friendly even though they are really far away. So far away that if you look over the fence, they are just an indistinguishable speck in the background. The occasional herd of cows or mob of sheep blocks the road, telling you to slow down and smell the lovely aroma of the countryside moving past your car.

Camera 360

Back in the garden, when there is nothing much to do, and procrastinating is at the top of the priority list. One can walk around like the CEO, inspecting every inch of dirt for seedlings popping out of the ground. And be delighted to spot that things are growing, even when he plant them at a time when everyone else tells him nothing is going to grow, and it will not be worth his time.

Camera 360

Carrots too! Then the naysayers will tell him he will not be able to get a crop at this time of the year. “Watch me,” he says quietly.

Camera 360

The Lemon Meyer is finally putting up a nice, suitably size, TAG1 hybrid lemon for harvesting. The color has progressed beyond the normal light lemon to a more intense yellow, will it turn orange?

Camera 360

Then, there’s the flowers, pansies and calendulas just going for it. I truly enjoy their company, pansies, no matter how small the flowers, how silly the name. Cute little things, the more you look at them, the more you want to look at them, and just can’t figure them out. Then there’s the calendulas, the intensity of the orange is just dashing, that determination to be as orange as it can be, that it shines, and glows, like the morning sun. Truly inspiring.

Camera 360

Roses too! I got some Blue Moon roses. The bluest of them all. If anyone is to be able to come up with a true blue rose, they will be a multi-millionaire. GMO free of course. Anyway, the Blue Moon variety is more lilac than blue. Planted 2 under the Farmside satellite dish, and another beside the fence at the t-junction of the property in the company of 3 Lydia and 3 Summer Breeze roses. Now, I just have to make sure I kill enough possums that there’s not enough to do the damage. Sounds like I will need 2 possums jabber.

Camera 360

Do you believe in karma? Recently, I felt that karma is being dished out, quite justly, and timely. People who owe me, are being served, and sometimes, they end up paying an interest on top of what they owed me. I tried not to hunt them down, I am quite relax about it, because I know that as long as I put it out there, the universe is going to collect for me. It’s one of those days when I truly felt like a Lannister.

Camera 360

Take this First Book Store for example, I bought a book on cherry culture from them a couple of months ago, and they shipped me the book, all the way from India, with the correct hardcover, but the content on allium culture. I want a book on cherry, not garlic, and of course, not a counterfeit book gone wrong. I asked them for a refund, they refused at first, but I shipped the book back to India anyway, cost me a bomb. A couple of months later, someone there accidentally authorized the refund, they quickly dropped me an email and ask me to cancel it and offer to send me a new copy. Thanks but no thanks, I’ve already got a genuine copy from another seller. Today, which is a few more months later, the mail lady came up the drive, told me I’ve got a return, and that it has gone to India and back. Somehow, Rak College of Nursing claims that no such thing exist over there… I guess I will be reading up about garlic, onions, and shallots this Winter.

That is out here at the Orchard Cottage. While it was -3dCelcius in the city. Talk about micro-climate. I am going to insanely attempt to grow avocado, and, ahem, macadamia! I took the opportunity of Thursday frost to find out where are the frost spots in the garden and rather frost free area as well. It appears that I have chosen the spots for my, ahem, marginal trees, quite well.

The shelter belt survived the first frost, and snow and slushie and haillish shower quite well. I gave them a second coat of Seasol yesterday, and another coat today. And more mulching. Believe it or not, I was mulching into nightfall when I knew its going to be a frosty morning. Lots of love, these plants get. However, they did not get the very nutritious shot of EF Nature’s Garden, Rok Solid, and Neem granules which the fruit trees get. I hope I love them all the same.

I did, spread more coal dust onto the ground today, and fish meal too. I thought its going to pour down today and wash everything in, guess not, have to wait till Monday. Organic carbon. And organic nitrogen. Not as in organic organic, just in a non-synthetic form that the soil life can take in and store. Its a long term investment. However, its not a task I would like to do everyday because I ended up dusty black and smelling like fish, and I have got coal dust and fish meal all over me!

Camera 360

I spotted this in one of my pot plant. Not exactly a live plant, the pepper somehow did not like my drastic cut back to 3 buds and decided to throw in the towel, shrivel up and die. It rather die, than over-winter in the warmth of my drafty old cottage. But hey, a mushroom pop out, and if you look closely, its got a smiley face on it! In fact, I’ve got mushroom coming up all over the garden! I am not sure if they are edible though, have not got to the point of mushroom foraging yet. There’s definitely a few different variety out there.

Camera 360

 

The latest tenant in the Orchard Cottage. A blood orange! Unfortunately, it takes a lot of heat to give it the intense bloody flesh, which I am not sure I could achieve it out here. Perhaps I could figure out an ingenius way, like wrapping individual fruit in plastic to create a  micro greenhouse effect? We shall see. After all, I bought the plant from a local nursery, and a few local nursery stock this variety. So, there must be some success in growing it locally?

Camera 360

 

I was foraging in the tucker patch yesterday and saw these beautiful carrot hiding in there somewhere. Carrot Purple Dragon, a 1,000 year old Heirloom. While orange carrots were first recorded by Dutch paintings in the 1600s, Afghans in 900AD make mention of a purple carrot whilst Egyptian temple drawings from 2000BC are well illustrated with it. Shades can range from dark violet to reddish purple with an orange, orange yellow or bright yellow interior with a sweet and spicy taste. The carrot is medium length, wide at the shoulder and well tapered. And Nutri Red, the unique coral red colour of this 25cm variety is derived from its high level of lycopene, a well-known cancer preventing phyto-nutrient. Cooking improves colour and texture whilst retaining a strong flavour. A perfect addition to stews and vegetable dishes.

Camera 360

Check out Caesar’s new kennel and run! I got it on TradeMe as a factory second after he decided to chew the made in China one up. I took the swing gate off and put a chain in so that Caesar can still go out and do what dogs do best. Dig, and bury their breakfast. The doggy art of fermentation. Now, that swing gate is a bonus, I could use it somewhere else, for the chooks fencing perhaps, yays!

 

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: