Part of the challenges of expanding into a thistle infested paddock in order to quadruple the size of the Orchard Cottage is that the new grounds are thistle infested despite of having been sprayed and rotary hoed to its death. Thistles and nettles are my worst nightmare in the book of weeds, I’m cool cucumbers with the other weeds, except for nightshade of course… but these thorny stinging things are quite a nuisance when one decide to wander the garden in their birthday suit.

So, I decided to unleashed the ultimate, the awesome, the amazing Malaysian Chinese Weeding Duck. This creature has the eyes of an eagle, able to spot the tiniest thistle seedlings from a mile away, diligently worked it way up and down the garden systematically to ensure every square micro-inch is covered and weeded of thistle. Yes, you can teach it to target an exact weed, and it will do only that and nothing else. The only drawback of this creature is that it does not like the cold nor the wet, gets the wet feet… Otherwise, its amazingly efficient and doesn’t quack.

And I ended up with really sore thigh this morning having duck walked the whole grounds, snips in one hand, and a spray bottle of Roundup on the other. I used the cut and spray method on the thistles. First, with a pair of snips, cut the top off the emerging thistles, and then a well targeted squirt right into the core of the plant. Repeat on every single thistles in the ground no matter how big or tiny. What I have achieved is severely attacked the spreading and very resilient root system of the thistles, knocking them back real hard, and at the same time the plants around them continue to flourish and become more competitive, crowding out the already knocked back thistles. Essentially, dropping a bomb into every single hole of a massive rabbit colony.

If you would like to embark on the same crazy adventure, some tips here may serve you. Compressed spray bottle is less tiring to use compare to the squirt as you pull the trigger type. If you have the means, perhaps, try using the squirt as you snip secateurs? Thistles form a root system, if you see one thistles, there’s bound to be more coming up around it. Thistles, don’t infest alone. You have to be physically fit to be able to duck walk the whole garden.

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Back in the cottage, the covers are off and the seedlings are fending for themselves. Tomatillos are getting really leggy, I may have to transplant them into taller pots sooner than later. This season, I plan to use PB 3/4 as the next step up.

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The tip of the flowers are showing in the very swollen apricot buds. The plum stocks by the road are already flowering too. I could start guerrilla grafting on them anytime now.

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Elderflower St Kentigerns, named after the church where the cutting was taken from a massive old elderflower bush.

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Finally the Peach Hiawatha and Fig Mrs Williams arrived from Edible Garden. I ordered the red leaved Peach Arapahoe before but they sort of sold out of it and offered the purple leaves Hiawatha instead, which is just as well, a reasonable substitute, they do have the telepathy to sense that I am after colored foliage. Purple skinned fruit with orange flesh, and again, claims to be resistant to leaf curl.

On the peach leaf curl subject, to be honest, I do not believe in any claims of a particular variety having resistance, or any sort of spray could prevent peach leaf curl. You can get a peach leaf curl resistance variety, and spray it first with copper oil, then with Mizar, twice, and you will still get peach leaf curl. So, why spray? I believe it is just a crutch, just like how I spray seaweed onto all them plants religiously every week. I did not get peach leaf curl at all last season, and I did not put any synthetic sprays on, and that orchard peach of mine wasn’t even leaf curl resistant. Yet, my friend on the other side of the hill, planted resistant variety, and all their plants were curled up, and spray free of course. Verdict? God works in mysterious ways that mankind is just too young to figure it out by means of quantifying and qualifying.

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Discovered some little Blackberry Navaho while I was prowling the garden. I am going to dig these up and transplant them into the canopy edges of the forest garden. And that was the plan for the Raspberry Ebony as well. To go into the forest garden’s canopy edges.

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Asparagus season starting soon.

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Tart cherry flowering. It’s heart warming to see the fruit trees starting to flower. I also noticed the Pear Louise Bon Jersey is going through the bud burst stage, but I have not inspected it to see if it is flowering or leafing out. Will do that in a minute.

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In the greenhouse. Peas are about 2 feet high now.

Dieter came back to me with some pretty positive news. He may be able to provide me with the required scionwood! Yays! Koanga on the other hand did not responded well, they are unwilling to break up the bundle of 4. So, my decision is that I have to put in my gladioli and artichoke back orders to them by the end of this month along with some corn and bean seed orders, if those kiwiberry are still in stock, I will get them too. I’ll plant them as pairs to induce some root competition for vigor control.

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