Last week, I mentioned about my citrus troubles. And I asked around for opinions and got quite a few, that I sort of just lost myself in it, and decided to go about and improvise.

For the indoor potted citrus, the challenge is to keep the top layer of soil moist to keep the surface feeder roots healthy, as potting mix are quite free draining, all the water will eventually goes down to the bottom catchment. Usually, before this catchment dries out, the surface dried out, and you would have to water again, but as the water seeps down, and the catchment overfills, you get water everywhere. The solution I came up with is to incorporate water holding crystals into the top layer of the soil and just about anything that holds moisture well, and the mulch heavily. I hope it works. And I really have to watch my watering on the potted plants. To improvise even further, I decided to hydrate the water holding crystal with liquid seaweed solution, which essentially, we can hydrate the water holding crystal with any form of liquid fertilizer.

For the outdoor citrus, they were planted in raised beds with very free draining soil. I have already mulched the top heavily with used coffee grounds, so I am probably not going to break up the mulch and incorporate water holding crystals at the moment. Instead, I tried dealing with the spider mite problem by reducing dryness which spider mite thrives on. I’ve setup misters, 2 on each side, that jets mist into the canopy every morning for 3 minutes. The subsequent droplets will also fall on the drip line of the tree and help keep the soil surface sufficiently moist for the rest of the day. It seemed to be working and I am going to setup the same for the citrus on the hugelkultur beds.

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As for nutrition, I am going to try Wallys Matrix Reloaded, N:P:K 53.9: 11.0: 86.8 (g/L), also Ca 43: Mg 10: S 16.8: Plus Fe, Mn, Cu & B. Highly concentrated stuff used in high dilution which I will use to foliar feed. And Garden Works Garden Guano Bloom, NPK 10-10-2+TE for watering in. Then, of course, there’s also the diluted man juice, for outdoor plants only! I had a feeling I am going down the path of, if you can’t fix the soil, foliar feed instead, if it works…? Not a very organic approach to the purist.

Finally, I’ve got a proper soil PH test kit which I am going to start testing them soil. I’ve just tested the used coffee grounds, and they had a pH between 5-5.5, which is pretty acid. There in proving that the McGregor’s 3 in 1 Soil Tester is not getting the pH right as suspected, the tester read a 7 on just about all solid medium, it did get the pH right when I put it in a vinegar dilution. Good mulch for all the acid loving plants. I’m also going to feed them to the worm farm.

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The latest addition to Orchard Cottage, a tea plant. So it says on the label, “easy to grow, easy to brew”. Seriously hope so. There’s this little spot by the house facing the North, I used to grow, and is still growing Biodynamic weeds in here, but guess its time for a bit of an upgrade. After all, an empty plot can’t grow weeds forever, natural progression sees to it that a higher form takes over.

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Finally, after a year, General Gallieni (1899), is flowering properly. Last year, it keeps putting out ugly deformed flower. I think one of the key to dealing with these old world roses is to prune them consistently. If any flower buds are facing the wrong way, cut if off. If the flower is done, cut it off. If the stem is weak or going the wrong way, cut if off. Prune prune prune, and be rewarded.

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Glamis Castle flowering well too. Somehow, I don’t enjoy David Austin roses that much, it is probably because they don’t comply very much to the modern romantic bouquet of tea rose. But if you are looking to amass lots of rose petals, these are the one to go for.

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And I spotted the latest bloom in the wildflowers meadow. A velvety red flower.

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Poppies of different colours.

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Phacelia has started to flower too. That will totally bring on the bees who are now still obsessed with the lavenders.

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This will be the final year for me to grow climbing peas. I will stick with dwarf peas next season onward. Though, there are just masses of them, my greenhouse looks as if it is weed infested from the outside. The peas are podding up beautifully, I will hold back from harvesting them for a week. The carrots in there, most of them are going to seed, they got pulled out and chucked into the compost bin. I also took heaps of wasted brown mushrooms home from work to add to the compost bin, with hope of introducing the spores to the Orchard Cottage.

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Look! A broccoli head is forming! Broccoli is in very short supply in South Island right now, prices are sky rocketing.

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All the citrus on the hugelkultur beds out back have received grass clippings mulch. Cosy and nicely tucked in. Further watered down with diluted man juice. I planted a spreading rosemary in between each plant. Sow lucerne, lupin, allysum, borage, and whatever herbs I have in the seed box.

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Walnut is finally waking up, mid-Spring. Sure take its own sweet time to wake up.

Last weeks wet weather has resulted in leaf curl on the supposedly healthy Orchard Peach. Interestingly, the Northern part of the tree is least affected, most of the curly leaf is concentrated on the Southern aspect. I am doing a tripple mix of Seasol, MBL, and Mycorrcin foliar spray this week.

John and Tina came over today to pick up some green coffee beans for growing. Gave them a tour of the forest garden and picked John’s brain on a lot of thing. After all, he is greener than me. So we decided on a way to do cherry on trellis. And to get the hazelnuts into open centers. And to strip the fruits off the top canopies so that it does not distort the shape of the tree. And the sad looking new growth on the Santa Rosa Plum is perfectly normal. And my broccoli is perfectly healthy and unaffected by the caterpillar! Well, I have not seen that white butterfly around, yet.

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The herb pot was renovated. I don’t use the herbs anyway. In they go, soil and all into the compost bin. I got 2 funky ficus and 3 sticks of bamboo to occupy the pot. They look very interesting. Definitely more of a sight compare to herbs.

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The Orchard Cottage this week.

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Caesar is enjoying the shade right now. The weather is getting warmer, soon the soil will be warm enough for Jerusalem Artichokes to go in.

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