You are currently browsing the monthly archive for November 2013.

I don’t like the 4kph speed tolerance thing over public holidays. They did it before and some idiots took it too seriously they decided to go 20kph below the speed limit, frustrating everyone else on the road which subsequently led to reckless overtaking. And that, is like getting stuck behind 4 campervans doing a 80kph convoy on the state highway.

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The weather has been pretty gloomy this week. The wildflowers meadow helped keep things bright. Its all red now. Soldier on, the poppy says, no matter what the weather.

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I’ve given the saffron pot a makeover, moved the corms into the greenhouse, and replanted the pot with peppermint, lemon balm, lemon verbena, and spearmint. I’ve also got a lemongrass, that go into a pot by itself.

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The irrigation on the raised beds have all been fixed up now. I tried a few variation with the sprinklers and finally settled on something. I can be such an anal perfectionist at times that I am an annoyance to myself.

I would either be adding 2 raised beds or 4 raised beds late this season. If I add 2, it will be  one for asparagus and one for strawberries. If I add 4, one will be shared asparagus and strawberries, and the other 3 will join the rotation with my 3 existing beds. I am unsure yet, where my appetite with the existing square meter garden is going.

There’s a lot of interesting things I would like to grow, just because. Arugula, Cress, Mibuna, Miners Lettuce, Mizuna, Minutia, Shiso, Shungiku… Their name itself sounds a bell that I should try them out before I die.

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I have finally do a proper setup of the irrigation system. The whole venturi injection setup has been improved with a bypass, and some extra bits and bobs. The 1″ kit did not work, so I’m getting a 3/4″ kit, and the existing kit will be used on the other tap for the misting of the citrus and seedlings in the morning.

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Spiderweb-ed the berry pots.

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Koanga Institute sent out some tiny seed potatoes which were grown from flower seeds of heirloom potatoes. They have a slightly different leaf shape.

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I think the best seedlings are the one raised outdoors.

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Finally, my favorite cornflower showed its true colors!

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I’m quite excited about what the bloom may bring!

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The grass grubs got to the plums too!

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The corn breeding project has been planted, along with the baby kaffir lime.

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The other corn and pumpkin and squash and watermelon were also planted out today. I was a little late in planting out this year. Hopefully they will catch up just fine.

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If this is what I think it is, a very late bud break on the Cox Orange Pippin scionwood grafted onto Mother M9, and that the graft has taken, I’ll be a very proud and happy man, because this will be my first double grafted tree! I am actually very keen to do a quadruple graft of Monty’s Surprise, Hetlina, Tropicana, and Fuero Rous in the near future, the healthiest apple tree in the world! And I have all 4 of them here in the forest garden.

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A word of wisdom, nothing is perfect, nothing stays the same, nothing is finished. The development at the Orchard Cottage is proof of that.

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If you tell me the bed time story of the cows jumping over the moon, I will no longer doubt you. I took Caesar out for a walk on Saturday evening, and there were these 3 cows in the paddock opposite the cottage, and they seemed to be vigilant of the sight of Caesar taking a stroll down the road, right by the fence, and one decided to jump the gate, to get further away from Caesar. Then, the other jumped the fence onto the road. Then, the third decided to follow. And the first one that jumped the gate, jumped the fence. And they ran down the road, away from Caesar, together. So, I had to turn around, go back to the cottage and ring the farmer to let him know that the cows jumped the fence. And I thought the fence were there, along with the barbed wires, to keep the animals in.

And I thought cows don’t jump. The first one would have scored a 10 for show jumping.

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And that would be a blue moon moment. Like this Blue Moon rose.

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The new roses that I have planted have started to put on a show.

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This is a bi-colour one.

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The tomatoes are in the greenhouse. Black Cherry, Broad Rippled Yellow Currant, Black Zebra, Dagma’s Perfection, Indigo Rose, MonteCarlo F1, Oaxacan Jewel, Orange Flesh Purple Smudged, Red Currant, Super Snow White, and Tomaccio. Half of them were badly wind burned, hopefully they will come away. I’ve still got some space around, I will be planting the bell peppers in there. Then companion plant the lot with basil.

I have redo the irrigation for the raised beds and the greenhouse. All the leaky hose in the raised beds were replaced with 13mm poly pipe and 4 micro sprinklers. The reason behind this being that most of the veges were sown direct in the raised beds and need a more even spread of surface moisture which the leaky hose is unable to provide. The 4 micro sprinklers were strategically placed at ground level and seems quite promising. The greenhouse will have 2 leaky hose running parallel to each other to provide a more even soaking.

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This might very well be the very first quince that I will be eating in my life.

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The wildflowers meadow is progressing. Poppy Ladybird coming through.

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And something on the more flamboyant side.

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And white with a bleeding edge.

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Corn cockles are showing up as well.

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And you know the weather is really warming up.

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When the daisies start to show.

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And the wildflowers meadow transition from the purplish Phacelia Lacy to the reddish Soldiers Poppy.

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The Phacelia Lacy have just about finish flowering now.

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The Orchard Cottage has got its fair share of love from the bronze beetle this season. The Santa Rosa Plum just about completely defoliated. If you regard bronze beetle as the enemy, you are missing the big picture. Some of my plants are badly attacked, while some were left alone. Some were targeted last year, but left alone this year. Plant health and natural indicator.

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Currant, I stumbled upon when I was doing the Koanga Bio-Pesticide spray. Mixed with liquid seaweed and Mycorrcin.

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It was a beautiful day too. I decided to take Caesar out for a hike.

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Look! A good size eating trout in the Kaituna River!

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I have never explored this track before. It cuts through the pine forest. At one of the turns, the track showed itself into a native forest of manuka or kanuka, its like a hidden paradise. And some fat lambs with undocked tails.

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This valley has got very good feng shui. Mountain, river, lake, sea. What else can you ask for?

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Caesar was carrying the backpack. Good dog!

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I have never seen this view before, the river winding its way up the valley. God doesn’t draw in straight lines. Makes you wonder if God is drunk all the time, doesn’t you? Sorry God.

I still can’t get a bird eye view of the Orchard Cottage from here, I might try a different track next time.

Before I sign off, I would like to put in my recommendation for Bosch Cordless 18V Hedge Trimmer AHS 48 LI. I was really skeptical about cordless product having enough omph to deliver the bang of for the bucks. I read a lot of review, mostly from Amazon before I take the leap of faith. Well, if I really want proven cutting power, it would be a petrol hedge trimmer, and the cheapest reliable one would be McCulloch at $349. The Bosch Cordless is $249. So, consider the cordless ones, Makita, really good brand with good blades, $299, add another $50 and go for McCulloch straight. Black & Decker, 18V for $229, why not Bosch with better blades and build quality? Then, Black & Decker also has a 36V for $349, the blades were not that good and the review is just bad, but 36V do promise a lot of omph, yet at that price, the McCulloch petrol would sound more reasonable. If it comes down to $299, then its a tough one to decide between that and the Makita, still, the same logic applies, add $50 and go for McCulloch. So, in the end, my consumer buying process landed me with the Bosch. And it does the job I intend it to do. Satisfied customer.

 

 

Now, it’s safe to plant out all tender plants. Tomatoes, corns, peppers, etc etc. I have started weekly irrigation. Everything gets about 8 hours of drip irrigation once a week. Hopefully, this method will encourage the trees to develop more resilient root system.

I was at the A&P Show on Friday. It was good, I had a good tour of the place, watch more of the different things that was going on, like the wood chopping and the dog trials. If those lumberjacks saw the state of my axe, they would have chopped my head clean off with their shinny axe.

I also came upon this mini-ute, Suzuki Jimmy, 2 seater with a flat deck. I tried to look for it online but they only have the Suzuki Farmworker which is not road legal. If the Suzuki Jimmy ute-wannabe that I saw is road legal, I so want it! It is like the ultimate lifestyle block-rural-city-transition vehicle of choice. 1300cc, 4WD, petrol, and a flat deck. It fits my profile, prefers to have only one car so that I only pay for one warrant and registration, petrol means that I don’t have to pay for mileage unlike the usual diesel truck, 4WD always my preferred option, and a flat deck means that I can cart things about without needing a trailer, which I am really no good at. I have broke the tail lights off trailer, twice, and they were not my trailer to start with. I hope it handles well on highway.

Most of the fruit trees have been given a haircut so that they bush up and grows into a more compact form. Bonsai-ed. Fruits thinned down, so that they will mature earlier and be of a larger size.

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I’ll be having my own WBC and DDC pears this season. The other pears flowered this year but did not set fruit. Hopefully their flowering timing will sync up next season.

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I hope this is not premature celebration but I think my grafting on the apple side has been a huge success. The stonefruits on the other hand has yet to show any sign of growth. My scion wood might have been left in the chiller for too long.

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Gave the kiwiberry vines some training.

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I have finally dealt with all the peas. The tomatoes will be going in next week. I have had enough of peas. Will only be growing dwarf peas from now on.

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The season is progressing. Marigolds are coming through and flowering.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Daisies are starting to come up and flower. Corn cockles too!

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Fruit trees among wildflowers. Now, I just need to go and cut out some path with the lawnmower. If that fails, the line trimmer.

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Caesar appreciates the new paths mowed into the wildflowers meadow.

A thought on the side about GM/GE. Personally, I would not want to go near it, because it is a bit like mankind trying to play God without understanding how the whole system works, it’s just like why being in the medical profession is called a practice, it is a politically correct excuse when things goes indefinably wrong. The consequences could be widespread. However, are people who are against GM aware that plant breeders have been using radiation to induce mutation of existing plant to create new variety since 1800s? One of it being the self-fertile cherry, and your favorite Christmas cherry come from this parent. Have we thought about how is that different from the modern GM? Or have we just consciously choose to ignore that fact? That our mind selectively censor out data that does not support our cause?

Anyway, I am not going to stop eating that sweet tasty Lapin, even though there is the tiniest bit of risk… Radiation… Mutation… Sounds a lot like cancer to me. But I’m still against GM corn because they are going to give me cancer! =.=”’

You know you are a greenie when you do this…

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I picked up a baby Kaffir Lime and a baby Jade Plant at Bunnings, and they don’t provide plastic bags, and the free boxes were just too big. I ain’t going to leave the pots lying around in the car, that will be messy. So… cup holder became pot holder. They sit in there snugly too! Instead of taking your pet to work, why not take your favorite pot plant to work?

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This finally arrived in the mail. 7″ tall dome propagator. Not available for sale in NZ. I spent weeks on eBay and Amazon going through all the different suppliers, all of them had dodgy product reviews. Something about cheap, thin, flimsy, plastic, no bang for bucks, cracks easily, etc etc. So, it’s quite a leap of faith on this one. I get what they mean by cheap, thin, flimsy, plastic. It is nothing like the sturdy clear plastic dome propagator you get at the garden centers. However, it is functional, definitely bang for bucks when I bought a 5 pack to average out the shipping cost which is not bang for bucks.

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It serves the intended purpose. A proper healing chamber for my grafted tomatoes. It seems like the rubber tubing method of tube grafting is more promising. And it is easy, so much easier than cleft grafting. Something different this time, after 3-4 days of complete darkness, instead of moving it to the top of the fridge, I still keep it in the hot water cupboard with the door slightly opened during the day, and closed at night.

I bought a 8 pattern sprinkler recently, out of curiosity, and its cheap on clearance price, its made of good sturdy plastic. It’s useless. Its not bang for bucks even at clearance price.

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All great things start from humble beginnings. Like this magnificent Pecan tree. Making its mark among the wildflowers.

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Elderflower Nova, growing afresh after Caesar broke most of the plant off earlier in the season.

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There’s only 3 apricots at the Orchard Cottage, will even one make it into my tummy?

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The asparagus peas were flowering, and flowering, and flowering, and I couldn’t see any peas in sight. Until I was about to pull them out, I noticed the well camouflaged peas. Then I saw all these baby things, which looked very familiar, something of a larger size that I have eaten back home, sliced into pieces and stir-fried. But these, its recommended to harvest when 3cm long.

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I finally start dealing with the overgrown peas in the greenhouse. They have gone into the shelled out stage, which is perfect for freezing. I have only managed to deal with half of it. I will finish them off next week. It is quite nice though, to be out there, picking them off and shelling out at the same time.

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Here’s the other side of the greenhouse. These would be harder to shell out because they are essentially snow peas, which have a different shape compared to true shelled out peas. I won’t be growing tall peas next season anymore, will be sticking to dwarf ones.

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The broccoli has grown into humongous heads. This is as big as mine. There’s still 2 left, I might make broccoli and pea soup next week.

I have been thinking of putting in more raised beds next season. 4 more to be exact. 3 to add on to the 3 existing for longer term crop rotation. And 1 as a permanent asparagus bed. To reduce cost for compost, I plan to use a bit of hugelkultur ingenuity by filling the base 15cm with wood before topping another 15cm of compost. Still in the day-dreaming pipeline.

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Did vanity get the better part of me? I have started doing cut flowers. Like, who can resist taking this perfectly formed rose into the house?

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Some people thought my weekend spent gardening is one of the most boring thing a *ahem* highly eligible bachelor *ahem* would do. Most of them changed their mind when I show them pictures of the Orchard Cottage. How’s that for gardening on the wild side.

 

New Zealand’s largest heritage seed and tree collection is under threat and we are urgently appealing for support to remove this threat. URGENT appeal- help us save New Zealand’s largest heritage organic seed and tree collection by TUESDAY 5th of November.

Click here to go to Koanga Institute.

please-help-us-save-our-seeds-urgent1

So, I did intend the title for this post to be “Haillelujah”, without much originality, until the Koanga Institute thing came along. I told the guys I am still waiting for the hail storm to hit between Labour Day and Canterbury AP Show Day. Well, last Monday was Labour Day. And we just had a steady drop of hail Friday evening. It’s raining down hail like cats and dogs pissing ice cubes all over. So now, let’s see when will the frost hits. Almost had one this morning with the temperature go just below 1dC.

Labour Day is the point where I start to harden off the seedlings that I started indoors. And its a harsh hardening process as all I do is to put the plants outside and leave them there. So, some of the tomatoes got leaf burn by the wind. Oh well, toughen up!

On the tomato story, Grafting 2.0 failed as well. Now on to the third try. I attempted to get hold of some rubber tube which is a bicycle spare parts for the valve core on the tire. Little did I know it was old stuff that when I got to the bike shop and asked for it, they looked at me as if I was a dinosaur. Yep, I had to eBay it from China. I used the tube for tube grafting. I am also getting hold of 4mm inner diameter and 5mm inner diameter tube as well, from China. Hopefully I will get some success this time. I’ll use this season as a practice season.

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I had this for dinner on Friday night. Nice firm, heavy head. Unfortunately I was unable to finish it. Among other things, a good piece of rib eye steak, peas, 2 gourmet desiree, 2 new season rocket, 2 new season jersey benne. Its a bit of a potato trial to find out how each taste like, or more or less, how new season potato tasted different from the normal stuff. I don’t think I will ever eat the normal stuff again. The taste is mildy different, but distinct, if that even make sense.

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Broccoli Romanesco is starting to flower. See the green turning purple, of a more broccoli form. However, I had a feeling it looks somewhat like broccoflower that we sell at the shop. Asked Google and found out they are the same. It is actually a broccoli and cauliflower cross. Will eat this soon.

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Ok, I ate it. Taste more cauliflower than broccoli. But more tender or tenderer.

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Leander (1982) – This is a large robust shrub, which bears larger open sprays of medium-sized flowers of perfectly symmetrical formation; their colour being a deep apricot. Shiny, dark green, disease-resistant foliage. It has a delightful raspberry scent, in the Tea Rose tradition. This is the original form of a group of similar strong and hardy, disease-resistant shrubs, which include A Shropshire Lad, Geoff Hamilton, Crown Princess Margareta and William Morris.

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Mrs Oakley Fisher (1921) – Hybrid Tea, bred by Cants of Colchester. Beautifully formed single flowers of warm apricot, opening to gold with prominent stamens. Continuous flowering.

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Jade plant, or also known as Money Tree. So, I took the bamboo out of that pot, and put the jade plant in there. This pot will make a very interesting bonsai specimen. The bamboo trio is very happy to be standing on their own.

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Corn hybridization project. So, one set of it is a hit. I will thin them down to one variety each after show day.

I discovered a new way to harvest comfrey leaf. Grow them many in a clump, plonk the rake over them and comb the leaf out. I don’t really worry about all the bruise and tear, its a tough plant to kill. Pretty much, just rough them up. Tough love.

I don’t think my worm farm is doing very well at all. I think more than half of the worms have escaped. There might be a colony somewhere under the house or in the wood pile. I can’t find much worms in the box. I think the mistake I had is feeding to much. So I rake the coffee grounds to one corner, and added more torn up newspaper as bedding on the other corner. And will be adding more worms. Apparently, I read somewhere else that I should not feed the worms for a week so that they can settle down. Will see how it goes this time.

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Potted plants. Lots of them. I wonder how will they turn out. If potted potatoes work, I might be able to grow new potatoes all year round in this frost free spot. The raspberry and boysenberry and blueberry are doing well. The flowering cherry is recovering from last season’s neglect. I’ve got some Colt cherry rootstock bundle up in a tiny pot too, I’ll need to pot it up soon.

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I spotted this dashing poppy among the wildflowers today.

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A view of the extended area of Orchard Cottage now covered in wildflowers. The gap in the privet hedge on the left is going to be taken up with low growing acacia and eucalyptus species.

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The weekly view of the Orchard Cottage. The growing things are growing into the paths.

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