Mum and dad is here. So we got a few projects done together.

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The strawberry bed is finally completed with the mesh installed. Now the birds can’t get in and we will have plentiful of strawberries from next season onwards!

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The base for all the raised beds have been prepared. Layer of newspaper and cardboard, topped with a layer of wood hugelkultur style, in my case firewood. Then for the 2 vege bed will have a mix of coffee grounds, potato compost, and greens for the base 15cm, and topped it off with compost and crusher dust. For the asparagus bed, as they don’t like too acidic a soil, I substituted coffee grounds with bark mulch, and then top it off with compost and crusher dust as well. Strawberry bed will have the whole shebang, coffee grounds, bark mulch, compost, crusher dust, and peat!

Why crusher dust? I believe it is a way to mineralize the growing medium. Everything else that I have added to the raised beds is just organic matter. But if you look into a real garden soil, you get sand, silt, and clay, which is essentially mineral based matter.  If we are talking about growing nutrient dense highly mineralized fresh produce, then I don’t think I can do it with just organic matter. And crusher dust is a relatively cheap way, and possibly an alternative to the garden center Rok Solid.

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Windbreak shadecloth is now on the Eastern fence. I am very keen to find out how this will alter the wind flow and temperature pattern at the Orchard Cottage. I had a feeling I am moving closer towards a desirable sheltered heat bowl. Now my beloved apricot trees are also protected from the browsing cows, and I have made room to plant some berries down the side too! I am actually very tempted to windbreak my fence, probably over kill.

The final dilemma, should I windbreak the North fence? It will only be 1 meter high and run along the existing fence height as I don’t want to obscure the good view that I have up the valley. The pros is that it will provide some shelter, but the comfrey also grow to that height and provide shelter too. The cons, it is going to block out the view through the fence where I have some beautiful gladioli planted, and some roses on the other side too. So maybe not, I won’t put a windbreak up the North fence.

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I was toying with the idea of doing some very basic native landscaping on one awkwardly shaped part of the Orchard Cottage. Here’s the doodle. It will be mainly themed on grassy leaf varieties like cabbage tree and flax. I am also keen on having a NZ Christmas Tree and Tree Fuchsia at the Orchard Cottage but I will have to work out how to fit them into the landscape at the larger forest garden area.

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We had a day trip on the Coastal Pacific train today to Picton and back again. Well, I must be damn proud of Malaysians because we happened to be the one supplying salt and pepper on board Kiwirail. Learn a little bit about the Malay language, “garam” salt, “lada” pepper.

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Came home to a beautiful display of roses.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Mum and dad is complaining about the prickly thistles situation that I am having. I found a grubber, which is blunt, and dad managed to sharpened it up. Back home, we had this thing like a grubber and dutch hoe hybrid, weight of a grubber, length of a dutch hoe, raise it up like a wood splitter and it will come slamming down into the soil. Die weed!

For my part, I would like something with more precision. A grubber, with a slightly longer handle, the width of the grubber 1-2″, with a bit of a very mild inward curve on the cutting edge. It would be the perfect handheld thistle nemesis.

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