We are slowly coming towards the coldest part of Winter. Or should I say, we should be. Last year’s coldest happened on July 31st going down to -3dC. So far, its nowhere there yet.

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Rainfall this week, 19mm. This week’s high 18.3dC, low -0.9dC. It was crazy, it was such a beautiful, and warm Sunday! And last night, I was awaken twice by what sounded like a huge dump of hail, twice!

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And so, due to the really warm Winter weather recently, the flowering plums decided to make a run for it…

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Not one to be complaining when the mesclun mixes are exploiting this warm opportunity to grow. I’ll be having mesclun sald with blue cheese dressing for lunch tomorrow!

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Its been raining on and off the whole day as if somebody is playing with the tap. Didn’t stop me, I was out in the garden whenever it stopped raining. The grafting nursery is completed! Really pleased that the idea of using bamboo sticks to frame the cover works.

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Transplanted some white alpine strawberries into the asparagus bed and topped it up with mulch. Apparently strawberries makes good companion with asparagus. This makes sense since asparagus crowns are planted 15cm beneath the surface while strawberries can be planted in between the gaps and live near shallower depth. I’ve decided on white alpine strawberries because this bed will not have bird protection, and birds somehow don’t find white strawberries attractive.

The way I have done the covers for the grafting nursery with bamboo sticks gave me an idea on how I could provide more shelter for the raised beds. I’ll show you next week.

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The peach trees I have ordered from Koanga Institute have arrived! For these peaches, I am planting four of them very close together for vigour control. Left most is Batley Peach, the one to the right is just a Marianna rootstock which I am going to graft a Red Leafed Black Boy onto it, and the one on the right is a River Peach Seedling. Still waiting on Keri Gold Peach from Edible Garden.

A not so original idea to increase the variety of fruit trees in limited space is to plant 2 to 3 in a hole. I would prefer to do this as long as they are on the same type of rootstock, instead of buying multi-grafted trees. First reason, I might not have all the varieties I want available on a multi-grafted tree, and I am unwilling to compromise. Second reason, its not easy to control vigour for each variety on a multi-grafted tree, and if not managed, the weaker variety might die out, having each variety grown on its rootstock, and all on the same type of rootstock, provides more insurance.

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I thought all my guerrilla grafting on the wild plums by the road was a failure. Perhaps, maybe not, as this Angelina Burdett Plum might have taken, judging from 2 very short new stem that has formed on the original scionwood. I’ll keep an eye on it come Spring and provide a confirmation.

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Daffodils are ready to flower!!! And a clump of second year Takahue Red garlic can be seen at the back.

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I am not very sure if these are first year bluebells or second year. They might be second year.

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So, I decided to take a break from all the work in the garden and went for a walk with Caesar behind the house. He loves this spot because he can run free all over, sniff and pee here and there, and there’s the river that he likes to cross too!

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Then back to work, doing the groundwork for tomorrow where I am going to finish setting up the trellis for the Belgian fence.

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Meanwhile, I am chitting potatoes ready to plant out in September. And have ordered a 50cm by 50cm pet heating mat to be used with my tall dome Viagrow propagtors to start seeds next month. Its a thrifty cheat as it will require four propagation heat mat to cover the same area, which will cost 5 times the price of a single pet heating mat. Just make sure it is waterproof and comes with temperature control.

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That’s it for now. The Orchard Cottage this week. 6 more weeks of Winter, then its Spring!

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