You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2014.

So, the rootstocks arrived, not on Thursday, but Friday, and I managed to get them all planted after work, just in time before the setting sun cast its last ray of light into the valley. We are on schedule for grafting tomorrow. Plus the crazy weather on Monday gave the soil a good Spring drenching too.

2014-09-24 12.06.12

14mm of rain has accumulated this week. We have a high of 21.4dC, which is today, and yesterday, and a low of 0.1dC.

2014-09-24 12.00.04

I discovered this pretty daffodil yesterday, unlike the other singles, this is a more fancy type.

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However, I prefer the ones with smaller flowers, more petite looking ones. They appear more balanced, compared to those bred to have larger flowers.

2014-09-24 12.04.15

And some frilly tulips. Lots of tulips popping up in the garden now.

2014-09-24 12.09.01

Checking on the apricots, some fruit set. The Goldbar and Goldstrike variety tend to have lighter fruit set. Commercially, less thinning work to be done.

2014-09-24 15.33.50

I’ve upgraded the citrus in the hugelkultur bed with “weedmats”. Something, either Caesar or the rabbit kept meddling with the rootzone of the citrus plants. Surprisingly, they managed to cope well, but something needs to be done in order for them to thrive. I found a piece of shadecloth in storage and decided to repurpose it into weedmats. It should now protect the rootzone from nosy creatures.

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The poor Tangor had smoldering wood ash tipped onto it a few weeks ago, it melted a hole in the tree guard, and something have almost ringbark the plant. I applied aloe vera onto the bark and wrapped it up with grafting tape, hopefully it will heal in time. Also gave it a good cut back as the tops have started to wilt.

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This Tree Fuchsia came back from the dead and survived the Winter!

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The vegetable garden received another upgrade.

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The path in between the raised beds are getting a layer of pebbles. A few benefits, it increase the heat level, reduce the need to mow and trim the area which is not easy, no more soggy ground. I have contemplated using bark which is cheaper. However, it might get washed away in a flood event.

2014-09-24 17.08.08

Tomatoes and peppers continue hanging out on the kitchen counter. Some of them are in much larger pots now. Something different this year with the tomatoes, instead of having two leaders from each plant, I decided to have two plants of a same variety in a planting hole. So far, they are doing good sharing the same pot, I’m sure they will be fine once they go into their final spot. It gives me two sets of a variety to choose which one to save seeds from.

In the meantime, the potted lemon, lime and coffee is going to be staying outside for a while. They have a tendency to be host to aphids, which spread on to the seedlings.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Exponential growth.

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Last week, I had my rootstock drama. This week, I’m happy to say that it has been resolved! Tomorrow, I’ll be digging 52 holes, 48 along the Belgian Fence, and 4 more in the forest garden. The other 48 rootstocks will be in PB5 planter bags. That’s 100.

Here’s the grafting list (required/graft):

  1. Crabapple Golden Hornet (6/9)
  2. Crabapple Gorgeous (6/9)
  3. Crabapple Jack Humm (6/9)
  4. Crabapple Jelly King (6/9)
  5. Crabapple Wrights Scarlet (5/8)
  6. Mayflower (1/3)
  7. Willie Sharp (1/3)
  8. Winesap (1/3)
  9. Captain Kidd (1/3)
  10. Tan Montgomery (1/3)
  11. Alfriston (1/3)
  12. Kaituna (2/3)
  13. Ataahua Alpha (1/3)
  14. Ataahua Beta (1/3)
  15. Golden Pippin (1/2)
  16. Golden Reinette (1/2)
  17. Api Rose (1/2)
  18. Glockenappel (1/2)
  19. Rhode Island Greening (1/2)
  20. Devonshire Quarrenden (1/2)
  21. Ribston Pippin (1/2)
  22. Ralls Janet (1/2)
  23. Blenheim Orange (1/2)
  24. Reinette Du Canada (1/2)
  25. Norfolk Beefing (1/3)
  26. Keswick Codlin (1/3)
  27. Foxwhelp (1/3)

The plan is to do cleft graft for all the insitu rootstocks, and the ones in planter bags will be done with the omega tool. The rootstocks will be planted tomorrow, and the grafting will be done next week. I’ll need to get a few bags of sawdust and black electrical wiring tape ready for the big day. And pray for good weather, current weather forecast for next Wednesday is clear!

2014-09-17 14.46.37

The weather this week, 13mm of accumulated rainfall. High of 22.7dC, and low of 1.2dC. The outlook is still quite mild with no sign of frost yet.

2014-09-17 14.42.42

I have refreshed 2 of the raised beds that I attempted to grow veges for over-Winter. Each of the raised beds have a 20L bag of crusher dust and 30L of coarse vermiculite added to it. I have finally decided to add vermiculite to the raised bed mixed as a means of water retention and most important of all, aeration.

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Asparagus woohoo!

2014-09-17 14.58.04

Spotted this lovely calendula in an unexpected place. I have decided that soft brown sugar makes a very good seed coating, as inspired from Nourishment Home Grown. What I have done when I decided to over sow the forest garden with lucerne and crimson clover, is to pour the seeds into a bucket, and then add just about the same amount of soft brown sugar in, shake it up, then mist it lightly, and shake it up again, before thinning it down with compost, and broadcast into the forest garden.

2014-09-17 09.45.11

Tried to take a selfie with a horse. I might take horse riding lessons next season.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Everything’s moving.

This morning I received an email from Grant of Thunder Mountain to inform me that shipment of Myrobalan rootstock was delayed because his supplier managed to freeze them to death in refrigeration. And he asked me if I wanted a refund… Hang on?! I didn’t order any Myrobalan rootstock! So I range him up, and realized there was a mix up and my 100x mm106 rootstock somehow showed up as 100x Myrobalan rootstock on his system, some gremlins somewhere. He’s going to check if he’s got enough to dispatch to me and I have let him know its ok to mix in nSpy and m26.

I realized at this point that if I wasn’t able to forgive him for the mistake, how can I expect others to forgive me if I make a mistake? Sure it puts a dent in my plan, or at this point, it might, but on the bright side of things, at least I won’t have in my own silly attempt grafted apple scionwood onto Myrobalan rootstock and wonder why I have 100% grafting failure in Summer. The other day I stumbled upon this quote, “There’s 7 billion people on Earth and you let 1 person piss you off?”. That’s a bloody good quote.

2014-09-10 15.16.39

The weather this week… Well, the internet connection has been playing up, so the data on WUnderground wasn’t that good. I had to refer to Acu-Link for the data, which has got no decimal point for temperatures. Rainfall this week, 1.5mm,  high of 21dC, and low of 1dC. That’s my new sensor in the Subtropical area. It only records temperature and humidity and transmit the data to the bridge. I managed to recycle an old Stevenson screen to mount the sensor.

2014-09-10 15.08.47

As we settled into the first week of Spring, I realized that my vege patch has been quite of a flop in terms of Winter crop. No sprouts from the Flower Sprouts, the Brussels Sprouts remained a mere 10cm tall, the Baby Beetroots remained a seedling for the whole Winter, and all I get is a miserable 3 servings of baby mescluns. That, pretty much sums it all up. On the other hand, the garlic that I have left in the ground over last Summer all came back strong this season, a consolation prize. On the other hand, silverbeets and perpetual spinach were going crazy in the chooks and ducks patch, at least I know where to get leafy greens when the world ends today.

2014-09-10 15.23.01

Well, I hoped I will fare better this season with all the improvements I have done to the raised beds. Photo above is for the sweetcorn germination test. The one on the bottom left is Painted Mountain (Kaituna 2013), which is the seeds saved from last season. Top left is the original Painted Mountain sent to me by Mark Christensen in 2013. Bottom right is Early Gem. The other two is Rainbow Inca, which is the core variety of my breeding project. Here, I am trying to cross Early Gem, Silver Platinum, Golden Bantam, and Painted Mountain into Rainbow Inca. And then, see what happens. I have already started sowing the corns, I split the plot into 8 lots, which means 8 weeks of sowing, and if the frost wipes out the initial 4 weeks of work, I have another 4 more weeks to resow which still keeps me ahead of Canterbury Day.

2014-09-10 15.14.05

Done the grape trellis. I started the design process with rigid rules. Then, I proceed to question and challenge the rules that I have set. And I break the rules and set new ones. And I break them again, and again, and again, until I am satisfied.

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And this is the end result. 2 sets of 2 trellis. Originally, each trellis is on its own and space 90cm apart. The first change in the thought process is that they don’t have to be 90cm apart, then, they don’t have to be equally distanced. The second change, is they don’t have to all be apart, I could join them up. The end result is a layout that is in harmony with the rest of the forest garden. Each trellis runs 2.4m, designed for single cordon system, that allows for 2 vines, high density planting. Right now, I am just starting with 1 vine for each trellis.

  • Moores Diamond – A hardy variety resistant to fungal attacks, ripening in mid March. A table grape with good flavour, white flesh and skin. Makes a dry white wine and also champagne.
  • Schuyler – A regular cropping outdoor, table grape, bears from first season. Med/large berries, jet-black with heavy bloom. Flavour neutral pleasant. Early ripening.
  • Urbana – Good crops of large cherry red berries. Fruit is thick skinned with a Jelly texture and an exquisite sweet Lubrusca flavour. vigorous and disease resistant late season variety.
  • Niagara – A very early white dessert grape, which is very sweet with a good mild flavor. One of the few dessert grapes that can be grown organically making it a must for the home gardener. Ripens early/mid March.

The varieties are chosen for their disease resistance, ease of growing, and bonus for outdoor cropping selection. If I am to do high density planting, then I’m going to have to pick from the following:

  • Bishop Pompalier – A large black grape, sweet with a full flavour , excellent as a dessert grape. Originally from France, this variety came out from France with Bishop Pompallier , and came to Koanga via the Andrews homestead in Kohukohu. Disease resistant, ripe in March.
  • Torere – Tiny but very sweet thin skinned black grapes, outstanding table grape. These plants were grown from a 100 year old vine that covers over 1/2 an acre in Torere in the eastern Bay of Plenty. They are like currant grapes and may well be.
  • EA Robinson – A black outdoor table grape raised in Palmerston North presumably of a Hamburg type. Fruits very successfully and ripens well, fruiting twice.
  • New York Muscat – Good crops of medium red/black grapes held in loose bunches. They have a pleasant Muscat flavour with a “jelly” texture. It ripens early to mid season. A Muscat flavour is one with pronounced pungent, sweet floral aromas
  • Buffalo – A high quality Table Grape with reddish-black fruit with an attractive bloom. The flesh is green, tender and juicy with a hint of spice. Regular generous cropper that shows good disease resistance. Ripe around Feb-March. Plant in a sunny well drained position. Deciduous.
  • Steubens – This grape is recommended for the home gardener as it is easy to grow and shows good disease resistance. The grapes are reddish-black with a sweet and spicy flavour. Ripe around March-April. Plant in a sunny well drained spot and winter prune only. Deciduous.
  • Pappa Jack – Very large, very sweet dark red brown berries of excellent flavour. Hardy and disease resistant.

I can’t make up my mind, pick 3 out of 6. I definitely want the New York Muscat.

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Perhaps, the answer will become clear next season. Meanwhile, the pears are flowering! The apples are starting to move. Cherries are having swollen buds. Female flowers on Hazelnuts are opening, with their little red tongues sticking out. Roses are growing with more vigour. The weather seems really optimistic. Just about too optimistic to be truly optimistic. Ya get what I mean. One always have to be prepared for the next hard frost, or the second Once-In-A-100-Year-Flood within a year. October 2011, August 2012, June 2013, April 2014, noticed the flood event is getting earlier and earlier?

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The tulips row are coming through now, ready to start the show. Just about all the planted daffodils have come up too, ready to start flowering soon. I have to be very careful when walking about the forest garden being careful not to trample on emerging bulbs.

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The blueberries are starting to flower. Unfortunately, iPhone sucks at taking macro shots, I would love to do a lot more close up. Fortunately, mum and dad is coming to visit in Summer, and I am going to ask them to bring my Canon 50D over, with whatever lens that my sister is not using. I’ll use the DSLR exclusively for macro as it is too heavy to lug around for anything else. I am so over over-sized heavy bulky camera with huge lens.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Amazing day, beautiful weather, I went for a long walk doing a loop up the hill and down another hill. No camera, no iPhone, just me and my dog Caesar. If the weather is awesome tomorrow, I’ll explore another track which I have not gone down/up before.

Spring is just starting. Yesterday, the wind was howling from the North, and that limited my outdoor time severely. Today, we had a mild breeze from the South, but overall a nice warm day that allowed me to take Caesar for a nice long walk through the rolling farm lands. We had no rainfall this week, a high of 17.2dC, and a low of -0.9dC.

2014-09-03 14.44.49

I am in the midst of re-reading Nourishment Home Grown by Dr AF Beddoe. It is a great book, I last read it about 2 years ago, and decided that now is a time to refresh my mind about it. This book presents soil science in a different way, and casts a different perspective on how we understand the different nutrients. One key take away is that the effectiveness of foliar spray is dependent on how healthy and mineralized the soil is, plants growing in healthy mineralized soil is better able to take in nutrients through its foliage. His book also made me realized the importance of Phosphate in the soil, and the use of RPR.

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I have already spread Gypsum and RokSolid around and I am now waiting for my 10kg bag of BioPhos to arrive in the mail. BioPhos is formulated from Reactive Rock Phosphate (RPR).  Using a world-first patented process BioPhos harnesses the resources of phosphate fixing fungi and bacteria. Naturally occurring fungi are selected and cultured by Landcare Research and added to RPR along with an organic nutrient.  As a result of the inoculant and multiplication of these organisms during a controlled composting process, the RPR is converted to a highly plant-available form: Polyphosphate. If all goes well, I will repeat this process in Autumn, which is usually the time to do this stuff.

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Apart from that, the book also mention the use of Sul-Po-Mag, applied between mid-Summer to mid-Autumn, which enhances the trees uptake of Copper, and reduced the splitting of the bark, or cankers, which we commonly see in stonefruit. Sul-Po-Mag stands for Suplhate of Potash Magnesia, I have asked my Elders and FruitFed guys before, but neither know where I can get my hand on them, as it will be a very useful horticultural product for stonefruit growing. I asked Google yesterday, and much to my surprise, PCG Wrightson Turf carries it, and they are using it on turf! Its called Patent Kali and it comes in 25kg bag. I’ll try to get my hand on a bag this Summer.

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There’s a lot more unsung knowledge in this book than I can talk about. The use of sugar or molasses to improve water retention. How about improvising that to seed balls making?

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The Spring bulbs are popping up readily now. Here, the first Earlicheer daffodil is flowering! Next season will be an even more amazing sight after the bulbs divides, there will be more flowers in a clump.

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Apricots are flowering!

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Look at these really thick asparagus shoots. I won’t be harvesting the thick ones as I prefer the more slender ones.

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Still eyeing the Cara Cara Orange. I am proud to announce that all my Citruses have survived the Winter! The ones grown in Hugelkultur beds on the South of the house have fared quite well too! My system is working.

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The tomatoes and capsicums. Bottom right, potatoes from aerial seeds. The only seeds that seems to be weak is the Tomaccio seeds that I have saved off the plant last season. I sow 3 sets, and only 1 weak seedling germinated, I might have to buy a plant from the garden center. I also have Sungold seeds, which I will sow tomorrow.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. There’s no reseeding of wildflowers being done at the end of last season, the self-seeded ones are starting to pop up now. I am going to over sow Lucerne in two weeks time. Along with Calendula, Cornflowers, Crimson Clovers, and Allyssum.

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