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Apart from thistles, nettles, and hedge mustard, I’ve also declared war on cleavers and fumitory. Cleavers are nasty, the whole plant are basically masses of tiny hooks, they can’t be weeded bare hand, nor without sleeved protection, I tried, and they latched on to my skin and left a series of micro-punctures with minuscule droplets of blood oozing out. Fumitory, just a rambling nuisance for young plants that are trying to establish themselves.

2014-10-29 10.11.05

Rainfall this week, 6mm. High of 26.9dC and low of 2dC. It was Labour Weekend, and in 2 more weeks, Show Day. Technically, Show Day is the cut off day for late frost, as if nature has got a cut off day, we might have a later than late frost this year?

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This week is weeding week. I have weeded out cleavers of epidemic proportion, and clear out the fumitory that were clambering all over the very young Belgian Fence. The Alder Fence has also been weeded out, now more sunlight, better growth. Coincidentally, I bought a new sickle to get the job done because I can’t find the existing Niwashi sickle. I found it, at the end of the weeding job, smothered by weeds.

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I bought some Basil seedlings to be companion planted in the greenhouse with the tomatoes. I’ll need another punnet and a punnet of dwarf Calendula to companion plant with the capsicums when they do in after Show Day.

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These are seedlings from Papples and Concord Pear. They won’t be true, but it will be very interesting to see what the seedlings of Papples will throw out.

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Coming back from the dead. The very frost damaged Avocado Bacon is putting out new growth again. I wonder if the wind damaged Bearrs Lime will do the same, it is just dying back severely at the moment, a pitiful leafless state.

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More quince this year. I’ll need to figure something out to deal with them. Maybe I’ll just give them away.

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Peas have started flowering. This one here is clambering up the Black Raspberries. It appears that the peas managed to grow well in this corner and not getting bird damage.

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A bumper crop of Blueberries. With the good weather we have had in early Spring, I had a feeling that most early flowering crops will have pretty good pollination by the bees. Depending on how the rest of the season go, might be a good year for stonefruit growers.

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Purple flowering strawberries. I must have transplanted this by mistake into my strawberries bed.

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Te Anau Dwarf Shellout Peas in the strawberries bed. These are interesting, they grow leaflets instead of tendrils.

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More growth from the Pinot Gris, and flower buds have started to form.

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This season, I’m going to do a Brussels Sprouts try out. I’ve tried growing them for 3 years now and have failed miserably. So, I’ve decided to try out all the different variety of non hybrid seeds that I can get my hands on.

  • Fillbasket (Koanga Institute) – Another rare NZ heritage variety from the Harrington Collection. An old Southland variety renowned for its large sprouts and the long harvesting season. Our Grower has been selecting for heavy, reliable cropping and we are very proud to be able to offer you this super rare seed.
  • Drumtight/Tighthead (Yates) – Mid-season, highly productive, producing firm green heads that retain colour and flavour for a long time after reaching maturity.
  • Catskill Improved (McGregor’s) – Catskill plants produce several small, 2-5cm buds along the main stalk. The plant will continue to grow buds until the first hard frost kills the plant. Pinch out the leading shoot when the bottom sprouts are 1-2cm in diameter. This promotes bud development.
  • Mezzo Nano (Italian Seeds Pronto) – Small compact producer of tasty brussels sprouts.Transplant seedlings when approx 10cm. The flavour improves once the frosts kick in. When the sprouts appear remove any base leaves to allow for development. Harvest when small to full appreciate their flavour. Also, try finely shredded sprouts quickly stir-fried in butter and cumin.
  • Long Island Improved (Kings Seeds) – Vertical plants perfect for inter-planting. The formation of sprouts is stimulated by pulling off some of the leaves below each sprout so that the growth is directed to the buds. Complementary to the small garden, an extended season can be prolonged by harvesting the largest buds first. A second crop will result if sprouts are cut neatly from the stem leaving as much of the spur as possible. In fact, a few good plants will yield an abundant crop. Avoid fertilizing with nitrogen.
  • Red Ribs (Kings Seeds) – A novelty purple/red Brussels sprout with a milder nuttier flavour than standard green types. It matures over a long period with colour developing intensity after a hard frost and is retained by cooking in a microwave or steamed in minimal water as colour can be water soluble. Best sown mid to late summer for harvest late winter.

I’ll start them indoors on Show Day, and then another lot mid-Summer perhaps. It’ll be a showdown between 6 varieties, and we shall see which one are more suited for my local bio region.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I’ve got to go now, I’ve volunteered myself to help weeding for Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust.

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That hedge by the road has not been trimmed for probably more than 5 years. I trimmed it the week before, and I trimmed it again last week, and there’s still more trimming to be done.

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Basically the hedge has grown too tall, too wide. I was at the top of the ladder with a pair of loppers pruning back to where the previous cut back was. Once I done that, I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to reach the center of the hedge from the other side. So the hedge, needs slimming down, which will be the next job, before I continue bringing down the height. Those trimmings, on the other hand, will make good mulch for my swales.

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Rainfall this week, 1.75mm. High of 27.7dC and low of 2dC. Noticed I’m now blogging on Thursday morning? I have successfully started on my 4.30am wake up every morning, 7 days a week! And kept up with my 4 days a week workout routine. Feeling pumped~

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This is last season’s guerilla grafting success. Angelina Burdett Plum from Koanga Institute collections. Soft, very sweet dessert, purple skin, yellow flesh. From Red Bluffs Nursery, Warkworth, from the collection of Tom and Robyn Morrison. Over 150 years in Northland. Ripens February. I did a cleft graft on this which I learned at a grafting workshop.

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This is current season’s guerilla grafting. Green tip on one of the scion.

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Apple grafting, these are all done with the omega grafting tool. I’m very pleased that green tips are forming. I was doubtful at first as some of the scions are of smaller caliber than the rootstock, and looks odd with the two omega cuts merging together.

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Most of the tomatoes have been planted out into the greenhouse. They have grown too tall, and without any supporting stakes in the pots, they have reached the point of flopping over.

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The peppers have been potted up further. These will go out into the greenhouse mid-November. Some have started forming the first set of flower buds, which will be pinched off to encourage further bushing out. A few more tomatoes still need growing out.

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In the raised beds, this looks like the start of a broccoli. I don’t really know because I bought a mixed brassica punnet.

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This little Pecan tree is very enthusiastic, the other one is just started to leaf out.

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And this Walnut tree is waking up to a dazzling season.

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Someone got caught selling OZ toms as locals, and of course without irradiation signage. I like the new signage, but I would pay a dollar for that, not four.

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From the far side of the Orchard Cottage this week. Poppies all about, along with Phacelia Lacy. The Red Soldier Poppies are starting to come up too.

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This week at the Orchard Cottage. Another step towards a healthier lifestyle.

As we grow up and get caught up in all that adulthood. How often do we consciously try to reengage with our inner child?

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After last week’s brief moment of childish art. I went out and got the rest of the range. Unfortunately, I don’t think they sell the yellow version of the kids watering can anymore. Strawberry Albion in the green one, Elsanta in the blue and Chandler in the pink one. I use a Coir and Peat mix with plenty of water holding crystals added. The spout of the watering can is where the excess water drains out. I have also sown Rhodochiton Purple Bells in each can.

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1.75mm of rain accumulated this week. High of 22.1dC and a low of 2.2dC. I’m still keeping an eye out for the next heavy rainfall event, got to be ready for potential flood event.

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Without noticing it, it’s already mid-Spring today. And we shall mark it with this dashing tulip specimen. This is totally my type of tulip. The contrasting highlights on the lips makes it stand out strongly.

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Beautiful crimson clover coming through where the Austin roses are.

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The Ebony Raspberries are all flowering. Just can’t wait to fill my mouth with these. I would enjoy black raspberries better than blackberries without all the seeds crunching in my mouth.

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Tasty boysenberries and hybridberries. Yum!

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Goldstrike Apricot has got a nice fruit set this time round. Hopefully I will be able to savor them again this season. These are amazingly delicious apricots! However, one must be careful not to harvest these until the colors are bold orange and not too firm. I have never enjoyed crunchy apricots, nor peaches and nectarines. I prefer them fleshy and fully ripen.

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So this is how figs come about. Very interesting.

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I have started linking the limbs of the three plum tree, Damson, Greengage and Coes Golden Drop. I hope the limbs will naturally graft together in the future. And maybe, just maybe, some sort of graft-chimaera or graft-hybrid will occur.

2014-10-15 16.11.18

Planted the potato seedling grown from aerial seeds. I wonder what sort of potato I will yield from them.

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This is the Orchard Cottage taken from the far corner of the forest garden. Just taking it from a different perspective. I was reading an article today about going to sleep and waking up at a more routine time everyday, and think to myself, how am I going to do it if my work roster is not going to allow that easily?

  • Monday – wake up 4.30am, work 6am to 3.30pm, sleep by 11pm.
  • Tuesday – wake up 7am, work 8.30am to 6pm, sleep by 11pm.
  • Wednesday – wake up 7am, work 8.30am to 6pm, sleep by 8.30pm. 2x One Square Meal on the drive home for dinner, and a bottle of Guinness to finish the night off.
  • Thursday – wake up 4.30am, work 6am to 3.30pm, sleep by 8.30pm.
  • Friday – wake up 4.30am, work 6am to 3.30pm, sleep by… what? It’s the weekends.
  • Saturday – wakes up whenever, sleep whenever. Workout in the morning.
  • Sunday – wakes up whenever, sleep by 8.30pm. Workout in the morning.

In order to have a better night’s sleep every night. And I quote, “Not only will a stable rhythm of sleeping and waking improve the quality of your sleep, but it will probably also improve the quality of your life.”. So, the new plan after examining it from a different perspective.

  • Monday – wake up 4.30am, work 6am to 3.30pm, sleep by 8.30pm.
  • Tuesday – wake up 4.30am, work 8.30am to 6pm, sleep by 8.30pm. Workout in the morning before going to work. 2x One Square Meal on the drive home for dinner, and a bottle of Guinness to finish the night off.
  • Wednesday – wake up 4.30am, work 8.30am to 6pm, sleep by 8.30pm. Workout in the morning before going to work. 2x One Square Meal on the drive home for dinner, and a bottle of Guinness to finish the night off.
  • Thursday – wake up 4.30am, work 6am to 3.30pm, sleep by 8.30pm.
  • Friday – wake up 4.30am, work 6am to 3.30pm, sleep by 8.30pm.
  • Saturday – wake up 4.30am, sleep by 8.30pm. Workout in the morning.
  • Sunday – wake up 4.30am, sleep by 8.30pm. Workout in the morning.

Am also going to invest in a firmer mattress.

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The forest garden is lush with vegetation and all that wildflowers and Spring bulbs are starting to show off their colors.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Caesar’s curious head on the bottom left.

Received an email the other day from Koanga Institute, part of the content is about the potato trial. In the past, all you do is pay $40 to sponsor a variety, and that’s about it, at the end of the season they published the trial results. This year, they decided, and I quote “Everybody who sponsors a potato this year will receive a kilo of potatoes of the one(s)  they sponsor, that you could either eat or grow! We’ll send them out when we harvest them in February.”. That’s new. In the past, I sponsored Paraketia, this year however, I decided to go for Whataroa, as its the type of potato that is more suited to my culinary style, “Great for making oven-baked chips”. So which is your spud? Click here to sponsor one.

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15mm of rain has accumulated this week. 10mm of that, was accumulated within an hour. The high of the week is 23dC, while the low is 0dC.

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I’ve got a spare Albion Strawberry, and I decided that I will attempt hanging strawberry planters again. I started contemplating what sort of planter I should use this time, and saw the cute little 1L watering can that I have by the window sill. This cute little thing is just ok at doing the watering can job as the spout doesn’t work that great. Its new role, really makes me smile, childishly, like a kid, ear to ear, now I’m smiling at my laptop just looking at the photo, mum and dad used to think I’m up to no good when I’m smiling at the screen back home, lol.

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Guess what?! There’s 3 other types! Maybe I should start a family, it would be so kiddish cool. I use a coir and peat mix, and a teaspoon of water holding crystals. And 3 other variety of strawberries. Or even tumbling tomatoes. Or the ever so elusive Rhodochiton Purple Bells that I have tried for years and been unsuccessful.

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Daylight savings kicking in means that when I come back from work in the evening, I can still see the sun filtering through the Willow trees.

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And wander about the forest garden, marveling at the amazing beauty of nature.

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Tulips come in so many different shapes and shades. This is just lily like.

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I planted a whole line of them. And more around some of the nut trees. I’m definitely adding more Spring bulbs next season.

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What do you call this? Pink frills?

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Beautiful champagne color poppies.

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Nothing defines orange better than Calendula.

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And this Cornflower out blue Monday blues.

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I think Caesar has a better view of the forest garden than me. Bluebells, poppies, and tulips.

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Lapin Cherry flowering. This, I am training into a trellis beside the Dawson Cherry, both on Edabriz interstem rootstock. I was reading a commercial growing magazine the other day, and realized that some orchardists are moving towards a 2D trellis system. I think we saw the same potential adapting from the grapevine intensive monoculture.

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The apple trees are in bloom now. Beneath it, a White Borage, a bit rare but I’ve got a few self-seeded plants around the forest garden.

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The Pinot Gris from Okana Vineyard finally waking up. This year is production year. I’ll train the shoots over the 2 wires on each side, they can have grapes hanging down and I’ll throw a net over them.

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More sweetcorn is popping out of the compost bags. I’m into my 5th week of sowing now. The soil temperature is coming up nicely too, well above 10dC now, its time to sow the sunflower seeds as well.

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I poked some second year wood of currants into the ground, and viola! It rooted! Then I realized, I poked it into the same spot where I poke the stone of a Blackboy Peach. The Blackboy Peach seedling is just popping out now. Amazing how they punch through the pebbles.

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That’s all the tomatoes and capsicums seedlings. The big pot of tomato is Tomaccio, I bought 2 plants from the garden centre, and potted them into the same pot. All the tomatoes are grown two in a hole this season. I think I’ve made very good progress with the capsicums this year compare to the past. I guess the key is to keep potting up. The Sungold Tomato seedlings don’t look that great, I hope they will grow out of it. I realized that the stronger varieties are the ones that I have save seeds from. They seem to naturalized really quickly to local conditions. More reasons to save your own seeds whenever possible.

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This a a chard, going to seed. Its in the poultry patch. Not that there’s any chickens, or ducks in sight, there will be some in the future. Behind it, the kiwiberries are just waking up.

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A very sorry sight of the lemon and lime that were ravaged by those gusty wind last week. They are now placed in a sheltered area. They were once just cut back to a 12 inch whip and been indoors ever since, they done well indoors, and their foliage were not grown for the outdoors. Hence, I’ll leave them outdoors now, and I’ve got plans for them at the end of the season, they are coming indoors no more.

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Caesar is looking longingly at the playmates on the other side of the fence.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I’m thinking of taking the weeping flowering cherry out of the pot, and planting it back in the forest garden. Plans for tomorrow, a lot of hedge trimming, and I got to give the wet room a good clean. I’ve sprayed the driveway and some other areas with pre-emergent today, its a 12 months thing, but I’m not sure if it will last for 12 months. I’ve also inserted tricodowels into the Goldbar and Goldstrike Apricots to treat for Silver Leaf disease, I hope it works. It’s not easy drilling holes into apricot trees, the wood is hard!

Come again next week and you might see more kiddy planter pots!

The gutsy wind tends to annoy the hell out of me. It limits outdoor activities, not that it stopped me from going for my morning run this morning, some projects had to be held off. I kept waking up at night to the howling wind. I think I might consider switching bedroom in the future, but I’ll have to paint the other room first.

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This Tree Lucerne got blown over. The high winds on Monday did a good defoliation job on the Lemon Yen Ben and Lime Bearrs that I was growing in a pot and decided to let them hang out outside. Same to the coffee plant that had the younger leaves shredded. Top recorded wind speed on Monday was 51.5kmh. I need my shelters.

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The weather this week, 0.3mm of rain accumulated. High of 22.7dC and a low of -1.4dC.

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Look at that Belgian Fence! It took me a whole day to get all the grafting done. I figured that in the future, if I come across more ancient varieties, I can always modify the Belgian Fence planting to be doubles, meaning there will be two different varieties off a single stock, at the Y intersect.

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Half of them grafted onto rootstocks in planter bags. I can only hope for a 50% strike rate.

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Don’t believe it when peaches and nectarines varieties were advertised as leaf curl resistant. This season, I’m going to try something different. I’m not going to remove any curly leaf. Maybe leaving it on will trigger the plant to produce some internal chemical or biological reaction. Like us falling sick and the body produces its own antibody to combat sickness.

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The shellout pea that I sown in the strawberries bed. Its got very interesting smaller leaf offshoots. I’ve never seen anything like this before.

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The sweetcorn project is slowly starting up with this little seedling corn popping through the compost bag. 4 more weeks of sowing to go. The pumpkin, squash, and watermelon seeds will be sown on Labour Day. The beans sowing cycle will also start then.

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Apricots flowering. Beautiful white flowers. Somehow, apricots seem to be very prone to silver leaf disease. One of them on the West fence has got it, and I had to pruned some of the branches out. Maybe I’ll try hammering a copper nail into the tree. On the other hand, I hope its just false silver leaf disease. True silver leaf disease will have dark stain in the wood when cut.

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The bluebells have started flowering in the forest garden. They are so small, so tiny, so easily overlooked. I hope they will divide well into enchanting masses.

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Caesar loves eating grass. Or at least, lawn clippings.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I’ve been doing my due diligence giving those thistles a good hoe. I’ll also need to get a billhook to rid myself of those wild mustard weed. I can’t find my Niwashi Shark, its gone missing. Hence, I’m upgrading myself to a Fiskars Brush Hook X3, a reminiscence of my younger years out hiking in the bush with a parang (machete) as a sidearm. We used it to make chopsticks in the jungle for our instant noodles.

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