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.

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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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