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Its drizzling now. I am grateful that I managed to fit my morning run in before the rain. It appears that the weather wasn’t warm enough to ripen up the stonefruits done in Central Otago, hence, lack of supply, high demand, price increased. At the Orchard Cottage however, my Lapin cherry would have been ripe for picking today. However! Some wood pigeon decided to jump the gun and ate it all a day too early! I’ll throw a net over them next year.

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Rainfall this week, 7mm. We have a high of 25.3dC and a low of 3.3dC. On the bright side, this year we are going into a sunny Christmas, albeit a windy one.

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This cauliflower came out of nowhere. All along, its just plenty of green, and then one day, it just puff up like a popcorn! That’s about 2 meals there, and some earwigs for protein. They would make a good Asian stir fry or braised in osyter sauce or whatever, I’ve don’t have all the other ingredients, so I just cut them into smaller pieces and roast it in the oven with eggs. Might add some sliced bacon or ham in and see what happens. I am after all, the guy who cooks everything in the oven.

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If you are wondering what I have done to the tractor tire, here it is. The pumpkins and squash on the side, and the watermelon in the middle, and I used the propagating tray’s cover over them. Next season I am going to plant a group of figs in there.

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The peaceful Peace.


The Spring flowers are about done. The foliage are going through a transition stage, towards the color of Summer, yellow. The poppies will be going to seed now, and the seed heads will shake about in the wind, creating little melodies of their own.


The Orchard Cottage this week. How’s your Christmas shopping going? I’ve just about done mine, just need to buy a few things for myself. I wonder what will I get from my secret santa this year.


How hard is it to kill roses? I managed to somehow kill 3 of them. 2 climbing rose, Lydia, which I am not going to replace, and a Red Piccadilly Hybrid Tea, which I will be replacing. I also have a Grape Schuyler which has not waken up from dormancy yet. I wonder…

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Rainfall this week, 5.75mm. High of 24.8dC and low of 0.9dC. Is this as close as it gets or will there be a really late frost after Show Day? The weather has been kind to me again. Just when I wake up in the morning yesterday, it started to pour down. It decided to stop when its time for my morning run.

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All the tomatoes and capsicums are now in the greenhouse. I felt really good about the capsicums as this is the first time I have put so much love and effort into them to get them into such stronger and larger grade before planting out. These are Capicums Rainbow Mix and Capsicums Jingle Belles. I fully intend to save seeds from them and get them localized. From experience with saving seeds with the tomatoes, the localized version always germinate faster and are stronger too. Now, I just need the last lot of basil seedlings to go in between the capsicums.

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In the Strawberries bed, the shellout pea is just ready to bulk up. These dwarf peas are really interesting that they don’t have the usual tendrils. The bonus side to it is that they don’t make a twine-y mess getting all tangled up with the strawberries.

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Siamese twins strawberries.

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The pumpkin seedlings are starting to come up now! With regards to the sweetcorn, I realized that even though I have sown the first few lots, before Labour Day, the color of their foliage don’t look very healthy, and they take a while to come out, most likely due to the still cold weather. Those that I sow after Labour Day are looking far stronger and less beaten up. Something to take into mind next year.

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Good fruit set on the apple trees. I have started thinning them now. Some trees did not fruit though, its probably due to their second flowering last season due to the warmish Autumn and mild Winter.

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I was surprised to discovered this Tagasaste Tree Lucerne is still alive. It was blown down by the wind early Spring, and I decided to cut it back severely to somehow balance the top with whats left intact beneath the soil. It worked, and the tree is going to grow again.

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The first rose of the season!


The Soldier Poppies are now starting to dot the wildflowers meadow.


The Orchard Cottage this week. Letting things grow.

When there’s a will, there’s a way. I woke up yesterday morning to rain, nevertheless, I am determined to do my morning workout. So, the weather decided to clear up temporarily for me, as I stepped out of the house, it was still drizzling lightly, and by the time I am half way through, it stopped raining. Only to start pouring heavily later.

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Rainfall this week, 26mm. High of 25.5dC and low of 1dC this morning, chance of frost in the morning tomorrow. About time. One of the main gutter on the roof was blocked! I had to borrow the ladder from Rachel, and carried the latter home, a quarter mile? And carried it back to her house after that. As I salvaged stuff from the orchard, I only brought back the smallest and lightest orchard ladder, I should have brought back the 9 stepper too.

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In the garden, the Austin roses are budding up, ready to put on the first show.

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At the same time, the hybrid teas are a feast for the aphids, adults and babies alike. I didn’t spray them, they are going to be predator food.

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Corn cockle started flowering. Looks like the flowers of Mallow. It is now extinct in the wild.

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The second year Moorpark Apricot is going to give me a good crop this year.

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Broccoli for dinner tonight.

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The While Dalmation Grape from Koanga Institute is growing quite rigorously. I’m training it along the bamboo cane.

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I think this is wheat. I like the form of it, compare that to the other grass species. A sort of elegance to it.

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Some good news, the Bearrs Lime is still alive and throwing out new shoots!

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Baby Goji Berry plants.

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I think I might have successfully rooted some MM106 rootstock? These were all from the rootstock I bought earlier in Spring, as I graft, I cut half the lengths off, and kept them.

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More rooting success story. Currants on the left, and plums on the right. They will be going into the forest garden. The plums will go into the Southern hedgerow.

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I saw this at Bunnings today. Its a double grafted tomato! The only reason I bought it is because one of the variety is Sungold, which I wanted to grow this year. The other variety on it is Sweet 100.

Also, Bunnings currently have the cheapest price for good compost at the moment. They are selling Daltons’ 40L compost for $4.69 at the moment. I bought 8 bags, as much as I could fit into my little car. It still smell quite potent, probably has got a little bit more of maturing to do.


Spot the tractor tyre.


The Orchard Cottage this week. I noticed an abandoned tractor tyre. And I immediately know where I can put it in the forest garden. Now, I can use it as a garden bench too! I have yet to decide what to grow in there. This year though, I’m going to grow pumpkin, squash, and watermelon in there.

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.


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.


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.

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


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.


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

It has been a simple a week with nothing much to do but preparing for mum and dad to arrive. Got the room cleaned up and the linens washed. They will be sleeping in my room since its the only one with a queen bed, the rest were singles. I’ve done some tidying up in the house as well, the dining table is returned to its original state, a dining table, instead of having all sorts of things conveniently piled on it. But I shall not do too much cleaning as mum and dad loves to clean~ *laughs*

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It is amazing how one thought can lead to another, and another, and another… I was looking at the Lemon Meyer and Blood Orange at the heat corner, they are not doing fantastic, perhaps I could plant something else there, like the extra Goldbar and Goldstrike that I was going to get to plant up in another spot and espaliered. So, I went and look at the spot where I was going to plant the apricot trees. Then, I felt like being a bit of a miser, glanced at the existing Goldbar and Goldstrike that is recovering well being grazed by cows. Perhaps, if I can stop the animals from reaching for it… A windbreak from the leftover shadecloth would work. And if I extend the shadecloth for the whole length of the Western fence, I could plant some trailing berries too! Which I did thought of at some point.

So, that’s the plan. All trailing, non-running berries will be planted there, and the pots will be reserved for the running suckering raspberries. The spot where I planned to espaliered a pair of new apricot trees will have a cold frame in its place. I have always wanted a cold frame! Perhaps, I will eventually be able to grow peppers successfully in this marginal climate. What about the lemon and the orange? I am thinking of enclosing it with clear plastic along the walls, leaving the roof open, that will ultimately block out most wind and increase heat. An idea that just flashed through my mind less than a minute ago is to have two pieces of clear acrylic sheet that sort of function as a sliding door, that slides into each other, instead of swinging open.

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The framework is in, the shadecloth will go up next. Its going to block some of my view, but there’s not much of a view except for some possum infested digger attacked oak trees. The plus side is that I will get immediate shelter from the Westerly winds. This year’s gardening lesson, shelter is very very very important if you want your plants to do well.

I realized I am not that much a fan of blackberry, but more of raspberry and boysenberry type. The reason being that when you pick a blackberry, it comes off with the seeds in it, and you ended up with a mouthful of seeds, unlike raspberries which truly melts in your mouth. That said, Raspberry Ebony is back in supply! I saw them at Oderings retailing for $19.99 but I know I can get them elsewhere cheaper.

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I have stripped the Gravenstein Apple and William bon Chretian Pear. They ripened end of January. And Tom Putt Apple too. How do I know they are ripe? They start falling off the trees!

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Why are the “healthy” apples so large in size?

I was looking at the Pinot Gris grapevine growing on the clothesline, and I was wondering, maybe I should plant a Sauvignon Blanc on the other side, right by the kennel and they can meet in the middle. Apparently you can eat Sauvignon Blanc like a table grape.

Back to berry talk. If I am not that interested in blackberries, the only berries that I can let loose into the forest garden would be the black raspberries. They are erect growing and they don’t run, I’ve got to find a way to propagate them if I want lots of them. Tip layering would be the way, if I want to start a production system, it would mean laying the new plants down at a 45 degree angle and bending their tip into the ground. Could I get a production train going? Or, they can just be propagated via crown division in Winter. How’s that?

My berry wishlist:

  • Blackberry Black Satin. A highly rated American cultivar with sturdy thorn-less ‘canes’. The large luscious berries ripen early in the season around about January. The berries are very juicy with a tart yet sweet flavour.
  • Boysenberry Mapua. A great Boysenberry to grow as it is mostly thornless and has berries with an outstanding flavour.

  • Boysenberry McNichol’s ChoiceBerrys are medium to large in size, with a high yield, and a large number of berries per lateral. Excellent for your own picking and processing. Mosly spineless.
  • Boysenberry BruleeVigorous, semi thornless variety. Produces heavy yields of late season, large purple/black berries of excellent flavour.
  • Hybridberry Berry Delight. Mouth watering large dark rich red fruit with a delicious boysenberry/loganberry flavour. This bramble is crossed between boysenberry and loganberry. Thornless, heavy cropper. Also known as Marahau.
  • Hybridberry Thornless Jewel. Large, firm conical rich dark red/black berries. Old fashioned boysenberry flavour, juicy and sweet. A boysenberry cross. Thornless, heavy cropper.
  • Loganberry Waimate. White flowers in spring followed by large dusky purple-red berries, excellent aromatic flavour. The receptacle is left behind when picked. Trailing habit. Thornless.
  • Raspberry Skeena. An excellent variety of Raspberry with almost thornless ‘canes’ and bright glossy berries with an excellent flavour. Bred with good resistance to fruit rot.
  • Raspberry LewisA summer fruiting variety with a very good yield of medium to large red tasty fruit.Very delicious fresh. Great for pies and jams. Few thorns.
  • And of course, more, more, more, and more of Raspberry Ebony!

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Orchard Cottage this week.

Today marks the first day of the Chinese New Year. Traditionally, if I am back in KL, I’ll be getting red packets of money from my parents and just about anyone I know and met that is married. The joys of a kid that is, and when we learned to gamble, this is the time to have mini casinos with friends and families and just gamble away, and wash it down with lots of festive snacks and what not. Anyway, this is going to be a good year for me, according to what the Feng Shui experts say.

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So I completed the framework for the strawberry bed, along with the 4 covers. The raw materials came together pretty nicely. I am pretty proud that it is perfectly imperfect, and probably the most complicated thing I have built so far. I’ve had some plans to keep the lids in an open position, but the end product shows that it can stay open on its own. Now,  I’ll just wait for dad to come over and we will put the netting on.

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These are the NZ heirloom Paraketia potatoes. I’ve been growing them in 40cm pots, 3 seed in a pot. As you can see, they are truly of a gourmet size, and smaller. From my observation, it doesn’t seem to form much potatoes at the top, most of them are concentrated towards the bottom, but there were 3 seeds growing at the bottom, perhaps, they didn’t size up that well due to competition for space. Next season, I’ll try multistorey growing. One seed at the base, and then another seed at the middle tier. We shall see what happens then. Still, I’m not complaining about gourmet size potatoes, they are the perfect bachelor size potatoes, and for boiling up and adding to salad whole.

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Chervil self seeding now on the hugelkultur bed.

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An upgrade to the main fertigation system. This is still work in progress, a solar air pump and mini float valve is on its way from eBay somewhere. I’ll be brewing compost tea in the drum itself, the venturi kit will be sucking the juice directly out of the system, and while it is going, the mini float valve will ensure the drum never runs dry, and the solar air pump provides aeration to keep the compost tea aerobic and prevent larvae growth. I’ve already filled it with a lot of comfrey leaves. I choose a black drum to exclude sunlight, hopefully, to stop algae growth in there.

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This is Raspberry Ivory. Its a yellow raspberry. I’m going to dig them out in Winter and move them into pots.

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In sequence, Early Gem does really well here, Silver Platinum first to flower and a bit lanky, Rainbow Inca good strong plant, Painted Mountain doing better than Silver Platinum.

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The first tomato is ready! Indigo Rose. Really strong plant. Highly recommended!

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Some windfall here, Gravenstein, Tom Putt, and William bon Chretian.

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Just look at the roses!

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I am pretty sure this is Cleopatra.

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This is my all time favorite. Its a very detailed rose with nice soothing color.

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This jelly bean poppy decided to do a bit of shades.

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The wildflowers meadow is still going strong. Rudbeckias and daisies flowering, a bit of poppy here and there, and the rest are setting seeds for the next season.

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That’s the possums manor. I’m going to set the Goodnature A12 trap there. I have ordered more canisters and  a hit counter. So, we will keep track of this and see if the trap is playing up, if it is, Goodnature will be servicing it for free.

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The orchard cottage this week. I have started up my running program again. This time, its going to be running, and not jogging. The plan is to do 2 burst, run for my life to the church, catch my breath, then run for my life back to the cottage. I think this is a more useful form of training, in case a tsunami hits, no one is going to jog for their lives.

I need to get a USB keyboard, some of my keys have decided to stop working. 12347890=.


Bruce left me a bottle of his home brewed cider, the recipe, and the seeds to some “REAL BIG APPLES”, this week. We had a brief conversation about this stuff last week at the domain Christmas pot luck. I also found out there were 3 feral apple trees by the road just outside the domain! Anyway, he collected the seeds elsewhere (I have forgotten, but do remind me to ask him about it), and they were real big apples! I can only think of, Peasgood Nonsuch?

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Anyway, I did some research online and figured out how to grow apple tree from seed. Press seeds on top of moist tea towel in a plastic container, cover it and put it in the fridge, leave it for a few weeks until they sprouted. Indeed, they will sprout in the fridge! Then pot them up about half an inch to an inch deep. And they will pop out of the surface in another month. I did just that. This time next month, I shall provide an update.

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I’ll name this Apple Kaituna. It’s a medium size bush beside a wild rose bush. The shape of the apple is quite typical. Hopefully, I’ll be able to taste one when its ripe.

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And this is Apple Ataahua Alpha. This is round the bend by the Ataahua Domain. Oblong shape. Really old tree.

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Apple Ataahua Beta. This is near Alpha but further away from the Ataahua Domain. About the same size as Kaituna. The type is similar to Alpha. Most probably seed from the same parent.

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Hand me a lawnmower and I’ll show you what it can do. They are not designed to just mow the lawn. Gardening books would have told you to use them to mulch up prunings before you add them to the compost heap. As for me, I use it to return an overgrowth of wildflowers, weeds, lots of weeds, into flat land. Revealing, once again, the little feijoas, and the rootstocks. I also use it to cut paths into the wildflowers meadow which is now growing at about 1.5m high. A good modification though, would be larger wheels for higher ground clearance, which makes it easier to run things down.

I’ve just sharpened the lawnmower blades today. With just a hand file. You need no motorized grinder to get the job done.

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Indeed, the grafting were done just about exactly 2 months ago. None of the stonefruits grafting took. I would pin it down to poor scionwood. They were in the fridge for too long. On the other hand, all the apples have taken! I’m stoke!

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Little ladybird on the scion.

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All that clearing allowed me to expose the hedgerow plantings. All healthy.

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Ripe blueberries! And yummo! I’ve had some of the best tasting raspberries off the pot too!

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I was just eyeing up the golden with a red blush apricots the other day until the cows decided to have a munch over the fence! Boooo! In my protest, I will be eating plenty of beef steak in 2014!

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Well, at least there will be plenty of apples to go around to feed one tummy. And I’ll be eyeing this one, Golden Pippin.

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William bon Chretian is promising something. I’ll be having Doyenne du Comice and Nashi this season too. Yums!

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The tomatoes are starting to do their thing. I’ve sprinkled some crushed eggshells around them for some added Calcium.

I’ve also spiced up the fertigation tank (its actually a 20L Seasol container, what do you call it?), with comfrey leaf, seasol, and various other goodies.

The cherries on edabriz rootstocks are almost vigour-less. Leaf size are average, and shoot extension is minimal. Its like they have got a good shot of Payback. Is the dwarfing capability of edabriz that powerful? I’ll start foliar feeding them. Some VIP treatment.

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Purple is the theme. Like this tiny flowers.

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And this purple Californian poppy.

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That’s the Orchard Cottage this week. I have plenty of seedling rhubarb and globe artichoke to plant out sometime soon. I’ve just sow a tray of Rue too, I have a rough idea where they would go, but things can wait a bit.

I’ve discovered that from the cottage to the end of the valley is just 8km. Now, if I do a 16km run… Very interesting. I might need a hydration pack.

My second take on tomato grafting is a huge success. Both Indigo Rose on Tomaccio and Tomaccio on Indigo Rose has taken! They are now sitting on top of the fridge hardening out. I have since grafted Black Cherry onto Indigo Rose, Tomaccio and Monte Carlo F1. I have also grafted Indigo Rose onto Oaxacan Jewel and Monte Carlo F1. In this twist of event, I ended up testing Indigo Rose on different rootstocks instead of Tomaccio. So far so good, all the subsequent grafting has taken. Cellophane tape seems to work rather well to bind the graft, I wonder if I could use it for tube grafting replacing the rubber tubing.

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Now this has gotten under way, I realize the need of the high dome propagator. Unfortunately, and surprisingly, its not sold in NZ, but I have since asked on LSB and hope I can get some answers. Otherwise, they would have to come from eBay shipped out of the states.

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This has been on my to-do list for ages. I finally got to finish it off today, add in the sprinklers, hook it up to the irrigation with the electronic timer on it. Done and dusted, calibrated. Now I will need another set of electronic timer for the main irrigation system. This can be a simple one that can be turned on for longer hours as I am using it for drip irrigation and no longer for frost fighting.

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The weather has been warm. This is the first pot of potatoes I have done, 5 weeks ago, and I just added another layer of comfrey leaf, neem granules and hill up with compost. I had a look through some leftover potatoes in the drawer meant for the tummy, and wow, those have chit really well with nice long thick shoots! I will sow the purple heart, agria, and desiree together in the wine barrel. I have another pot of paraketia potato to start next week, then I will be down to the small pots which I will be using the tiny seed potatoes from Koanga, grown from actual seeds.

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I stumbled upon a snail on the window. Why is it on the window? I don’t recall hiring a window cleaner.

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I have stripped the dwarf peas of their peas. We shall see if I can get a subsequent crop off them. In the meantime, the greenhouse has been a sight to behold. Lush growth of peas growing at weed-like proportion in there. I might have too much pea that I end up with a peaver and get nightmares and pea in my pants.

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And asparagus peas too! Oh dear… I can see that glut coming around the corner, pea pea pea.

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So, I took some cuttings of the gooseberry, and poke them deep into the saffron pot, and forget about them. And here they are, reminding me that I put them there. These can come out and go into the hedgerow come Winter, along with the other currants cuttings that have rooted.

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Avocado Hass on the left and Bacon on the right. I have decided not to let the not so hardy plants camp it out in the greenhouse any longer. The weather is getting very sunny and hot, any plants in pots will easily dry out easily and weaken the plant.

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And I mowed the lawn. And dump the lawn clippings around the plants. There’s extra heat right there. I’ve also jumped the gun and start my corn hybridization program early, trying to combine Early Gem, Rainbow Inca and Silver Platinum and see what I can get. I sow 2 lot in there. I think this will be a very good spot, and I can sow the mainstream ones on the tucker patch and their pollen won’t get mixed up.

The only good thing about a lawn is that I get lawn clippings to mulch all those trees in the forest garden!

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From left, Satsuma Miho, Tangor Kiyomi, Satsuma Silverhill. Out they go into their designated spot at the back of the house. The hugelkultur beds are ready to finally host the citrus and avocado.

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From left, Grapefruit Golden Special, Tangelo Seminole, Orange Best Seedless. All the citrus are on Flying Dragon dwarf rootstock, and the avocados are on the more cold hardy Zutano rootstock. The end result, they are raised at least 1 feet off the ground in a very warm bed. I will probably be applying straw as mulch.

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The aphids on the Austin roses seem to have scattered. Before, they were all on the right most plant, but now there’s not much left, and I saw some on the middle plant, but not at a scary proportion. Something must have come along and have a big feast of aphids. Thank you very much you unsung hero!

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I like bumble bees. I was stalking them today trying to get some macro shots while they were bumbling around the lavenders. They are amazing, scientifically, they are not supposed to be able to fly, yet they fly. And for things that can’t fly but do fly, they can accidentally collide in mid-air without subsequent explosion or crash and burn.

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I can count 2 poppy flowering in the forest garden. Soon it will be a bee paradise.

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Just as well, they can help to pollinate all my fruit trees. Apples are flowering now. I have also gone around and did some pruning just to tidy things up.

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I am an impulse shopper. I saw this Red Cherry Guava at the garden centre. Why not? Heh!

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If you have the red one, you should also get the yellow one too! They will be a great addition to the hedgerow-in-making. Yes, I’m a sucker at impulse purchase.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. You can’t see it but the wildflowers are growing taller day by day.

I did barefoot running today. It was a bit crazy as I have not done any running for God know how long. And I just go for it today, did an hour of running at a rather good and consistent pace too! I did thought of doing a 30 minute run at first, but at that turn around point, I decided to just raise the stakes. Feels good!

My first attempt at grafting tomatoes turned out to be an epic failure. Seems like I’ve got the formula wrong. I added too much water into the tray thus making the plants too turgid, which creates a layer of water between the rootstock and scion significantly reduces success rate. Apart of that, I don’t really know what I am doing, especially its been more than a month since I watched it on YouTube. Turned out to be a real dodgy job.

After asking around on the LSB Forum, I’ve got more pointers. Find out more on Google.

This video is really useful. Possibly the best of many tomato grafting videos I have digested.

So, I’m going to try it out again. In fact, I have! My second attempt. I grafted Tomaccio onto Indigo Rose, and Indigo Rose onto Tomaccio. I made sure the diameter match up for both scion and rootstock. Misted it with calendula homeopathic concoction, and use a orange juice bottle with the bottom cut off as a cloche to increase humidity, and they go straight into the hot water cupboard. Hopefully they will take this time.

I have also sown more Tomaccio and Indigo Rose seeds, and a LSB Forum member is going to send me some proper grafting clip to use.

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There’s some makeover in the raised vege beds this week. The green curly kale are starting to go to seed, though I have pinched off the flower heads, can’t hold them off for long. I took the last harvest, gave them a good haircut, and transplanted them into the forest garden along with some Cavolo Nero. Hopefully, some self-seeded kale from the forest garden next year.

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All this freeing up of space means that I can start my square foot gardening! In goes Black Scorzonera, Carrots Purple Dragon, Onions PKLK for the root crops. Broccoli Sprouting Summer Purple, Broccoli Precoce Romanesco, Pak Choi Flowering, Kale Squire for brassica crops. And of course, taking into the idea of not sowing everything at the same time, I will sow Carrots Nutri Red and Carrots Rainbow Blend in subsequent weeks. Maybe another round of Broccoli after that too. Now, I get the hang of sow little sow often. I used to bang them all in at the same time and watch all of them go to seed.

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Anyone has got any simple idiot proof recipes for Kavolo Nero? I am not exactly the right man if you talk about doing justice to awesome fresh produce.

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I’m having peas for dinner tonight! Just look at the destruction the birds have done to the foliage! Interesting, a friend at work told me that she grew peas just by the chicken run and they never get attacked by birds. Do the birds stay away from the chooks?

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I’ve got more peas in the greenhouse. Please remind me to let some mature fully for seed saving.

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I can stop buying carrots now. Next week onwards, baby Carrots Nutri Red!

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Also spotted this beautiful cos lettuce that has gone rogue.

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Lovely Borage ready to flower and feed the bumble bees.

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I am totally captivated by this beautiful daisy.

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Blueberries flowering and fruit set.

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The roses have started to flower. This is one of the white Austin roses.

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One thing with roses that always creeps me out. Aphids! I remember when I was just a little boy, flipping through encyclopedias with full size pictures, and come across all the insects, and stuff, masses of ants, or just about any not so creepy crawlies and I get the creeps. Its just, shivers down and up and down my spines. So, when I inspect the roses, those succulent new shoots, to see them fully covered with aphids, and they are sort of doing the injection thing in sequence… Ewww… Creepy. Hope I don’t get a nightmare tonight. Something like an army of juicy aphids covering my hand and sucking the life out of me… gross!

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Pears are in full bloom now. And the apple trees are just about getting into it with their delicate blush of pink whitish flowers. On the plus side, I have finally ended the confusion of who’s who between Hetlina and Monty Surprise. Dug into the old photos and managed to distinguish the distinguishable curves of the Monty Surprise.

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I’ve also got around to do some tree training, tying down some branches to spread the limbs out to encourage a more fruiting tendency.

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This spread eagle result of the hazelnut tree is probably the plastic surgery equivalent of tree training. It is just one difficult tree to get right. The leader is not growing straight up, and the second and only limb has been left to dominate for more than a season.

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No sign of leaf curl yet on the orchard peach tree. But that tiny red dot on the leaf margin might turned out to be a leaf curl in progress.

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My beautiful red foliage Nectarine Blackboy Mabel on the other hand is having a seriously bad case of leaf curl. It is obviously still weak, having been neglected in Block 1 last season, and a slap dash transplant Justin-style. I have stripped off all the affected foliage for now and will nurse it back to good health. Remember, Orchard Peach used to be covered in curly leaf too! Environment determines genetic expression.

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The orchard cherry tree is just going for it. That’s plenty of flowering for a tree with limited structure. I wonder how it will sucker this season. I think it will need multiple pruning throughout the season for proper shape. Like a gargantuan bonsai.

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This hazelnut thingy is very interesting. It looks like it belongs under the sea.

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Kiwiberry from down South in leaf!

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Here’s a view of the Orchard Cottage this week. I have also completed the roadside hedge planting with Eucalyptus gregsoniana and Eucalyptus moorei, that will close up the gap between the privet hedge. At this point, I think I can stop buying in plants. Now, I can start propagating some currants to plant all around the forest garden.

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I’ve got rhubarb too! This went in to start filling up the Southern fence which I am developing into a hedgerow. I am also starting more rhubarb from seed! Not like I really know what to do with them, but I read somewhere a chunk of them beneath each Brassica is good for the them. And the leafs boiled up makes a really potent pesticide too! Again, in this hedgerow will see the addition of currants, and non-running erect berries.

Something interesting, I was out doing the soil temperature reading today. The hot corner reads about 16dC, the rest of the garden does between 13dC to 14dC. One of the hugelkultur bed reads 22dC! These beds are located on the Southern side of the house, gets direct sun sort of in the afternoon. The mix of used coffee grounds and compost is definitely working up some heat! The raised bed for avocado which is also behind the house but does not have coffee grounds in it is just reading about 13dC. So, hot bed explained. I need to add some used coffee grounds onto the avocado bed.

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Caesar is the true guardian of the forest garden. He keeps the rabbits away. And he even chase after the possums too! I’ve seen him having a go at one before. He is one dog that is fearless about things that he has yet learned to fear.

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And that’s me, getting back into running. Barefoot. I’ve tried really baring it, but the farm road is just too rough I gave up before the minute hand even ticked. So, here’s an investment that hopefully shows my commitment to run at least once a week. The method is simple, set the watch to countdown for 30 minutes, run into the valley until the countdown ends, turn around and run home. An hour, about 4km by my standard.

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