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This week has been nice and warm. Gusty and windy at times, one of the apple trees almost blew over but I managed to stake it in time. Seems like pip fruits are not as wind hardy as stone fruits.

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Rainfall this week 9.5mm. High of 30dC and low of 1.4dC. The temperature at the Subtropical plot has read a degree or so higher than the primary station, likely due to it being sheltered from the wind of the North, and more baking heat.

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The subtropicals have all been planted, mulched, and mister setup for each plant.

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Australian Ladyfinger Banana. Very sweet small fruit. Tall, hardy. Productive in Northern NZ. 5m height.

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Goldfinger Banana. New Honduran hybrid. Very sweet, tangy, curved fruit. Hardy and robust. Best flavour of all. Black stem, broad leaves. 3m height.

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Rainbow Valley Paw Paw. Outstanding female mountain pawpaw selection by Joe Polaischer of Rainbow Valley Farm, Matakana. Sweet small fruit, few seeds; uncharacteristically delicious for a mountain pawpaw. Eat raw (skin too) or stewed, in jams, sauces or pies. 4m height.

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Cherimoya Perla. Bred by the Austin brothers of Kaitaia, and the flavour is dominated by a definite pineapple tang. 4m height.

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Yellow Tamarillo. Pure-bred, original mild flavoured yellow tamarillo. White seed. 2.5m height.

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Wild Tamarillo. The original species from Ecuador. Stripey yellow spindle-shaped fruit. Beautiful flavour, less acid than the red form and more complex and rich than the yellow. More disease-resistant species. 2.5m height.

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Passionfruit Sweet Granadilla. Large, gold, sweet fruit. Blue flowers. Handsome vine. Long-lived.

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While we were here at the subtropical plot, which also happens to be in the duck area. All the foraging crops have gone to seed and they are so much taller than me! Plenty of food for the ducks when next season comes around.

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As for me, some broccoli shoots have started to show up. I’ve also been harvesting snow peas for lunch, and ate half of them before they entered the kitchen.

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And I ate my first delicious homegrown strawberry.

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And another off the watering can.

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Now you see it.

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Now you don’t!

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These are Lapin cherries. Will I get to eat them before the birds do?

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Roses have started to flower. This is the Glamis Castle.

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Leander will be my favorite David Austin rose.

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Amazing bloom by Sheila’s Perfume. It’s partner, Red Piccadilly has sadly died, and I am looking forward to replant Perception in its spot.

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I bought this Mammy Blue on impulse purchase. The original intention was to plant it in place of the Red Picadilly, but changed my mind after that. Then, I saw this old tree stump with a hole in it, and chiseled away, hacked a larger hole and plant the rose in it.

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Down to more serious business. My apple grafting project has showed good success. Both grafting in the nursery and in situ at the Belgian Fence has yielded 70% success rate. However, I must note that they are growing stronger and more advanced in the nursery due to a more controlled environment.

Some utter failure, Crabapple Golden Hornet, Crabapple Jelly King and Apple Golden Pippin which is 100% fail. Luckily, all the bought in scionwood have taken.

Now, what do I do with those extras?


It gets more and more colourful week after week. I’m still waging war with the hedge mustard, I’ve attacked half of them yesterday, and will do the remaining later.


The Orchard Cottage this week. I dropped the lawnmower at Mario’s yesterday, it has a very bad cracked on the chassis, and he has managed to a a patch up welding job on it, picking it up later. I’m thinking of changing the wheels on the lawnmower, not sure how it works, but I had a feeling that they need larger wheels for the rough work I am making it do. Its the same concept as driving through a pothole in a compact car (small wheel) as compared to a larger car (larger wheel). I have sped through potholes in a rental Camry a long time ago and I can’t feel a bump. Come again next week, maybe supersized wheels.


That is out here at the Orchard Cottage. While it was -3dCelcius in the city. Talk about micro-climate. I am going to insanely attempt to grow avocado, and, ahem, macadamia! I took the opportunity of Thursday frost to find out where are the frost spots in the garden and rather frost free area as well. It appears that I have chosen the spots for my, ahem, marginal trees, quite well.

The shelter belt survived the first frost, and snow and slushie and haillish shower quite well. I gave them a second coat of Seasol yesterday, and another coat today. And more mulching. Believe it or not, I was mulching into nightfall when I knew its going to be a frosty morning. Lots of love, these plants get. However, they did not get the very nutritious shot of EF Nature’s Garden, Rok Solid, and Neem granules which the fruit trees get. I hope I love them all the same.

I did, spread more coal dust onto the ground today, and fish meal too. I thought its going to pour down today and wash everything in, guess not, have to wait till Monday. Organic carbon. And organic nitrogen. Not as in organic organic, just in a non-synthetic form that the soil life can take in and store. Its a long term investment. However, its not a task I would like to do everyday because I ended up dusty black and smelling like fish, and I have got coal dust and fish meal all over me!

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I spotted this in one of my pot plant. Not exactly a live plant, the pepper somehow did not like my drastic cut back to 3 buds and decided to throw in the towel, shrivel up and die. It rather die, than over-winter in the warmth of my drafty old cottage. But hey, a mushroom pop out, and if you look closely, its got a smiley face on it! In fact, I’ve got mushroom coming up all over the garden! I am not sure if they are edible though, have not got to the point of mushroom foraging yet. There’s definitely a few different variety out there.

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The latest tenant in the Orchard Cottage. A blood orange! Unfortunately, it takes a lot of heat to give it the intense bloody flesh, which I am not sure I could achieve it out here. Perhaps I could figure out an ingenius way, like wrapping individual fruit in plastic to create a  micro greenhouse effect? We shall see. After all, I bought the plant from a local nursery, and a few local nursery stock this variety. So, there must be some success in growing it locally?

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I was foraging in the tucker patch yesterday and saw these beautiful carrot hiding in there somewhere. Carrot Purple Dragon, a 1,000 year old Heirloom. While orange carrots were first recorded by Dutch paintings in the 1600s, Afghans in 900AD make mention of a purple carrot whilst Egyptian temple drawings from 2000BC are well illustrated with it. Shades can range from dark violet to reddish purple with an orange, orange yellow or bright yellow interior with a sweet and spicy taste. The carrot is medium length, wide at the shoulder and well tapered. And Nutri Red, the unique coral red colour of this 25cm variety is derived from its high level of lycopene, a well-known cancer preventing phyto-nutrient. Cooking improves colour and texture whilst retaining a strong flavour. A perfect addition to stews and vegetable dishes.

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Check out Caesar’s new kennel and run! I got it on TradeMe as a factory second after he decided to chew the made in China one up. I took the swing gate off and put a chain in so that Caesar can still go out and do what dogs do best. Dig, and bury their breakfast. The doggy art of fermentation. Now, that swing gate is a bonus, I could use it somewhere else, for the chooks fencing perhaps, yays!






We had a close call with Jack Frost last night. The temperature dropped to 0.9dCelcius just after night fall where the thermometer is set at near chest high. In the greenhouse, overnight low is at 1.1dCelcius at the surface of the raised beds which is 30cm above the ground. That’s very interesting, I will continue to monitor the temperature and see how much gain I am getting from the greenhouse effect. The peas I sow in the greenhouse is loving it, starting to push off now. Too late to sow peas?

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And so they say, too late to plant trees too! And the make up of my fence line planting… Kanuka, Manuka and  Tree Lucerne, which have borderline frost tolerance when young. I have also got some pretty hardy Acacia, Toe Toe and Cabbage Tree! I have picked out the smallest of Acacia and Eucalyptus to close up the gap by the road. The Eucalyptus will have to go in next year after show day as they seem to be very susceptible to frost when really really young. The planting of the South fence is quite a planned randomness, that goes like this. K T M T M K M K T T M K M K T K T M M K T T K M M T K M TT M C M TT M C M TT M. No straight line, not really.

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How then, do I deal with Jack the frost? The combi guard will do a bit of the work, hopefully. And then mulch generously with barley straw, mulch like a mound, and scatter a few strands over the top like a blanket. Seaweed spray. And a Homeopathy silica spray as well. I will nurse them through the Winter with weekly seaweed spray.

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I have even setup the irrigation! Who needs to irrigate in Winter? I could have procrastinate on that till Spring. Guess not. I need to get the ground ready, and I just fertigated seaweed and Mycorrcin to get the soil life a boost after the past few weeks of Glyphosate. The blend will help the newly planted plants establish themselves faster too.

On a side note, the drip lines are really cool, now I can drip the entire forest garden in one go. I will be changing my tucker patch at the North fence to either drip lines or leaky hose next. That way, I only need to separate out the irrigation to 2 sections, one for the forest garden, and one for the vege beds and greenhouse, strawberry patch which is now on leaky hose, and tucker patch.

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I saw this chicken tree house in a book. I am very tempted to build one, just out of novelty. However, base on my level of carpentry, and the more than occasional gusty situation out here, there’s a 1001 reason not to do it. Plus, its more form than function really. But I would really like to implement some of the design features into my own chook house, especially that flight of stairs.

On the poultry side of things, I’ve got the chicken grass in the mail yesterday and have proceeded to sow them today, as blend with mixed grains, crimson clovers, lucerne, blue lupins. Why? Just because I have packets of them sitting in the fridge doing nothing but keeping cool. Plus, the chooks would probably appreciate the added diversity in their foraging.

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Expecting more cold weather to come, I’ve put the blanket onto the lemon and lime. Slightly modify it this time by not covering it all the way down. This way, I can still access the fruits without taking out the frost cloth.

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I have discovered why my cherry rootstocks are all on the ground!

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Caesar has decided to be a goat! Good news now that I don’t have to worry about the flood because Caesar knows how to get to high ground on his own.



Good weather. Bad weather. As long as its not pouring mad, I’ll be working in the garden regardless.

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The vege garden side of things is just about done. I’ve used leaky hose style irrigation for them raised beds.

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This type of irrigation combines the good points of drip irrigation with micro-sprinkler system. In my opinion, it combines irrigation efficiency with coverage. Unlike drip which drips only every 50cm or so, and unlike micro-sprinkler which despite covers a wider area, but needs more water pressure to run more sprinklers, and gets foliage wet.

I did the greenhouse door too. Then, I realized I had the hinges on the wrong side. So I fixed it today.

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And did more. I finished the project. Finally. Mikroclima on the greenhouse. And bird netting on the raised vege beds.

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I’ve got some vege seedlings from Oderings, namely Kale, Rainbow Beets, PKLK Onions, Sprouting Broccoli! That will all go into one bed. Then another bed I’ll sow what remains of my red mesclun mix. And one final bed will go with dwarf peas and beetroot. I think that’s a good plan and nothing like the original plan. Then, there’s the climbing peas, and the carrots into the greenhouse.

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Some updates on my over-wintering pepper plant attempt. I started it with two plants, hard pruned down to 3 buds. One died. The other grew to this beauty. I kept pinching out the flower buds as they pop up, and just keep it growing. Looks promising does it? I plan to do the same to tomato rootstock next season.

I just ordered heaps of plants in today. They will be planted some time this week into the patch. The list goes on and on, Eucalyptus, Wattle, Kanuka, Manuka, Tree Lucerne, Toe Toe, Cabbage Tree, Alder, Olive, Chestnut… And to top that up, I just planted the pair of Pecan today, they came all the way down from Taranaki, having took the ferry to cross the ditch!

Had a visit from my neighbor on the hill today too! My security sensor light is spotlighting his house on the hill sited more than a quarter mile away, unintentionally. So, we are going to fix that, or he is, after my attempt at lowering the beam did not work out. He, has got more DIY skills than me after all, he build that majestic stone house on the hill himself. In a nutshell, they like my wildflowers meadow and is pleased to hear that they will be seeing it again in Spring 😉 I’m gloating.

As for my poultry futures, I am going to hedge it with 3 Muscovy ducks. 1 male, 2 females. When I think about that, I am contemplating if I should ditch chooks and just stick with ducks? Reason being, ducks are so low maintenance, and chickens don’t swim, it floods here once a year. It is a lot easier to set the place up for ducks, they can still free-range in the designated ground. The only drawback is I’ll have to hunt for them eggs. Which brings me back to the drawing board. Diversification is the way to go, in this case, not only do I reduce my risk, but also increase my gain in terms of poultry keeping experience!

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To finish this off. Remember those days with the candy bar phone where it is so easy to text and drive? Well, the numeric keypad is back on my smartphone! Woohoo! Its a real hazard trying to text and drive with a QWERTY on smartphone.






We had a closed to flooding situation on Monday. The river flow went right up to 30 cubic meters per second after more than 50mm of continuous rainfall and cold Southerlies! I have never seen the river level this high in Autumn before. Seriously need to think about my chooks plan.

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I got quite a handful of books from the library with regards to building my own coop. I have just about designed the ideal coop in my mind for the Orchard Cottage. It will be a walk-in all-in-one coop. The coop itself will be raised 1m off the ground to keep the chooks dry if it ever floods, at the same time, up and away from the cold air beneath. This means that there should also be room to put the feeder and water up, hmmm, maybe a mezzanine floor? 2 nest box with a roll away tray, in which case I might have the nesting box actually inside the coop, while the roll away tray would be outside. It will not have a very high ceiling so that the chooks can keep the place warm easily with their body temperature.

Its a week of reading. I didn’t get much done. Just bits and bobs here and there.

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I’ve got my hand on some concrete pavers, No better place to put them than there. Now, that’s a straight line, easy on the lawnmower. Keeps my boots dry too while unloading stuff from the car straight into the house. And to think of my parents always tell me to take off my shoes before I enter the house back home, and the floor on the car porch is tiled.

I’ve got the netting for the raised beds lined up. The mikroclima for the greenhouse lined up, just need to build a door, tomorrow. The irrigation for the vege garden lined up, to be installed tomorrow. The windbreak for the new fence in the South lined up, need some screws for mounting, next week. Low grow blend of wildflowers seed to sow, tomorrow, and I will thin it down with coal dust. Trees to order and plant. Lots of them!

Coal dust. What is it? Essentially the by-product of the coal industry. If you have read the Bio-char Solution, you will know where I am adapting from. Mind you, what I have here, is what fertilizer manufacturer use as raw ingredient to produce humic acid and the lot. Coal, is essentially mineral of fossilized carbon. It is the charcoal of Mother Nature. This will be my attempt to improve the long-term carbon levels of the soil. I call them dust, but they are about the grit of sand, if not larger, and a bit of dust in between.

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I can’t wait for my very first lemon from the Meyer! Mind you, there’s a major local grown lemon supply shortage last week due to the drought in Summer. Will spray my citrus trees with some citrus food tomorrow morning!

Caesar did not like his roof garden and sought to remove all the cherry rootstocks and scatter them all over the place. On second thought, he might be trying to develop green paws and plant some trees instead. He is no vegetarian.



My mum’s dentures would have fallen off her jaw when she finds out I am actually eating celery. Raw! As far as she is concerned, my sister and I ain’t no celery eater, and we would not go anywhere near it. Eating it fresh, raw, and dipped in hummus, actually taste quite good! None of the yucky bitterness came through. Its so good I will chow it down like a cow.

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The entire greenhouse is pretty much good to go. The floor is covered with river stones as a temperature regulator at night. Walk in raised beds filled with beautiful compost from my usual supplier, South-Hort. What’s left is to build the door, and slap on the mikroclima. I will build the door tomorrow if the weather allows.

The weather was supposed to be really crappy today. So everyone says. However, one thing I learned from experience is to observe the change in Metservice 3-days forecast. The weather system looks very intimidating at first, but after half a day of observing it, it shows that it is losing its punch as it goes on. So, what was expected to be hellish today turned out to be a beautiful warm afternoon, followed by a cold late afternoon with some chilly wind, and finishing off with the low clouds coming in, with some moisture in the air. No rain. Not until tomorrow. Perhaps, it might just be a few drops tomorrow. All the better, more reason to procrastinate cleaning the house but to work in the garden. Being out here for more than 2 years, I think I have finally got the hang of interpreting the weather map to local micro-climate.

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The fencing separating me and the extra land has finally been taken. The Orchard Cottage is now sitting at about 1/2 acre. Still not big enough for politically-edible four-legged animals. I took the tractor in today and gave the land a ground-breaking rotary hoe, followed by a merry go round on the quadbike towing the clod crusher behind. I’m glad Grant built the clod crusher for the orchard, otherwise, my neighbors will see the crazy eccentric young man grading all that land with a garden rake. Trust me, if push comes to shove, I will do it.

Now, I just have to wait for the rain, and some more dormant seeds will germinate, I’ll spray them off, and in goes the wildflowers blend, and also chicken grass and herbal ley blend for the chooks area. In the meantime, I’ll be happily going around to mark out the location for the trees!

There’s also some plum rootstocks growing by the road, I’ve got a plan for them. They will all be grafted with a multitude of different NZ heritage stone fruit varieties that I will be procuring from Koanga Gardens.

Seems like there’s a lot of projects going on here through to Winter. I better make sure I am well fed to take on the tasks.

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Caesar’s kennel just had an upgrade, a roof garden! Right now, its a winter nursery for the Colt cherry rootstocks and Kaituna Church Elderflowers.




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