You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Pruning’ category.

Pardon my England in regards to the title, I just can’t help it. Another killer frost on Friday with a -6dC in town. It definitely felt like Winter at night now. We are in the month of June now, Queen’s Birthday welcomes the Winter. I had a feeling this Winter is going to be a really cold one.

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This week we have 11mm of rainfall. In the sheltered Subtropical Station, we recorded a low of -1dC and a high of 15dC.

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With Winter starting, I have decided to round up all the pumpkins and ripen them up indoors. Apparently you can still help the pumpkin to color up with sunlight and warmth.

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Bringing all the harvest in means that I can now move those compost bags which I grew the sweetcorn and pumpkin in. I have to harvest all the raised beds then, so that I can top up the raised beds with the spent compost in the compost bags.

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Something else that I started doing as well is to cut back the privet hedge really hard. I pretty much took out half a meter of thickness from the hedge.

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It will make good mulch and firewood. I am also going to bring down the height of the privet hedge as well after I slim it down.

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I’m saving the seeds off my sweetcorn. And each cob goes into a separate bag. Here, Silver Platinum specimen 1.

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Silver Platinum specimen 2.

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Silver Platinum specimen 3. Stubby and not a bit on the yellow side. Seems to have a heavy degree of cross pollination with another variety.

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Silver Platinum specimen 4. Skinny.

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Early Gem specimen 1. The only one, I think we ate the rest.

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Golden Bantam specimen 1.

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Golden Bantam specimen 2. A pretty well crossed specimen.

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Golden Bantam specimen 3. Not a lot of crossing.

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Rainbow Inca specimen 1. Bendy.

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Rainbow Inca specimen 2. Seem to have cross with Silver Platinum.

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Rainbow Inca specimen 3. Good shape.

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Rainbow Inca specimen 4. This is a good looking one.

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Rainbow Inca specimen 5. Blue corn chips?

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Rainbow Inca specimen 7. I somehow skipped 6. 7 is as good as it gets. So much for saving the best for last.

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I have also seeds for Pumpkin Australian Butter. Its the tiny one a quarter the size of its big brother of the same variety. I prefer the smaller size single serve pumpkins.

Winter came, I’m going to start building the giant cloche next week. I am not sure if I will finish it completely right away, I might just build the structure, fill it up and grow the three sisters in there again next season.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Caesar is really tired, he had a long walk yesterday, and had a good swim in the river today.

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It rained. And it wasn’t enough.

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About 4.5mm of rain has fallen yesterday. And that was the accumulation for this week. Grass needs 25mm of rain a week. Its not enough. More rain please. This week we have a high of 32.5dC and a low of 8.3dC. All this hot weather means plenty of gusty wind, and some of the younger trees have started to lean. The Tree Lucerne on the North fence are pretty much growing sideways.

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The heat though, is causing a boom in the pumpkin patch.

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More watermelon flowers.

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Pumpkin flowers, these are the guys.

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And I think this is a lady.

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Fruit set.

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And a different variety.

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Captivating patterns looking down the corn stalk.

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This is the Painted Mountain corn.

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Spring onions flowering.

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Delicious strawberries. These are the second flush now, previously I trimmed off all the flowers to give the plants a bit of a rest. And all the runners have been cut off.

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Last chance to spray those grapes.

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This lateral wasn’t there last week. The tomato plants got a big hair cut this week. I was in the greenhouse removing all the lower leaves as well as the leaf immediately below each truss. Don’t think I have an Indigo Rose this season, seed saving gone wrong, turned out to be a Super Snow White.

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The Alder fence is looking good. They will be duck ready by next season.

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Gladioli in their second season. They came up through the berm! Pretty much means that they pushed though a foot deep of soil!

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Chicory flower up close.

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Cherimoya is coming along nicely.

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Tamarillos have grown.

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Paw Paws showing just as much growth.

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Bananas in pyjamas.

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It’s really dry out here. The oscillating sprinkler I have retrofitted among the raised vege beds takes an hour to put out 1 inch of rain while the impulse sprinkler in the greater food forest takes 4 hours to put out 1 inch of rain. I turn them on once a week during this dry period to really give the ground a good soak in.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. After the rain.

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.

I have always been fascinated by the Fibonacci sequence, 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34… The Golden Ratio, and how nature seems to follow its logic. Then, how do I, attempting to be the Da Vinci of gardening apply it to garden design? One way is to plant according to the outline of a Fibonacci spiral. I did saw some photos online of some raised beds designed in that form, but you will need a backdrop to fit it into, in other words, the application is very selective.

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Then, I started doodling, and figured out that it can be used for guild design. In this design, the Fibonacci sequence would probably be applied to the spread of a plant instead of its height. The one on the left follow a standard spiral form while the right just follows the sequence and more suitable if the smallest shrubs are not very shade tolerant. An example might go with, Comfrey (1), Comfrey/Gooseberry (1), Erect Thornless Blackberry/Currant (2), Apple on MM106/NSpy (3), Tree Lucerne/Alder/Acacia (5), Eucalyptus (8), Walnut/Pecan (13). Just an idea.

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Rainfall this week, 9mm. High of 21.6dC and low of -1.5dC. A couple of frosty morning but nothing too bad. A lot of plants are starting to move.

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The flowering plum is flowering full on. All the apple trees planted along the Belgian fence have been cut back to the first level, come Spring they will sprout new shoots and form a nice Y-shape.

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This asparagus is getting a head start. I will be harvesting this season despite expert advice. I believe there is a way around it, eat half, leave half, feed well.

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This is the preparation for the corn breeding project. The sweetcorn will be planted into 35L bags of compost placed on top of the weedmat with slits poke right through so that the wandering roots of the sweetcorn can go all the way into the soil. I will also be doing it the three sisters way.

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I unwrapped the tape around the apple grafts. So, this is how it looks like. It is amazing how nature works!

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I gave the Hybrid Tea roses a good prune. And then decided that I might as well label them up pretty and this is what I ended up with. Here we have Peace and Joyfulness, what a perfect pair!

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I figured out how to different the second year bluebells from the first year.

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This is the first year bluebells, just started to come out of the ground.

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The daffodils on the other hand are all popping up. These are the naturalizing mix.

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And this bumble bee is doing what bumble bee do. Chewing its way into the bee food.

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I didn’t realized how much I missed these lovely bugs until I see them again!

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I decided to prune that Almond Monovale anyway. I can’t resist.

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It looks better now. I will need to actively shape it this growing season, mainly managing the length of new shoots, and encourage it to branch out more.

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Lemon Meyer!!! Finally, I’ve have lemons! Maybe I will make myself that cup of honey lemon ginger tea tomorrow.

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This is the Cara Cara Orange. So, I must have done something right for the Lemon Meyer and Cara Cara Orange to set beautiful fruit. Now, just got to wait for the orange to ripened up. All the citrus have survived the Winter so far. We shall see what happens next Winter when I foray into sub-tropicals with the likes of banana, cherimoya, mountain paw paw, passionfruit, and tamarillo.

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The seeds of the Solanaceae family has been sown. This season, I’ll be grown Bell Peppers Rainbow Mix, Bell Peppers Jingle Bells, Tomato Black Cherry, Tomato Black Zebra, Tomato Indigo Rose, Tomato Small Sweet Orange, Tomato Super Snow White, Tomato Tomaccio B2, Tomato Tomaccio E2, Tomato Yellow Pear, and a aerial seed potato. Seed tray covered with mikroclima, if I use the plastic dome and the afternoon sun shines on it, it will be 40dC underneath. Sits it on the pet heat mat set on 25dC with a temperature probe monitoring soil temperature. I need it around 20dC. The peppers will take 8-20 days to germinate while the tomatoes will take 10-14 dys.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Didn’t get much done. Just observing. I particularly enjoy the part where I was just sitting on a portable beach chair in the larger part of the food forest charging up on Vitamin D.

The latest issue of NZ Lifestyle Block have an article on the use of Silicon for the prevention of disease. Indeed, it seems that someone has been doing some scientific research on Si. Meanwhile, Rudolf Steiner has already incorporate Silica into Biodynamic practices decades ago. The article gave me an idea to add what’s left of P508, which is equisetum horsetail into one of my fertigation system that mists the citruses. It will ferment nicely in the drum as part of a cocktail blend of liquid seaweed, comfrey and mycorrcin.

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Rainfall this week, 0.75mm. This week, we have a high of 15.3dC and a low of 0dC. Quite a mild week here due to the constant overcast condition here in the valley. In the city however, -4dC on 25th July, which has been the coldest in July 2014. We shall see what August will bring, otherwise, the coldest day is already behind us.

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And so, the flowering has begun. Lots of bud movement everywhere. Even the Cootamundra Wattle has started flowering with its tiny flowers of pure yellow.

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More plants have arrived from Te Kahuri Nurseries and Mara Whenua Nurseries, and they went straight into the ground. The Belgian Fence had a few more additions, Hetlina, Cox Orange, Freyburg, Monty’s Surprise, and Calville Blanc d’Hiver. The Black Mulberry went into the Southern Hedgerow along with a transplanted Gooseberry Pax. Currants went into the food forest to form the bush level of the pipfruit guilds. It’s been a day with a lot of digging and planting, I am truly grateful that it has been a reasonably mild day, and the gusty wind did not pick up until late evening.

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Then, its on to rooting the cuttings. I’ve got 6 varieties of Figs from Koanga Institute. These will eventually go into the ground as 3-in-a-hole to control their vigor.

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Checking in on the cuttings that I have down a while ago. They still look pretty promising. My experience with buying Currants so far has let me to recommend Te Kahuri Nurseries. Brian shipped them to me, full size, what it means is that there’s plenty of wood to take cuttings from, for just $4 a plant.

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The greenhouse beds are being prepared for Summer tomatoes and peppers. Mustard seeds sown densely to cleanse the soil and as a cover until planting time.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. The dry’ish weather means that I have been doing some Winter pruning to reinvigorate some of the fruit trees. I still need to deal with that big lanky Almond tree, but that will have to wait as doing it while its dormant will just make it even more vigorous.

Now, it’s safe to plant out all tender plants. Tomatoes, corns, peppers, etc etc. I have started weekly irrigation. Everything gets about 8 hours of drip irrigation once a week. Hopefully, this method will encourage the trees to develop more resilient root system.

I was at the A&P Show on Friday. It was good, I had a good tour of the place, watch more of the different things that was going on, like the wood chopping and the dog trials. If those lumberjacks saw the state of my axe, they would have chopped my head clean off with their shinny axe.

I also came upon this mini-ute, Suzuki Jimmy, 2 seater with a flat deck. I tried to look for it online but they only have the Suzuki Farmworker which is not road legal. If the Suzuki Jimmy ute-wannabe that I saw is road legal, I so want it! It is like the ultimate lifestyle block-rural-city-transition vehicle of choice. 1300cc, 4WD, petrol, and a flat deck. It fits my profile, prefers to have only one car so that I only pay for one warrant and registration, petrol means that I don’t have to pay for mileage unlike the usual diesel truck, 4WD always my preferred option, and a flat deck means that I can cart things about without needing a trailer, which I am really no good at. I have broke the tail lights off trailer, twice, and they were not my trailer to start with. I hope it handles well on highway.

Most of the fruit trees have been given a haircut so that they bush up and grows into a more compact form. Bonsai-ed. Fruits thinned down, so that they will mature earlier and be of a larger size.

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I’ll be having my own WBC and DDC pears this season. The other pears flowered this year but did not set fruit. Hopefully their flowering timing will sync up next season.

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I hope this is not premature celebration but I think my grafting on the apple side has been a huge success. The stonefruits on the other hand has yet to show any sign of growth. My scion wood might have been left in the chiller for too long.

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Gave the kiwiberry vines some training.

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I have finally dealt with all the peas. The tomatoes will be going in next week. I have had enough of peas. Will only be growing dwarf peas from now on.

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The season is progressing. Marigolds are coming through and flowering.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Daisies are starting to come up and flower. Corn cockles too!

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Fruit trees among wildflowers. Now, I just need to go and cut out some path with the lawnmower. If that fails, the line trimmer.

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Caesar appreciates the new paths mowed into the wildflowers meadow.

A thought on the side about GM/GE. Personally, I would not want to go near it, because it is a bit like mankind trying to play God without understanding how the whole system works, it’s just like why being in the medical profession is called a practice, it is a politically correct excuse when things goes indefinably wrong. The consequences could be widespread. However, are people who are against GM aware that plant breeders have been using radiation to induce mutation of existing plant to create new variety since 1800s? One of it being the self-fertile cherry, and your favorite Christmas cherry come from this parent. Have we thought about how is that different from the modern GM? Or have we just consciously choose to ignore that fact? That our mind selectively censor out data that does not support our cause?

Anyway, I am not going to stop eating that sweet tasty Lapin, even though there is the tiniest bit of risk… Radiation… Mutation… Sounds a lot like cancer to me. But I’m still against GM corn because they are going to give me cancer! =.=”’

Last week, I mentioned about my citrus troubles. And I asked around for opinions and got quite a few, that I sort of just lost myself in it, and decided to go about and improvise.

For the indoor potted citrus, the challenge is to keep the top layer of soil moist to keep the surface feeder roots healthy, as potting mix are quite free draining, all the water will eventually goes down to the bottom catchment. Usually, before this catchment dries out, the surface dried out, and you would have to water again, but as the water seeps down, and the catchment overfills, you get water everywhere. The solution I came up with is to incorporate water holding crystals into the top layer of the soil and just about anything that holds moisture well, and the mulch heavily. I hope it works. And I really have to watch my watering on the potted plants. To improvise even further, I decided to hydrate the water holding crystal with liquid seaweed solution, which essentially, we can hydrate the water holding crystal with any form of liquid fertilizer.

For the outdoor citrus, they were planted in raised beds with very free draining soil. I have already mulched the top heavily with used coffee grounds, so I am probably not going to break up the mulch and incorporate water holding crystals at the moment. Instead, I tried dealing with the spider mite problem by reducing dryness which spider mite thrives on. I’ve setup misters, 2 on each side, that jets mist into the canopy every morning for 3 minutes. The subsequent droplets will also fall on the drip line of the tree and help keep the soil surface sufficiently moist for the rest of the day. It seemed to be working and I am going to setup the same for the citrus on the hugelkultur beds.

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As for nutrition, I am going to try Wallys Matrix Reloaded, N:P:K 53.9: 11.0: 86.8 (g/L), also Ca 43: Mg 10: S 16.8: Plus Fe, Mn, Cu & B. Highly concentrated stuff used in high dilution which I will use to foliar feed. And Garden Works Garden Guano Bloom, NPK 10-10-2+TE for watering in. Then, of course, there’s also the diluted man juice, for outdoor plants only! I had a feeling I am going down the path of, if you can’t fix the soil, foliar feed instead, if it works…? Not a very organic approach to the purist.

Finally, I’ve got a proper soil PH test kit which I am going to start testing them soil. I’ve just tested the used coffee grounds, and they had a pH between 5-5.5, which is pretty acid. There in proving that the McGregor’s 3 in 1 Soil Tester is not getting the pH right as suspected, the tester read a 7 on just about all solid medium, it did get the pH right when I put it in a vinegar dilution. Good mulch for all the acid loving plants. I’m also going to feed them to the worm farm.

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The latest addition to Orchard Cottage, a tea plant. So it says on the label, “easy to grow, easy to brew”. Seriously hope so. There’s this little spot by the house facing the North, I used to grow, and is still growing Biodynamic weeds in here, but guess its time for a bit of an upgrade. After all, an empty plot can’t grow weeds forever, natural progression sees to it that a higher form takes over.

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Finally, after a year, General Gallieni (1899), is flowering properly. Last year, it keeps putting out ugly deformed flower. I think one of the key to dealing with these old world roses is to prune them consistently. If any flower buds are facing the wrong way, cut if off. If the flower is done, cut it off. If the stem is weak or going the wrong way, cut if off. Prune prune prune, and be rewarded.

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Glamis Castle flowering well too. Somehow, I don’t enjoy David Austin roses that much, it is probably because they don’t comply very much to the modern romantic bouquet of tea rose. But if you are looking to amass lots of rose petals, these are the one to go for.

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And I spotted the latest bloom in the wildflowers meadow. A velvety red flower.

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Poppies of different colours.

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Phacelia has started to flower too. That will totally bring on the bees who are now still obsessed with the lavenders.

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This will be the final year for me to grow climbing peas. I will stick with dwarf peas next season onward. Though, there are just masses of them, my greenhouse looks as if it is weed infested from the outside. The peas are podding up beautifully, I will hold back from harvesting them for a week. The carrots in there, most of them are going to seed, they got pulled out and chucked into the compost bin. I also took heaps of wasted brown mushrooms home from work to add to the compost bin, with hope of introducing the spores to the Orchard Cottage.

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Look! A broccoli head is forming! Broccoli is in very short supply in South Island right now, prices are sky rocketing.

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All the citrus on the hugelkultur beds out back have received grass clippings mulch. Cosy and nicely tucked in. Further watered down with diluted man juice. I planted a spreading rosemary in between each plant. Sow lucerne, lupin, allysum, borage, and whatever herbs I have in the seed box.

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Walnut is finally waking up, mid-Spring. Sure take its own sweet time to wake up.

Last weeks wet weather has resulted in leaf curl on the supposedly healthy Orchard Peach. Interestingly, the Northern part of the tree is least affected, most of the curly leaf is concentrated on the Southern aspect. I am doing a tripple mix of Seasol, MBL, and Mycorrcin foliar spray this week.

John and Tina came over today to pick up some green coffee beans for growing. Gave them a tour of the forest garden and picked John’s brain on a lot of thing. After all, he is greener than me. So we decided on a way to do cherry on trellis. And to get the hazelnuts into open centers. And to strip the fruits off the top canopies so that it does not distort the shape of the tree. And the sad looking new growth on the Santa Rosa Plum is perfectly normal. And my broccoli is perfectly healthy and unaffected by the caterpillar! Well, I have not seen that white butterfly around, yet.

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The herb pot was renovated. I don’t use the herbs anyway. In they go, soil and all into the compost bin. I got 2 funky ficus and 3 sticks of bamboo to occupy the pot. They look very interesting. Definitely more of a sight compare to herbs.

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The Orchard Cottage this week.

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Caesar is enjoying the shade right now. The weather is getting warmer, soon the soil will be warm enough for Jerusalem Artichokes to go in.

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.

We learned something new this week. Vineyard pruning is hard work after lime sulfur is sprayed on. Lime being Calcium Carbonate, essentially lime stone, being sprayed on the canes, is bad news for the hand and the secateurs. It’s like trying to cut stone. Our hands were sore within half an hour. I had to sharpened my secateurs with the file every 2 hours! Next season we are going to get electric pruners.

Taking a walk in the orchard this morning brings to my attention that the cherry buds have swollen to green tip. We will be spraying oil and pirimicarb on this week to control the aphids. There’s no aphids in sight, none has hatched, nor any eggs sighted, but according to modern agriculture, you spray, just in case, the politically correct phrase would be a preemptive spray. But think, if you have a Phacelia and Alyssum sward flowering right now, all the aphids predators are there, waiting to stuff themselves crazy on baby aphids, that will save you a couple grands on this so called preemptive spray.

 

I have a lot of reading to do. Being Chinese, my pursuit of ancient agricultural wisdom has invoked me to study ancient China civilization. After all, ancient Chinese have been amazing farmers feeding a huge population with intensive farming techniques. My past lives had me as a farmer and a scholar studying 天文地理 (astronomy and geography) as well as a foot soldier. All this fueled my desire to learned more about the ancient knowledge, being Chinese and finding myself on this agricultural country of New Zealand.

I went to Le Bons Bay yesterday to meet up with Colleen to have a walkabout around the old properties of her family. We are on the hunt for very old fruit trees and berry plants. We found this huge black/red currant tree, yes, a tree, it’s taller than both of us! It has gone feral beside an abandoned hut, and it is covered completely in fragrant blossoms, we are ecstatic! We collected wood of pears, apples, peaches, walnuts, raspberries, and so on. We checked out 2 properties and both are amazing with very old trees and a little river flowing through them, just amazing. I’ll poke the cuttings into sand come Wednesday when Moon is in Capricorn, a root day to promote rooting. Now I have them sitting in a bucket of mild seaweed juice.

A tired dog is a good dog. Last week I had Caesar follow me to work early in the morning where I ride around the orchard in a quad bike with him following behind at a jogging pace with the occasional sprint. He can keep up with me easily at 20kph! After that, he hangs around at the vineyard while I worked till lunch time before I took him home. He is a very sober dog for the rest of the day! I am starting to socialize him with the farm dogs, he is quite clueless not knowing what to do when I brought him up to meet Rachel’s dogs, even her sheep and cow is not afraid of him but the other way round!

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