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Twelve. And there’s only four 15 minutes in a hour. It is obvious, and we never think of it, but now, let it sink in. Everything takes time, and its how time is well spent, or for the worse, wasted.

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The weather this week… Just 3mm of rain. A high of 33.8dC, and low of 8.9dC. That’s pretty warm for the week. And the subtropicals are growing exploiting the condition.

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The bananas, with the mister going on timer.

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The paw paws are well out of the double bags.

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The tamarillos seem to be on a growth spurt. There’s three of them, one more in the background.

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The black and yellow passionfruits reaching into the Tagasaste Tree Lucerne. These are growing quite fast too.

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Trying to persuade the Passionfruit Sweet Granadilla to climb into another Tagasaste Tree Lucerne.

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Bamboos establishing itself underneath the Tagasaste Tree Lucerne. Could be useful for the Passionfruit Sweet Granadilla to climb in the future.

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My little pumpkin patch. I watered them only once or twice a week.

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Watermelon is flowering! I hope I get a good watermelon this year to save seeds from.

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Two sisters in the raised bed doing well.

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This is my best looking raised bed planted using the square meter garden concept. It looks so good I am reluctant to harvest the spring onions.

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I’ve got two of these huge cabbages.

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Tiny, small, medium sized onions.

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Pink flowering strawberries.

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And more strawberries trying to do a runner.

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The improvised oscillating sprinkler in action.

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Tomaccio is going crazy and I have been having them for dinner every evening!

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And some pear shape tomatoes.

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Pears.

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Apples.

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Neglected globe artichoke.

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Pinot Gris grapes!

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Lemon and lime that came back from the dead.

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A spider did this. Do you know that spider is the one that kept insects from being the dominant species in the world? So that mankind can be at the top of the pyramid.

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I wish your day is as joyful as this Joyfulness rose.

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Masses of blue cornflower.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Very dry.

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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.

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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.

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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.

I asked Google, “what is killing milk price”, and the answers I get are quite different. Google decided to jump straight to an alarming solution, “low milk prices have dairy farmers killing cows”, which hit the headlines in US in 2009 and 2011. It does make sense, as the farmers are losing money on every pint of milk they sell. On a more free market capitalist view, this will be a classic play out of the survivor of the fittest.

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9.5mm of rain accumulated this week, most of them yesterday. We have a high of 27.7dC and low of 2.7dC.

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The roses must have taken advantage of the warmer period with the newly planted Perception blooming in full force.

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Black Beauty.

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And Deep Secret.

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The Manuka tree is flowering too. I planted this 3 years ago.

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The peppers have finally started to flower. I just need them to fruit and I can save the seeds to start establishing a landrace.

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The Pinot Gris grape is flowering too. The Schuyler grape is still dormant! I broke off a bud, and it is still green on the inside. I wonder why?

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I’ve been hanging out by the strawberries bed after work just about every day. Snacking on the shellout peas growing in there, and also the awesome tasting strawberries. Now, they are trying to make a run for it, see those runners trying to get out of the raised beds. I enjoyed the White Alpine Strawberries that were growing in the Asparagus bed too, they simply melted in my mouth!

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And the occasional ripe raspberries.

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Was it just me or the black raspberries seem to be a bit tart?

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The Hybridberry Thornless Jewel had some really large berries.

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Berry laden Boysenberry Tasman.

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In another week or two, I might be able to feast on these lovely cherries.

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Finally, I will be able to enjoy the decadent Goldstrike Apricot again! These apricots will color up beautifully even before they are ripe enough to eat. When they are ready for eating, their color is like that of the orange sun.

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The bananas are growing again, shooting out the next leaf. They flower after 42 leaves.

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I have started potting up the rooted cuttings. Purely by chance, I made an interesting discovery. It would appear to me that coarse sand, some of about 1mm grade, makes better rooting medium compared to really fine sand. The cuttings from the coarse sand managed to develop roots that were stronger and well spread out from throughout the cuttings, compared to the ones in fine sand. Its also easier to remove them from the container and repot them.

I didn’t managed to put up all of them as I ran out of PB3/4 planter bags. I think next round of propagation, I will use coarse sand in 60 cells propagation trays, see how that work.

The currants and gooseberries are going to be planted all over the hedgerow next season.

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I’ve planted the pumpkins, squash and watermelon into the tractor tire. In the future, I am likely to plant the rooted figs in there as a tight clump, and keep them low.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Amazing sprays of Bishops flower, and tree lucerne growing well. The poppies will now slowly give way to Summer daisies.

 

 

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.

2014-11-26 10.46.46

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?

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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.

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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.

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!

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

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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.

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Spot the tractor tyre.

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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.

This morning I received an email from Grant of Thunder Mountain to inform me that shipment of Myrobalan rootstock was delayed because his supplier managed to freeze them to death in refrigeration. And he asked me if I wanted a refund… Hang on?! I didn’t order any Myrobalan rootstock! So I range him up, and realized there was a mix up and my 100x mm106 rootstock somehow showed up as 100x Myrobalan rootstock on his system, some gremlins somewhere. He’s going to check if he’s got enough to dispatch to me and I have let him know its ok to mix in nSpy and m26.

I realized at this point that if I wasn’t able to forgive him for the mistake, how can I expect others to forgive me if I make a mistake? Sure it puts a dent in my plan, or at this point, it might, but on the bright side of things, at least I won’t have in my own silly attempt grafted apple scionwood onto Myrobalan rootstock and wonder why I have 100% grafting failure in Summer. The other day I stumbled upon this quote, “There’s 7 billion people on Earth and you let 1 person piss you off?”. That’s a bloody good quote.

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The weather this week… Well, the internet connection has been playing up, so the data on WUnderground wasn’t that good. I had to refer to Acu-Link for the data, which has got no decimal point for temperatures. Rainfall this week, 1.5mm,  high of 21dC, and low of 1dC. That’s my new sensor in the Subtropical area. It only records temperature and humidity and transmit the data to the bridge. I managed to recycle an old Stevenson screen to mount the sensor.

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As we settled into the first week of Spring, I realized that my vege patch has been quite of a flop in terms of Winter crop. No sprouts from the Flower Sprouts, the Brussels Sprouts remained a mere 10cm tall, the Baby Beetroots remained a seedling for the whole Winter, and all I get is a miserable 3 servings of baby mescluns. That, pretty much sums it all up. On the other hand, the garlic that I have left in the ground over last Summer all came back strong this season, a consolation prize. On the other hand, silverbeets and perpetual spinach were going crazy in the chooks and ducks patch, at least I know where to get leafy greens when the world ends today.

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Well, I hoped I will fare better this season with all the improvements I have done to the raised beds. Photo above is for the sweetcorn germination test. The one on the bottom left is Painted Mountain (Kaituna 2013), which is the seeds saved from last season. Top left is the original Painted Mountain sent to me by Mark Christensen in 2013. Bottom right is Early Gem. The other two is Rainbow Inca, which is the core variety of my breeding project. Here, I am trying to cross Early Gem, Silver Platinum, Golden Bantam, and Painted Mountain into Rainbow Inca. And then, see what happens. I have already started sowing the corns, I split the plot into 8 lots, which means 8 weeks of sowing, and if the frost wipes out the initial 4 weeks of work, I have another 4 more weeks to resow which still keeps me ahead of Canterbury Day.

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Done the grape trellis. I started the design process with rigid rules. Then, I proceed to question and challenge the rules that I have set. And I break the rules and set new ones. And I break them again, and again, and again, until I am satisfied.

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And this is the end result. 2 sets of 2 trellis. Originally, each trellis is on its own and space 90cm apart. The first change in the thought process is that they don’t have to be 90cm apart, then, they don’t have to be equally distanced. The second change, is they don’t have to all be apart, I could join them up. The end result is a layout that is in harmony with the rest of the forest garden. Each trellis runs 2.4m, designed for single cordon system, that allows for 2 vines, high density planting. Right now, I am just starting with 1 vine for each trellis.

  • Moores Diamond – A hardy variety resistant to fungal attacks, ripening in mid March. A table grape with good flavour, white flesh and skin. Makes a dry white wine and also champagne.
  • Schuyler – A regular cropping outdoor, table grape, bears from first season. Med/large berries, jet-black with heavy bloom. Flavour neutral pleasant. Early ripening.
  • Urbana – Good crops of large cherry red berries. Fruit is thick skinned with a Jelly texture and an exquisite sweet Lubrusca flavour. vigorous and disease resistant late season variety.
  • Niagara – A very early white dessert grape, which is very sweet with a good mild flavor. One of the few dessert grapes that can be grown organically making it a must for the home gardener. Ripens early/mid March.

The varieties are chosen for their disease resistance, ease of growing, and bonus for outdoor cropping selection. If I am to do high density planting, then I’m going to have to pick from the following:

  • Bishop Pompalier – A large black grape, sweet with a full flavour , excellent as a dessert grape. Originally from France, this variety came out from France with Bishop Pompallier , and came to Koanga via the Andrews homestead in Kohukohu. Disease resistant, ripe in March.
  • Torere – Tiny but very sweet thin skinned black grapes, outstanding table grape. These plants were grown from a 100 year old vine that covers over 1/2 an acre in Torere in the eastern Bay of Plenty. They are like currant grapes and may well be.
  • EA Robinson – A black outdoor table grape raised in Palmerston North presumably of a Hamburg type. Fruits very successfully and ripens well, fruiting twice.
  • New York Muscat – Good crops of medium red/black grapes held in loose bunches. They have a pleasant Muscat flavour with a “jelly” texture. It ripens early to mid season. A Muscat flavour is one with pronounced pungent, sweet floral aromas
  • Buffalo – A high quality Table Grape with reddish-black fruit with an attractive bloom. The flesh is green, tender and juicy with a hint of spice. Regular generous cropper that shows good disease resistance. Ripe around Feb-March. Plant in a sunny well drained position. Deciduous.
  • Steubens – This grape is recommended for the home gardener as it is easy to grow and shows good disease resistance. The grapes are reddish-black with a sweet and spicy flavour. Ripe around March-April. Plant in a sunny well drained spot and winter prune only. Deciduous.
  • Pappa Jack – Very large, very sweet dark red brown berries of excellent flavour. Hardy and disease resistant.

I can’t make up my mind, pick 3 out of 6. I definitely want the New York Muscat.

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Perhaps, the answer will become clear next season. Meanwhile, the pears are flowering! The apples are starting to move. Cherries are having swollen buds. Female flowers on Hazelnuts are opening, with their little red tongues sticking out. Roses are growing with more vigour. The weather seems really optimistic. Just about too optimistic to be truly optimistic. Ya get what I mean. One always have to be prepared for the next hard frost, or the second Once-In-A-100-Year-Flood within a year. October 2011, August 2012, June 2013, April 2014, noticed the flood event is getting earlier and earlier?

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The tulips row are coming through now, ready to start the show. Just about all the planted daffodils have come up too, ready to start flowering soon. I have to be very careful when walking about the forest garden being careful not to trample on emerging bulbs.

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The blueberries are starting to flower. Unfortunately, iPhone sucks at taking macro shots, I would love to do a lot more close up. Fortunately, mum and dad is coming to visit in Summer, and I am going to ask them to bring my Canon 50D over, with whatever lens that my sister is not using. I’ll use the DSLR exclusively for macro as it is too heavy to lug around for anything else. I am so over over-sized heavy bulky camera with huge lens.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Amazing day, beautiful weather, I went for a long walk doing a loop up the hill and down another hill. No camera, no iPhone, just me and my dog Caesar. If the weather is awesome tomorrow, I’ll explore another track which I have not gone down/up before.

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.

I realized how I enslaved I was to my smartphone last Friday. I dropped it, chest high, onto concrete floor, at work while I was having a conversation with my colleagues. Pretty much, for a moment, all of us had mouth round as goldfish. Something was obviously wrong with the display, but it worked for a moment, and later gave up the ghost. At that moment, I became a lost soul, disconnected from the world, dramatically speaking. I purchased a new smartphone that very same day after work.

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I did more work on the raised beds. The very mature compost from the old raised beds were transferred into the new beds. This gave me an opportunity to redo the old beds, layering the base with cardboard and newspapers, then a bale of pea straw goes into each bed and compacted down. Now, just a few good dose of used coffee grounds, fresh compost, and crusher dust, and Bed 1 to 3 is ready to go.

I did some sowing at the same time. Bed 4.

Pak Choi Flowering Kale Squire Mesclun Italian
Mesclun Kale Mesclun Lettuce Mesclun Oriental
Mesclun Red Alyssum Mesclun French
Carrot Mini Sweet Alyssum Carroy Paris Market
Chicory Palla Rosa Early Spinach Santana Chicory Sugarloaf
Baby Beets Onion Red Bunching | Onion White Welsh Spring Onion Ishikura | Leeks Lungo Della Riviera

Bed 5.

Flower Sprouts Kaleidoscope Flower Sprouts Kaleidoscope Flower Sprouts Kaleidoscope
Brussels Sprouts Red Ribs Brussels Sprouts Fillbasket Broccoli Sprouting Winter Rudolph
Flower Sprouts Kaleidoscope Alyssum Broccoli Sprouting Winter Rudolph
Flower Sprouts Kaleidoscope Alyssum Broccoli Sprouting Winter Rudolph
Brussels Sprouts Red Ribs Brussels Sprouts Fillbasket Broccoli Sprouting Winter Rudolph
Brussels Sprouts Red Ribs Brussels Sprouts Fillbasket Broccoli Sprouting Winter Rudolph

I was wondering, is irrigation really necessary for these raised beds?

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Harvested the corns today. From left, Early Gem, Painted Mountain, Rainbow Inca, Silver Platinum. Taste test, Silver Platinum is the best, however, its not the strongest grower. Early Gem is the strongest grower, but lacking in sweetness. Rainbow Inca is a bit starchy, seems to struggle a bit in the local climate. Painted Mountain is an awesome grower, only to realized its a flour corn.

I am most impressed with Painted Mountain, unfortunately. Its unfortunate that I have no intention of incorporating it into my diet, or perhaps, I have not explored that path yet. What do you do with flour corn? However, if I do plan to grow this on, it will be for the chooks.

My cross breeding project failed miserably this season due to poor site selection. Let’s try again next season, just 3 varieties, Early Gem, Rainbow Inca, and Silver Platinum. I have saved most of the cobs for seeds, hanging under the garage to dry out.

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The garlic that I left in the ground has started to sprout again. And they will keep multiplying, and that’s my garlic bank securing my food (garlic) security.

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At this time of the year, there’s really not much to do in the garden except observing, and what little projects I have that I need to work on. Of course, there’s the spraying and grubbing that needs to be done whenever I feel like it. Perhaps, I should get on to transplanting the old world roses into the forest garden, move those lavenders. Probably time to start saving seeds on the tomatoes. I am on the fence about giving the plants a few seaweed foliar sprays. The whole place is just about spray free now, except for some pre-emergent and grass killer that I spray occasionally. The only input is when I was fertigating from a fermenting drum of comfrey and other weeds. Even that has stopped since Summer ended.

I think I would do the seaweed spray next week, if the weather is good, just for insurance. Something about making swales in the entire forest garden has been playing in my mind for a while now. However, its quite a flat land, so I plan to do it differently. Its going to be used to just keep more rainfall on the land and slowly soak into the soil. Still thinking. Because it will be hard work.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I am getting ready for an influx of plants next season. Grant from Thunder Mountain Nursery was kind enough to supply me with an Apple Foxwhelp scionwood for grafting as he was unable to supply it as a grafted tree. Among other things, more pre-1800 apple trees, and connoisseur rated apple trees, crabapples, prune plums heading this way. Oh yeah, 50 mm106 rootstock coming this way, a lot of grafting happening! And I am very keen to get the Red Leaf Black Boy Peach grafted successfully next season. All my stonefruit grafting failed because the scionwood has degenerated by the time I took them out of the fridge. I’m going to graft earlier this time round.

There’s the easy way, and there’s the right way. Unfortunately, they don’t rhyme all the time, but when they do, it’s called the smart way. Otherwise, its just hard work.

Mum and dad is here. So we got a few projects done together.

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The strawberry bed is finally completed with the mesh installed. Now the birds can’t get in and we will have plentiful of strawberries from next season onwards!

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The base for all the raised beds have been prepared. Layer of newspaper and cardboard, topped with a layer of wood hugelkultur style, in my case firewood. Then for the 2 vege bed will have a mix of coffee grounds, potato compost, and greens for the base 15cm, and topped it off with compost and crusher dust. For the asparagus bed, as they don’t like too acidic a soil, I substituted coffee grounds with bark mulch, and then top it off with compost and crusher dust as well. Strawberry bed will have the whole shebang, coffee grounds, bark mulch, compost, crusher dust, and peat!

Why crusher dust? I believe it is a way to mineralize the growing medium. Everything else that I have added to the raised beds is just organic matter. But if you look into a real garden soil, you get sand, silt, and clay, which is essentially mineral based matter.  If we are talking about growing nutrient dense highly mineralized fresh produce, then I don’t think I can do it with just organic matter. And crusher dust is a relatively cheap way, and possibly an alternative to the garden center Rok Solid.

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Windbreak shadecloth is now on the Eastern fence. I am very keen to find out how this will alter the wind flow and temperature pattern at the Orchard Cottage. I had a feeling I am moving closer towards a desirable sheltered heat bowl. Now my beloved apricot trees are also protected from the browsing cows, and I have made room to plant some berries down the side too! I am actually very tempted to windbreak my fence, probably over kill.

The final dilemma, should I windbreak the North fence? It will only be 1 meter high and run along the existing fence height as I don’t want to obscure the good view that I have up the valley. The pros is that it will provide some shelter, but the comfrey also grow to that height and provide shelter too. The cons, it is going to block out the view through the fence where I have some beautiful gladioli planted, and some roses on the other side too. So maybe not, I won’t put a windbreak up the North fence.

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I was toying with the idea of doing some very basic native landscaping on one awkwardly shaped part of the Orchard Cottage. Here’s the doodle. It will be mainly themed on grassy leaf varieties like cabbage tree and flax. I am also keen on having a NZ Christmas Tree and Tree Fuchsia at the Orchard Cottage but I will have to work out how to fit them into the landscape at the larger forest garden area.

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We had a day trip on the Coastal Pacific train today to Picton and back again. Well, I must be damn proud of Malaysians because we happened to be the one supplying salt and pepper on board Kiwirail. Learn a little bit about the Malay language, “garam” salt, “lada” pepper.

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Came home to a beautiful display of roses.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Mum and dad is complaining about the prickly thistles situation that I am having. I found a grubber, which is blunt, and dad managed to sharpened it up. Back home, we had this thing like a grubber and dutch hoe hybrid, weight of a grubber, length of a dutch hoe, raise it up like a wood splitter and it will come slamming down into the soil. Die weed!

For my part, I would like something with more precision. A grubber, with a slightly longer handle, the width of the grubber 1-2″, with a bit of a very mild inward curve on the cutting edge. It would be the perfect handheld thistle nemesis.

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