It was 5am in the morning and I was at work getting things ready. It was bloody cold. A checked on the web shows that its -4dC at the airport. No wonder the fingers are freezing. Luckily the work grounds are dry, so there’s no icing on the grounds. Its -1dC at home, in the Subtropical area, that’s a cause for concern. We shall see how the plants fare.

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9mm of rainfall accumulated this week. High of 17dC and cold of -1dC.

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Quite obviously, the bananas are quite frost hammered. It will take a few more days to assess the extend of the damage.

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The paw paws are affected too.

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Yet, this paw paw showed that some of its leaves are not affected.

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The tamarillos are partially affected. The leaves at the top are goners, but the ones in the middle are unaffected.

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The previous photo was on the more exposed side of the plant, but on the part well covered under the tree lucerne is quite unaffected.

So, I can deduce that the tree lucerne canopy concept is working, and the reason the bananas are quite significantly affected because they are still quite out in the open as the other tree lucernes are still young and have not grown densely enough to provide sufficient protection. Also to keep in mind that bananas are the more cold hardy of the collection.

The passionfruits that I have planted underneath a tree lucerne are completely unaffected. And so is the cherimoya.

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Another interesting discovery, these two quite exposed lemon and lime is unaffected. Perhaps, another good frost free spot behind the house to explore. Thinking of a banana circle with a tree lucerne smack in the center to boot. That’s thought for a late Spring project.

  • Banana – Basjoo – 5m – Japanese fibre banana
  • Banana – Pineapple ladyfinger – 5m – Small tangy fruit
  • Banana – Basjoo – 5m – Japanese fibre banana
  • Banana – Misi Luki – 4m – Creamy & sweet
  • Banana – Basjoo – 5m – Japanese fibre banana
  • Banana – Goldfinger – 3m – Very sweet, tangy, curved fruit

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The tree lucernes are doing a good job of sheltering the Southern side of the house against the southerlies.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Crazy ideas borne out of thin air. Keep calm. Keep warm. I am thinking of making one of those Keep Calm posters, mine would say “Keep Calm & Jog On”.

The ceiling was wet. Its leaking somewhere. I opened the hot water cylinder cupboard, and its quite wet in there, something’s leaking in the attic. I found the leak in the attic eventually. Some thirsty rat must have chewed the water supply pipe so that it could get a drink, didn’t bother to inform me to patch it up. A 15mm joiner does the job. The past few warm days were good, I opened all the doors and windows to air the house out. Got the hedge trimmer out and gave the native hedges that were growing too close to the back of the house a good trim back, reduce the damp, according to River Cottage.

Bought a book. Permaculture – A Designers’ Manual. Authored by Bill Mollison and published in 1988. It cost me AU$104.45, and a painful AU$39.05 to have it posted here, it must be a really heavy book. This is the textbook for the 12 Day Permaculture Design Certificate course. If I am going to take that course one day in the future, I might as well start preparing for it now. This book better be worth the read, its cost 5 times the price of other Permaculture books. That is, if you judge the book by its price.

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About 7mm of rain has accumulated this week. We have a low of 4dC and a high of 18dC.

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The mild weather means that the greens are growing. I need to give some of the forest garden area good mowing soon. I can see signs of weeds I don’t like starting to grow. Like the cleavers. And that fumitory. Thistles and nettles are easy to deal with, with the hoe, I no longer call them foe, the way they fall prey to the hoe. Cleavers and fumitory on the other hand, a bane even for the most resilient gardener. If there’s any weed spray that kills specifically only cleavers and fumitory, I will happily pay for it.

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Daikon radish grows like weed in the forest garden. They got here because I sown packets and packets of seeds. Just like putting in piles to build a solid foundation for a building, these drillers helps build the foundation of good soil drainage. How deep does the root go?

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The pumpkins airing out. I think I might be planting a few variety of figs together in that tyre next season.

On the other hand, I have moved the some soil, really good soil, from the greenhouse, into one of the raised beds. In it, I transplanted the saffrons, and various hard neck garlic. I still have a lot of hard neck garlic left in the greenhouse, I will have to lift them, divide them, and plant them somewhere else. They have been left in there for 2 seasons now. I think I will plant them under the cherry trees. The spring onions project I did before did not take, so hopefully this will.

The saffrons I have had, had never flowered for me, I had them for a few seasons now. A blog post I stumbled upon recently shed light upon it, that I must have not planted it deep enough. The little corms just keep dividing. And dividing. And dividing.

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Early in the season I sown a lot of calendula and cornflowers, but nothing do come up. Until now, the calendula are popping up. I think there’s a few different varieties in this bundle. Might have been one of the seed balls I have made.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I was meaning to fit the pole pruner that I got on Boxing Day Sale on to the weed eater attachment, but the engine refuse to idle, but instead stalled. Something wrong somewhere, I have sent it in for service. I must admit it wasn’t well looked after. I only use it once or twice a year. I’ve got about 25m of overgrown privet hedge to chainsaw back to a more manageable height.

By the way, there’s some volunteers needed for a conservation work at Little River this Sunday 24 May at 9am in Little River. Tract cutting, and some weeding. If you are keen, please get in touch with Banks Peninsula Conservation Trust.

Some of those stonefruits still have their full canopy on and shows no sign of going into dormancy. Instead, they are doing the shoot extension thing.

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That’s left than half a mm of rainfall last week, and a soggy fly. We have a high of 21dC and low of 4dC.

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The currants are ready to be planted out. These will be dotted all around the forest garden.

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The landscaping project. About three more loads of pebbles and it should be well covered. The weedmat are down. The Mikroclima cloth has been removed from the greenhouse, the plants in there cleared out. Soon, it will be redesigned to a new layout.

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Anticipating that the next heavy rain will bring about another flooding event.

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I got the floodgate sorted. Two pieces of heavy 2m by 50mm, locked together with a hinge, and shut in place with padbolts. Its just to slow the rush of the water, and it will also help delay the water level rising in the property compound. As with any change to geology, new dynamics happen. We shall see what happens when it floods next time.

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A few plantings going on, mainly native species that provides berries and nectar for the native birds.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Warm autumn.

It’s May now. The final month of Autumn. It seemed to blew right past.

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Along with it, plentiful of rainfall, 60mm. A high of 16dC and low of 1dC.

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The Honeynuts seemed to be not ripening up fast enough, so I’m giving it a little bit of help. A frost cloth over it, and the corn stalks bend over the top. Another week or two, hopefully without getting damaged by frost, they will be ripe for harvest.

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Its great that today wasn’t pouring, I’ve been wanting to do a lot of work last week but its just too wet. Most of the apple trees in the Belgian Fence that needs replacing have been replaced. I realized that half the reason the graft did not take is because the rootstock wasn’t able to establish properly in the ground, poor root system. Hence, the grafts that were grown in planter bags grew much strongly.

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Had a problem with drying the sweetcorn for seeds. I left a thin layer of husk on, and that’s a mistake. I put a few cobs in an onion bag to hang dry, and that’s a mistake too, close together, not enough air movement, moldy. Here they are, on a rack, and I am drying them in the oven with the door slightly open everyday. Seeds from each cob will be individually packed, and the cob will be photographed. I’ll do better next year.

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Due to popular request. Or more like mum’s request. I got ginger. The one on the left back, Ginger – Zingiber officinale “Chinese Yellow”. Right front, Ginger – Zingiber mioga “Japanese Ginger”. Despite expert advise that they should be kept indoors, I’ve decided to plant them in the big pots and leave them outside in the berries corner.

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The bamboo fence, will soon be a real live bamboo fence. Bambusa multiplex Alphonse Karr on the left and Bambusa gracilis (Depanostachyum falcatum) to the right. The Alphonse Karr will be able to give me plenty of tall bamboo stakes in the near future.

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Some other work being done at the Orchard Cottage. I’ve put a layer of coarse pebbles onto the driveway. Done the edging with some 2 by 2. More coarse pebbles to come to cover the vege garden. A few reason I use coarse pebbles instead of driveway gravel. Most important of all, they don’t get washed away when it floods. Now, I also have my own foot reflexology path. Its cheaper too.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. A few more things to happen. Some native plantings. Line trimming work. And hedge trimming with the pole pruner to do.

Today is the second time I have hitched a ride in my entire life. It took me half an hour walk to get onto the main road, and 15 minutes of the thumb and I got myself a ride, who turned out to be the brother of someone who used to work at the orchard. Small world. I am sure I could have gotten a ride a lot earlier if there’s more traffic in the valley, just time of the day where all traffic is just local farmers. Mental note, not much traffic around 2pm to hitch a ride.

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12.5mm of rain this week. High of 18dC and low of 4dC. The oncoming frost event had me typing down some of the Tagasaste Tree Lucerne branches so that they form a canopy over the bananas and paw paws. The growth is quite dense now with a much higher humidity level.

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What do you do when the weather is drizzling, wet enough to stop you from planting, but not wet enough to keep you out of the garden? I took the hoe out and start attacking the thistles. Its the least I could do, keep them under control.

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I’m waiting for these Honeynuts to ripen up before I can start clearing away the area and start building the giant cloche.

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This is an interesting specimen of the Rainbow Inca corn, where the entire cob had dark color kennel.

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The bamboos have arrived, but they are not labeled. I have a feeling the one on the left is Bambusa gracilis and the one on the right is Bambusa multiplex Alphonse Karr. They are going into the Southern hedgerow, into the bamboo stakes fence. They will make good stakes in the near future.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Landscaping duties for the next few weeks.

What a week! That cold snap came through and dropped a lot of sleet and hail all night long.

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That’s 41mm of rainfall there. We have a high of 19dC and a low of 3dC.

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Work continued on the Belgian Fence. I did a stock take on all the grafts that did not take that need replacing, and those that are marginal and will also be replaced if I have healthy backup stock. Overall, they fared quite well and I will have surplus stock to sell and give away.

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I’ve moved the Lemon Meyer and Orange Cara Cara into the half wine barrel out at the back in the subtropical zone. They will do better there in the calmer micro climate.

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The hot spot at the front had a wee bit of rearranging, I’ve moved the blueberries into where the Lemon Meyer and Orange Cara Cara came out. The pots containing raspberries have been reorganized. I’ve also cut back the raspberries entirely and top the pots full with compost.

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The capsicums in the greenhouse is still producing. There’s a brown one waiting to ripen up, and I will save seeds from that. Are these Pepper Jingle Belles or Sweet Bell Pepper Rainbow Mix?

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I did a broadcast of all my old seeds around the duck area, and here’s some broccoli growing wild. There’s a few more around, the brassicas have done very well.

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Things are slowing down and daylight is shortening. I’m mainly focused on carting in pebbles and mulch. And have some bits and pieces of plants coming for next season. I guess I will be planting out the rooted currants and rhubarb next week as well as replacing plants in the Belgian Fence. Some Tagasaste and bird and bee friendly NZ natives from Southernwoods in early May. Two more bambusa to go into the Southern hedgerow as well.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I’m still waiting for the pumpkins to ripen up. I’ve only got one Australian Butternut, which I believe is quite ready, but I will leave it out there and pick it just before the frost. The Pumpkin Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato ran rampant, some are coloring up while the vine is slowly dying back, I’m not sure how many will make it. Squash Honeynut is still quite green, I’m concerned if they will color up in time.

When the pumpkins are in, I can start working on the giant cloche as well, and reconfigure the existing greenhouse.

What happens in Autumn? Daylight savings ends. For the forest gardener, its a time for contemplation, and action.

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The sweetcorn land race project has come to the seed saving phase. After last year’s absolute failure, I figured out I better smarten up, make some changes to the process. Still, some boo boo here and there, but my backup plan works.

 

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I’ve got some Painted Mountain, Rainbow Inca, Early Gem, Golden Bantam, and Silver Platinum.

 

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I peeled off most of the outer husks leaving just one layer of it on, pop them into the oven at the lowest setting with the door slightly prop open for the initial drying. Then they go into onion bags and hang dry, indoors, where it is dry. I’ll probably not back cross Painted Mountain next season. Golden Bantam might be a sweeter candidate compare to Rainbow Inca. I just hope the seeds will germinate next season.

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One of the pumpkins coloring up nicely now, I’ll just leave it out a bit more.

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The grafted apples are being dried out, I’ve stopped the irrigation now, they are just relying on the weather, and start going into dormancy.

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Belgian Fence gets a work on. I totally did not anticipate the need for bamboo stakes, turns out I needed it, and I have plenty of it. It’s looking magnificent at the front.

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I’ve sown a lot of sunflower, and only this came up. Sort of like a consolation prize. I’ll do better next season.

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Borage, somehow, I only know one way to take photos of these, and its like the up skirt method, lol! If anyone know any less perverse way, do enlighten me.

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This Calendula will make a yummy edible flower!

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That’s it at the Orchard Cottage this week. Behind the scene, a lot more is happening. I’ll catch up next week. My weather station has gotten the fever, the temperature sensor has gone wonky. Sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t, and I don’t know why. All the other sensors are working fine though. Till then, see you again next week.

It’s been a while. I have been travelling. Travelling with mum and dad. We went up the East coast of South Island, had a stopover at Kaikoura for some fresh crayfish and mussels. Traveled around Marlborough taking in the wine and the sea-food. Through to Nelson and Abel Tasman region for a buffet of fruits, nature walks, and just doing nothing. Lots of walking, and doing nothing. Finishing it off with more relaxing time at Lake Rotoiti, and Hanmer Springs. Like waking up early in the morning, hike up Conical Hill, to catch the sunrise. Wine and dine at Pegasus Bay Winery before we call it a day, Hells Pizza at home for tea. Guessed I just summed up two weeks of travel in one paragraph. Oh, and we did it without bringing a camera along, not even when I have my DLSR with me. The golden age of smartphones.

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Treedimensions Farmstay, Motueka. Dieter has given the place plenty of love. There’s fruits everywhere! And the birdsong is just delightful! Finally met a tui, and a bellbird.

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Riwaka Resurgence. Amazing place. Crystal clear water.

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Abel Tasman National Park.

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Lake Rotoiti, lovely pebbly shore. Lots of birdsong too.

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View of Lake Rotoiti from Mount Robert.

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Lake Rotoiti, solo walk around the lake. Interesting springs right at the shoreline.

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Lake Rotoroa, would be a much more peaceful spot.

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On the way to Hanmer Springs.

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At the top of Conical Hill.

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Sunrise at the top of Conical Hill, last day of road trip.

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Caesar is surely glad to be home again. There’s no words to describe how much pampering and spoiling I have received while mum and dad is here. And how happy I am, and how grateful I am to be their son. I can only sum it up with I love you mum and dad.

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The Orchard Cottage. Exiting times ahead. Autumn is part way through, Winter is coming. Some weeding, planting, mulching, building, etc etc to be done. Till then, sleep tight. Winter is coming.

 

 

Originally posted on Beyond Organic NZ Tour:

Almost 100 people turned up yesterday to the Edible Canterbury Hui.

This hui followed on from the inaugural gathering of September 2013 and a second one in March 2014, which together formed the Food Resilience Network and subsequently its action plan, Edible Canterbury.

The day featured Quebec-based farmer Stefan Sobkowiak of Miracle Farm, and James Samuel who spoke about Ooooby and the growth in Urban and Local food and next year’s Six Figure Farming tour – which Vicki Buck made a point of showing support for. They have been travelling the country on their Beyond Organic NZ tour sharing lessons learned in creating highly productive food systems, and inspired the audience to think differently about how growing space can best be used.

A special moment of the afternoon was the signing of the Edible Canterbury Charter, with Acting Mayor of Christchurch Vicki Buck speaking on behalf of the Christchurch…

View original 188 more words

Pam gave us a good drink this week. The ground has started to become soggy, and the hills are starting to green up. One would caught me standing in the rain talking to a farmer. On a completely side note, the latest X Factor incident would have put a lot of reality TV judges on their edge. I would put my money on them being more politically correct from now on for a period of time. Now, how do you say “you suck” without saying that literally.

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We have 30mm of rainfall. A high of 30.4dC and a low of 6.2dC. I have stopped irrigating at the Orchard Cottage. I might keep it that way, and just irrigate the Belgian Fence every few days if needed.

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I’ve started to get some of the materials in for the giant cloche. 2.7m in length, and 1.8m wide. The bed will be 60cm in height. The whole thing will be 1.8m in height.

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When I sow four different types of beans in the same spot, and not label them. I need to devise a plan to differentiate them.

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And pumpkins too. Though next season, I plan to cross Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato with Jack be Little and Wee be Little. It will be a simple method, grow 2 of each in the same area, save seeds from every plant, and sow a seed from every plant, repeat. Cross fingers and pray something different come through. A good tasting bachelor pumpkin that I can put my name on is what I’m after.

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Can you see it?

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Its not moving.

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It’s a wee mouse that’s feeling really miserable thanks to the weather.

I had a dream the other night, a big fat cat sank its sharp teeth onto my fist-ed hand, biting it in a like a python swallowing an animal whole. No mater what I do, the cat just won’t let go. That morning, I woke up after wrestling with that cat in my dreams, I noticed 2 of my mouse traps have caught a mouse each. Did our consciousness sort of connected in the stillness of my sleeping state?

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It’s greening up. No longer irrigating. My mum has gone along and gave the Tagasaste Tree Lucerne a good hair cut. Thanks mum! Love you always!

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The Orchard Cottage this week. 12kg each of BioPhos and RokSolid arrived today and will be spread out onto the forest garden tomorrow, weather permitting.

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