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.

When will we say the drought is broken? The hills are dried, most of the grasses on the hills looks like they have gone beyond dormancy, it looks like they have gone dormant forever, composting in situ. The dry dirt can be seen beneath those bone dry grass. The drought is threatening to turn the hills into dunes. We had some rain, but I still can’t see the slightest tinge of green in the dryness.

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Rainfall this week, 27mm or more. We have a high of 30.9dC and a low of 8dC. I can feel the season changing, with more Southerlies coming through. And a bit more rain too.

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The forest garden is being weaned off irrigation water slowly. The trees got the message, and started to go dormant. I have started my Autumn round of top dressing with BioPhos, Rok Solid, and Gypsum. And a bit of Neem oil spray here and there where needed.

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The Paw Paw is still flowering, no sign of fruit set yet.

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Pumpkin Australian Butter. It needs to be oranger.

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Pumpkin Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato. Also needs to be oranger.

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In the greenhouse, Small Sweet Orange Tomatoes have been left to ripen on the vine. That’s the last of the lot. I’ll do another strip pick and share it with the farm guys before I go on my road trip.

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Proud of my homegrown capsicums. Very good size red.

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Smaller size chocolate capsicums.

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Little orange capsicums.

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That’s it at the Orchard Cottage this week. Just enjoying throwing sticks into the forest garden and have Caesar leaping into it the find that stick.

 

 

Thank you for the congratulations on my residency! Truly appreciate it.

I had to get a new pair of glasses this week after a pineapple attacked me at work and broke my glasses. I was stacking off cartons of pineapples in the chiller when one decided to jump out of the box and land on my face. My glasses, which I have had for 4 years, had one of the nose pads broken off beyond repair. I only had a minor bruise on the nose, but I was shaken. I was attached to this trusty pair of glasses, I have had it for 4 years when I used to wreck a pair of glasses just about every other year. And getting a new pair of glasses usually goes with an image makeover. And the new pair of glasses that I have chosen, after 3 painful hours of choosing, and deliberating, is quite a radical makeover. From the Oakley Bracket 4.1 to the Oakley Tailspin. I could have gone for the Oakley Tincup but I did not, for a split second, I was feeling adventurous.

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Rainfall this week, almost 1mm. Almost. High of 31.3dC and low of 4.9dC.

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Back at the Orchard Cottage, the garden has decided to have a life of its own. It is thriving on neglect.

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There’s plenty of spiders around, this is just one of them.

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This looks like a giant earwig?

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Plenty of bird food? What does stink bugs do? I don’t think they are a good thing, will be getting some Neem Oil and give the patch a good spray over.

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The raised beds have been taken over as well. Everything has been growing in a truly awesome way. Really fat good size corn like the ones found in supermarket too!

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The apples are coloring up nicely.

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Red tree-ripened apples. These are for cider, or juicing.

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So, some Jerusalem Artichokes decided to show up. I bought the roots from work and planted them.

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A very late blooming sunflower. And the only sunflower at the Orchard Cottage after I have sown so many earlier on. This is a sign that my new irrigation setup is working.

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The impulse sprinkler is also doing its job quite well, helping some of the young trees that were struggling to establish better.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I am grateful for my new dentist, usually the most painful part of a dental surgery is the anesthetic injection, that large probing needle. The way the new dentist does it, I don’t feel much of the jab at all. Amazing!

Don’t play play, I can speak four languages in one sentence, scare a not? It’s been a long wait, 9 months, having put all my eggs in one basket, waking up one day knowing that a decision would be made that would decide if my adventure in NZ is going to continue or come to an end. Well, thank God that my PR has been approved, woohoo! That means that I can continue on more crazy projects around the Orchard Cottage. I’m truly grateful.

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Rainfall this week is pretty good, 8mm. It’s a good start. We have a high of 29.7dC and a low of 4.9dC. I have already kicked into the Autumn irrigation mode for the forest garden so that the trees can start preparing for dormancy.

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It’s greening up slightly now.

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The climbing beans have started flowering, finally. They were sort of stunted as I have sown them too early, and it took away for them to grow out of the shock.

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The banana plant is finally looking like a banana tree.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. A week of joy and gratefulness!

I was out at the Christchurch Botanical Garden yesterday and finally stepped foot into the Curator’s House for lunch, and that’s a really nice place to be.

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The conservatory is one of my favorite place at the Christchurch Botanical Garden, that’s where most of the plants that are marginal for existing bio region is grown. I was looking at this huge cactus and noticed the very detailed layout of the spines, these are staggered form, as OCD as I can be. Perhaps, nature is trying to teach us the proper way to plant things if we are to do it in a mono-culture way.

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Back here at the Orchard Cottage, it was really dry. We have got 0.3mm of rain at best, 28.5dC high and a low of 5.1dC. Drought has officially been declared.

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In the greenhouse, the tomatoes got another hair cut to let more light in. I have save some seeds for next season.

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More light in helps to ripened up the peppers.

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And some tiny peppers. I will save the seeds of the good size one and plant them next season.

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The garlic is back!

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Very well formed rose. My favorite Austin rose.

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It is the Lunar New Year today. How many new year do we get to celebrate in a year?

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