Machete Madness

I was planning to take the weed eater brush cutter whatever to deal with the forest garden yesterday but the damn thing will start, but it will pass out after a while and just won’t idle. I sent it in for a service a while back for the same issue and the shop said they replaced the clutch because it was worn… well, I’ve not used it ever since I got it back, don’t tell me the clutch worn while in storage. I am really tempted to biff it because not all shop will service it, and the one that does is not in a convenient location. However, I happened to have drop some cash and bought a pole pruner attachment for it last Boxing Day, so, there’s the dilemma there. Anyway, McCulloch is the brand, and the only place that service it in Christchurch is in St Albans.


Anyway, the forest garden still need dealing with before the hedge mustard goes to seed completely, dries up, and becomes a fire hazard. I turned to my trusted Fiskars X3 Brush Hook. It took me much longer than the brush cutter, but I got it done in the end. I stepped down the cleavers in the process, and that seem to work well as they just crunched up and cling on to each other and form a mat on the ground. From the photo above, you can see that the spaces are more open now.


Rainfall last week, 3mm. We have a high of 26.8dC and a low of 0.2dC. Bumped into the eCan guy doing the river flow reading and he said that we are closed to water restriction level. This dryness to come made me put serious thought into the design on the new property. Water will be a key priority. In fact, there’s already a restriction on now that you can do alternate days hosing.

The main water concern is the Biointensive vegetable garden, there’s going to be about 60m2 of it, and each m2 needs about 5mm of water a day, that’s 300mm, or 300L of water a day. Put it this way, that 3mm of rainfall last week ain’t going to make a dent at all.


The sweetcorn are just popping their head through.


Germinating weeds from seeds. Nitrogen fixing weeds. I got to remind myself to collect some seeds from that broom by the road later.


The Lady flowering.


And my favorite Austin Rose.


The Orchard Cottage this week. Clearly noticeably spaciousness in the Forest Garden. Bluebells, daffodils, and saffron have all been dug out and stored in compost in mushroom boxes. Ideally I should have used sawdust, but I have an abundance of pretty dry compost, so it will do.

Exciting things, I’m going to get a trio of flat peaches and nectarine for the new place. Just thinking, with 9 peaches and nectarines, it will be a pretty ugly sight if they are all covered in leaf curl. The wildflowers craze is coming along, but this time I am restricting to just the low growing blend. I’m going to be growing figs and olives in pots. And some of the olive cuttings are still green, which probably means that they are rooting! Yays!


Free To Go To A Good Home

Without realizing it, I gave away almost $350 worth of plants to my neighbor. He is a happy chap loading a dozen young plants onto his truck. If he were to buy them from the nursery, larger grade though, it would have cost him $350, or more. The plants were spares, and he is one of the friendlier farm staff around, so why not make someone’s day.


Rainfall this week, about 11mm. We have a high of 23.2dC and a low of 1.4dC. Thank you for the rain!


Things are getting a bit out of control here in the forest garden. I am going to bring in the brush cutter next week and hit those hedge mustard and cleavers. In permaculture terms, I don’t have a weed problem, just an absence of weed eating animals like chooks and goats.


This is a huge calendula seed head! I’m saving calendula, white borage, and blue borage seeds at the moment. Should be able to save seeds on the cornflower and blue lupin later.


Red roses.


And one that is very peaceful.


The new tenant is going to have a feast of potatoes for Christmas.


Flowering Pak Choi at the front. My best looking specimen ever. I’ve tried to grow them in the past and they just go to seed from the seedling stage. Again, I don’t think I’ll be eating these guys.


I’ll be eating these guys instead. I sourced these propagating trays with tall dome from the States. They use this tall dome design to propagate marijuana plants over there. I’ve got spinach, mesclun mixes, brassica, aerial potato seeds, asparagus, sweetcorn, pumpkins, watermelons, and tomatoes waiting to move in to our new home.


Noticed some missing verticals? I’ve decided to take most of the pears with me. And the almonds and hazelnuts. And one each of the olives. And the grapes. The medlar, mulberry, and worcestorberry. I broke a shovel in the process.

After all this lifting of plants, I’ve come to conclusion that anything that is more than 5cm diameter is pretty marginal to transplant by hand. Also, some good nurseries will mark the North on the plant, don’t take this for granted, always check the roots and align them N-S.


Walnut and Friends

“Take it from an old spectator. Life’s not a spectator sport. If watchin’ is all you’re gonna do, then you’re gonna watch your life go by without ya.” – The Hunchback of Notre Dame


7.5mm of rainfall last week! We have a high of 27.1dC and a low of -0.1dC. That’s a late frost there. The growth tips of the walnuts and grapes in the forest garden were burnt.


When I’m not dismantling some of the stuff that is no longer needed here to be taken away with me, I’m getting stuck into Permaculture designing the new place. With all the plants that I am taking with me, I’m thinking about where they could be going. And of course, 40m2 of Biointensive vegetables garden. Then, there’s Caesar, and the ducks, and fencing them all in.

There’s also the cardinal rule, observe. So before too much damage is to be done on the new place. I have got plenty of time till Winter to decide on the final layout. In the mean time, most of the existing trees are coming down, and important fencing will be done up.


The Seckel pear is finally giving some fruit this year! Woohoo! I had a feeling I have to take Pear Jargonelle with me. This 1629 pear is no longer available to be purchased from nurseries in the country, unfortunately. And unfortunately, I don’t think the graft I did was successful. The other guys, Seckel, Louise bon Jersey, William bon Chretian are still widely available.


The Orchard Cottage this week. Meddling with a design that will limit the juglones effect of Walnuts, and also limit the size of the tree. A compact Walnuts guild. I love design thinking!


The White Borage

At one point of house hunting, I did contemplate about buying a bare block, and park a RV on it and live in it. Into the bush, glamping. It may be a bit of a financial stretch, and to think of, how am I going to keep 4 hectare of grass under control without turning it into a fire hazard in Summer. I have since decided that I am adventurous but not enough to undertake that quest. I might work that into my retirement plan…

IMG_2240This week is much better in terms of rainfall. There’s 8.5mm there and its pouring steadily out there. I have the Giant Cloche windows opened to breath in some fresh water. We have a high of 27.1dC and a low of 1dC.


I might have left it a bit late to mark out the positions of the bluebell bulbs. I managed to locate half of them after a while, will be lifting them and bringing them with me to our new home. The forest garden is in regenerative forest mode at the moment, a lot of species that thrives in the edges are making headway here. All it needs now is some free range foraging poultry.


And here we have the rare White Borage. Sown a whole packet of seeds to get one plant about 3 years ago, and it self-seeded ever since. I’ve got 2 plants this season.


Sheila’s Perfume in bloom again.


The Early Gem Sweetcorn are coming through now. These will be a treat for the new tenants along with all the stonefruits and pipfruits. Can’t be more thoughtful, left them a welcome gift of homegrown potatoes, brassicas, carrots, etc etc.


I’ve started sowing seeds into trays and small pots to take with me to our new home. I don’t think I am all too ready to miss out on a seed saving season. Here we have the pumpkin and squash.

C. moschata – Squash Honeynut (seed saved 2014/15)

C. maxima – Pumpkin Australia Butter (seed saved 2014/15) and Squash Burgess Buttercup

C. pepo – Pumpkin Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato (seed saved 2014/15), Pumpkin Wee Be Little and Squash Delicata

These will be planted in the existing vege beds, along with sweetcorn and climbing beans direct sown.

I’ve also sown potato aerial seeds by Koanga, and Asparagus Sweet Purple. More mesclun mixes, spring onions, a variety of brassica, and spinach. All into trays.


The Orchard Cottage this week. Finally gave everything a good mow down after the mower ran out of petrol few weeks ago. Mowing knee height grass with a small lawn mower… possible but not ideal.


Moving Out, Moving On

The past few weeks have been hectic. House hunting is tiring. I managed to clock 1,000km on the car two weeks in a row! Maybe one should just part with $5,250 and use a property hunter.


That said, it was a great week for leaky homes because there’s no rain about. Except for today. We have accumulated 1.5mm of rainfall. Hit a high of 27dC and a low of 1.7dC over the week. Anyhow, having a banter with Helen this morning and she said that she worked on a 3 months cycle on rain forecasting. As we know of a cycle, what goes up, must come down.


That’s a very promising freesia seedling just popping its head out of the soil. As part of the moving out, moving on, I’m intending to lift most of the daffodil and bluebell bulbs to take with me, its just a matter of waiting for the tops to die back, and marking the area out.


Most of the matured fruit trees are going to stay, and continue to make up the forest garden at the Orchard Cottage. I lifted the apple trees along the Belgian Fence. The plums, and the prune plums, the cherries, peaches, currants, and other things. I have a very brutal way of lifting trees, and it seemed to work in making the move successful. Look closely and you will notice all the trees are cut back to a short whip.

On a separate note, while lifting trees, I noticed the much dreaded issue of planting a tree with the roots facing the wrong direction. In the Southern Hemisphere, we endeavor to have the thickest root, whatever you call it, facing North. If you plant it in the opposite direction, you will notice that the roots trying to make a u-turn in order to head towards the right direction. If you want the tree to thrive, you need to have the main root facing the correct way.


I’m also taking the lemon, lime, and oranges, as well as bamboos with me. They are now chilling in the greenhouse. I’m still intending to grow some annuals to keep things going, hence tomatoes in apple crates, to be companion planted with basil and capsicum.


The lifted daffodils will be popped straight into the planter bags that the apple trees are in. And I’ll also be planting a dwarf bean into each planter bags. And also transplant the perennials vegetables into the planter bags too!


I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to live here at the Orchard Cottage and partake in the creation of the forest garden and vegetable garden. Now that I have done a PDC, its time to take all this new knowledge and old wisdom and apply it to my own place.


Turn it On

The farmers have started up their irrigators, the pumps screaming away, and you’ll noticed the occasional sprinkler heads that’s blown away. With all this water coming out of the grounds, and I’ve decided to dabble with dryland farming.


We’ve got 5.5mm of rain over the week. High of 28.8dC and low of 4.3dC.


It’s warm enough for this striking rose to bloom.


And one of my favorite flowers, the cornflower.


The apricots are coming along nicely. And I’ve not done any thinning. Yet. Not sure if I am going to thin them at all. I’m contemplating if I should go about my thinning routine and thin out all the fruit trees this year. Or just let them be, and do their own drop, and have more of smaller size fruits instead of less large size fruits.


This self-seeded strawberry is finally fruiting this season.


The apple trees are coming into bloom. I noticed some fruit on the almond trees as well.


I’ll start eating these guys tomorrow. And I’ve sown another lot yesterday. I’ve direct sown courgettes and sweetcorn too. Some unharvested cobs that were left in the bottom of those raised beds have decided to germinate, and that pretty much tells me its time to sow. Amazing those have been buried underground the whole Winter and the kernels still germinated!


Sunflowers for when the sun is higher in the sky. It’s interesting the different varieties of sunflowers look really different in the seedling stage.


Lovely livingstone daisies.


The Orchard Cottage this week. Another gusty week.


The Door Closes…

As one door closes, another opens. In fact, most of the time, it’s not just one door that opens, but many. Not all of them will swing wide open, some may just open by a wee gap, and some will just be unbolt. It is up to us, to find out which doors are open to us, and ultimately decide which one we want to open and step through.

The catch is that you miss out if you refused to take your eyes off the closing door.


Yet another dry week. We have a high of 29dC and a low of 1.3dC.


The mesclun mixes are doing well, they should be ready for harvest by the time I finish up the salad bags. I’m definitely going to sow another lot in the Giant Cloche.


I needed the pots that the potatoes were planted in, so they came out, and I did something different. I broke off each shoots along with roots from the original tuber, and planted them. There was a theory about it being better floating somewhere about reducing disease or virus transference.


As usual, the weeds of mass destruction are growing well. Cleavers, and hedge mustards. The apple trees are starting to flower. Almonds have set on the trees. Apricots too, set on the trees. We shall see what this season brings.


The Orchard Cottage this week.