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?

I just watched the first three episode of Little House on The Prairie. The first episode was so touching towards the end it almost put me to tears. Totally didn’t know the show existed until mum mentioned it a while back. It was sort of, too old for me. The library classify it into the Children’s category. 204 episodes of drama dedicated to children. Wow!

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We have 7.1mm of rain this week. A high of 29.7dC and a low of 5.3dC. We are looking at another really dry week ahead, and windy.

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The black raspberry is going to start flowering again in preparation for the Autumn crop.

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Every year growing sweetcorn, something seems to be devouring the corn silks. Earwigs?

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Just thought of sharing this latest yogurt collection from the supermarket. They are made from buffalo milk and sheep milk. They are not cheap, that’s for sure. But I wonder how they would taste in my morning breakfast shake.

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This was taken a few months ago.

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I was helping out with the lambs.

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There was a goat in the yard and we decided to catch it.

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And I was dispatched to catch it.

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And I caught it. It didn’t have anywhere to run really, the mob of lamb restricted his movement.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Another beautiful sunny day. Started seed saving for the tomatoes. Am now contemplating what tomatoes to continue growing next season, and what to stop. I had a grafted Sungold, and it wasn’t doing much, should I save the seeds and see what they do next season? Or just stick to Small Sweet Orange?

The weather gods are trying to help us out here with some brief nightly drizzle. I doubt it does much of a difference when it comes to wetting the ground, but it does give hope that a good downpour is just around the corner. And at the moment, I think that hope will be fulfilled tomorrow.

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3.5mm of rain has accumulated this week. We have a high of 32.4dC and low of 8.7dC. There were some gusty wind warning for Banks Peninsula yesterday but we were lucky to be spared the brunt of it here.

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Somehow, the clovers are coping slightly better than the grasses in this dryness. Certain trees are starting to show some signs of stress but that’s fine, I will prune the almonds back when they are dormant and they will rebound with vigour next season. Plenty of mulch definitely.

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I bought one of those Aquasolo microporous ceramic cone for automatic irrigation. What would be really nice is an un-glazed pot. Anyway, you are suppose to just fit the cone onto a water bottle and poke it into the ground, I have bring it a step further, and retrofit it to a 20L container, irrigation fittings and all. That should keep the wee watermelon vine happy.

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Another pumpkin.

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The flowers of Globe Artichokes are truly spectacular, a giant thistle flower.

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The Nikau Palm got an upgrade to a larger pot.

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This season’s top crop goes to the tomatoes!

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The Orchard Cottage this week. The wee nightly sprinkles has definitely helped to put a green tinge on the hills. I’m also considering getting a second vehicle as insurance in case the existing one breaks down and I will be stranded. A single cab ute with a lot of space at the back to truck mulch and compost and what not will be absolutely awesome.

Looking back, I think the hottest weather is behind us. It usually peaks after middle of January. We had a few drizzles the last few days, so pathetic that nothing registers on the rain gauge. On the lookout for something more serious to come this way, and I doubt anything of significance will happen till after next Tuesday.

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This week we have a high 32dC and a low of 3.9dC. The wind was consistently gusty. I have setup a new line of irrigation to water the berm on the North fence, where the Belgian Fence is forming. It takes 2 hours to put out an inch, and I have to switch all the other lines off to have enough pressure to power all the strip-pattern microjets.

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It’s quite dry, only the trees are still growing. I am thinking of bark mulching on an extremely large scale next season. Like 10cm thickness covering a square meter of area around each tree. Reducing dependency on irrigation water is very high on the agenda. You can only pump so much water out of the ground or the river before it dries out. If I could have it my way I would dig swales in all the hills in the valley just to hold water in all the gigantic soil mounds.

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The very brief drizzle gave me the opportunity to get the mower out and cut back some lush grass and weeds. And I spotted this wee praying mantis on the mikroclima cloth. Been more than a year since I spotted a praying mantis at the Orchard Cottage.

Camera 360

There, that’s taken in March 2013.

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Little spider enjoying some peaceful times on the rose aptly named Peace.

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Does Tomaccio comes highly recommended?

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This is the Black Zebra.

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The Black Cherry is slowly coming along.

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Super Snow White has got an interesting ripening pattern. Most tomatoes ripened from the inner trust towards the outer trust, this however, is more or less going the other way round. The skin adheres to the calyx, tears easily when removing it off the vine. On a separate note, vine ripened tomatoes will come off the truss without the calyx on. So, when you see all the beautiful tomatoes on the supermarket shelves with the calyx on looking all pretty, know that they are not vine ripened, the potential of their flavours and goodness has not fully developed.

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The Pumpkin Thelma Sanders are amazing! These are growing out of the raised beds. Quite a few of them just forming on each vine.

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This would be the Squash Honeynut. I think I am having a good year with Cucurbits.

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This is the sweetcorn landrace breeding project. Its not exactly a great success, nor a total flop. I am just grateful that quite a few Silver Platinum are growing strong and healthy, these I will save seeds from, as well as from the Rainbow Inca.

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Abundance of lunchbox size nashi pears.

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The first appears at the Orchard Cottage. These are Blenheim Orange. That biggest one towards the left, I already ate it. Lunchbox size as well as I didn’t thin down the fruit sets.

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Caesar doesn’t seem to be a fan of apples, unlike the late Lucky who loves apples. He likes his bones.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. This panorama shot captures the dryness in the valley. The stark contrast of the dry hills versus the green irrigated pastures. The drying wildflowers and weeds in the forest garden versus the lush green trees and bushes. My lawn is bone dry, I balked at the sight of people irrigating their grass by the road along Halswell, then they took the mower out to mow it, and throw the grass clippings away. Wasting water, wasting petrol, wasting organic nutrient.

It rained. And it wasn’t enough.

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

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

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More watermelon flowers.

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Pumpkin flowers, these are the guys.

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And I think this is a lady.

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Fruit set.

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And a different variety.

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Captivating patterns looking down the corn stalk.

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This is the Painted Mountain corn.

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Spring onions flowering.

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

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Last chance to spray those grapes.

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

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

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

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Chicory flower up close.

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Cherimoya is coming along nicely.

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Tamarillos have grown.

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Paw Paws showing just as much growth.

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Bananas in pyjamas.

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

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The Orchard Cottage this week. After the rain.

The cloud came in but no rain has fallen. It was just gloom, like the gloom of drought. Now the cloud is gone, and rays of sunlight pushes through again. All good to those who can irrigate without being held back by water restrictions. Out here at the Orchard Cottage, I will take it as a blessing as the drying out helped to put a check on weed growth. Everything else that needs water, I have irrigation systems in place.

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You can just see the dryness in the panoramic view. Only the deep rooted species are going to make it through. Or those who happened to be in the path of the drip lines that runs in the forest garden. Our rainfall this week is just 0.3mm, a high of 30.8dC and low of 7.7dC.

The sky was clouded up with increased humidity yesterday, but not a single drop of rain has fallen. I see that as an opportunity to pour some water on. My newly purchased impulse sprinkler did the job quite well giving the greater food forest a good drench.

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I went out and check on the guerilla grafting of Angelina Burdett plum. It is doing well, I may need to hack the rest of the tree off to force more growth into the new wood.

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And so I noticed those wild plum trees have got plums on them and they ripen to a much darker shade of red, like maroon. I wonder how they taste like as the birds often got to them before I do.

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In the greenhouse, where I also planted some garlic from last season, they have gone to seed and the little bulbils are all over. I’ll need to collect them and plant them next season.

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Checking on the Tomaccio.

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This Tomaccio is a F2. I grew the F1 from seed last season, and save the seeds. True to seed indeed.

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Grafted Goldnugget I bought from Oderings.

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Very beautiful pattern on the Black Zebra. I might, from my seed saving selection, has inadvertently selected for smaller fruits. Which is good for me, I like them small.

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I think this is the Pepper Jingle Belles, very advanced in terms of growth.

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And this would be the Pepper Bell Colour mix. Or it might be the other way round, but I think I am right the first time round.

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When the raised beds are just not big enough, everyone decides to do a runner.

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Prickly chestnuts.

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Obviously, I forgot to thin this Devonshire Quarrendon.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I might be getting my hands on a DIY soil test kit do some lab work. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

I am very excited about the prospect of getting ducks in next season. I am definitely on to 1 male Muscovy and 2 females. And another 2 to 3 more layers that doesn’t fly, probably Orpington.

 

 

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