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My Berm is Greener than Yours

It had been a good weekend despite the threat of rain which never materialized. I am sure it rained everywhere else. Not enough, so the irrigation will keep going. The garage is slowly emptying out as more and more building materials are used up for projects around the property. Soon, I will tidy up my very messy work bench.

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The raspberries have been liberated from their pots, into raised beds of half a cubic meter of compost. The stand will be thinned out at a later stage giving preference to strong growing erect stems.

I figured out a way to make compost go further. I sieve them, and my sieve is just one of those black seedling trays, and it separates out the smaller particles from the larger particles. The finer compost can be used as a seed raising medium while the larger stuff can be used as small grade mulch. Can be used for capping off seed trays to reduce evaporation.

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Bamboo trellis and gate are now completed. I made a booboo while putting the final touch to the trellis, but if you don’t look hard enough, you can never tell. It will be one of those things that’s right there in your face but you can’t tell there’s something wrong with it.

I’ve swapped the pots for something else now. The first three pots to the left are mainly rescued plants that had been living in planter bags ever since I moved here. Plum rootstock where the scion has died. Golden Pippin, Cornish Aromatic, and Winesap Apple on mm106 which are extras. A mm106 rootstock where the scion has died. And the three pots to the right are all mm106 rootstocks.

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The final gate built just now. Essentially the Forest Garden has been fenced off.

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While I have fenced off the Forest Garden, the Mandala Garden is trying to keep me out with rampaging pumpkin vines. And the few varieties of spinach to the left is going to seed. I didn’t eat a single leaf, how hopeless of me.

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Looking into a keyhole. Can’t really get in there without disturbing the pumpkins.

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They don’t seem to have any respect for clearly defined footpaths. I am not sure if I am to cut them back or not. But I might politely point them in the right directions.

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And them sunflowers will probably just look on in my futile attempt. If only you can hear them laugh. It will be a gust of sunshine.

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Tomato Indigo Rose. I’ve grown these for years. Very hardy plants. But the fruit takes very long to ripen up.

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Persimmons! I had a plant at the Orchard Cottage for a few years, and it never really did anything. I had this for less than a season and voila! Mum is going to be stoked! But you aren’t suppose to harvest until after the first frost or something like that.

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The wildflowers are slowly coming through after my more consistent irrigation regime. A mistake that I never seem to learn, but hopefully have by now. So, I’ve sown more wildflower seeds.

I’ve also move the two Blood Oranges to both side of the side doorway. They might do better there and will benefit from the watering.

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More wildflowers in the edges of the Mandala Garden. Perhaps, by the end of this season, the neighborhood will present me with the Neighborhood Hippie batch. This property is not for the faint-hearted.

Just feeling a moment of pride here as I mow the berm this morning. The grass growing on my berm, despite not receiving any irrigation, turns out to be the greenest on the street. I’ve explained it to my neighbor once, its too dry and they are cutting the grass too low, the soil is getting sunburn. You put a hat on when the sun is bearing down. I’ll be sticking with the #5 cut for now.

I didn’t mow any grass in the property, those will keep growing slowly and provide good protection to the soil. Only reason to mow the berm, neighbor from an adjacent property is selling, so, just being a good neighbor and put up with a good presentation on the street. Everyone likes a well cut berm on the whole street.

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Stuck In

The weather is doing funny things at the moment. We have a high of 31dC, and a low of 4dC, all within a month, within days of each other, in the middle of Summer. This Summer, is quite fickle minded. It needs to make up its mind.

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The radish is still growing. It’s still not going to seed. It’s as big as my garden gloves. The beetroots on the other hand has started going to seed. So I am starting to eat them. There’s a kohlrabi in the Forest Garden too, and that’s the size of a football, almost.

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The amazing weekend weather means that I am able to get work on some of the projects. The nursery is now completed. Clad with microklima frost cloth.

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There’s the option of putting another layer of frost cloth from the inside to have a sort of double glazing effect but I think one layer is enough, the environment feels rather calm in the nursery while its gusting its head out in the open. I might setup the other nursery stand next week. I’ve got some asparagus to start from seeds.

Processed with Rookie CamOn to the next project. Continue to fence up the Forest Garden to get ready for the ducks. The wee gate is the door to Caesar’s run, and of course, he doesn’t get locked in the run at all, so the gate comes in handy. Getting some of the stakes in are hard work as the maple tree that I have removed have left huge roots all over making it very hard to hammer the stakes in. Always be mindful where you plant your trees, and know your trees, and what their roots are going to do to your building.

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Here’s the almost finished work. I still need to cap the top off. The bamboos are held in place with 3 horizontal 50×50 timber with holes drilled all along it at 5cm spacing. Getting the holes in are the main work. First, I got to drill the guide holes, and these got to be straight through. Then, a borer drill bit is used to enlarge the holes so that the bamboo stakes can go through. I’ve lost count of how many times I have to recharge the battery for the drill. That’s 2 days of all out work there.

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The prickly Worcesterberry has grown really well this season. It must have love its new home. I’ve gone along and tied each branches to a vertical stakes yesterday and they will form a thorny fence along that part of the Forest Garden. Those prickles are vicious.

Next week, the place should be fully fenced up by then ready for the ducks. Only one more gate to make. The raspberries will be transplanted into the raised beds. And some more wildflower seeds to be sown.

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Conservation Against Natural Progression?

Sometimes, I wonder if the conservation work that we are doing is actually good for the environment. It is good if we are reversing the degeneration of the land, but what if what we are doing are actually preventing natural progression of the landscape? A while back I was doing some volunteer conservation work at a stony beach ridges, we were mainly weeding. To my surprise, we are also removing some native tree saplings.

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Should we perhaps rethink conservation, to regenerate, and to assist in the natural progression of the landscape? Maybe merely removing the wilding pines so that the native grass can survive is not enough? Grass is just the beginning, forest is the end result, just because the area is covered with grass when man first inhabit that land doesn’t means that nature intend that to be grass forever. One day, that too shall be a forest.

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Then sunflowers are starting to flower. Just magnificent. I am just anticipating the main show from the sunflowers surrounding the Mandala Garden.

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Last season, I was growing corn along the front fence line, and threw away a few cobs that I deemed did not meet the grade, probably too small. And here they are, bunched of them popping up here and there, like wild grasses.

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This Globe Artichoke is starting to flower. There’s a few more seedlings on the go as not many survived in the last batched due to poor watering practice. My fault. And the nursery got blown over as I didn’t secure it, and everything was scattered all over and re-potted haphazardly. My fault again.

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The Feijoas are flowering! Must have done something right for them to flower in their first season planted out.

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When you sow radish in the Forest Garden and forgot about them. This is now a swede. Or a turnip.

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Carrots flowering. The flies, big and small, are so intoxicated. It’s like a giant buffet of tiny florets all round, drink all you can, all the nectar.

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Hopefully, back on track with the Brussels Sprouts show down. There’s 6 varieties of heirloom Brussels Sprouts in there. I never have any luck with them but hopefully, some this year with the lot of diversification.

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I am intending not to mow at this time of the year, and just let the lawn, the berm, turn to meadow. It’s getting hotter, dryer, and I wanted the land to have more cover instead of a mere half inch of grass. But I can’t help myself on this one as I am doing some work which requires me to trim the grass way down. I did something different much to my amusement and curiosity. Each strip of grass is mow with the mower set on a different height setting. Just to see. I think I like number 4 best.

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Why did I mow? Need to cut the grass back so that I can turn the turf upside down where I am going to build a raised beds for the raspberries. The raspberries, are finally going to be liberated from their pots!

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This is the first time I am building something with 300mm x 50mm timber. I had some salvaged when I moved out of the Orchard Cottage, paid good money for them, waste not want not, re-purposed. These heavy duty timber were originally intended to be floodgates. Also involved a bit of simple joinery work that a circular saw can easily handle.

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And the frame goes up to form the bones of the nursery. No permanent modification has been done to the carport, no holes drilled, nothing. Next up will be to get the mikroclima cloth on. In Winter, it can be enclosed with a curtain of mikroclima around the back and further moderate the micro-climate in there.

Once that’s done, a gate will be built to shut that side of the Forest Garden out. Then I’ll start working on the final set of gate and trellis by the old pump shed. And the Forest Garden will be duck ready.

Noticed the new coat of paint on the carport? It took me 2 days to put the first coat on, and 2 hours for the second coat. The color is named Grapevine, hence enticing a greenfinger like me to choose it due to emotional appeal. I really should have just gone for red.

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Farewell 2016

A vet to a dog, is like a dentist to a man. It’s never good news, usually involves various elements of pain. Caesar has that well figured out even though he is visiting a different vet at a different clinic. I took him there half an hour earlier so that he can roam around the car park getting used to all the different animal scents about. And of course, for him to empty his bladder so that he don’t piss all over in the clinic, like he used to. His vaccination is up to date now, and he hates the kennel cough vaccination which is done through the nose, the vet always struggled with that. He is so traumatized in the end that he refused to take treats off the vet at the end of the session. He will only eat them off the floor. And of course, can’t wait to get out, won’t even let me make payment, he just dragged me straight out of there.

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My neighbour rang me the other day while I was at work. She is asking for permission for her and her mum to stand outside my place to see what’s the going on in my garden. They can’t figure it out from their kitchen window, so they had to get closer.

A few different varieties of spinach there at the bottom left of the photo. I don’t get how they are all of a different genus and species, yet they are all called spinach. What genus and species would Popeye recommend?

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The tomatoes have taken, their primary stem grew thick and strong, and because they are grown in an exposed area, they are not gaining height as fast. The pumpkins are growing too, they are starting to crawl about now. Hopefully, I will have some to store over Winter.

There might be a change of plan with pumpkin growing next season. Cucurbita pepo, I will not be saving seeds on this pumpkin line anymore as I will be growing zucchini instead next season. That leaves me with Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita moshata, which is still good. At least, I will have zucchini as well.

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Runner beans now flowering.

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I’m very proud of these apricots. they started the season looking like slingshots. Now they are well branched, ready for some good fruits next season. Throughout the season I pinched off the growing tips when they reached a certain length to encourage them to branch out. Intensive, and lots of love.

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Got a handful of walnuts this year perhaps.

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This is the Calville Blanc D Hiver apple. It is one of the oldest variety of apple in the world. Good for apple pie. Have just gone around and put a tag on all the apples along the Belgian Fence. Now, I know who is who.

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The Forest Garden. I think its more or less ready for free ranging ducks.

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There’s definitely diversity. And everything is flowering and seeding now. And full of escaped potatoes. If I ever ran out of potatoes, all I have to do is go into the garden and dig some up.

Potatoes are weedy. If you leave one behind accidentally, they will grow and give you potatoes again. And again. And again. The ducks can eat the tops.

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The almonds trio near the front. That spot has gone berserk. I can’t walk through there without getting pollen all over me.

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Just need to get more fencing done. Here’s one that I did today. It’s not finish yet, I still need to pin the windbreak into the ground. Need to buy some pins.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I’m going to paint the carport. I’ve spent the day removing most of the rust using the angle grinder with a wire brush attachment. After that, I can start building the nursery.

The nursery, the project that has been brewing for a year. Every time I revisit the idea, it evolves. It just gets better and better. This time, I’m going to be building a small raised bed right in front of the nursery, and here, I am going to plant the raspberries. Finally, the raspberries are going into the ground. I’ve got it all under control.

Finally, my new new year resolutions.

  1. Ducks.
  2. Take up a new hobby or two, day walks and rock climbing.
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2 Weeks to Go

Two more weeks to Christmas. How scary is that? I still haven’t got my new year resolution figured out yet. I have something in mind but I would definitely want to consider my options before I commit to anything.

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The Mandala Garden is growing slowly. Then sunflowers around the edges are coming up steadily and as they grow taller they will provide more shelter for the garden. Its interesting to note that they are concentrated on both sides of the garden even though I sow them in the whole circle.

I have replaced some of the tomato plants with store bought ones as the wind burned the last planting into the ground the day after I planted them. I have also replaced heaps of pumpkins as they died off after planting out. Luckily, I managed to find the exact variety of pumpkin I wanted to grow in a seedling form.

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The Forest Garden have another round of weeding yesterday. Its a rather selective weeding process where any weed that is behaving in a very dominant manner is removed before they become too much of a problem. Not to forget the usual suspect, cleavers, fumitory, and hedge mustard. I also took the opportunity to shape the herbage around the trees to give them more breathing space.

A couple more Tagasaste Tree Lucerne have been planted out. The wattles seedling are not progressing very well at this stage, most of them are likely to be written off. I’ll let the Tagasaste grow for now until I decide what other nitrogen fixing species to plant out.

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Here’s a familiar sight of brightly color poppies growing under the plum guild. I’ve made a new brew in this week’s foliar feed. A bit more nitrogen in guano form, and trichoderma fungi. Let’s give those shoots more growth before Autumn comes.

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That’s a medlar. It was the last thing on my mind to bring it over from the Orchard Cottage but I did anyway. For some reason. Diversity perhaps.

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That’s a persimmon forming right there. My last persimmon tree at the Orchard Cottage never actually do anything for years. So, I’m quite happy that this one is doing well and have got a really sunny spot to grow and mature.

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The Belgian Fence is coming along. Some of the branches are likely to hit their target this season. And some with apples to spare. Mitre10 had punnets of lavender seedlings cheap, so I got some to replace the ones that didn’t make it.

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And for the ones that did made it, well, they are flowering in a stunning purple right now. The bees are happy.

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Berries are fruiting, but I don’t think I will get much this year, the birds will get them. I need them to grow and flourish and start climbing the trellis.

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Up close and personal with leaf curl.

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Calendula porcupine. A good one to yield plenty of petals to add to your salad. Calendula seeds are one of the easiest to harvest. I’ve just harvested some and scatter them around where I wanted them to grow.

This weekend has been a good one, I have achieved plenty and is about to head out and start working on the second gate for the Mandala Garden.

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4 More Weeks

Have I lost track of time completely? We have 4 more weeks of 2016 left and that was it. I had a look at the top right corner of my whiteboard with my new year resolution written on it. Career growth and better posture. Yep, put a tick on both of them, done. What will 2017 bring? What will my new year resolution be then?

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The first of the lilies have started flowering. This would be an orange asiatic lilies. Free plants that comes with the house. Judging by the number of buds, it’s a pretty well established corm.

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And taking stock of all the roses this week. Pink rose.

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More pink rose.

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White rose with pink frills.

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White rose.

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Yellow rose.

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Pink rose.

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Finally something different. Old fashioned red rose.

Whoever planted all those rose before me must have love roses, and love them in pink! I have given them a huge cut back end of last season and they have now come back dashingly. Needless to say, they are overdue for a formative pruning session. These are all free flowering floribunda style roses.

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In the Forest Garden, its teeming with surprises. Like this purple kohl rabi that was part of a mesclun mix, probably the Simply Red mix from Kings Seeds. The mesclun mixes are allowed to go to seed. They will probably cross pollinate, and self seed, and next season, I wonder what I will be getting. A blend of all kinds of mesclun mix you can get your hands on. Italian, French, Oriental, Kale, Lettuce, etc etc.

Side note, I am really not a good vegetable gardener. I am not sure if I will ever be good at it. But I find that if I just scatter seeds, the vegetables actually grew a lot better than when I planted them where I want them to grow specifically.

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Under every fruit tree guild I have sown some runner beans, and this one is running up one of the red leaf stonefruit.

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The Forest Garden occupies one quarter of this quarter acre section. I am quite please that my plan to sheet mulch with newspaper and cardboard and top up with wood chip works in suppressing unwanted growth. And then quickly introduce my own mix of seed varieties.

The grass regrowth has been kept to a minimum, and the last of the more established grasses are finally dying off after the last round of selective herbicide spray.

The black birds are enjoying the garden, and the bees are back. I can see the beneficial insects too, they are out and about. As more of the herbaceous layer starts flowering, there will be more of them around.

Till then, I should really get going and get the Forest Garden duck ready.

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Feeling Blue

There are plenty of moments in our life where we will be put into challenging situations, it gets our adrenaline pumping and we switched into the fight or flight mode. What if we take a step back, and think, “how do we win together?”. What doors will then open?Processed with Rookie Cam

My favourite flower is back in town! The blue is electrifying.

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I was having a wander around the Forest Garden for a bit. I can’t really be bothered doing much today, the wind is too windy. And then I hear it, the familiar sound of the cicada. It was loud and clear, and I followed the sound and saw the tiny thing. And its camera shy, just funny how it circles the branch to avoid the camera.

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I managed to get some shots in the end. Its very camera shy. And probably going to do some bark damage on the branches later just to get even.

I have been doing some thinking about the Mandala Garden. I am most likely going to plant half of it into perennial vegetables. Asparagus, strawberries, bunching spring onions, tree lettuce, tree kale, and something like that. I have not done much research yet. I’ll probably phase out the sweetcorn after this season as we can’t really absorb its nutrient without further processing prior to consumption. On the annual front, I am going to continue focusing on tomatoes, pumpkins, and root crops.

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On the banana front, it is now confirmed that all 4 bananas have made it through Winter. The Gold Finger came back from a near death experience.

Till next week, hopefully its not too windy or rainy then.

I had my first shot on the trampoline yesterday. For my whole life, yesterday, was the first time I’ve been on the trampoline. And we bounced around, played dodge ball, for the first time too, and basketball on the trampoline. Its fun, and never knew one could sweat so much on the trampoline.