Progress on the hedge is looking good. It’s getting its makeover done steadily. I’ve now reached far enough at the front that I should start working from the back so that I don’t leave the hedge too bare between my kitchen window and my neighbour’s window for too long.

It’s great to take a photo every week and see how far I have gone. Maybe there’s less than a hundred trees in this hedge. Some of the upper limbs are really thick, I am considering a top handle chainsaw at this point. A really cheap one, short bar length, light weight.

This hedge spread out on to my side from the trunk for about 2 meters. Times that by the 50 meter length, and I have lost 100 square meters on my quarter acre section. That’s 10% of the land. The lesson here, if your hedge will not grow back if cut back to old wood, trim it frequently or it will start taking up more space. Otherwise, plant a hedge that takes hard pruning and will grow back from just about anything.

Got some good size Autumn raspberries ripening up at the moment. Good move planting them out from the pot.

And some strawberries. I don’t need them to flower and fruit, I really just need them to start running so that I can get more free plants.

Ducks having a field day on a rotten pumpkin. They are doing a good job shitting everywhere in the Forest Garden. Good microbiology in the making.

Next week, start pruning the hedge from the back. Just need to figure out how to climb in and out over there. Chainsaw can wait. And I also figured out why they sell jigsaw blades in multi-pack. With the amount of sawing I’m doing, blade sure wear out fast.


It’s been a lovely weekend. The weather had been awesome and I caught up with all the mowing and cleaning up Caesar’s poop. I even mowed my neighbour’s berm as he is away. Anyway, the main focus of this weekend is Crate Day. Or, Crate Days.

It’s like a production line, making all 8 crates at once, in steps. The sides were made up last week, first thing this week is to join both sides together by doing the bottom. Making sure they are nice and square.

Then one of the longer sides. All gets the glue first, dries, then nails, then pin punched.

Then the other longer sides goes in. Everything nice and square. Quite a miracle, that for once, I actually got 8 nice and square crates.

From concept to conception. Drawn on the back of an envelope that’s asking for a donation to a cause.

A bit of sanding to follow next week to smooth out the edges. Then another round of linseed oil to further bring out the wood grain al naturale.

Last but not least, committing to my 5 trees a day pruning plan. 15 trees down so far. Some are easy and some are harder, a tiny chainsaw might be of good help, then again, I’ve got chainsaw-phobia.

I’ll definitely have to remove those prunings. Will probably do them all when the jobs done. The crowns of the trees are quite something. Thick as my arm.

Prey Hard Pray Harder

This Easter is an interesting one. There’s the Cyclone Cook on and before Good Friday battering down the country and running out of steam by the time it arrives at Christchurch. I was looking forward to a really good downpour. I think I miss the crazy thunderstorms we used to have back in KL, trying to make it home after work, getting stuck in a jam for 2 hours, windscreen wipers going at maximum speed but does nothing to help with the visibility, and getting completely drenched trying to get into the house.

Anyway, I found this guy on the Globe Artichoke by the mailbox.

The decaying plant is a magnet for flies, and so, he caught one.

I bet he doesn’t have to pray very hard to get one.

He doesn’t have to prey very hard either.

Like they say, ask and thou shall receive. I think it’s a very tasty lunch. He completely ignores me getting up close with the macro lens. Like a in your face paparazzi. He ignores me, because he is full of confidence in doing his own thing.

Bugger that, I went off and start on a long overdue project. That Oregon Hedge. The hedge that I destroyed by over-trimming. Someone once said, when you are halfway to hell, might as well make it a full trip before coming home. Maybe I said that.

The plan is to cut my side of the Oregon Hedge all the way back to the trunk. Put up a black windbreak as a temporary fence as well as to reduce visibility. Plant a new hedge on the base. I’ve already got the Corokia Bronze King and Tagasate Tree Lucerne set aside for delivery in Spring. The plan is to deal with 5 trees every day that I am off. I think there’s 100 trees in there. It should take me all Winter. The road to hell is cold.

Another of my latest long overdue project. It was on my list from the day I moved into this place. It’s not Uno Stacko. It’s a bookshelf. Or should I say, beer crates. Still work in progress, the nails I’ve got are 1mm too long, I’m going to have to take those back and get shorter ones.

Till next week.

Making a Mess

The ducks are getting plump. I am not sure if it is part of their growth process or just being really well fed. I’ve been clearing out the Mandala Garden and threw a lot of scraps over the fence into the Forest Garden. The ducks were then herded up there and left alone, they started foraging. Then they have a drink, and have a nap. Sunflowers went over. Tomatoes went over. Some corn went over. Vege scraps went over. The drake is starting to have a bit of a dark green colour on his head, should we say, he is starting to man up.

The sunflowers and corn have all been felled and the stalks used to line the outer edges of the Mandala Garden. The rest of the blueberries planted. I’ll be planting the stones for some of the stonefruits next week. Tomatoes have done their dash and have been ripped out as well. All that’s left are the pumpkins.

I thought this is Burgess Buttercup but the greyish colour is throwing me off. I’m not sure what this variety is. It looks like a Crown Pumpkin, but I didn’t plant any of that in here.

This is how a Burgess Buttercup looks like. There’s a few of them around.

Squash Delicata. Seeds were hard to come by for a while.

These are all second season seeds. The plants are stronger and the fruit larger.

Next season they might be as big as this one. From the size of an iPhone to the size of a full blown marrow.

Every season, Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato never fails.

Next week, I’ll be saving seeds on the tomatoes that I have put aside. Next season I’ll be focusing on growing yellow/orange fleshed tomatoes. And got to start making those beer crates. Till then, stay dry.

Waltz into Autumn

It has been a long week. And it has been fun. There’s self-reflection. And then there’s growth. There’s renewed determination. And possibly a more refined sense of direction. Then there’s also the major concern with property flipping up in Auckland. If only they realized that when this game of musical chairs stopped, many would be left standing up scrambling for that chair that’s nowhere to be seen.

It’s been a long time since Caesar makes an appearance here. He is here, older, he can no longer do a full sprint on the complete lap around the neighbourhood, down to a trot on the last leg of the race. On the other hand, he has been a good jumper, jumping in and out of the Forest Garden, ignoring the ducks.

The livestocks are good too. I’m now shutting them into the old pump shed in the evening. In the process of making an automatic door opener so that it can let them out in the morning after I went to work. They seemed to have grown in size too. There’s the drake, he is easy to tell apart. Then there’s the pretty one, in a brighter golden hue. And the one with a pinkish bill. The two with dark bill, one with a better defined white feathers while the other is brown. There, I can now tell them all apart.

The bees don’t really care. All they want is their food. And the bumblebees are busy getting ready for the next season.

Something about these Cardoon flowers that get them so stuck in. They didn’t fly away when the camera goes in for a close up.

Two bananas are over Wintering outside this season. The hardy ones. We’ll find out next season how they fare. Actually, we’ll find out when the first frost bites.

Without realizing it. The season has started again. The stuffs that’s more expensive than gold.

At the start of the week, I’ve done something I never thought I would have done in my entire life. It feels good.


It was a bloody wet week. We have 100mm of rain so far this month. Most of that felled within a period of 3 days. Last month was bone dry. The apples along the Belgian Fence have shoot a couple of inches as a result. However, all the attention over here are mainly focused on making the ducks feel at home.

Well, they are. they have got their big blue pond going for them. They have also established their home base now. And not run for the hills when I approached, but just maintaining a safe distance. They know now when I approach with the red bucket, there’s feed. I removed their fencing yesterday, and they have not ventured far, just staying put.

There’s still a few kinks to work out, it should resolved itself given time. Like the drake, is yet to establish himself as the alpha male. Dad’s repairing the pump shed door and we’ll be shutting the ducks in there for a few nights.

Apples are good for you. This weirdly shaped apple is Calville Blanc d’Hiver. It’s the apple with the highest Vitamin C content. It’s ancient, and would probably make a highly marketable cider vintage.

Growing good sized apples using the Belgian Fence system. Interestingly, I’ve not irrigate a single drop of water for these guys at all. It seems that water condensate on the fence and flow down into the ground, providing natural irrigation.

Squash Burgess Buttercup. Very prolific. Taken over the Mandala Garden. Going everywhere. Kicking me out. Winter is sorted.

There’s a Buttercup Squash hanging in mid-air dangling between corn stalks. There’s a few of them doing that.

This is the result of a cross pollinated sunflower. Watercolor Bronzey? Pastel Bronze? What would you name it?

If I’m going to use a sunflower as a cushion. This is it.

Here’s a Monarch butterfly squaring off with a Bumblebee on a Skyscraper.

For the future. 4 trays of asparagus seedlings. These are to go into the Mandala Garden to form the base. And over-planted with lots of strawberries. And a generous sprinkling of carrots.

Caesar sleeping like a freestyler.

Quack Quack Nuff Said

Four hen ducks and a drake completed the Forest Garden today. I haven’t named them yet. I don’t think they like me very much just yet. The drake is a pure bred Khaki Campbell while the hen ducks are about 90% Khaki Campbell with strains of Welsh Harlequin. They are rather quacky when alarmed but you won’t know they are there when they are just chilling maxing relaxing.

They are now confined to their home space until they get used to me before I let them free range completely. And Caesar needs to get to know them too, and not bother them. He doesn’t go near his toy duck, so I think his training is half way complete.

The ducks are already nibbling away at the stuff around them instead of the pellets, that’s a good sign they still know how to forage.

Space Shuttle Corn

When your corn has had enough of you. When your corn doesn’t just want to be eaten. When your corn aspires for more. When your corn dream of going into space. When your corn develops a space program. When your corn turns into a space shuttle.

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Fret not. You can still make good soup out of it.

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There’s bumblebees in there. Spot the other one.

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Here we have a sunflower that’s showing the normal petals, and also the teddy bear frills. The flower opens out wide, like a teddy bear sticking its head out of a car going 100kph down State Highway 1.

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This one is called Lion’s Mane. We can see why. It’s my favorite. When its done its dash, it looks like a Golden Retriever that’s just been through the wash.


This is the Mandala Garden before I go on holiday.


And this is it after I come back. The pumpkin vine has taken over. The sunflowers are flowering. The corns are heading into space. The tomatoes, they are doing their thing.

And the birds got all the worms.

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Good looking yellow cherry tomato with purple shoulder.

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This one is Indigo Rose with not as strong a blush.

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Yellow Pear hanging down a nice straight truss.

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All time favorite, Small Sweet Orange. Very generous spreading truss.

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This is a pointed capsicums, rewarding me with lots of capsicums.

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And this one is ripening into purple. These are all reduced to clear pots from the garden center. Larger grade, does a lot better than my own seed grown ones.

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This pumpkin vine has decided to scale new heights.

I can’t really get into the outside edges of the Mandala Garden now. The sunflowers are keeping me out. Caging everything in, and out.

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Looks like a bumper crop year. This lot should last me through the next season’s pumpkin harvest.

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Another variety, not sure which one is this. Could be a butternut type.

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Look close enough and you can spot the strawberry.

I’ve been training for City2Surf. I’m going to jog the full length. I’m now up to 4km, I’ll double it tomorrow. It feels good to be back on the run.

There and Back Again

I solemnly believe I have done enough driving over the last 2 weeks for a whole year. Until next time.

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Enough of unsealed gravel road. At times I felt like a rally driver. Very grateful that this car is AWD, better traction, could have slid off the road a couple times if the AWD had not kicked in. Took the car through a car wash after that.


I’ll hitch a ride next time.

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From train station to train station. How hard could that be? Just climb on to the roof.

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Most of the holiday homes we stayed in are right by the sea. At night, the breaking waves lull us to sleep. Apparently living by the sea are very therapeutic and good for the soul.

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The wind does interesting thing to the trees. Nature’s pruner.

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During one of my solitary walks along the Southwest cliffs of Bluff. Bonsai on rocks.

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And flowers clinging to the ground enjoying the salt sprays.

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Little streams flow from the hills straight into the sea. There’s an abundance of water coming out of the hill at Bluff.


The views down South are great. This is at the top of Riverton.

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And I found this puff ball in the community forest garden at Riverton. I’ve only seen this on River Cottage. I’ve got my hopes up. Hopefully some will show up in my garden. Should have took some soil home.

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The Catlins are another paradise itself.


At the Cathedral Caves looking at the approaching rain.

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Double rainbow at the Nugget Point. They have just started investing in better infrastructure for tourism. I guess more and more people are starting to come here. Everything is very new.


At the Southern most part of South Island.

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We are nearer to the South Pole than the Equator. Yet, the weather is rather pleasant, and humid. Which means sandflies.


20km of unsealed gravel road to get here. Then another 20km back. Its worth it when you have sandfly protection. Lake Hauroko.

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Saw this book at Duntroon. Just what I need to accomplish this year’s plan.

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The view from my window back in Rakaia. I bought 4 blueberries from Diacks Nurseries in Invercargill, put a face to the name, met Caleb. Most impressive garden center I have ever seen. The range, the variety, woot! The plants camped out in the car for 3 nights before arriving home.

Till next week, some more updates, getting ready for ducks.

Pattern of Trio

It’s something born out of habit from don’t know when. Always visit the local botanical garden. In my younger days, the impinging reason is probably because it’s free. Nowadays, it’s for inspiration.

Like this planting of cabbage trees in Queens Park, Invercargill. It’s all planted in different pattern of threes.

In this planting, it features 2 individuals and a grouping of 3.

And 2 individuals and a group of 4.

One individual and 2 group of 3s.

A basic one here of 3 individuals.

One individual and a pair.

Different plays to the number 3. Adaptable to just about anything in garden landscaping. Mix and match and stack it with different types of plants. Just a soothing pattern that works.