100mm

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.

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This is the Mandala Garden before I go on holiday.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Radish is A Swede

As I looked at the still growing radish. I realized, it’s not a radish. It’s a swede. There’s no measure to how silly I felt, for calling myself a gardener, and being a Produce Manager, I have mistaken a swede for a giant radish. Let’s just hope that swede remain a swede and didn’t turn into a turnip.

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So far, I’ve learned to tell the difference between a Cardon and a Globe Artichoke.

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This is a Globe Artichoke.

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And this is a Cardoon.

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And while I was out there taking a photos of them. Here’s a look into the Mandala Garden from the street. I think I am going to keep the sunflowers coming every year.

I’m also having a very good run with the pumpkins this year. Must have something to do with the fresh compost.

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This is a spot of the Evening Sun Sunflower. Bronze, not over powering red. Good form.

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Like a cross between Evening Sun and Vanilla Ice.

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There’s a pair of bumble bees on the flowers. One of my neighbours has got a hive but I haven’t seen many of their bees in here yet. There’s a few odd regular bees but I think they are the native bees.

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Some Californian Poppies.

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I am more than stoked to see most of the berries have taken off. And a very well formed berries on this one. There’s a definite relationship between how well established they are to the form of their fruit.

All the Northern Highbush Blueberries are alive too, and not dying. To my delight, they are slowly coming away. I’m quite pleased with that as I usually don’t have much luck with them. I’m going to be acquiring eight different varieties of Rabbiteye Blueberries end of this season to be planted into the Mandala Garden, along with it some plums and plumcots.

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Globe Artichokes seedlings and a few varieties of Brussels Sprouts. I’ll check their roots at some stage and see if they are ready to be planted out.

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This is my strip of lawn. I have not mowed it for weeks. It is turning into a strip of meadow with a much healthier diversity than the regular mono culture lawn where people regularly poison off the broad leaves.

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One can find delight in the beauty of a bunched of chamomiles.

Somehow, I always find Summer a rather plain time in the garden. I’m more or less just waiting for the harvest. And eating the carrots and beetroots off the garden. The occasional weeding of whatever I found no longer desirable. The pinching off of new growth of the fruit trees once they reached a certain length. Collecting Caesar’s poo into the worm farm, not sure if there’s any worm in the farm. Training the tomatoes. And the Belgian Fence.

When Autumn comes, it gets busy again. It’ll be time to work on cutting back the Oregon hedge soon.

Side note, I think if we are to compare Caesar’s poo to mine, his will be more organic than mine as he only get fed K9 Natural and raw bones. He supplement that with the assortment of herbal stuff growing naturally in the Forest Garden. I don’t treat him for fleas and I don’t give him worming tablets. I’m sure, his poo is more worm farm friendly, than mine.

Alternative Production

When you are not being productive, but is actually doing something, what do you call it? Alternative production. That’s what I have been up to this weekend. Alternative production. I’ve been catching up with Spring cleaning in the house. Then picking up all of Caesar’s poo in the Forest Garden and move them to his poo spot behind his kennel. Giving the workbench in the garage a wee tidy up. It is tidier now, but could definitely use a lot more organization.

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I went and got this really large plastic dog house on Thursday, but I couldn’t fit it in the car, so I had to go back on Friday with the truck to pick it up. It was an inch too big to fit through the rear door. And definitely will not go into the boot. It’s not for Caesar. It’s for the ducks.

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Correction on this “Globe Artichoke”, it is actually a Cardoon judging from the size of the flower buds.┬áThe stems of Cardoon were eaten while the buds of Globe Artichokes were eaten. I’ve got a fair few of Glove Artichokes seedlings now, I’ll plant them out in Autumn.

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Looks like I’ll be having some Jonagold apples this season. Should I confess I am so far not a big fan of apples, hopefully I will find something I like from all the different varieties in my collection. I like sweet juicy plums.

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I haven’t figure out which one this is. So far, it looks like it’s going to be a bumper pumpkin season by the way the pumpkin vines are taking over the Mandala Garden.

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Fancy a sunflower hedge?

I’ve been going around and doing some selective weeding. On the list, anything that’s a prick, nightshade, hedge mustard, mallow, fumitory, cleavers… My spray free lawn is turning into a meadow, I’ll share it with you next week.