Fenced Up!

As I sat here, and heave a sigh of relief. One of the most important task on this property is finally completed. It’s fully “fenced” up and Caesar fenced in. It took quite a while, from getting the gate hung, improvising job on the gudgeon to make it fit, modifying the front fencing, getting the trees out first, cutting off the old pipes, drilling in dynabolts, putting in the bamboo fence, getting the East side fence on, cutting back the conifer hedge, putting the stakes in, putting the fence up, it all sounded so simple on my to-do list.


It’s done. Done. Done. Done! I can finally let Caesar hang out outside with a peace of mind that he is not going to run off somewhere. Unlike being on the farm, I could just put on my shepherd tone and yell out loud, really loud, till the cows come home. Here, I’ve got to be a bit more civilized. I stand a chance to be reported to SPCA for animal abuse…


No more sneaking through the hedge for Caesar. The fence is about a foot away from the hedge. It will double up as a berry trellis for the kiwiberries, boysenberries, and other hybridberries.

In doing this side of the fence, I realized there’s a drop in elevation as I went from the front of the property towards the back, the difference is slightly more than a foot.


The sweetcorn are gaining a foothold. Some interesting pattern here, there’s a zebra striped patch of them growing healthy, and some struggling. Just about coincide with the patches where the old trees came out.

The bamboo fence has been lowered further, it looks much better now.


The beauty of livingstone daisies!


The nitrogen fixers are starting to come through now… I’ve put mulch on beforehand to stop the birds from getting to the seeds.


The wind forced a hand last week. It blew the seedling nursery over, and everything popped out of the trays and lay in a heap on the floor. I guess it’s God telling me to stop procrastinating and pot up those seedlings into larger pots. So here they are… How do you tell Cardoon and Globe Artichoke seedlings apart?


Some good looking tomatoes there…


The morepork perching on the gate post.


And the fantail on the mailbox.


The first bread in this house. Made with a breadmaker. Still have got a bit more trial and error to do before I can come up with a decent loaf. I think this one didn’t rise enough.


Next up, the raised bed for the Belgian Fence. Mark out the area for the Biointensive garden with some stakes, and topdress with a few loads of compost before the weedmat goes on. And there’s also the more extensive seedling nursery to be built.


Foraging in Kaituna Valley

I made a trip back to Kaituna Valley to retrieve the line trimmer from my neighbour who is trying to fix it. He still can’t get it to work… until my new neighbour told me something about old petrol being the most likely suspect. Well, I think that stuff in that tank is 2 years old, and it cost a lot more per litre than what you would pay now.


Of course, I found out no one is occupying the Orchard Cottage at the moment, and invited myself in for a garden tour. The forest garden is just being awesome. For the first time, there’s no sign of hedge mustard at all! Instead, there’s an abundance of yarrow flowering abundantly in white. The trees are doing well, and corn are popping up everywhere I’ve sown them.


Good size apricots and good size crop too. This is the first time this tree is cropping too.


Nashi pears weighing the branches down.


Du Comice pears having a bumper crop as well.

I didn’t think any of these trees, they have self-thinned for sure, and hung on to what they could ripen on their own.


Look at the massive Early Gem sweetcorn! Not a single drop of irrigation has gone in after I left, and they look really healthy too!


Plenty of salad vegetables in what used to be the Giant Cloche.


I took some spray free kale home for tea.


I think the birds have eaten all the ripe berries.


The raised bed vege garden has gone wild.


Quite a lot of plants have started seeding. Lavenders are flowering profusely. And those sweetcorn are wildlings.


If only these broad beans will still be there in a few weeks time I can save them for seeds.


A mob of tomatoes…


Needless to say, I harvested some while others have started to go to seed, or just grown too big.


And here’s a lovely harvest of Vivaldi Gold potatoes filling a Pak’nSave reusable shopping bag. I dug them all up by hand, the soil is just so beautiful and friendly to the touch… If only I have got a few buckets I would have taken them home with me.


And finally, here’s a good crop of Pinot Gris wine grape. Also, for the first time, it is cropping well.

I managed to reclaim a few more pieces of timber which I did not get to take away with me last time due to space issue. These will come in handy for my other fencing projects.

This is a wet and rainy week. I spent most of today in my effort to unpack my stuff which was piled up in one corner of the living room. Finally, everything has been sorted away and a proper filling system devised for the paper documents. I’ve marked out the ground where I was going to hammer the stakes in to put up the fence along the conifer hedge tomorrow.

I’m sourcing for a handful of 1,000L IBC tanks to store rainwater off the roof. And just thinking if someone could get a whole lot of them, they could just line it up as replacement for fencing, and it could be a rainwater storage tank fence! As these things come in cage, there’s an existing trellis for them to grow climbers on too! Talk about multi-functional…

Moving Mountains

I’ve bought a Ryobi 600w Hedge Trimmer, and sold the old cordless Bosch AHS 48 Li for $100, so I only paid $50 for the new one. The Ryobi has got 600w of power behind it, and 28mm of tooth space, while the Bosch has got less power and only 15mm of tooth space. The logic is simple, I needed something more powerful to attack and maintain the conifer hedge. And I wanted to do it without using a gasoline powered device.


See, my nice well trimmed straight hedge. I finished the job in the evening with the Ryobi after returning with it from Bunnings in the late afternoon. This morning, I took it out to do a bit of touch up work and the performance was a world apart. Yesterday, it was the best hedge trimmer ever. Today, it won’t even do what the old Bosch can do. So, I took it back, and they exchanged it with a new one.

That’s the catch with buying the more budget conscious brand. They tend to over promise and under deliver. I had the Bosch for over 2 years and it is still going strong. Now, I’m just thinking if I should on sell the brand new unopened Ryobi for $145 and wait till Boxing Day  2016 to get my next hedge trimmer?


The brown perfectionist hedge. I should probably give it a good seaweed spray to help it recover from the massacre. Over the week I shall get the stakes put in and the windbreak fence installed.


These free old fence palings will come in handy as slats for the seedlings nursery that I’m building. It saved me more than $100 in cost. Having said that, I wrote a complaint email to Mitre 10 Mega Hornby for charging me cutting fee amounting to 14% of the cost of the timber just so to get them to standard 2.4m length to load on the truck. They have till tomorrow to respond before I take further action.


I can be a real cheapskate. Like these once rotten spring onions I bought at reduced price, chopped the tops off and replanted the lot. Now, I get plenty of new spring onions! I did that before too at the Orchard Cottage didn’t I?


See the bean has germinated beside the sweetcorn. I was asked the other day, how do you tell if a supermarket sweetcorn is going to be sweet? For the well informed gardener, this would come across as a trick question. After all, sweetcorn, like asparagus, start losing their sweetness right after they were harvested. So, going by the rule of picking the best among the worst, get the sweetcorn with fresh looking silk, and avoid the completely browned off ones.

The logic is that all corn progress from the milk stage to the flour/maize/seed saving (don’t know what the expert call it) stage, and sweetcorn is harvested at the milk stage where the silk are just starting to brown. So, the sweetcorn on the shelf with fresher looking silk will theoretically taste better than the one with completely browned off silk.


The seeds sown last week have germinated. I have a feeling I need to start Brussels sprouts soon. And some other herbs and veges. But first, I need to transplants the perennials into larger pots.


Tomato is flowering. Yay yay! I have been removing the flowers off some of the weaker plants to let them gain some vigour. I might have to give the whole plant a wee cut back to reduce the load on the root system too.

Some other plans in the pipeline. Do some soil texturing test using the jar method to nail down the soil composition. Pop broadbeans, peas and lupin into the lawn to get some nitrogen fixing going and hopefully some more biology. The plan is to poke holes into the lawn with the fork, pop the seeds in and walk away. For the front lawn, I’ll mow the lot down after a bit and lay down the weedmat to kill off nitrogen fixers and grass before converting them into a double digged Biointensive garden.

So yes, the Great Wall of China wasn’t built in a single day.

Farewell 2015! Hello 2016!

2015 came and gone. It’s been an interesting year with a lot of happenings. I think some of the best highlights would be doing PDC at Koanga Institute and meeting lots of like-minded people. And of course, getting onto my own quarter acre section in Rakaia.


Part of this section still needs to be fenced up properly. There’s really no oriental sentiment to this fencing style, as far as I am concern, it is the cheapest form of fencing per meter, and it keeps the dog in. I’m going to lower the height of the bamboo further at a later stage, and it will look even better.


The wee old mailbox got a wee modification too. I’ve widen up the intake gap, hopefully it will be easier for the postman from now on.


Some updates from growing bulbs and corms from seeds. Freesias, lilies, gladioli all going well.


Having another go at the watering cans again. This time, basil mint, rosemary, and thyme. I’ve chosen these guys because they are more likely to withstand neglect, and perhaps, even thrive on it. Better luck than strawberries, that is.


Looks like someone is up to no good again. New Year Resolution 2016, zero casualty on bananas. Apart from that, we shall be looking at some form of career and personal growth. Adopt more Southern man qualities. Etc, etc.


I’ve moved the guys in planter bags closer to the existing vege bed. Placed them onto cardboard to mulch off the grass beneath, and help with the drainage of the planter bags as well. Now, I can easily water both vege bed and the planter bags at the same time with the oscillating sprinkler. I’ve also sown carrot seeds into the planter bags, not sure how it will go.


The sunflowers, livingstone daisies were planted out along the front boundary along with spring onions. Some radish seeds, and I have also seeded climbing beans and dwarf peas among the corn and pumpkin and watermelon. Calendula seeds that I have saved from the Orchard Cottage went in too.

I’ve finish the first part of the hedge trimming along the conifer row. After shaving off the surface foliage, the bare branches beneath were a ghastly tangled mess. I’ve gone through with the lopper to take out the thicker branches. Next would be to make right angle cuts into the hedge with the hedge trimmer to keep the side way branches in control. The machete will be used during this part as well. After that, would be another round of pushing it back further with the hedge trimmer until I get a nice straight thin wall. And to finish it off, do the tops.

Then, the windbreak fence goes in.


Look who came out to play!

2016 is off to a great start! My neighbour has been sharing his beer with me in his man cave. What would be a good neighbourly thing to do? Stock up his stash in gratitude?