Measure Once Cut Twice

Old wisdom never fails. Unless one gets it wrong. Like measure once, cut twice, or was it the other way round?


So, I gave the Caesar Fence an upgrade. I put in the top rail as Caesar has jumped the fence. It is now slightly higher, and protruding out on Caesar’s side, the width is 10cm.


Behold, my first attempt at woodworking joint. Just a splice joint.


Here’s when things go wrong. There’s a big difference when you read a 9 as a 6. You ended up 3cm short. So, I cut another piece of 3cm to butt it in. Measure once, cut twice.

The perfectionist in me is so tempted to drop everything and head over to Goldpine for a new piece of 2 by 4 to get the job done perfectly. The perfectly imperfect me managed to resist that notion and settled for a not very pretty fix.


The Summerfruit Lawn is planted up. Just waiting for some other peaches and nectarines to arrive. Here we have 3 intensive planting spot, each with 3 varieties of stonefruit and one each of red currant, black currant, and gooseberry.

The one closest are stonefruits with red leaf. The one in the middle, heritage stonefruits. And the furthest one are the Flatto range.


The weed mats have been rolled up now. Surprised to see some grass managed to survive. The non-woven weed mat does seem to let some light through. All the grapes except one have been planted. And I have marked the center of the Mandala Garden ready for the next stage of design work.

An idea came in the other day to use the old half sleeper posts as edging in the Mandala Garden. The thing is to cut them into shorter lengths and use the lengths vertically to form the edges. I have an idea brewing in my head on how to put it all together, it just needs to brew longer. It involves drilling two to three holes, use short lengths of bamboo stake as dowel to pin it into the ground, and some U-nails at the top to link the pieces together. After all, I have a lot of bamboo.


I got hold of 3 varieties of hop plants, just the roots, which I have planted into 3 different pots. I’m growing hops in pots. And let them run up strings along the wall by the back door. Planted some Bellis Habanera into the pots as well.


Last but not least, while I dug up the currants last year from the Orchard Cottage to move them over here, I cut them back, but I didn’t throw the wood away, I stick them into the same planter bags to try to root them. Currants root easily. And viola! Some baby currants and gooseberries. There’s 12 of them there.

Next week, I’m going to plant out the dwarf comfrey, and probably the daffodil bulbs that’s still sitting in the mushoom box. Plant out the rhubarb, and mulch the Olive and Guava patch. And do some design work on the Mandala Garden.

19 Degree High

What would the weather scientists label today as? We are in the middle of Winter and its a good 19dC out there. I am not complaining, yet, I am finally having my weekend after working 2 weeks straight. I got really productive.


Due to the still short day length and late sunrise, I still have the luxury of a wee sleep in, but still managed to get out of bed yesterday morning to catch the frost. The weedmat is going to come out soon, probably next week, all rolled up and ready to be used again for its next purpose of a more permanent nature. Footpath for the mandala garden.


The unseasonably warm Winter has brought out the daffodils. And it just reminded me of the lot from the Orchard Cottage that I am still storing in the mushroom box, waiting to be planted.


I spent most of yesterday building this. My first version, which is just like all my other “fences”, got ripped apart by Caesar within a day as he tried to get to his favorite poo spot on the other side of the fence. So, the reinforced version features horizontal battens with the windbreak stapled to it on the other side. He can jump the fence, but he can’t rip it this time.

On the other side of the fence, I have planted the pears which is going to be low trellised along the bamboo stake which you might glimpsed from the photo above. Then a tripple-grafted Nashi (because mum loves Nashi pears), is going to be high pruned. And a Chinese Hawthorn will be high pruned as well. Both will form a nice canopy along the fence.

The purpose of the fence is to separate Caesar from the Forest Garden, where ducks will free range in the near future.


Today I got stuck in to planting. The 3-a-hole are planted 30cm off center with the currants 100cm off center to form a guild. Everything is mulched with a good dose of compost at this stage. I intend to cap it off with rough mulch in a couple of weeks to prevent the compost from getting blown off. The reason for compost is so that the available nutrient will readily leached into the soil below and nourish it while rough mulch still needs to decompose.

Its just a cheat to give the plants a good start without mixing compost into the planting hole. Plus, my planting holes are really small, just enough to fit, I don’t do the “dig a hole twice the size of your planter bag” thing.


There’s some urgency to get planting. Some signs of movement, like this Elderflower. We have got bud burst on both Elderflower Adam and Nova. I didn’t even noticed the bud swelling stage.

The main Forest Garden is mostly planted up now. There’s still the Gooseberry Pax which doesn’t really have a home yet. And the Manukas need to go in round the back. And other fruit trees yet to arrive.

Next weekend I hope to plant out the Summerfruit Lawn. Roll up the weedmat in the Mandala Garden and plant out the grapes. At this stage the weather next weekends looks to be holding up before rain sets in on Sunday. Not to forget to build a short fence for the Persimmon to trellis upon by the Mandala Garden.

Area Plan

That’s how it looks like if you are a bird.

The Mandala Garden will be interesting. Probably bumped me right up the hippie list in Rakaia now that I am already the bamboo man.

Still Alive

Winter Solstice is behind us, the days are getting longer now. And the big chill to come. The weather, is it going to get wetter? Yesterday was a wet one, I didn’t get much done outside apart from finishing the bamboo trellis for the Belgian Fence.


Next is to use the anchor bands to tie the sticks together at specific points. And to train the branches onto them.


Full on landscaping work out in the forest garden today. Ripped out the cover crop on the mound and use them as mulch along the Berry Fence.


Spread the soil out, and there’s one more mound at the back to do. It had a cover crop of broad beans on it.


Job done. If only I have a landscaping rake, could have achieved a more leveled surface.


Caesar examining the end result. I have put the planter bags in their planting spot for now. Soon, other trees that I have ordered will start arriving.

I’ll need to put a fence up soon. I think that might be the next job. It will limit the area that Caesar can roam. The fence will run from the garage lean to to the back of Caesar’s kennel. It will be part of a fencing system to separate Caesar’s lawn from the Forest Garden.

Ducks are going into the Forest Garden next season. It is said.

img_2926In the brick house. Banana Gold Finger which I pronounced dead last week might be still alive. Noticing that the stem is still mildly green, I peeled the dead leaves off. to reveal a bit more of the subtle-ly green stem. Then the tops which have died back were sliced off, just to check if the core is rotting or still mildly alive.

I did the cut yesterday, today, it would appear that the youngest leaf has pushed up a wee bit where I have sliced off clean. Note from the photo the unevenness at the top. I might just get through this Winter with more than 3 banana plants.

3 Below

Last week was a rather short weekend, so I didn’t get to check in here. This week, it’s just really cold out there, so I’m just going to check in now until the sun thaw things out.


I’m quite excited about the prospect of a hard frost this morning. Out to the garden I go early in the morning when the sky starts to brighten up. Pace all over the property and making observations.


Again, not so frosted between the house and the hedge. The mulch cover is completely frozen. I like walking on mulch when I’m in the garden, with footwear on of course. It’s more comfy and less compacting on the soil.


Trying out the macro lens attachment on the iPhone. This is not without a few tries as the cold powered out the phone a number of times and I have to get back into the house and put it on charge.


Yesterday, I spread out the two mounds of soil that’s been piled up there. Then ripped out the vegetables for mulching, and spread the soil of the raised vege bed out. Just a bit of landscaping. In time for the hard frost today to break the crumbs up.


Today I’ll mark out where I’m going to plant some of the trees. It helps when the area plan I have drawn up is quite close to scale.

The vege garden up the front has been redesigned into a mandala keyhole garden flanked by 4 Satsuma Mandarins, and in the middle, a Bay Tree and a single mounted sprinkler that will irrigate the whole 100m2. Hence, the Bay Tree will be clipped to just below the sprinkler.


The hard frost did something funny to the pots. Water started overflowing out of this pot’s reservoir, I can hear sounds of water flowing down, its like the potting mix forcing the water out into the reservoir.


An update on the bananas in the house. Gold Finger is dead. Australian Lady Finger on the other hand had a very close shaved, lost all its leaves, but the new one just started to unfurl, very slowly.


Misi Luki lost all but a small part of one leaf. No signs of new growth yet, but its a consolation to see that a small part of the leaf still retains the green and has not die back further.


Basjoo is the champ. The nice looking leaf unfurled last week, and it is starting to unfurl a new leaf this week. Only thing is, this is a fiber banana for weaving, not for eating.

Will probably have a look at plantain next season, perhaps hardier, though cooking only.


This is what I did last week. Putting in the coach screws, running the cable, getting the Belgian Fence trellis set up.

Still trying to figure out the best timing to Winter prune for maximum vigor.