An Extra Hour

Some more plants arrived from Te Kahuri Nurseries. If you want value for money, Brian is the one to shop with. Good size tree at baby dropper price. I’ve got a Chilean Guava to replaced a dud in the Olive & Guava patch. Got a Blueberry Atlantic and Herbert to complete the Northern Highbush blueberry plantings. Cranberry Bergman and Crowley for added diversity. And an assortment of NZ native selected for their ability to contribute to the avian population.


That’s them there planted. Kaka beak, Makomako, Corokia Bronze King, Karamu, Sophora Prostrata, Lancewood, Flax Evening Glow, and Cabbage Tree. And the ones in tree guards are Manuka. It’s a very dense planting to create some closed space for the ducks to seek shelter when needed.


Along the garage side the remaining crabapples were planted. These will be trained onto horizontal cordons and their fruit will feed the ducks late into the season. It was quite brutal planting these crabapples as I had to cut their depth in half as I’m planting above ground into a mound.


And the mulching of the Forest Garden is pretty much completed. In total, 7 cubic meters of mulch has gone on. And a lot of old cardboard and newspapers. Next week, I’ll be sowing seeds.


The bananas moved out, hanging out under the eaves. I can actually hang a curtain of Microklima frost cloth over the front if I want to, it won’t be rocket science to set it up.


More confirmation that Banana Gold Finger is alive.


Tulips are not exactly my favorite Spring flowers. They are the only bulbs that I did not take away with me from the Orchard Cottage.


Tiny Rosemary flowers. That’s a pair of them. It’s like some plant fairy wearing purple dress reaching out for a hug.


That’s a new leaf bud pushing out from the red leaf Nectarine Mabel.


Photography in macro is so much fun. Like these tiny blueberry flowers.


Calendula, still one of my favorite flowers. They are good soil healer. And great for the soul.

Spring is here and truly with Daylight Savings kicking in tonight. Its only a matter of time when things go green again. As new bud burst forth of the apple trees. And the spring onions started flowering. Weed Wild seeds germinate. Bumble bees take flight. I will start work on the Mandala Garden next week.


A New Milestone

We have reached a new mini milestone at this stage out here in Rakaia. Going through the Spring routine, I finally tidied up the raspberries, remove the pebbles, top up the pots with more fresh compost, and put the pebbles back on. In need of more pebbles, the pebbles from the pots of bananas were removed to be used to top up on the citrus and raspberry pots.


Then, I removed all the dead leaves off the bananas, and topped the Gold Finger and Misi Luki. I am pretty sure Misi Luki is still very much alive as the trunk is still green even though there’s no sign of new leaf pushing through. However, after topping both of them, I can now confirmed that they are both alive!


The very core of Gold Finger is still very green, and you can see that the sap is still flowing. So, yays! All 4 bananas made it through Winter.


Wetting down stacks and stacks of newspapers. I seldom read newspapers, if at all. Newspapers that landed in my mailbox usually gets saved for Winter to get the fire going. Now, I also use them to mulch the garden. Very useful.


I did 3 truck load of mulch over the weekend. I sort of have the Spring fever after watching the grass sprout an inch right after the mower goes over. The Summerfruit Lawn used a full truck load. This is crucial in getting the wildflowers establish and prevent weed competition, or the need to determine between a weed and a wildflower, both which are technically weed, the same.

I am not going to scatter sow the seeds but will be running on similar planting systems as those annual flowers garden bed. Just stay tune in a week or two, probably two.


The second truck load of mulch goes on in the Forest Garden.


And the third truck load goes on. I think it will take another 3 to 4 truck load to get it all covered up and the seed sowing shall begin. I must say I quite enjoy walking on mulch, it’s a lot softer, and not as hard on the ground.


Caesar went on the rides to get the mulch and now he refused to get off the truck.


The wee rooted cuttings of Gooseberry Pax are starting to burst forth. They are so thin and lanky that I wasn’t expecting them to take roots at all. However, as nature intended, they gave me the benefit of the doubt.


Plenty of Tagasaste Tree Lucerne seedlings coming through now in the nursery. They are one of my favourite Nitrogen Fixing nurse tree but I’ll be using them sparingly here as they are not very wind firm.


This purple leaf Wattle is a favorite. Stunning. And those big trees are now in full blown flowering all along SH2.


These Alder seedlings are naturally cold stratified. I sown them into the trays late Autumn and left them out in the cold, now come Spring they sprung up, in line with the rhythm of the Earth. The grand design here is to use Alder as fence post. To plan them up, grow them up, and espalier them horizontally linking limbs and form a couple of fences. Who doesn’t want a Nitrogen Fixing fence that you can harvest kindling wood from?


The beauty. Bellis Habanera.


There’s many things still to be done out here. Like the work on the Mandala Garden. Maybe next weekend. There’s also some seeds that needs to be started, tomato, pumpkin, corn… Maybe not yet. At the moment, I am mulching. And focusing on mulching. Mulch before the weeds have a chance to take off.

From Concept to Conception

I was going to drive the truck into the yard to unload the mulch, but once again, it won’t start. The last time we diagnose it, we figure some relay is draining power from the battery. Anyway, I realized that I have not use my AA call out privilege for quite a while, so well, there’s no such thing as a no-call-out-bonus-when-renewing-my-AA-membership. The truth is, I have a jumper cable in the back of my truck and I always jump start it with my car when I have a flat. The motive of the call out is so that I can have a mechanic come to my house, get the truck started, and check if there’s any serious issue like a dead alternator, for FREE. Well, not really free, but I do pay my annual membership on time. So, the truck got started, and the alternator is doing just fine, it’s probably some relay draining the battery out. He suggested to remove the negative terminal connection when not in use, good idea. We’ll get the relay look at the next time I bring the truck in for service, probably in 2 months time. 😉


The mulch. The grand plan. Is to use all the cardboard stacked behind the garage to cover up the ground on the Forest Garden, and put a layer of mulch over them. This will stop the old grass and what not from growing through. I sort of have a lot of cardboard, from furniture I bought when I moved in last year, and these are good size cardboard, used to package the sofa bed, table, bed frame, etc. The idea, is of no dig gardening, anything that I am going to sow, I will put a layer of compost over the mulch and sow into it.


Scrape out the old mulch from the Summerfruit Lawn. I am either going to sow the bare patch into low growing wildflowers, or just White Alyssum, Blue Lupins, Lucerne, Dwarf Calendula, and Dwarf Blue Cornflower. I am still undecided. Both methods will still have a wow effect to it, but the wildflowers blend might get out of control.


Imagine, a field of White Alyssum, contrasted by just the blue of the Blue Lupins, Lucerne, and Dwarf Blue Cornflower. And the orange of the Dwarf Calendula. Everything is low growing, and highly manageable.


Noticed all my new plantings have a severe cut back? I always check the size of the root ball before I plant out, and cut back accordingly. These trees arrived 2m in height, if I have kept it that way, they will have sulk for a season or two while the roots try to establish while not having enough to support the whole tree.


Got some Strawberries Albion and Strawberries Sunset. Planted them into the center circle in the Mandala Garden. I’ve also sown a variety of carrots and spring onions and PKLK onion.


The wee Dwarf Comfreys that I have planted among the grapes are coming through now. Not sure how long I have kept them in the packaging before planting them out. Long, I know. They are very forgiving, and almost immortal.


Within a week of planting this Satsuma Mandarin, it shakes off its support stake and let me know it can stand on its own just fine.


A pleasant surprise from this 1950s property. One of the previous owners must have love bulbs. Like seriously love bulbs, because I have bulbs of all sorts coming up all over the place, the value is probably in thousands of dollars based on what I used to spend on bulbs. I don’t even know what’s that in the photo above.


Weed and feed. Did some weeding. Stuff it down the side of my fence.


Feed the chooks on the other side.


Work in progress still on the Mandala Garden, now got a bit more edging done for the straight edge. Just need to get them all screwed in. Impact driver is very noisy I have my earmuffs on.


I drew this on my whiteboard. In my mind I have already gone through multiple different designs over the last few months, I kept simplifying the design.


And I built this yesterday. Works as I imagine it to. Its like a seesaw gate, it doesn’t actually hang, so it doesn’t put any strain on the rest of the structure. From concept to conception. This uses a lot less timber than my first idea.


The beauty patiently unveiling itself. Next week, work continues on the Mandala Garden and mulching the Forest Garden.

Day 3 of Spring

I was on the LSB forum where some guys were talking about taking the frost cloth off their citrus since Winter is over, I was like, what frost cloth? This very un-Winter meant that I got away with not putting frost cloth onto any of the citrus at all. Either I am very good at choosing a good planting spot or I am just plain lucky. The chilled out bananas are recuperating in the sun room. At this stage I am starting to harden them up over the weekends to get them ready for the great outdoors again. This is done by opening all the windows in the room for the breeze to come in.


The Olive & Guava fence is now completely mulched over. That was done last week, I managed to beat the weather to it. I guess keeping the front fence tidy helps to tone down the extremities that is happening within the depths of the property.


Here’s another photo of the Mandala Garden. The Satsuma Mandarins have all been planted. The last of the grapes have arrived and planted. Dwarf comfrey planted. Daffodils planted. Some companion plants seeds have been sown.

Ever thought of using a large bale of straw as a platform in the forest garden to do some yoga?

Next week, I’ll build the gate. And try to finish off the edging. And bring some mulched in to cover the outside edge.


Full on planting yesterday. More than 40 trees have been planted over the weekend. And mulched. Above is the peaches and nectarines guild companion planted with blackcurrant, redcurrant, and gooseberry. The closest one are red leaf varieties. The one in the middle are mainly some special heritage varieties. The furthest one are flattos. Legend has it that the Chinese Emperors preferred the flat fruit as the juice would not drip into their beards.


That’s the main forest garden. Just irrigating at the moment to water the newly planted trees in and the freshly sown seeds down.

We should be ready for ducks come Summer. Caesar has been very good at cat patrol at the moment. Some cat had one of its nine life forfeited yesterday as Caesar managed to pull it down from the fence while it tried to jump over the fence, have a bit of a spat before it jumped out successfully.


Almonds are all in, and I’ve lined the Mandala Garden side with more blackcurrants. Mostly rooted cuttings that I have potted up earlier.

Almond Monovale is leafing out already. Facebook showed me photos of year earlier, in the orchard, the peaches and nectarines are already in full bloom. Around here, the plums just started flowering.


That’s nectarine showing bud movement. I’ve always struggled to take macro shots on the phone but with the new lens attachment it is just a walk in the park now.


The new arrivals. Blueberries, bud burst. Hopefully I’ll have better luck with blueberries this time with all the special treatment I have already given them.


This, in time, is going to be a stunning flower.

So I figured, next week, I’m going to spread a cubic meter of mulch on the outer edges of the Mandala Garden. Build one of the gate to the Mandala Garden. Do some weeding around the Summerfruit Lawn. Continue working on the edging on the inner pathways of the Mandala Garden. Sow the Siberian Pea Shrub seeds that I am scarifying at the moment. And probably spray some seaweed onto the trees.