Rain, Cold Wind, and Hail

Yesterday, we hit a new milestone. The Mandala Garden is completed! Except for the other set of gate on the other side, which currently is a make do bamboo fence. At this stage, I don’t need to put a gate up until the ducks show up. All in, takes about 5 cubic meters of compost to load the beds up. Did a spray of digester this morning to help the compost along. One or two weeks before planting out, I’ll probably get the Neem, RokSolid and BioPhos in.

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Note the whirly thing in the middle is the sprinkler. Last year when I was looking at sprinklers in Mitre10, a random customer just came up to me and put that one in my hand and tell me its the best sprinkler he ever used, much better than the impulse sprinkler. He is right, this one sprinkler is watering the entire Mandala Garden. Needless to say, I didn’t have to buy anything new to hook the sprinkler up. Feeling thrifty.

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The sunflowers are popping up along the edges of the straw bales in the Mandala Garden. These guys will perhaps provide more windbreak function to the garden.

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Disease pressure is high this season. Even when planted in the open with good air flow, the stonefruits are still getting leaf curl. Good thing about red leaf varieties is that you don’t notice the leaf curl if you don’t look hard enough. The Mabel Nectarine to the left is the worse affected, not surprising, its a more modern variety compare to the Red Leaf Blackboy Peach and Arapahoe Peach on the front.

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The seedling grown River Peach at the front is completely unaffected by leaf curl at this stage. Wow! The ones at the back are Black Pearl Nectarine and Golden Queen Peach, both are reasonably affected.

Environment determines genetic expression. Hopefully, with proper culture, they will eventually grow out of it in the long run. Instead of having to resort to the so called double strength copper each month of Winter.

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The spuds in the apple crates are slowly coming through now. There’s also a lot of wild spuds in the Forest Garden. I suppose you will call them weeds now. I’ll call them duck food.

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A good looking bamboo in the Forest Garden.

What’s next now that the Mandala Garden is completed? I suppose I will start working on the nursery. This will involve sanding out the old rusty paint and put on a new coat. Once the nursery is done, I can proceed to finish fencing off the rest of the Forest Garden and do that other gate for the Mandala Garden.

Then… I’ll be working on the Oregon Hedge that is a rather sorry sight. It has no regrowth on the sides where I did a severe hack back. So the decision has been made to slowly cut off all the limbs back to the trunk to head height and let it keep its top growth. Put a new and higher windbreak up against its trunk. Then plant a new hedge via a partially raised bed next to it. Something that don’t grow too wide, and can handle the occasional ooopsie severe hack back. I am thinking Corokia Bronze King at 1m spacing with Chilean Guava in between.


I have used the Camera360 app for years. It was a great app but every update added more weight to the app and eventually, it has lost its touch. No one, wants to wait 30 seconds for an app to launch before they can take a photo. The opportunity to take a great shot may have just come and gone in less than 30 seconds. No to mention, in the last update, mine will crash after taking one photo. So, the app has been uninstalled and now we are on Rookie Cam. Hence, you will notice the photo on this blog now has a different filter effect.

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Most of the seeds have now come through. There’s a definite difference in germination between seeds that I have saved in Rakaia, seeds that I have saved in Kaituna Valley, and the original seeds from Kings Seeds. Needless to say, the Rakaia seeds germinated first and the original germinated last. Apart from the naturalizing factor, it might also be a matter of freshness of the seeds.

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The sweetcorn sown last week are starting to come through. These are just sown indoors and unheated.

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Which brings us to the question of the Mandala Garden. How long more before it is ready? I have already put 2 truck load of compost on, and I think it will take another 2 truck load to fill the beds up. Then I’ll probably need a load of mulch to cover the paths.

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The weather has blessed us with plenty of rain. This month, we have taken on 50.30mm of rain, 19.30mm came down just yesterday and the day before. I was out in the evening scattering seeds just before the rain hits.

The Forest Garden is slowly coming away. We have a rather high curly leaf disease pressure this Spring but I am not going to pinch out the affected foliage this season as I am not cropping the trees. Perhaps, the trees will fight back the disease?

The herbaceous layer is growing. Weedy. A mix of weeds and seeds that I have sown. I’ll probably spend labor day going through and weed out the undesirable weeds. I have already weeded the Belgian Fence today, I left the vetch in there as they are Nitrogen fixing. And the Forget Me Nots, they are just a pretty sight that must have somehow tag along from the Orchard Cottage.

Boiling Weeds

On my weekends, I have pasta for lunch. A by product of cooking pasta is all that hot water that we pour down the sink. I no longer pour them down the sink. I pour them on the weeds that I want to kill. They work faster than Roundup. I might get a whistling kettle in Winter, when the fire is going, I might as well boil some water for the weeds.

When it rains it pours. The Spring weather is behaving in my favor at the moment. Almost to my favor, except it prefers to rain down on my weekends. Plenty of moisture to get the seeds sown going without the need of any additional watering.

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Well, on the tomato growing front. Small Sweet Orange is the first one off with Indigo Rose not far behind. It’s always very exciting to see little bites of Summer taking off.

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And today, the very same germinating seed has stood up straight and getting ready to stretch out.

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In the rainy weather yesterday, I have manage to sow 288 sweetcorn. 4 trays in total, 3 of them seeds that I have saved from last season which is now the second generation cross. And 1 tray of 6 different varieties of heirloom seeds from Koanga. Very curious to find out what they will do this season.

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Caesar is getting a green roof on his kennel. Got a couple of trailing rosemary and hopefully they will trail down the side of his kennel.

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This is the view along the front. The Spring Onions are flowering now. That full front fence length of Spring Onions, I only paid $4.99 for them. Not just that, I ate the tops and planted the base.

Along the windbreak, I have planted Comfrey all along. It’ll be quite a sight and a good weed barrier and bee fodder. I’ve planted 4kg of Comfrey roots today, there, and in the Forest Garden.

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This is a Beurre Hardy Pear scion grafted onto a Quince rootstock. I’ll rate this a 10 out of 10 graft at this stage. The graft has taken, strongly, and the foliage is starting to push, which is a good sign. I’m stoke because previous attempt at grafting pear is all but utter failures.

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Last but not least. More progress on the Mandala Garden. All the keyhole edging is completed. I used a pack of fencing staples which I spread the two prongs further apart before hammering them in to link all the pieces together. Put a truck load of compost out, and more to go.

Something new this time, the bamboo stakes for the tomatoes to grow on to. The bamboo tee pee. It’s the most stable form especially in this windy country. The Mandala Garden will be hosting 24 tomato plants this season.

Next week, more compost to go in. A bit more work on the Mandala Garden. More seed sowing. Weeding. Lots of weeding. And mowing.

Till then, be present in the moment.

A Notch Down

This weekend was a rather slow one. It was wet to begin with. But the sun always came through, as if I have unconsciously cast a sunshine spell while brooding about spending time in the garden.


The good old heated propagators are taken out of storage, just a quick pat to get rid of the loose dirt and what not, no need for a rinse out or bleach or whatever. Mix my last bag of seed raising mix into half a wheelbarrow worth of compost, 5 scoops each of neem granules and rok solid, mix it all up, and I’ve now ended up with more seed raising mix. This trick never fails.

I’ve sown the watermelons, pumpkins, tomatoes, peppers, and Siberian Pea Shrub. Next week I’ll get the sweetcorn and brassica sown.

img_3299Alnus Cordata. Very high strike rate with the seeds, just about everything I have sown germinated, and I sown like 3 seeds into each plug. I’ve divided them now and upsize into larger pots, that’s 2 and a half trays there. And I’ve still got another tray of undivided plugs waiting to go. Not a good strike on Alnus Glutinosa, and absolute flop on Alnus Rubra. Looks like we’re settling for an Italian fence.

img_3282When Caesar decides to preserve his piece of meat with my potting mix. Put the meat on the patio, give it a generous sprinkling of fresh compost. The perfect recipe to that compost aged meat.


The much brewed over idea of mine work. The edging for the Mandala Garden should be completed by next weekend. Drill a hole at the bottom of each piece, use a bamboo stake as a dowel and poke it into the ground. Link them all together on the sides with fencing staples. Viola~! As for cost savings, it cost about $10 per meter for similar style edging from garden centers.


Some sort of thing, is causing damage to the plants. The nasty buggers are chewing the bark. I wonder who would be doing it. They are also defoliating some foliage as well.


Flower of Nashi Pear.


Peach flower.


Crabapple in the making.


I thought only peaches and nectarines get curly leaf.


Seems that Almonds are also susceptible to it.


Rather unusual. But we shall see how things go. Probably a much higher disease pressure this season.


I’ve got plenty of mushrooms popping up all over the place.


Launching jet boats in the Rakaia River. Got roped in at the very last minute by my neighbour to marshal for the Salmon Run triathlon for the kayaking section. The minute I stepped into the river to launch the boat, I realized there’s a leak in my left gumboot. Next time, I’ll just go barefooted like a jakun. Anyway, the kayaking event got canceled because its too windy. So the lot of us just jet up the river to no man’s land before heading back.

A much more relaxing weekend.

Molehill Sowing

My weekend has been full on. I did 3 truck load of bark mulch yesterday and got a load of compost this morning. The grass is growing. Fast.


The outer edges of the Mandala Garden is fully mulched now. I have laid the old weedmat down where the path would be. Had to do a bit of weeding before I put everything on. Most of it are young grass which I pulled out by hand, except for one corner where the grass didn’t managed to die off last season when I had the weedmat over it. I took the lawnmower to it and give it a good #1 haircut before I mulch over.

Sunflower seeds saved from last season has been sown down the outer edges along the bales of pea straw. The seeds smelled very yummy, could have roasted them for snack. Fresh… sweet… tasty.


More guild development. The herbaceous layer has now been added in. The circles of fresh compost. A variety of medicinal herbs have been sown. Along with lucerne. And a variety of ley for the ducks. Next up would be to sow some runner beans underneath the trees.

There’s still plenty of room at the moment which will be developed over time with Nitrogen fixing trees. It appears that I have left one of the most important element to last.


As for the Summerfruit Lawn. What do you call that? Molehill sowing? The compost piles edging the path and lawn are sown with White Alyssum, Dwarf Cornflower¬†and Dwarf Calendula. The rest are sown with wildflowers. I’ll probably over sow every fortnight or monthly. I have not come to a final decision yet.

This way of sowing allows me a lot more control over what’s growing and reduce the need for weeding as I have essentially excluded all the preexisting seeds in the ground from the sheet mulch and bark mulch.


Asparagus are coming up for their second season. Once I get the Mandala Garden ready, they will be spending the rest of this season in their final resting place, which I have yet to decide. Somewhere in the Mandala Garden. We should be able to harvest some next season.


At the end of last season, I only have one shoot growing from this Myoga Ginger. Now, heaps of new shoots are popping up! With Myoga Ginger, you eat the shoots.


In the very same pot. We have hops. I don’t brew stuff, so I will have to find a different use for the crop. Anyway, I have yet to setup their climbing trellis yet. Probably just a few twines going up the eaves.

Next week, I’ll take a break from the wheelbarrow for once. It’s time to finish off the Mandala Garden. And sow some seeds. Lots of seeds.

An interesting memory from the Orchard Cottage. While I was building one of the raised beds, I used previous season corn stalk as the base, and I have left a few cob on unharvested. These were buried beneath a foot of compost, yet come Spring, they germinated and pop up. That’s seed sown 30cm beneath the soil surface.