Conservation Against Natural Progression?

Sometimes, I wonder if the conservation work that we are doing is actually good for the environment. It is good if we are reversing the degeneration of the land, but what if what we are doing are actually preventing natural progression of the landscape? A while back I was doing some volunteer conservation work at a stony beach ridges, we were mainly weeding. To my surprise, we are also removing some native tree saplings.

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Should we perhaps rethink conservation, to regenerate, and to assist in the natural progression of the landscape? Maybe merely removing the wilding pines so that the native grass can survive is not enough? Grass is just the beginning, forest is the end result, just because the area is covered with grass when man first inhabit that land doesn’t means that nature intend that to be grass forever. One day, that too shall be a forest.

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Then sunflowers are starting to flower. Just magnificent. I am just anticipating the main show from the sunflowers surrounding the Mandala Garden.

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Last season, I was growing corn along the front fence line, and threw away a few cobs that I deemed did not meet the grade, probably too small. And here they are, bunched of them popping up here and there, like wild grasses.

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This Globe Artichoke is starting to flower. There’s a few more seedlings on the go as not many survived in the last batched due to poor watering practice. My fault. And the nursery got blown over as I didn’t secure it, and everything was scattered all over and re-potted haphazardly. My fault again.

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The Feijoas are flowering! Must have done something right for them to flower in their first season planted out.

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When you sow radish in the Forest Garden and forgot about them. This is now a swede. Or a turnip.

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Carrots flowering. The flies, big and small, are so intoxicated. It’s like a giant buffet of tiny florets all round, drink all you can, all the nectar.

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Hopefully, back on track with the Brussels Sprouts show down. There’s 6 varieties of heirloom Brussels Sprouts in there. I never have any luck with them but hopefully, some this year with the lot of diversification.

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I am intending not to mow at this time of the year, and just let the lawn, the berm, turn to meadow. It’s getting hotter, dryer, and I wanted the land to have more cover instead of a mere half inch of grass. But I can’t help myself on this one as I am doing some work which requires me to trim the grass way down. I did something different much to my amusement and curiosity. Each strip of grass is mow with the mower set on a different height setting. Just to see. I think I like number 4 best.

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Why did I mow? Need to cut the grass back so that I can turn the turf upside down where I am going to build a raised beds for the raspberries. The raspberries, are finally going to be liberated from their pots!

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This is the first time I am building something with 300mm x 50mm timber. I had some salvaged when I moved out of the Orchard Cottage, paid good money for them, waste not want not, re-purposed. These heavy duty timber were originally intended to be floodgates. Also involved a bit of simple joinery work that a circular saw can easily handle.

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And the frame goes up to form the bones of the nursery. No permanent modification has been done to the carport, no holes drilled, nothing. Next up will be to get the mikroclima cloth on. In Winter, it can be enclosed with a curtain of mikroclima around the back and further moderate the micro-climate in there.

Once that’s done, a gate will be built to shut that side of the Forest Garden out. Then I’ll start working on the final set of gate and trellis by the old pump shed. And the Forest Garden will be duck ready.

Noticed the new coat of paint on the carport? It took me 2 days to put the first coat on, and 2 hours for the second coat. The color is named Grapevine, hence enticing a greenfinger like me to choose it due to emotional appeal. I really should have just gone for red.

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Farewell 2016

A vet to a dog, is like a dentist to a man. It’s never good news, usually involves various elements of pain. Caesar has that well figured out even though he is visiting a different vet at a different clinic. I took him there half an hour earlier so that he can roam around the car park getting used to all the different animal scents about. And of course, for him to empty his bladder so that he don’t piss all over in the clinic, like he used to. His vaccination is up to date now, and he hates the kennel cough vaccination which is done through the nose, the vet always struggled with that. He is so traumatized in the end that he refused to take treats off the vet at the end of the session. He will only eat them off the floor. And of course, can’t wait to get out, won’t even let me make payment, he just dragged me straight out of there.

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My neighbour rang me the other day while I was at work. She is asking for permission for her and her mum to stand outside my place to see what’s the going on in my garden. They can’t figure it out from their kitchen window, so they had to get closer.

A few different varieties of spinach there at the bottom left of the photo. I don’t get how they are all of a different genus and species, yet they are all called spinach. What genus and species would Popeye recommend?

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The tomatoes have taken, their primary stem grew thick and strong, and because they are grown in an exposed area, they are not gaining height as fast. The pumpkins are growing too, they are starting to crawl about now. Hopefully, I will have some to store over Winter.

There might be a change of plan with pumpkin growing next season. Cucurbita pepo, I will not be saving seeds on this pumpkin line anymore as I will be growing zucchini instead next season. That leaves me with Cucurbita maxima and Cucurbita moshata, which is still good. At least, I will have zucchini as well.

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Runner beans now flowering.

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I’m very proud of these apricots. they started the season looking like slingshots. Now they are well branched, ready for some good fruits next season. Throughout the season I pinched off the growing tips when they reached a certain length to encourage them to branch out. Intensive, and lots of love.

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Got a handful of walnuts this year perhaps.

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This is the Calville Blanc D Hiver apple. It is one of the oldest variety of apple in the world. Good for apple pie. Have just gone around and put a tag on all the apples along the Belgian Fence. Now, I know who is who.

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The Forest Garden. I think its more or less ready for free ranging ducks.

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There’s definitely diversity. And everything is flowering and seeding now. And full of escaped potatoes. If I ever ran out of potatoes, all I have to do is go into the garden and dig some up.

Potatoes are weedy. If you leave one behind accidentally, they will grow and give you potatoes again. And again. And again. The ducks can eat the tops.

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The almonds trio near the front. That spot has gone berserk. I can’t walk through there without getting pollen all over me.

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Just need to get more fencing done. Here’s one that I did today. It’s not finish yet, I still need to pin the windbreak into the ground. Need to buy some pins.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, I’m going to paint the carport. I’ve spent the day removing most of the rust using the angle grinder with a wire brush attachment. After that, I can start building the nursery.

The nursery, the project that has been brewing for a year. Every time I revisit the idea, it evolves. It just gets better and better. This time, I’m going to be building a small raised bed right in front of the nursery, and here, I am going to plant the raspberries. Finally, the raspberries are going into the ground. I’ve got it all under control.

Finally, my new new year resolutions.

  1. Ducks.
  2. Take up a new hobby or two, day walks and rock climbing.

2 Weeks to Go

Two more weeks to Christmas. How scary is that? I still haven’t got my new year resolution figured out yet. I have something in mind but I would definitely want to consider my options before I commit to anything.

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The Mandala Garden is growing slowly. Then sunflowers around the edges are coming up steadily and as they grow taller they will provide more shelter for the garden. Its interesting to note that they are concentrated on both sides of the garden even though I sow them in the whole circle.

I have replaced some of the tomato plants with store bought ones as the wind burned the last planting into the ground the day after I planted them. I have also replaced heaps of pumpkins as they died off after planting out. Luckily, I managed to find the exact variety of pumpkin I wanted to grow in a seedling form.

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The Forest Garden have another round of weeding yesterday. Its a rather selective weeding process where any weed that is behaving in a very dominant manner is removed before they become too much of a problem. Not to forget the usual suspect, cleavers, fumitory, and hedge mustard. I also took the opportunity to shape the herbage around the trees to give them more breathing space.

A couple more Tagasaste Tree Lucerne have been planted out. The wattles seedling are not progressing very well at this stage, most of them are likely to be written off. I’ll let the Tagasaste grow for now until I decide what other nitrogen fixing species to plant out.

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Here’s a familiar sight of brightly color poppies growing under the plum guild. I’ve made a new brew in this week’s foliar feed. A bit more nitrogen in guano form, and trichoderma fungi. Let’s give those shoots more growth before Autumn comes.

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That’s a medlar. It was the last thing on my mind to bring it over from the Orchard Cottage but I did anyway. For some reason. Diversity perhaps.

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That’s a persimmon forming right there. My last persimmon tree at the Orchard Cottage never actually do anything for years. So, I’m quite happy that this one is doing well and have got a really sunny spot to grow and mature.

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The Belgian Fence is coming along. Some of the branches are likely to hit their target this season. And some with apples to spare. Mitre10 had punnets of lavender seedlings cheap, so I got some to replace the ones that didn’t make it.

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And for the ones that did made it, well, they are flowering in a stunning purple right now. The bees are happy.

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Berries are fruiting, but I don’t think I will get much this year, the birds will get them. I need them to grow and flourish and start climbing the trellis.

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Up close and personal with leaf curl.

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Calendula porcupine. A good one to yield plenty of petals to add to your salad. Calendula seeds are one of the easiest to harvest. I’ve just harvested some and scatter them around where I wanted them to grow.

This weekend has been a good one, I have achieved plenty and is about to head out and start working on the second gate for the Mandala Garden.

4 More Weeks

Have I lost track of time completely? We have 4 more weeks of 2016 left and that was it. I had a look at the top right corner of my whiteboard with my new year resolution written on it. Career growth and better posture. Yep, put a tick on both of them, done. What will 2017 bring? What will my new year resolution be then?

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The first of the lilies have started flowering. This would be an orange asiatic lilies. Free plants that comes with the house. Judging by the number of buds, it’s a pretty well established corm.

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And taking stock of all the roses this week. Pink rose.

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More pink rose.

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White rose with pink frills.

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White rose.

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Yellow rose.

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Pink rose.

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Finally something different. Old fashioned red rose.

Whoever planted all those rose before me must have love roses, and love them in pink! I have given them a huge cut back end of last season and they have now come back dashingly. Needless to say, they are overdue for a formative pruning session. These are all free flowering floribunda style roses.

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In the Forest Garden, its teeming with surprises. Like this purple kohl rabi that was part of a mesclun mix, probably the Simply Red mix from Kings Seeds. The mesclun mixes are allowed to go to seed. They will probably cross pollinate, and self seed, and next season, I wonder what I will be getting. A blend of all kinds of mesclun mix you can get your hands on. Italian, French, Oriental, Kale, Lettuce, etc etc.

Side note, I am really not a good vegetable gardener. I am not sure if I will ever be good at it. But I find that if I just scatter seeds, the vegetables actually grew a lot better than when I planted them where I want them to grow specifically.

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Under every fruit tree guild I have sown some runner beans, and this one is running up one of the red leaf stonefruit.

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The Forest Garden occupies one quarter of this quarter acre section. I am quite please that my plan to sheet mulch with newspaper and cardboard and top up with wood chip works in suppressing unwanted growth. And then quickly introduce my own mix of seed varieties.

The grass regrowth has been kept to a minimum, and the last of the more established grasses are finally dying off after the last round of selective herbicide spray.

The black birds are enjoying the garden, and the bees are back. I can see the beneficial insects too, they are out and about. As more of the herbaceous layer starts flowering, there will be more of them around.

Till then, I should really get going and get the Forest Garden duck ready.

Feeling Blue

There are plenty of moments in our life where we will be put into challenging situations, it gets our adrenaline pumping and we switched into the fight or flight mode. What if we take a step back, and think, “how do we win together?”. What doors will then open?Processed with Rookie Cam

My favourite flower is back in town! The blue is electrifying.

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I was having a wander around the Forest Garden for a bit. I can’t really be bothered doing much today, the wind is too windy. And then I hear it, the familiar sound of the cicada. It was loud and clear, and I followed the sound and saw the tiny thing. And its camera shy, just funny how it circles the branch to avoid the camera.

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I managed to get some shots in the end. Its very camera shy. And probably going to do some bark damage on the branches later just to get even.

I have been doing some thinking about the Mandala Garden. I am most likely going to plant half of it into perennial vegetables. Asparagus, strawberries, bunching spring onions, tree lettuce, tree kale, and something like that. I have not done much research yet. I’ll probably phase out the sweetcorn after this season as we can’t really absorb its nutrient without further processing prior to consumption. On the annual front, I am going to continue focusing on tomatoes, pumpkins, and root crops.

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On the banana front, it is now confirmed that all 4 bananas have made it through Winter. The Gold Finger came back from a near death experience.

Till next week, hopefully its not too windy or rainy then.

I had my first shot on the trampoline yesterday. For my whole life, yesterday, was the first time I’ve been on the trampoline. And we bounced around, played dodge ball, for the first time too, and basketball on the trampoline. Its fun, and never knew one could sweat so much on the trampoline.

Footing Lost Momentarily

As I lay there in bed in the wee hours of Monday, the earth moved for an extended period of time, if its anything, its not an aftershock. I laid there in silence, eyes shut, waiting, listening, for the siren to go off at the local fire station. I am sure the local firefighters are doing the same. Just silence, nothing, we went back to sleep.

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As I leave the house for work in the early hours of the morning, I was wondering if the Rakaia Bridge is still there. Heading towards the main road, there’s no question the road will be fine by the sight of the travelling traffic. No detour after all.

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Forget-me-not in macro. We are once again reminded of our earthquake nation.

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Out here in Rakaia, the Belgian Fence is humming along as I go about my weekly spur pruning, persuading the apple trees to take the shape intended. And they are mostly obliging. Though, I may have to resort to some notching next week.

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Of all the bales of pea straws, I’ve only got one pea coming through. I am not complaining though as these are merely shelling pea, not my favorite.

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Might actually have some homegrown blueberries this year.

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Now I know how a kiwiberry grows. It twines, instead of ramble. Once the growing shoot find something to twine long, it goes.

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One of the most affected stonefruit trees. This is a flatto nectarine.

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In the end, I managed to give the 3 IBC tanks a good washing down. One of them were used to store milk for calves before and the remnants have cheesed. That took the longest to wash out, and Caesar ate those cheese.

My neighbor helped me move them into place just now and there they are sitting snugly on their platform which is a sight for chuckle when my neighbor saw them. Layered fence palings.

So that’s a job half done and I am not sure when I will be going back to finish it off. I’ll probably do Gate #2 first. I’m putting off anything that involved spending money to my Boxing Day shopping list.

Trump Happened

A few things happened this week. Someone won the Powerball jackpot all for themselves instead of the jackpot getting split out, what are the odds? And Trump happened. And few of my friends back in the college years will have known that I am a big fan of Trump, like I read his books, not watch his show. Though I would never have thought that he will run for office the way Simpsons had. What’s next?

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We have never gone down that path before, its the one less traveled. It might be the start of Idiocracy. Or just a refreshing change. Who knows? What we need to keep in mind though, is that in a democratic environment, the power remains in the hand of the people.

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Half of America did not vote. Did they choose not to vote because they can’t decide who is the best among the worst? Or they just don’t give a damn? When you look at it, only a quarter of the population supported Trump and another quarter supported Clinton. The half, is the true silent majority, they remained silent.

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How many of the quarter that voted for Trump sincerely bought into his policies which is way over the top, makes a Trump fan like me want to dig a hole and bury myself? How many see the the potential that he can do good for a country whose debt can be paid off by winning the Powerball jackpot 450,000 times (of wait, I forgot the exchange rates).

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Or simply, how many have gone so sick and tired of the status quo, same old same old, nothing is going to change, for good or for worse, that they decide to gamble with the fate of their country? And if one is to gamble, the odds are in favor of Trump, definitely not West, that something good might actually come out of it?

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After all, there must be something to someone who keep coming back after declaring bankruptcy four times. Ask yourself this one question, how well do you think you can come back from even one bankruptcy?

Perhaps, one of his first act upon taking office is to declare the nation bankrupt? Who knows, maybe his daughter is going to be the first female US President.

At the end of the day, it is up to us, as individuals, to make this world a better place. To elect someone to the office to make the world a better place while we continue to poison the world in our own little way… oh well… Might as well join the other half as a silent majority.