Space Shuttle Corn

When your corn has had enough of you. When your corn doesn’t just want to be eaten. When your corn aspires for more. When your corn dream of going into space. When your corn develops a space program. When your corn turns into a space shuttle.

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Fret not. You can still make good soup out of it.

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There’s bumblebees in there. Spot the other one.

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Here we have a sunflower that’s showing the normal petals, and also the teddy bear frills. The flower opens out wide, like a teddy bear sticking its head out of a car going 100kph down State Highway 1.

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This one is called Lion’s Mane. We can see why. It’s my favorite. When its done its dash, it looks like a Golden Retriever that’s just been through the wash.

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This is the Mandala Garden before I go on holiday.

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And this is it after I come back. The pumpkin vine has taken over. The sunflowers are flowering. The corns are heading into space. The tomatoes, they are doing their thing.

And the birds got all the worms.

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Good looking yellow cherry tomato with purple shoulder.

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This one is Indigo Rose with not as strong a blush.

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Yellow Pear hanging down a nice straight truss.

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All time favorite, Small Sweet Orange. Very generous spreading truss.

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This is a pointed capsicums, rewarding me with lots of capsicums.

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And this one is ripening into purple. These are all reduced to clear pots from the garden center. Larger grade, does a lot better than my own seed grown ones.

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This pumpkin vine has decided to scale new heights.

I can’t really get into the outside edges of the Mandala Garden now. The sunflowers are keeping me out. Caging everything in, and out.

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Looks like a bumper crop year. This lot should last me through the next season’s pumpkin harvest.

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Another variety, not sure which one is this. Could be a butternut type.

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Look close enough and you can spot the strawberry.

I’ve been training for City2Surf. I’m going to jog the full length. I’m now up to 4km, I’ll double it tomorrow. It feels good to be back on the run.

There and Back Again

I solemnly believe I have done enough driving over the last 2 weeks for a whole year. Until next time.

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Enough of unsealed gravel road. At times I felt like a rally driver. Very grateful that this car is AWD, better traction, could have slid off the road a couple times if the AWD had not kicked in. Took the car through a car wash after that.

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I’ll hitch a ride next time.

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From train station to train station. How hard could that be? Just climb on to the roof.

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Most of the holiday homes we stayed in are right by the sea. At night, the breaking waves lull us to sleep. Apparently living by the sea are very therapeutic and good for the soul.

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The wind does interesting thing to the trees. Nature’s pruner.

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During one of my solitary walks along the Southwest cliffs of Bluff. Bonsai on rocks.

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And flowers clinging to the ground enjoying the salt sprays.

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Little streams flow from the hills straight into the sea. There’s an abundance of water coming out of the hill at Bluff.

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The views down South are great. This is at the top of Riverton.

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And I found this puff ball in the community forest garden at Riverton. I’ve only seen this on River Cottage. I’ve got my hopes up. Hopefully some will show up in my garden. Should have took some soil home.

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The Catlins are another paradise itself.

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At the Cathedral Caves looking at the approaching rain.

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Double rainbow at the Nugget Point. They have just started investing in better infrastructure for tourism. I guess more and more people are starting to come here. Everything is very new.

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At the Southern most part of South Island.

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We are nearer to the South Pole than the Equator. Yet, the weather is rather pleasant, and humid. Which means sandflies.

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20km of unsealed gravel road to get here. Then another 20km back. Its worth it when you have sandfly protection. Lake Hauroko.

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Saw this book at Duntroon. Just what I need to accomplish this year’s plan.

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The view from my window back in Rakaia. I bought 4 blueberries from Diacks Nurseries in Invercargill, put a face to the name, met Caleb. Most impressive garden center I have ever seen. The range, the variety, woot! The plants camped out in the car for 3 nights before arriving home.

Till next week, some more updates, getting ready for ducks.

Pattern of Trio

It’s something born out of habit from don’t know when. Always visit the local botanical garden. In my younger days, the impinging reason is probably because it’s free. Nowadays, it’s for inspiration.


Like this planting of cabbage trees in Queens Park, Invercargill. It’s all planted in different pattern of threes.


In this planting, it features 2 individuals and a grouping of 3.


And 2 individuals and a group of 4.


One individual and 2 group of 3s.


A basic one here of 3 individuals.


One individual and a pair.

Different plays to the number 3. Adaptable to just about anything in garden landscaping. Mix and match and stack it with different types of plants. Just a soothing pattern that works.

A Radish is A Swede

As I looked at the still growing radish. I realized, it’s not a radish. It’s a swede. There’s no measure to how silly I felt, for calling myself a gardener, and being a Produce Manager, I have mistaken a swede for a giant radish. Let’s just hope that swede remain a swede and didn’t turn into a turnip.

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So far, I’ve learned to tell the difference between a Cardon and a Globe Artichoke.

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This is a Globe Artichoke.

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And this is a Cardoon.

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And while I was out there taking a photos of them. Here’s a look into the Mandala Garden from the street. I think I am going to keep the sunflowers coming every year.

I’m also having a very good run with the pumpkins this year. Must have something to do with the fresh compost.

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This is a spot of the Evening Sun Sunflower. Bronze, not over powering red. Good form.

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Like a cross between Evening Sun and Vanilla Ice.

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There’s a pair of bumble bees on the flowers. One of my neighbours has got a hive but I haven’t seen many of their bees in here yet. There’s a few odd regular bees but I think they are the native bees.

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Some Californian Poppies.

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I am more than stoked to see most of the berries have taken off. And a very well formed berries on this one. There’s a definite relationship between how well established they are to the form of their fruit.

All the Northern Highbush Blueberries are alive too, and not dying. To my delight, they are slowly coming away. I’m quite pleased with that as I usually don’t have much luck with them. I’m going to be acquiring eight different varieties of Rabbiteye Blueberries end of this season to be planted into the Mandala Garden, along with it some plums and plumcots.

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Globe Artichokes seedlings and a few varieties of Brussels Sprouts. I’ll check their roots at some stage and see if they are ready to be planted out.

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This is my strip of lawn. I have not mowed it for weeks. It is turning into a strip of meadow with a much healthier diversity than the regular mono culture lawn where people regularly poison off the broad leaves.

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One can find delight in the beauty of a bunched of chamomiles.

Somehow, I always find Summer a rather plain time in the garden. I’m more or less just waiting for the harvest. And eating the carrots and beetroots off the garden. The occasional weeding of whatever I found no longer desirable. The pinching off of new growth of the fruit trees once they reached a certain length. Collecting Caesar’s poo into the worm farm, not sure if there’s any worm in the farm. Training the tomatoes. And the Belgian Fence.

When Autumn comes, it gets busy again. It’ll be time to work on cutting back the Oregon hedge soon.

Side note, I think if we are to compare Caesar’s poo to mine, his will be more organic than mine as he only get fed K9 Natural and raw bones. He supplement that with the assortment of herbal stuff growing naturally in the Forest Garden. I don’t treat him for fleas and I don’t give him worming tablets. I’m sure, his poo is more worm farm friendly, than mine.

Alternative Production

When you are not being productive, but is actually doing something, what do you call it? Alternative production. That’s what I have been up to this weekend. Alternative production. I’ve been catching up with Spring cleaning in the house. Then picking up all of Caesar’s poo in the Forest Garden and move them to his poo spot behind his kennel. Giving the workbench in the garage a wee tidy up. It is tidier now, but could definitely use a lot more organization.

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I went and got this really large plastic dog house on Thursday, but I couldn’t fit it in the car, so I had to go back on Friday with the truck to pick it up. It was an inch too big to fit through the rear door. And definitely will not go into the boot. It’s not for Caesar. It’s for the ducks.

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Correction on this “Globe Artichoke”, it is actually a Cardoon judging from the size of the flower buds.┬áThe stems of Cardoon were eaten while the buds of Globe Artichokes were eaten. I’ve got a fair few of Glove Artichokes seedlings now, I’ll plant them out in Autumn.

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Looks like I’ll be having some Jonagold apples this season. Should I confess I am so far not a big fan of apples, hopefully I will find something I like from all the different varieties in my collection. I like sweet juicy plums.

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I haven’t figure out which one this is. So far, it looks like it’s going to be a bumper pumpkin season by the way the pumpkin vines are taking over the Mandala Garden.

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Fancy a sunflower hedge?

I’ve been going around and doing some selective weeding. On the list, anything that’s a prick, nightshade, hedge mustard, mallow, fumitory, cleavers… My spray free lawn is turning into a meadow, I’ll share it with you next week.

My Berm is Greener than Yours

It had been a good weekend despite the threat of rain which never materialized. I am sure it rained everywhere else. Not enough, so the irrigation will keep going. The garage is slowly emptying out as more and more building materials are used up for projects around the property. Soon, I will tidy up my very messy work bench.

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The raspberries have been liberated from their pots, into raised beds of half a cubic meter of compost. The stand will be thinned out at a later stage giving preference to strong growing erect stems.

I figured out a way to make compost go further. I sieve them, and my sieve is just one of those black seedling trays, and it separates out the smaller particles from the larger particles. The finer compost can be used as a seed raising medium while the larger stuff can be used as small grade mulch. Can be used for capping off seed trays to reduce evaporation.

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Bamboo trellis and gate are now completed. I made a booboo while putting the final touch to the trellis, but if you don’t look hard enough, you can never tell. It will be one of those things that’s right there in your face but you can’t tell there’s something wrong with it.

I’ve swapped the pots for something else now. The first three pots to the left are mainly rescued plants that had been living in planter bags ever since I moved here. Plum rootstock where the scion has died. Golden Pippin, Cornish Aromatic, and Winesap Apple on mm106 which are extras. A mm106 rootstock where the scion has died. And the three pots to the right are all mm106 rootstocks.

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The final gate built just now. Essentially the Forest Garden has been fenced off.

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While I have fenced off the Forest Garden, the Mandala Garden is trying to keep me out with rampaging pumpkin vines. And the few varieties of spinach to the left is going to seed. I didn’t eat a single leaf, how hopeless of me.

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Looking into a keyhole. Can’t really get in there without disturbing the pumpkins.

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They don’t seem to have any respect for clearly defined footpaths. I am not sure if I am to cut them back or not. But I might politely point them in the right directions.

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And them sunflowers will probably just look on in my futile attempt. If only you can hear them laugh. It will be a gust of sunshine.

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Tomato Indigo Rose. I’ve grown these for years. Very hardy plants. But the fruit takes very long to ripen up.

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Persimmons! I had a plant at the Orchard Cottage for a few years, and it never really did anything. I had this for less than a season and voila! Mum is going to be stoked! But you aren’t suppose to harvest until after the first frost or something like that.

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The wildflowers are slowly coming through after my more consistent irrigation regime. A mistake that I never seem to learn, but hopefully have by now. So, I’ve sown more wildflower seeds.

I’ve also move the two Blood Oranges to both side of the side doorway. They might do better there and will benefit from the watering.

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More wildflowers in the edges of the Mandala Garden. Perhaps, by the end of this season, the neighborhood will present me with the Neighborhood Hippie batch. This property is not for the faint-hearted.

Just feeling a moment of pride here as I mow the berm this morning. The grass growing on my berm, despite not receiving any irrigation, turns out to be the greenest on the street. I’ve explained it to my neighbor once, its too dry and they are cutting the grass too low, the soil is getting sunburn. You put a hat on when the sun is bearing down. I’ll be sticking with the #5 cut for now.

I didn’t mow any grass in the property, those will keep growing slowly and provide good protection to the soil. Only reason to mow the berm, neighbor from an adjacent property is selling, so, just being a good neighbor and put up with a good presentation on the street. Everyone likes a well cut berm on the whole street.

Stuck In

The weather is doing funny things at the moment. We have a high of 31dC, and a low of 4dC, all within a month, within days of each other, in the middle of Summer. This Summer, is quite fickle minded. It needs to make up its mind.

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The radish is still growing. It’s still not going to seed. It’s as big as my garden gloves. The beetroots on the other hand has started going to seed. So I am starting to eat them. There’s a kohlrabi in the Forest Garden too, and that’s the size of a football, almost.

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The amazing weekend weather means that I am able to get work on some of the projects. The nursery is now completed. Clad with microklima frost cloth.

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There’s the option of putting another layer of frost cloth from the inside to have a sort of double glazing effect but I think one layer is enough, the environment feels rather calm in the nursery while its gusting its head out in the open. I might setup the other nursery stand next week. I’ve got some asparagus to start from seeds.

Processed with Rookie CamOn to the next project. Continue to fence up the Forest Garden to get ready for the ducks. The wee gate is the door to Caesar’s run, and of course, he doesn’t get locked in the run at all, so the gate comes in handy. Getting some of the stakes in are hard work as the maple tree that I have removed have left huge roots all over making it very hard to hammer the stakes in. Always be mindful where you plant your trees, and know your trees, and what their roots are going to do to your building.

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Here’s the almost finished work. I still need to cap the top off. The bamboos are held in place with 3 horizontal 50×50 timber with holes drilled all along it at 5cm spacing. Getting the holes in are the main work. First, I got to drill the guide holes, and these got to be straight through. Then, a borer drill bit is used to enlarge the holes so that the bamboo stakes can go through. I’ve lost count of how many times I have to recharge the battery for the drill. That’s 2 days of all out work there.

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The prickly Worcesterberry has grown really well this season. It must have love its new home. I’ve gone along and tied each branches to a vertical stakes yesterday and they will form a thorny fence along that part of the Forest Garden. Those prickles are vicious.

Next week, the place should be fully fenced up by then ready for the ducks. Only one more gate to make. The raspberries will be transplanted into the raised beds. And some more wildflower seeds to be sown.