The naughty corner …

I should go and stand in the ‘naughty corner’ I feel particularly bad that I didn’t post last week. Even though it is spring and everything is growing like mad I hadn’t spent much time in my garden!

How divine is this ? Phacelia .. bees love it!

Well the good news is I have more than made up for it this past week … busy busy busy. On Friday we finally shot 2 new videos which Dallas will be editing soon – brilliant! As we were in the orchard shooting,  it quickly became apparent to my horror that we have lost a lot of fruit! The Louisa plums which were laden a few weeks back have very few plums remaining and as for Black Doris she has ‘zip’.

Damson plum …

The Damson Plum is laden which is a blessing – so at least I can still make our yearly vodka. Our pear trees also appear to have lost fruit. The peaches are also down on last year with a couple of trees struggling with leaf curl. As we don’t spray either copper or sulphur this is often an issue, but in saying that we have found previously that new leaf growth is often not infected (thanks Auckland for your humidity). Thank God, the apples are covered in blossom as are the olive trees. Our graft pear tree which is on quince root stock is laden with QUINCE … and yes my fault, as I have let a branch from the root stock flower. Bad me! I shall prune this off at the end of the season! As for the codling moth trap .. no moths!

Quince … round and furry

I guess on reading this most people would wonder at our loss of fruit and blossom. We have had lots of wind over the past month, typical spring weather – this could well be the cause of fruit loss. Perhaps it may also be because there have been less bees this year … really not sure. At least our seaweed / fish fert spraying regime is underway … and the trees love this stuff! Next weekend we shall do this again.

Packhams Triumph pear

I  realised yesterday that I had made a huge error with my summer vege planting plan. For some odd reason I had chilli and capsicum in the in the same bed with the runner beans, truth is beans don’t like the nightshade family. So a quick rejig of plans and plants and I have decided that chilli and co will go into the garlic bed once that is removed mid December. Perfect – phew relief! I can’t imagine not having chilli or banana peppers for that matter, the latter being fabulous to pickle (recipe to come I promise).

My leek and onion bed is chaotic! Lots of alyssum, chamomile and self seeded stuff all growing madly together. The leeks are being hoisted out day by day. Terrific steamed, or in chicken and leek pies! As for the onions, well they will be exiting the soil in the next few months.

Leeks … Dallas makes the best Chicken and leek pic ..

Leeks on one side and red onions on the other, this bed will be replanted progressively. A mini prep, once the leeks have been removed by adding some composted animal manure and planting mix and then I shall sow carrot and garlic chive (and yes they like each other’s company – good friends in fact). I have had no success with carrots over the past few years and it isn’t because the soil is compacted either. I think the trick is keeping the seeds moist once sown and this I am going to do with a damp sack or similar. More on that later …

Yesterday was Saturday and time to throw about some more of my homemade seaweed and fish fertiliser. Does it smell? You bet it does … I actually don’t mind the smell at all which is probably just as well as I always manage to spill it over myself. So with the 10 litre watering can in hand I lugged this around the garlic beds which by the way are looking fab, especially since I removed weeds that were choking them. I’m not the only one that doesn’t mind my smelly fert tea either – the drone flies love it! They are amazing critters looking much like a bee. They fly into the bin and lay eggs within the liquid which just so happens to have nice chunky bits of seaweed which are decomposing. They in turn will hatch and the larvae will grow. Really is incredible. The larvae look like little mini sub marines or should I say rat-tailed maggots. The pupae then needs to get to the soil to develop which they manage to do by wriggling up the bin and dropping to the ground when the lid is removed. Sounds awful … but I have since read that the adult fly feeds on nectar from daisies, chrysanthemums and asters preferring the colour yellow – therefore being very helpful in pollinating yellow crops!

And speaking of yellow! Here I was strimmer in hand tidying up our back yard. If you don’t know what a strimmer is think of a petrol weed eater. So without realising it while hard at work I hit a rotten egg (didn’t see it believe me) and wouldn’t you just know it – the liquid sprayed me in the face! OMG .. not knowing what had happened I sped indoors, scrubbed the face and grabbed the Cepacol. Horrible … felt sick for ages. Such fun living on a lifestyle block?

We hauled out the secret garden on Saturday too. I left as much of the borage as I could – as the bees just adore this stuff. We had also thrown in this bed banana leaves and spent trunks to protect the soil over winter. So removing only the super large trunks the rest was left in situ to act as a mulch. Lots of worms …

Surprise! Julie in the Secret garden …

So while Andrew was away surfing I got up on Sunday and poked 3 pumpkins into the secret garden, a couple of triambles and a crown. Then I scattered about coffee grounds and wood ash.

I love this area of the property. As it is tucked in behind the forest and down the dip of the hill it has its own special micro climate. Perfect for bananas and summer plantings. Winter sadly sees little sun. So as I like recycling things I stuffed the wool from the recent shearing about my bananas. This will act as a nice mulch. Great idea … thanks Shirley!

Roses  – something pretty to finish on. Except the are a NIGHTMARE  in Auckland. Most of mine are ok just, but there is this stunning red rose that has rust. In fact truth is, it has everything. Help! Does anyone have any idea how to treat roses with rust organically! I gave it a massive spray earlier in the week with garlic and will try that again over the weekend. Truth is I’m considering hauling it out .. and I think that would be a real shame …

Happy gardening everyone

These wonderful photos are all courtesy of our good mate Dallas Nock … what we would do without him, I have no idea! Thanks for all your work and your friendship!!!

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