Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rupert fells a diseased almond tree

Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

We have been told there are two almond trees with silvery leaf and since this virus affects the tree fatally, it might as well be got rid of.

Well today was the day. Malcolm's grandson Rupert has arrived from Dunedin (he is a student there) and he very kindly brought all his tools, chainsaw etc for felling trees, which, like his father Graham, he loves to do.

So it was a sad day for Malcolm who hates to see the end of trees. But a relief as they have not produced any nuts. Only one produces nuts actually. We will have to burn the wood as we can't compost it.

Of course our next big event is that Malcolm and I are getting married in the clearing in the bush on Saturday.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The 35 heritage apples have set well this year

Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

I think this is Tydemans Late Orange apple. Other varieties we have are Nonnetit Bastard, Gravenstein, Lobo, Jacques Lebel, Alfriston, Peasgood Nonsuch, Scarlet Pimpernel, Mother, Sunset, Sturmer and Laxton's Fortune. Prima was the only one which fruited abundantly last year and this year it only has a handful of apples set. It seems to be having a year off.

We have really tried with these apples. Some trees are so laden we will have to thin them. Interestingly we didn't prune them at all this year. And I have just hung a couple of Pheronome traps for codling moth. Hope it wasn't too late!

Preparing figs for herbal ley

Preparing figs for herbal ley
Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

There is one thing really good about a very wet spring – you can keep planting! Here we are in late November preparing the ground to sow a herbal ley under the first row of figs and it isn't too wet to do it. So we already have some catnip, two wormwoods and two rue plants and hopefully will get some comfrey and nasturtium in before it completely dries up. And some of the fig cuttings have taken really well. We have some breba figs already but no main crop figs are yet appearing. It is probably too darned cold. We are still wearing thick winter jerseys.

Preparing figs for herbal ley

Preparing figs for herbal ley
Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

Preparing figs for herbal ley

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Three geese round the kumquat tree

Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

This photo dates back to the time when we had three geese. Unfortunately we lost the female, the little one on the right. She disappeared when we were absent for a day and we never found her. That is until recently. Malcolm was clearing the back pathway in the native forest and he found her skeleton and feathers. She must have strayed, got hungry and then fell prey to something. Sometime after she vanished we also found two eggs she had laid in the gum trees.

Actually with the weather being so rainy for so long, the solar unit powering the electric fence no longer worked. That's why we have had to shoo back the geese a lot. They learnt to get over the fence and have lost all fear of an electric shock. So may the sun shine from now on...

Traci the wwoofer from Alaska

Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

She is lovely. Happy always, hard working and she came at a time when it just kept on raining. Fortunately she said she loved getting wet and dirty and this was easy because the main job she had was grubbing in preparation for sowing the herbal ley. She also helped me name all the heritage apples and helped spread lime.

Yes I grew this cauliflower

Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

Good cauliflower. I think this was grown on the spot where I had dug in a bokashi bucket. Fortunately the white butterflies have not started their summer yet! We also have some excellent cabbages coming on.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Getting ready to sow seeds for herbal ley in heritage apple orchard.

Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

Actually the term herbal ley isn't all that accurate, because they aren't all herbs. But here is Malcolm after a session grubbing the turf, reasonably easy after all the rain. And it should be good conditions for germinating because it is nearly full moon as well. We bought the King Seeds Beneficial Insect Mix but asked them to leave out the fennel.

It consists of buckwheat (white flowers), dill, Bishops flower (ammi major or white lace), parsnip, ammi visnaga (white lacy again), daucus carota (wild carrot or Queen Anne's lace), phacelia, bergamot (bee balm orange or pink) and alyssum (white). We will also put some clovers and alfalfa in.

The blue phacelia already have flowering is attracting a huge range of insects and we have borage, nasturtium, comfrey and a few herbs growing. This year's apple crop looks really promising and the soil is looking reasonably good. The only apple tree which hasn't set much fruit is the one which fruited heavily last year. It seems to be having a year off.

I must say after all the grubbing we get really tired. I can only do 45 minutes of it at a time.

Developments in the vege garden

Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

Well the brassicas are at the stage where the white butterflies are about to arrive but I will be spraying with dipel which is OK in organic circles. See the big mustard plant. Behind them is the bed of corn and beans. On the left the borage has extended itself but the bees are having such a party I can't bring myself to cut it in half. In the middle at the back are the broad beans. On the right are the red and black currant bushes. Behind the broad beans we now have a kumera garden. Behind the borage is the herb garden.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

A lot of work has been done in a week

In the past week, with Jan Tillman our strong young wwoofer from Germany, we have completed the following:

We have created a new piece of vege garden, which is no mean feat because it all had to be dug out and remember there are stones just beneath the surface. Malcolm and Jan used picks and then had to take away all the stone. We will grow kumeras there once we get in some new soil.

We have brought in manure, sand, clay to do various jobs. The clay was mixed with the manure and plastered on the apple trunks, and the sand is ready for more seed mixes.

We have done a great deal in the vege garden, getting rid of some winter veges and planting new ones for summer.
We bought a line trimmer which means the edges are now all neat.
We mowed the back part of the property for the first time for ages. The weeds were getting away because the geese didn't like them enough and didn't eat enough.
We have ordered a seed mix of the following to sow under the rows of apple trees:buckwheat, dill, bishop's flower. ammi visnaga, parsnip, caucus carota, phacelia, bergamot and allyssum.
We have lime ready to spread and we are doing this to raise calcium levels mostly.
We have spread rock dust and sprayed with Organic 100, a mix of fish waste and seaweed. Huge jobs.
We have picked and processed more macadamias.
We have used quite a bit of the liquid manure and nettles and comfrey to feed the trees.
We have made two compost heaps and spread compost from the remains of one of them.
We have done all the shredding of all the branches that were lying around under the trees. Wonderful.
The grapes have been sprayed with oil, detergent and water and actually look much healthier.
We have got rid of big invasive plants in the front border and have some bare land to plant corn and beans or amarynth.
We have fixed up all the places where stakes were too close to fruit trees, doing damage to the trunk.

Chris Christoffels checks his beehive

Originally uploaded by localcurrencies.

Very kindly this friend has brought his beehives to our property for the spring so that our apples can be properly pollinated. It has been great and it looks as though it was successful with many apples set. The bees have had a ball with the phacelia, the borage and the various flowers around, but now they will have to go home because flowers are short and they may starve.