Monday, August 24, 2020, 01:39 AM | No Comments »

Here we are near the end of August trying to get all our tree planting done before the season ends.

There were four lemon trees of unknown variety in wooden boxes on the property when we moved in, they looked pretty root bound so we made them a priority for planting.

Boxer (our wee tractor) came with a front end loader and backhoe as standard so digging the holes was a doodle. We used the following rule for digging the holes:

  • 3x as deep as the pot
  • 6x as wide as the pot

We used 3 parts compost to 1 part well rotted horse manure & wood shavings with additional biochar (good for fungi establishment), rock dust and kelp.

Now all we have to do is plant the remaining 70 trees that we bought from Farrells (farrells.co.nz)!

 

 


Monday, August 24, 2020, 00:45 AM | No Comments »

We finally have a working tractor! Whoo Hoo! Haveing been struggling with the pre-loved tractor - only getting 5 days use out of 6 weeks owership we got our money back and decided to bite the bullet and buy a new (tiny) Kubota tractor which we named Boxer after the horse in Animal Farm

We did more work in 2 days with the new one than we had done in 6 weeks with the old one. Money well spent in our book. Spike wasted no time in letting us know who is the real boss.

 Spike & Boxer

Thanks to climate change our asparagus crowns (from Aspara Pacific at http://www.asparapacific.co.nz/) arrived one month early and were planted the same day. We ordered 50 crowns but ended up with about 60!  We put down 5cm compost then built mounds about 20-30 cm in height staggered accross the bed to give the plants enough room (our beds are 75cm wide) then carefully arranged the crowns on top of each mound,  which was tricky because the roots are quite brittle. Covering the roots with more compost we planted the gaps betweeen the crowns with companion plants: dill, coriander and asters (not shown in the photo below).

In less than a week they had started shooting following perfect growing condiitons: rain followed by warm sunshine.

 

We now have 20 beds built and planted and have started to harvest salad greens using pick and come again harvesting. Many lettuces can be used in this way. Our selection includes various lettuces (buttercrunch, oak leaf, cos, devils ear and canasta) as well as a wide variety of salad greens: salad burnet, watercress, celtuce, mizuna, mesclun, rocket, miners lettuce, endive, komatsuna, upland cress.

 

In the background the menfolk are sieving the compost under the supervision of Management.


Monday, July 6, 2020, 04:48 AM | No Comments »

The compost arrived! Yay!

It hadn't been seived! Boo!

The supplier apologised and offered to replace with seived compost in 2-3 months time but our schedule would not allow it.

So until the tractor arrives we have to hand sieve the 30 tons of compost. Aaaargh!

At least we were not charged for the compost.

We sourced wood shavings for the pathways between the beds of compost from Woodzone (woodzone.co.nz) - 9 fadges of shavings ($25 plus $5 deposit on the bag) and 1 fadge of sawdust ($10 plus $5 deposit on the bag). Setting the shavings in place was hopeless (just blew away) until we soaked the shavings first. This took a long time but then sieving the compost by hand took a long time too...

Finally, ther tractor arrived (1 month late) and then wouldn't start. More waiting to get the thing fixed then next day...   

Still wouldn't start. Grrr.

Whilst the menfolk take up cudgels with the tractor supplier we manage to borrow a cute little red Massey 135 from friends for a few weeks to take some of the work out of the sieving.

This progresses much faster but causes different aches and pains through using rakes to riddle the compost through the sieve.

After 3 weeks building the beds we have 10 made (10m by 70cm) with 30cm pathways between the beds and on the outside border.

We gave up on using shavings for the pathways and ordered 25m3 of arborist mulch from Timberline (timberlinecontracting.co.nz with free delivery for us as we afre just around the corner) which has been a much better solution albeit at a higher cost ($30 per m3) but definitely time and labour saving.

 Shavings for pathways & hand-sieved compost!

Note the wood shavings for pathways and useless tractor in the background.

For No-Dig gardening, you first need to lay down cardboard making sure you have removed all packing tape & plastic-coated labels. We initially bought some packing cardboard (at $1 per m3) but it was quite a lot thinner than "normal" cardboard from boxes so wouldn't recommend using this as it is very fragile compared to the more robust acrdboard from boxes. Also, make sure you are not using shiny cardboard as this has a fine layer of plastic on it and you don't want that. We found that the best boxes are from white goods, beds and bikes.

Lay the cardboard such that they overlap a good 15 to 20cm. Then lay on your compost 10 to 15 cm thick, or more if you can afford it.

 9 beds

Note the still useless tractor in the background! We have used Biomaglia Anti-Insect / Psyllid Netting as a physical barrier to protect from insects (and rabbits too, hopefully) sourced from Polynet.co.nz.  

 


Thursday, July 2, 2020, 08:59 PM | No Comments »

In the lead-up to moving house from suburban Auckland to our lifestyle block in the Hunua ranges in the middle of lockdown druing the COVID-19 pandemic, we de-stressed from the interminable packing and the uncertainty of when we would be able to move by indulging in some serious seed-catalogue porn.

Several hundred dollars later our goodies arrived, batch by batch through lock-down. Two weeks before our move date, once into Level 2 lockdown, we sowed our first seeds, followed by most of the rest the following week. This timing, we optimistically predicted, would mean we could begin pricking out seedlings the week after we moved (over Queen's Birthday weekend).

As they say, men (or women) plan and God laughs.

We moved 3 households (7 bedrooms) into the new property with 2 bedrooms having to keep 75% of our belongings waiting to be unpacked once the building work was completed. After the most stressful move any of us had experienced (combined number of house moves between all family members >50) from the 26th May to the 1st June, the builders got stuck in on the 2nd June.

There are 6 of us sharing one bathroom with an additional toilet downstairs also know as the HCD (heavy crapping department). Half the household are in bedrooms upstairs with the other half in rented caravans in the enormous truck bay under cover and surrounded by our chattels.

Pricking out got underway 1 week late and provided great stress relief after all the hassles of packing, moving and partially unpacking. Gardening work and the discovery of clean underwear provided the bright spots in the week after the move!

Half-way through pricking out

 


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