Friday, October 29, 2010

I had my first dream about the garden safari last night - and it wasn't a good one. I hadn't done any signs, and everyone kept going to the wrong places, and then it got dark so I was trying to explain to everyone what the berry garden looked like during the daytime. And the path to the vineyard had fluoresent strip lighting. And then I woke up, realised I  was dreaming, and immediately felt much better about it all, because there will be signs! And I must do them because it obviously causing my subconscious brain some stress.

Everything is coming along, although am fighting a battle against the birds at the moment, who think that the mulch in the vege patch is a giant play area constructed just for them. And I found myself tidying up the nasturtiums today, pulling out the older dead looking leaves, which is a first for me. I'm trying not to let the garden tour influence the way I garden too much - I want my garden to be real - but I am looking at it in a different way.

Some random pics, in no particular order:

 I'm sure the organisers of the gardentour are hoping for this weather to continue. Above pic is of the boats anchored in the bay for the public holiday weekend. It's hot out there gardening in the middle of the day.

The bees have been loving the calm sunny weather, and I must have a check inside their hives soon to see how the honey production is going. I suspect they need another honey box, but I need to do a bit of work on the new boxes first. Can't really tell the bees they need to slow down a bit though.

 I've been trying to get a good photo of mama duck with her ducklings, but they are not very cooperative. They are very cute though. Mama only ended up hatching 3 ducklings, about 3-5 days apart so they are all different sizes. The little one is especially cute with it's older siblings. Mama duck is desperate to be let out of the enclosure, but the smallest duckling is still in danger of being pukeko fodder so they will have to stay in there for another week or so yet.

My red cabbages have started forming heads. These are the first cabbages I've grown, I'm enjoying watching their progress. I read somewhere that you can leave them sitting in the garden for a while, so you don't have to harvest them all at once. I'll have to research some cabbage recipes. I don't think I've actually ever cooked anything with cabbage in it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tasting Vintage 2010

The family went out to the winery today to taste our 2010 vintage, from the tank (white) and the barrel (red).   Our 'Melina' white wine has had a different wine making approach this year, the most significant change being that we put it through malolactic fermentation. It has quite a different aroma than previous years, much fruitier, with very yummy tropical fruit notes. I have to write the wine label and tasting notes soon - I'll have to come up with something a bit more verbose and flowery. Although tempted to include the word yummy (just kidding Mike!) The white has to be fined (clarified), and then it will be bottled sometime in the next month or so, just in time for summer drinking.

Our red wine 'Anchorage' is just lovely. I am really enjoying this style of syrah that we are producing on Waiheke. It was also interesting to taste the same wine out of three different aged barrels, to see how the different amounts of oak influences it. Eventually it will all be blended together.

Here's the girl checking out the wine that is named after her. She thinks it smells like grapes. We're working on her palate.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

On days when I don't get into the garden I sometimes get a little antsy. I wonder if being addicted to gardening is a medical condition? It has got a little worse lately, what with the upcoming deadline and all. A couple of days ago I caught myself chanting out loud "pruning saw, loppers, pruning saw, loppers", and yesterday I woke up to a pair of secateurs on the bedside table. Secateurs often make their way into the kitchen but I'm pretty sure I've never taken them to bed before.

Today I managed to put a pyretheum spray on the berries and roses. We have these little bronze beetles which come in spring, they are a native beetle which live in the manuka which we are surrounded by. A little bit of damage is tolerable, but when they start chewing off the flowers their days are numbered. I also watered and mulched an area to plant some beans, but didn't get to the actual planting bit. I did however visit the 'secret garden' which the children had found in the bush - about 10m in they had discovered a wee clearing, where some pink geranium escapees had established themselves. The secret garden comes complete with a prickle trap to stop any baddies, which I thought was pretend until I discovered the pile of lethal phoenix palm prunings which the children had found and carefully placed across their path.

I don't know that Melina would construct a trap on her own, but when she's with her brother she is often the one that comes up with such ideas. I have been enjoying the other side of her nature while planting 'her' seeds and seedlings. Above pic is Melina carefully planting her sweet peas. We also planted her sunflower seedlings at the back of the blueberry patch. She has named them all, 'beauty' is the one that I remember. She also carefully placed some flowers that she had picked around the base of each one. They are much loved, and I'm very much hoping we can protect them from the marauding slugs until they are established.

My sweet peas which I planted back in April (I think) have started flowering, and I have been picking a small posy every couple of days. I planted a mixed colour seed packet, the purple variety is the earliest to flower.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Making Progress

The lack of blogging action is not reflective of activity in the garden. The list is slowly being ticked off, although some of the least important jobs have already fallen off the bottom.

There are no 'before' shots, no time for that!

I made myself tackle one of least favourite jobs first this week - cleaning out the pond. Even though I know there is nothing disturbing in this water, I don't like putting my hands down into it to pull out the weeds, I guess if I have a phobia then murky water would be it. This pond is right outside our entrance, and despite the annual clean, I've always enjoyed it. In the next couple of years it's going to require a makeover, as the irises are taking over, and I can't pull them up without destroying the plastic pond liner. Hopefully then I'll also get my way with replacing the fan palms with some nikau. I'd also like to make the pond deeper so I could try  growing some lotus lilies.

Here's the major project from this week - re-gravelling path down to vineyard, and tidying up bank by pinning some coconut weed matting to it. The bank keeps gradually falling away, we've been meaning to do this for ages. I've grown a bunch of  ground cover coprosma cuttings to plant at the top of the bank, which will eventually grow down over the weed matting.

And here's another project which screams 'I've been done for the garden safari!' Again something I've planned  for a while, the deadline is good! These are some newly planted white 'flower carpet' roses round the top of the retaining wall in our seating area in the vineyard. I had some leftover matting so put a length of it at the back, to hopefully stop the grass from the bush encroaching until the roses are big enough to defend the space themselves.

Here's the whole area, this area is due for a re-gravel too, maybe next week.

Now off to try and motivate myself for more jobs to be ticked off tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

6 Week Countdown

The weather over the last few days has been so lovely, and timely given that we have now entered the six week countdown to the garden safari. Last week the seedlings that I was potting up kept getting blown away, so I have been relishing these calm sunny days. I'm trying not to think of the garden safari as a threatening deadline, but rather a great opportunity to get everything ready for the busy summer season. 

I'm feeling organised at least - here's my six week to do list. I always feel a vague sense of accomplishment when I make a list, even though I haven't actually achieved anything on it yet. My job list is the longest, but I've put (in a hopeful way) some rather ambitious jobs on Mike's like 'construct new path down side of berry patch'.

My major accomplishment this week has been weeding/removing grass from the bank below the beehives, and planting about 30 new thyme plants (grown from seed last summer). I've also planted some anise hyssop there, which I seem to have also enthusiastically grown rather a lot of, and have mulched the bank and the neighbouring two avacado trees with well rotted hay and chook manure from their enclosure next door.

I'm trying not to look too wistfully at everything which is looking at it's best right now, and which won't be in six weeks time. This includes....
 ...purple sprouting broccoli, unless it produces for that long?


 ...brilliantly coloured rainbow silverbeet, which is all starting to go to seed

...some impressively fat fennel, although tempted to leave some of this here, not sure when it will start going to seed

...and the freesias of course.

I do however have high hopes for the sweet peas, alstromerias, and the berry plants should be looking nice and lush.