Well it is almost two months since we got back from the great “OE” [overseas experience] and we’ve been fairly busy.  The time away in UK and France was great.  It seems a while ago now, but still provides a kind of reference point.  It was important to get some perspective on every day life, and having enough time and distance did achieve that.

When we got back the orchard was well overdue for a mow with the spring flush already in full control.  I was pleased with the effect of the winter herbicide spraying on the walnut lines and the shelter lines.  It all needed doing again, but only just.  The mowing has been more of task.  The first round would have made good silage, but we needed to move immediately and we don’t think that it is worth risking the crop trees and fertility by taking silage off.  So it was a matter of topping with the rotary slasher and coping with the mounds of mulch that accumulated under the mower and deposited around the blocks.  It has taken three mows to get it back to standard.  Actually I am on the third mow round at the moment.

The garden is now looking good after a bit of catchup when we got back.  Barbara moved fast to get seeds germinating in the conservatory and with the help of a new motorised tiller we have it all planted out.  Root crops are just coming through, beans and peas well through, lettices and courgettes already producing.  The broard beans that wintered over are producing well too.   The tomatoes are growing well in the greenhouse and the first tomato has set.

November 9th was a devastating frost in Canterbury, killing many fresh shoots on trees and in gardens.  All our walnuts were affected, most severely.  It is pretty sad to see all the trees that only the day before were looking perky and bright in their spring plumage turn black and withered.  Some new shoots are coming away now, but for the second year in a row we don’t expect much crop from our orchard or from most orchards in Canterbury.

The weekend was the Canterbury Show holiday on the Friday, so gave us a chance to get quite a bit done.  Built a structure for the runner beans, more mowing in the orchard, moved the worm farms ready for building the new woodshed where they were, tested and fixed the walnut irrigation system for the new season, started irrigating the walnuts, set up all the garden irrigation.

Today the tree specialists are back.   We have had a lot of wind damage on the north boundary euchalyptus trees due to bark inclusion in some forks.  Today they remove any forks that are at risk.  The long term plan now is to get some poplars established between the existing trees and eventually remove the euchs.


The weekend has been productive, even if each of us was a little under par. B did major clean up in the garden clearing corn and pumpkin growth to make way for new plantings.  I got a much awaited large bin built to take invasive or diseased plant material not suitable for the compost, sprayed out the remaining walnut lines, mowed a couple of the walnut blocks and sawed up fallen shelter trees with brother-in-law for firewood. Barbara has done a full audit of the shelter trees so we can order and replant where trees have failed or are not thriving.

Our shelter planting is mainly eucalyptus species alternating with Italian Alders, and the Alders are not competing well with the euchs, so decisions need to be made.   Issues include how long to tolerate eucalyptus trees that are so vigorous that they out compete their neighbours and will eventually compete with the walnut crop.   Time for advice.

It’s been great to have a greenhouse. This is our first season with it and we are harvesting tomatoes, corgettes and cucumbers each day.


Good to be home from holiday, and exciting to see what has grown while we are away (tomatoes coming on so well in the hothouse – first year of having one, and I can see it is going to be great to use!)

summer is in full swing, and the limitations (and successes) of my planing and cultivation of the vege garden is now becoming more visible – great tomatoes both in the hot house and in the open garden, corn doing well, yet more rhubarb, continuing strawberries…BUT dismal peas and beans. Not sure what is happening there but am inclined to think it is either the goat poo (too strong) or the birds pulling out all the seeds…

Other stuff maturing fast – onions now beginning to ripen off – great to have several varieties to choose from. But onions that I had planted for seed saving have got some rot, and only about 3 out 60 plants are flowering successfully (some had begun to flower but are now falling over before they mature). Makes me realise how fragile are the efforts to keep seeds going from year to year…how much there is to learn to contribute even a little bit to food biodiversity efforts.

Now needing to think through rotations on the new areas, as I prepare for the autumn plantings.

But also realising how much there is to learn – especially around planing to get fresh food available all year. What to plant when to ensure there is something to pick right through autumn and winter and spring…Have planted seeds of various broccoli and cauliflower but not at all sure when each will mature.

I have just got back from holiday. Some snaps of the garden. Plenty of work to do, but great to have good growth while we were away.The garden looking toward our house and shed