Notes from the Garden, April edition

Updated: Nov 8, 2018

Original blog post by Rija, from Lantau.

It’s been many months since my last blog update.

In the meantime, a lot has happen:

Two gardening open days, five meditation retreats, below zero temperature, abnormal heavy rainfall in winter time, more planting, more container building and more insight about water management.

What’s new

A path

With the help of several volunteers over the course of a few weeks, we can now walk between garden beds in the backyard comfortably. It’s also a good path for walking meditation.

As an aside, in the last photo, you can see on the west side of the path (right side of the photo), the two sheet mulched garden beds that some of you helped built over two gardening open days. Some of the plant growing there including Kale and garland chrysanthemum (tong hau).  On the east side of the path, we are growing rocket, ginger and that iron-rich purple and green leaf vegetables that I don’t know the name of in English nor Chinese.

Trimming the orange tree and power tools

At the last gardening open day, I was able to learn from Brother Law how to use and maintain all the power tools we have on the property.

The chainsaw was used to trim the dead branches and those too high of from our orange tree.

The idea is to encourage the tree to grow more sideways so we can reach the fruits when when they come up.

pest control

It turns out growing garlic is a very effective pest repellent.

I have two beds of lettuces, one had garlic planted in the midst of it, the other had not. The two garden beds are next to each other. The one without the garlic had an aphid invasion. The other one was left untouched.

After spraying the affected plants with a  solution made of chopped garlic, hand soap and a bit of oil mixed in water, I have been able to get rid of the aphid infestation. now the bed looks healthy.

baby kales

I’ve sown kales very liberally on most of the garden beds. Let’s wait and see to see which area is more nurturing to them.

Eco-friendly cleaning products

Being up in the mountain in the middle of a country park, and disconnected from the city sewage, we have to be responsible with regards to to what goes out of Fa Hong.  One remit of the project is to be doing regenerative activities on the land, that is not just protect the environment, but improve it.  A first start is not to pollute our downward neighbours with our chemical effluents.

To that end, we’ve started making our own nature-based cleaning products. We’ve made large batch of citrus/orange peel based cleaner to replace the dish-washing liquid.

At the moment, we are still mixing it with traditional dish-washing liquid because alone, the home-made one is not as effective as traditional dish-washing liquids (which use synthetic enzymes to acquire their degreasing power).

However hope is not lost. There are three fruits who have natural enzymes: papaya, kiwi and pineapples.  

We do grow papaya but they are not mature and fruit producing yet. I’m planning to plant pineapples on the slopes later in the year.

When we have a