Monday, April 22, 2013

Summer Draws to a Close

What a wonderful summer we have had, temperatures in the 30's and like the rest of NZ not a drop of rain.  Unlike the usual Wairarapa summer evenings the nights have not been cool and so we have had more bbq's than normal and so enjoyed sitting outside long into the evening with a pleasant pinot gris and chatting without the disruption of tv.

And as a result of the weather I have had a bumper season of produce.  So many tomatoes that in the end I was sick of them. I have made tomato puree, spicy pasta sauce, pizza sauce, bottled tomatoes, roasted and frozen tomatoes, eaten tomatoes at every meal and given away tomatoes.  My two year old apples trees were heavy with crop but the challenge was getting them ripe before I was forced to harvest them as the blackbirds just sat on them and pecked large cavernous holes in them. The apples were so large that the weight of the birds did not dislodge them from the tree, so in fact it was like a suspended dinner plate for the birds.  I tried netting them but the birds just forced the nets down onto the apples and pecked between the net.  I hung silver paper, computer discs, went out and shooed them,  got hubby to fire shots but all to no avail.

My Montys' Surprise apples of which I finally got to harvest 16 of them each weighed 800gms. The were too big to eat in one sitting but tasted devine. Not bad for a 2 year old tree that spent it's first year battling galeforce winds without protection.  The Peasgood Nonsuch produced less apples but of equal size.  The there was the Fuji apple which was yum, so crisp and not too sweet.  


Bees love the all flowers associated with anything allium, so I left the old leeks in the ground just for bee food.

 The Brandywine tomatoes which are heritage did not prove to be outstanding.  I grew my own plants from seed that I saved from my Auckland garden 3 years ago.  From the seed I had an excellent strike and the plants grew more than two metres high but the fruiting was sporadic and took longer to ripen than other varieties.  It had excellent flavour but did not prove to store well, had a tough skin and a hard core which was problematic for bottling. My best tomato for all round use was the italiano.

 This photo was taken in Dec, by March the tomatoes were so large that I regretted putting the beans in the same bed. I actually harvested the beans in early March and removed the plants which meant I lost further cropping.   This is the heritage bean known as Pink Bush Bean which was rediscovered in South Canterbury and the seed is available from Koanga Nurseries.  I keep pods each year for seed and have given away 100's of seeds as once gardeners see the crop from such a non fuss plant they all want it. It is the heaviest cropping bean of any beans grown, the bush just drips beans. Stringless, it is the perfect bean and freezes so well.

My spring raspberries were disappointing as I got mildew but the autumn crop is heavy and of good size with strong flavour.  The best strawberries have been the late crop. Again the birds in summer were just living of our berries but now food is available we are getting the berries. Next year I need more nets.  Did not get to taste my blueberries, the birds got the lot, and two plants died as I moved them for the third time. Have now find the area of the garden most suited to them and will add additional plants.

Sadly my pear trees, Winter Nellis and Beurre Bosc did not fruit, I wonder if they are not pollinators to each other.  Neither did my golden queen peach trees fruit, perhaps as they are very young trees, particularly the peaches they need more time. I did get 5 blackboy peaches of a young tree, no flatto peaches, but again all my trees are only two years in the ground and had the first year in tornado conditions.

I have planted two different fig trees and dream of eating fresh figs in the years to come.

Talking of years to come,  I have planted asparagus plants, about 20 in all as an investment in food in the future. I do know one plants with the long term in mind, about 4 years before I can even think of harvesting one of the crowns.  I suspect even longer as they are very immature plants I have purchased.

My cherry and apricot did not fruit but have put on so much growth that all their vigour is in the growing and establishing which will pay dividends  in the years to come.
The flowers of zucchini, we have all had so many zucchini people run from them yelling 'please no more'.

Did I mention potatoes?  Well can I grow potatoes, too many to be factual. I pop them in any spare ground and they grow and grow and grow.  Problem is we cannot eat them as quickly as they grow, I harvest and store them but they are prolific and I find we do not eat them like when we were younger.  This red rosa weighed 800gms

And finally amongst the gardening work I visited an Auckland furniture importer and bought some new chairs.  This one was exactly what I was looking for to sit under this amazing lamp imported from India which I discovered at Eketahuna.

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