Saturday, October 18, 2014

Reading, Recipe and Prime Ties.

 The Copper Beech is now fully dressed! ( it's a dull cloudy day here but still it's wonderful colours show in contrast with the green, green lawn - lovely )

Last night I finished reading Captive Wife, by Fiona Kidman which was based on a NZ historical  fact. I knew the story already having heard it on the radio some years ago.
I rated it 3.5 out of 5. It's a while since I read a 5.
 My sister left a bag of books for me to read when she was here a fortnight ago...ones she really enjoyed. We have similar reading tastes so I hope some will rate a 5 with me.
 What are your all time favourite reads? I'd love to know.
 Sometimes when books shops have their list of 100 favourite books ( or similar lists ) displayed I am surprised at how many of them I have read.
 There are just so many books in the world to read that I hate to waste my time on indifferent ones.
 When I was at college I wouldn't rate myself as an avid reader - not like 1 or 2 people I recall, always with their noses in a book. I was more likely to be out participating in sport. I now have a real love of books.  Back then Jane Eyre was a favourite - I used it ever so many time to answer exam questions.

 On my list of all time Best Reads are;-
The Various Flavours of Coffee by Anthony Capella.
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier.
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak.
The Jigsaw Man by Paul Britten.

 Sometimes simple recipes are best. We have been having lots of salads from the garden -  very fresh and eaten within 10 minutes of picking.
 This salad  however has only 1 ingredient we grew, avocado. As the wind of 2 weeks ago  blew many avos to the ground we are using up as many as we can. This is delicious if you like avos and can get some good NZ ones.
 Just 3 ingredients; so hardly a recipe as such.

 Chop into bite sized pieces ripe but firm avocado, crisp red apple ( Pacific Rose are  good ) and roasted lightly salted peanuts ( or any nuts you fancy ) Stir together in equal proportions.
 Dress with a creamy dressing with an apple cider vinegar base.
 Eat straight away so nuts stay crisp. Experiment - there are other combinations I like. It is the contrast of textures as well as flavours that makes this work well.
 Hint - if you live in New Zealand do NOT buy avocados from those road side vendors that have lots for a cheap price. Mostly they are selling damaged windfalls or immature seconds. Rather buy from a reputable source. Buy them before they are ripe and keep your hands from constantly squeasing the fruit. If it is a Hass variety it will darken in colour and be slightly soft if cradled in the palm of your hand. If you are not sure remove the stalk and see if a toothpick will slide gently in.Once ripe they will  hold in the fridge for a few days.
 What are prime ties you may wonder. They are soft stretchy rings of stocking material, cut  into narrow widths  that we buy and use to secure kiwifruit canes that won't quite reach the wire ( harder to describe than I thought )
 They are used by the 1000s.  Over the last few weeks I have been cutting off old used ones that are left knotted on the wires...... so they are all over the ground beneath the vines. We always grin when we see recycling has been going on. We  find bird's nests lined with them.
 This is a very untidy blackbird nest in the Viburnum tree.

 See the white dangly bit, that's an old prime tie. ( softer than straw )
 The other day I found a really strange thing. 
 An extra wide prime tie had been used and somehow a new growing shoot got trapped inside it. ( it looks like a nursery web spider nest but isn't )
 I was able to gently cut the stretched tie and release the contents unharmed.( a bit twisted but it will straighten out )
 Sometimes shoots also get stuck under the plastic clips and like wise if got to soon enough can be released to carry on growing.
 Occasionally we get prime ties made from black stocking  or glittery  fancy  stockings!! ( this was one of those )

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Orchard and Garden.

Thank you all for your comments and good wishes on the previous 2 posts.
Shirley we are not allowed to use unregistered products on our kiwifruit vines so peroxide would not be allowed.( at this stage anyway )
 The psa has slowed and we have not found any more during this last week. That is good and probably corresponds with sun and a copper spray. We will keep monitoring closely. 

At the moment we are crush tipping the first growth on the female  kiwifruit vines.
 This photo ( click on to enlarge ) shows the growth at the end of a female cane. If you look closely you may see flower buds already showing. ( note also the sky - not a cloud to be seen! ) This shoot will continue to grow and we are crushing the growing tip very gently to terminate it when it has about 8 leaves. If we cut the end it will shoot out from that point again and we will have to keep doing it. By crushing the tip it self terminates and puts it's growth into plumping up the buds and later the fruit.

 I asked R to demonstrate. Using just the index finger and thumb gently squeeze the very soft tip.
  A delicate touch is needed.  If you squeeze too hard the tip will snap off.  So gently, gently...patience.... Not difficult at all... just get into a system and away we go.
 Also note in the photo some of the flower buds are already showing 2 or 3 together in a bunch. Thinning these to just one comes in a few weeks time but I find using my lady finger nails I can already rub some of these off. If it is done too soon all 3 buds will drop off. Like anything there is a knack .....and practise makes perfect.( one's thumb and index finger look like smokers' fingers after a while - staining from the sap as we crush )
 I should add that not all shoots need crushing -  on certain wood some are naturally self terminating ( which is helpful )

 I have been out in the garden taking lots of photos in the last week. My precious copper beech tree is getting it's leaves. ( like the kiwifruit it pushes the sap to the ends first ) hence the top of the tree breaks into leaf first.
Up close.
 I have been harvesting too. Radish are best young.
 Many of the little lettuce I planted in the flower gardens are ready too. This little Tom Thumb variety will make the base for a tasty salad at lunchtime.
 While out with the camera I noticed this industrious fellow.  A paper wasp just beginning to make a nest ( it won't be staying! )( I hate getting stung by them! )

 I prefer these friends...bees just everywhere - that is so good!
 Somewhere else there are lots of bees...I heard them buzzing, there were so many
 here on a Golden Totara tree.
 I checked in J.T. Salmon's book The native Trees of New Zealand and it tells me these are male cones that ripen and shed pollen.
 This is a very large tree and is covered in the cones ( which are tiny about 2 or 3 cms long ) and so many, many bees are working away collecting pollen.( there are bee hives being stored by a bee keeper on a neighbouring property so we get lots of bees in the garden. )
Finally  photos with  colours other than green!

Monday, October 06, 2014

The Weather was Appalling.

We got through our celebration of R's 70th no thanks to the weather. It really spoilt any outdoor activities. ( I was really hoping all the kids could play Kubb on the front lawn ) Before 11 am we thought we were getting away with just wind, but no, rain followed, on and off all day.We had small showers of  hail 3 times along with the high winds and generally very chilly. Interspersed with patches of sun just to trick us.

 Here R is helping the BBQ man by backing his machine onto the cobble stones with our tractor.
 People were very understanding about the weather knowing it was beyond our control. 

A friend had set up his big gazebo around the front deck but the high winds made rain beat in the sides . 2 tables were set up there and some brave souls ate their meal there.

 This is how it looked the day we put it up.
 The garden had been looking quite bright and tidy but got a bit trashed.
 R wasn't fussed about having a Birthday cake so I made lots of bliss balls and son arranged  them  and some marshmallows around the candles. R  had a good time with all his friends and family around. I think the final tally was 46.( all managed to fit inside the house! )

 Something I have learnt. There is no such thing as enough savoury eggs when you have lots of guests!
 If there had been double this number they would have disappeared.
 The young ones were a great help with the preparations and we just improvised as problems arose with mats by doors so folk wouldn't slip. I had never had hail bouncing in onto the lounge carpet before!
 Today's weather is even worse .The wind is gale force. But we are lucky we have power. Lots of homes up in Auckland have been without power for 2 days.
 As soon as it is fine again we will go back to work, as  we have done all the tidying up except I have washing outstanding but that will keep.
 Thank you to the bloggy friends who sent R birthday greetings.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Something Nice and Something Not.

In the garden outside our bedroom window my favourite Viburnum is just beginning to flower.

 It's full name is Viburnum plicatum tomentosa.
 It's leaves are just as beautiful as the flowers.They have a slight red margin when they first unfold. The bees like the flowers too.

 The something NOT nice is in the orchard.
 We are currently finding tiny patches of the bacterial disease psa in our MALE kiwifruit vines. ( this is the first year we have had the ooze stage )
 Here is a cane we cut out . I laid it on the ground to get a close photo of it. The wood discolours and red ooze appears. This is at the very early stages. We want to keep on top of it to stop it's spread.

 Here is how we are dealing with it.
 saw the piece out.
 Burn ( cauterise ) the cut using a small flame thrower.
 Paint the wound with anti bacterial paste( red ).
 Tie a red ribbon by it so we can check on it over the next few weeks.
 Collect all cut out cane into a large plastic sack. Dispose of either down the offal hole or burn in an enclosed place.
 Disinfect all tools immediately. (Spray with meths ) Squirt hands with similar gel.
 Move to the next vine I have found and repeat the procedure.

 The buds are just bursting on the vines and this is the most critical time. Hope for fine sunny days. ( psa spreads most during cold wet conditions - which is surprising. ) The way psa spreads is still a bit of a mystery. We know since it is a bacteria it is spreads by touch, by the  wind, by birds and animals, by vehicles, on clothing etc. etc.  The vines have had a protective copper spray ( several ). We can only be vigilant and hope we don't have too big a reduction in male flower because of too many cut out canes. We will use additional blown ( collected and milled ) pollen as well but it will be scarcer this year as many orchards have this far, far worse than we do.
So that is a job for this time of the year that pre psa we didn't have to spend hours doing.
 Meanwhile back in the garden and around the house we are busy cleaning and tidying as this coming weekend we are having  lots of guests for a celebration for R's 70th birthday. We have the big BBQ machine coming so we really, really want it to be fine.
 Lots to do. ( the sewing machine has been put in it's carry bag and stored in the cupboard till next week so I don't get tempted.....other things need doing.)
 Think Sunshine, sunshine,  sunshine!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Is Spring Here?

Maybe it is Spring...we have sun this morning but it's very, very cold out still. We have had rain for some or all of the last 16 days. Windy too. We really need some warmth now - so do our kiwifruit vines.
The garden has been trashed day after day but still some things flower.
 These were all standing up but not any more - they still keep flowering.

 The New Zealand Rata is just out.

The purple sparaxis are looking good. The part of the lawn ( to the right )I resowed is still greener than the rest but it looks okay now.

 This is e first of my Hostas to pop up...better get some slug bait there.

 Spanish bluebells ( and mauve bells ) are opening daily and actually look brighter than they do here.

 My seedling wild flowers are surviving. I have recovered them.( I haven't needed to water them )

 This flower got finished during some of the rainy time. The next one is partly done...the end is not too far away now.

 Yesterday we went to the movies to see "The Lunchbox," which we enjoyed but I didn't like the uncertainness of the could have been one of several ways and I will never be quite sure. Worth seeing tho. It  starred  Nimrat Kaur ( Life of Pi  ) and the lovely Irrfan Khan.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Well Done.

last December I mentioned in a post how disappointed I was when a new dahlia I had planted turned out to be a totally different one and not what the picture on the packet showed. I followed it up and complained to Fiesta bulbs ( have a look at their website ) where it originally came from.
 Fiesta Bulbs came good.....look what arrived by courier for me yesterday. Not one replacement BUT 4 !  Thank you very ,very much Fiesta Bulbs . I will continue to buy your bulbs.
 As soon as the rain stops I will go and plant them.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Some of Everything.

There has been a mix of wet and fine days so I have made 2 more flower blocks when inside.
 This is # 17 ( of 24 ). I have made all the small size  ( 12 x10" ) , all the large size (20 x 10" ), all the (14 x10" )  then this one is 18 x 10" and  there are a few 16 x 10 " to do yet. I have now made 18 out of the 24.
 Yesterday the electrician came to do quite a few jobs we had been saving up. He put surge protectors on the computer plug and one on the metre board. He fixed the flex on my hot water urn ( which gets used about once a year when we have big crowds here - it is very old - it was my MIL before me ) but still heats a large quantity of water and can be set up outside or in the shed. He replaced 3 down lights in the kitchen over the sink, which have given trouble ( individually ) ever since they were installed 10 years ago. They don't use that sort any more  - I know why!
 These look good ( but what about that for a boring photo? ) They showed me I need to get up and wash fly spots off the ceiling!  Hopefully these will not fall down and hit the dish washing person on the head!
 Anyway I am grateful for the 2 hours work he did and hope things are safer round here now.
 Arctotis flamingo did the best of all the ones I planted in this sunny but windy spot at the top of a steep bank. They open when the sun is on them.( and keep on and on  flowering as long as they are dead headed )
 Also pretty at the moment are these very small delicate flowers which came from a cottage garden mixed seed pack I was given. I don't know what they are? They  seem to seed readily so are popping up in a few places.
 Meanwhile in the garden shed my tray of zinnias have ALL come up and are doing so well. None of the larkspurs in the tray next to them have appeared ( yet - I am still hopeful )
 Down in the wild flower triangle some have appeared. I am going to have to change the bird netting cover as it is too thick in places and squashing the seedlings - have to work on that...but it is encouraging that at least one variety I planted have germinated.
 Speaking of encouraging results my radish seeds that pop up in about 4 days have to be the speediest ones yet.
 R has got a head cold.( He went for a medical appointment last week and came back with a cold - he hasn't been anywhere else ) I am going to great lengths to try and avoid catching it!
We need to spend the rest of the days doing office work so that's exciting.
 I haven't mentioned what I have been reading for a while. Having struggled my way through 2 ( hard to digest ) books of a historical textbook nature ( Limeys by David Harvie  and The Victorians by A N Wilson ) I needed some light relief so am reading Blue Eyed Boy by Joanne Harris.( anyone else read it? ) I find it interesting that certain authors have recurring themes in their books. With Joanne she has characters who have unusual or extra powers or senses. This time it is synaethesia. I have seen TV programmes on this subject too and I imagine it must be hard for folk with it to realise others aren't  seeing or smelling what they can. I am halfway through this book so don't know if I am recommending it yet or not.
 The 3 books I have mentioned are all ones I got from the Used Book Sale at Easter time.
 Oh, there it is raining again. Just as well I spent all afternoon working in the orchard yesterday as I won't be today.  I better get to doing the banklink I guess. Then I have some even more boring kiwifruit reading, sorting,  filing etc to tackle. What fun!