Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Wet Week.

We have had one and a half fine days in the last week. The garden and the kiwifruit vines have gone on a growing rampage. Yesterday at 2.30 in the afternoon a large pruning gang turned up to prune the male vines, and worked till 7.45 pm to finish the job. ( they have been without work and there fore pay all the time it is wet. ) This shows how much is cut off each male vine. The males are interspersed between the females throughout the orchard blocks. The pruners did a fine job. R has been out this afternoon as soon as it came fine again and mulched it up using the big tractor and mower.
 This new Oriental lily chose Christmas day to flower - shame it was wet, but it still looks lovely.
I finally finished making this ella bag started weeks ago.
 We are temporarily using for the tiles while the other scrabble bag has a wash - it getts whiffy.
 Actually it's a bit too wide in the neck for that too easy to see in when selecting tiles
 It is reversible.
 Something else Quilty. My young ones gave me this Block a Day Calendar for 2013 as part of my Christmas Pressy. I doubt I will have time to make a block a day - some are very simple, but it can act as a resource for ideas.
 Finally here is the view I noticed when making our bed this morning. ( I've been making quite a few beds lately, with all the visitors now gone ) I was so glad to get some washing dry.
 It's the pink rose flowers against the lime of the golden elm, I like .

 Yesterday I got a little fruit thinning done  in block one of the kiwifruit. We are going to get some help with some blocks in order to get it done in time. We need sunshine too please, so we can work.


.





Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve.

Happy Christmas to All my friends in Blogland.
Especially to:  
Fran├žoise; DebJennifer;  Dianne; Nicky; Meg and Molly. To Isabelle; Chooky and Hen. To Dale and Deb; Carole; Shiree; June; Bonnie; Michelle; Miche'le; Soooziii; Andrea; Jan  Anne; Loulee; Pixie; Pam, Shirley; Laurie; Deborah; Julie; Mags; Liz; Susan;Victoria ;  Julz; Jules; Dawn; Thimbleanna and You! To Leaanne, Brent, Abbey and James and Dawn and Neil if you are reading this . If I have missed your name  - You Too!
 If it is cold where you are maybe this lovely card from UK is for you.( I have loved Robin Red Breasts since I was a child  - one of my first ladybird books had one on the front cover. We saw them in the UK last year.)
 It is wet here and dull. So Plan B for 15 tomorrow.
 Yesterday when it was still fine R made this contribution to Christmas decorations. 
 He mowed the parking area beside block one all fancy.This is looking down from the park behind us.The big Pohutukawa got a bit trashed with overnight heavy rain but still looks festive.
 It fined up a bit so I have been ourt Harvesting ( not wasailling! ) Look! Produce from our garden.
 ( Strawbs; beans; broccoli; carrots;courgettes some wee tomatoes and 3 sorts of peas. Yum Yum Yum.
 ( Isabelle that's Num ,num, num for Nicholas. )
I am toasting you All!  Be happy. Enjoy.
If you have lost loved ones this year I am sorry. It will be hard for you this year. This day 24th of December I remember my little school friend Glenis who died in the Tangiwai disaster in 1953.



Sunday, December 23, 2012

Just Like You.

                      Just Like you I have been doing pre Christmas things.
 Making some home made gifts.
 Standing in queues in the Supermarket, but it wasn't too bad.
 Arranging pretty flowers on the sideboard.
 
Putting bright things on the stove top.
 D in L to be V, decorated the tree for us. R went to get it with  the truck and when it had been put upright against the white wall live beasties started jumping off. We are not sure exactly what sort of pest they are -  not familiar to us so we had to resort to spraying the tree with fly spray and collecting the bodies in a specimen jar to have identified ( Charming! ).
 Also happening.....
 The new deck got completed. It has a part that goes around the corner that wasn't there before.
 We also bought some extra outdoor furniture for the other deck under the trees and 2 new green umbrellas. to match the one we already had.( we need lots of seating) ( and a fine day please )
 We have received lots of calendars. This one is lovely - A long scroll with the whole of 2013 on it. At the bottom is a picture of Pukeko. Isabelle I  think you have them and call them swamp hens or moor-hens?
 How are your preparations going ?
Mine include absolutely no sewing, but games of scrabble and other different things so that's just fine.
 There is LOTS of work needing doing with the kiwifruit right now. Some is being done by a gang who haven't yet shown up.  It will happen;  it always does but timing is quite important.

 Finally but not to be forgotten. R and I have been married 45 years today. We might have a meal out with the family next Thursday. It is always the same.... too busy a time of year to make much fuss. We were both, as was the norm back then, in our early twenties.









Sunday, December 16, 2012

What's For Dinner then?

What I thought was for dinner didn't happen . After harvesting the first picking of R's peas and me thinning my carrots and picking more broccoli and with R's first Agria potatoes dug it had to be all our own veges with some ham and mustard sauce. Oh the flavours were so good.( Now we need to grow our own pigs again so we can say the ham is ours too. )
                               *****
 This week I have managed to cut my own finger tip with the secateurs while working in the kiwifruit.( it hurt and bled all on my clothes and tractor )  Silly ...but almost healed now as that happened on Monday, maybe I was distracted by the bird life around me....... Can you see how Percy Peacock snuggles down low in the grass while he is supervising my work.
 That was after he had his fruit bread. He loves that but Only gets it down in the orchard away from our house. ( the  new neighbours let him up on their deck...they will learn that cleaning up the calling cards becomes tedious.)( he better not on our new deck! )
 I had to apologise to Percy Peacock because he wasn't   JUST   attracted to rabbits and bright watering cans because look closely....
 
Here is Polly with 2 of her 3 chicks on the first day they were seen out and about.  The same neighbour was most upset because she witnessed a pukeko stealing chick # 3 and running away with is squealing  Whether the other 2 are still alive now I don't know as I haven't seen them again.
 Our quail family also have wee chicks so lots of pukeko food about! ( Leanne the gun has been out again this morning ).
The new deck will get finished on Monday . It took far longer to build than Graeme or we expected. So far we are very pleased - it looks huge. it's been very hot for him working on it.
     ****
 Now something quilty.
 Denise finished this beautiful quilt and showed it last Friday. Also in this photo is the small quilt on the table in front made by Jenny incorporating lots of old doilles. and a pair of gloves.
 We had our Christmas lunch and last club day for the year. We also had our AGM and I have now got an additional job as Secretary. I don't mind the work..... it's the meeting times that don't suit me and having to store the large carton of old documents that passes from secretary to secretary  ( I am going to look for somewhere in the club cupboard to put most of them I think ). In the end we got what looks like a good Committee but it was the usual struggle to get volunteers. I wish we had the competition to be in charge like they had on Calendar Girls! 
 I have been doing lots in the garden and some extra baking and small gift making and a little shopping, so Christmas must be not far away. How are all of you getting on with your extra tasks? 



Monday, December 10, 2012

23 Days Later.

Leanne and Meggie this is what I found 23 days after I showed you the photo of the wee bird's nest
.
I think there are 5 baby Goldfinches.
 We have Goldfinches around and the description fits.
 In my Fiat Common Book of Birds it says * Nest -  Sept to Dec; usually 2 broods.
 Eggs 4-6. Nest =  neat round structure of grass roots, cobwebs;hair, lined with thistle down, wool or feathers . Right again ( Plus some sparkly stuff ) 5 - 12 feet off the ground.* Yes about 6 foot in our case.
 What a squash in there when there are 5 babies!
 I will keep an eye on them till they are big enough to fly.
****
 It is all go around here today.
 The decking timber arrived. Graeme and R discuss some technicality.
 You can see where I have moved all the rocks back.

 This old deck is coming up and a new one put down ( built ) but over a larger area.  All that now bare ground will be covered and around the corner between the house the the grape vine under the eves.
 So I am listening to hammering, banging ,skill saws etc. It is very warm so a hot job for Graeme.
*****
In the garden new things are appearing. This little pompom dahlia  called  New baby is flowering for the first time in my yellow and orange garden. ( it has come true to the photo on the packet, another dark red one has not! )
 My biggest Hosta ,
Has had lots of babies.
 I will let them get a bit bigger then pot them up.
 All my many Hosta are looking brilliant.
 In the orchard we now begin fruit thinning which needs to be done as rapidly as possible for maximum benefit to the fruit left ( to get bigger ).
****
 The sewing machine went into the cupboard last week when I had visitors ( cause it normally sits on the big bench ) and doesn't look like reappearing any time soon. Never mind I am really enjoying my garden and the rewards I get from the smells and  flowers and birds and produce of course.
 I do have a few more pre Christmas tasks to attend to but it all looks manageable.

 O I forgot to mention the earth quake we had on Saturday morning...quite a prolonged shake and shudder. ( that's quite strong enough for me.)  Disappointing for R who likes natural occurrences ( earthquakes; thunder lightning etc. on a more dramatic scale. ) After a little rain, the weather is back to hot and calm - that is just what we need even if it means watering vege gardens.






Friday, December 07, 2012

A Busy Time of Year.

It makes me sad when life gets so busy, for a variety of reasons, that I don't have time to update this blog. Never mind I'm back to doing it today.
 Firstly, things that are growing...we are picking lots of veges but the best and most rewarding for me have been these.....
 I have never grown this variety before. They are Whippa Snapper ( Snap peas ) from Watkins. They can be eaten raw or cooked pod and all...eat the whole thing except the stalk.( no waste! ) In the photo they are cross cut like you can do beans ; boiled for just a few minutes with mint; quite, quite delicious. Note the thick flesh of the pods, that's what makes them so juicy and versatile. Well, well worth growing and as I have them growing in just 2 short rows in different places obviously not fussy about location and did well in both positions. I will certainly be growing them again! 
 This pretty flower is a Feijoa ,  especially for Pamela who loves them. ( I think you call them some sort of Guava in Australia )I love them too and  hope for a good crop next  year .

In the orchard things have moved on. The Kiwifruit pollination is complete ; we have a massive looking fruit set ( work ahead thinning ) The bees however are still here as their owners are so busy. The bees are staying over till next Monday night ( they can forage in my garden, pollinate our vegetables , visit the wild flowers in the gullies or visit the avocados some of them are still flowering.) Here is a close up look at just a few of them busily working last week. See how the crawl upside down to get in the slit at the base of the hive - that's their doorway. They often crash land and push and jostle .

**** 
 I am part way through lifting up and back all the rocks that are near our deck by the house. It is being renewed and extended starting next Monday  I have to make room for Graeme, a friend who is doing the job for us  to work. I have shifted and put into pots lots of bromiliads that were over hanging the boards  More for me to do on this job...but the weather sucks today. Showers every few minutes.and windy.( we were so so lucky with the weather during pollination!! )
***
 We have had my only sister and her partner staying for a few days. Yesterday she and I went out to lunch and invited 2 cousins who live over in the Papamoa area about 35 minutes away, to join us.. We had a great old catch up. Here is a wee story I am sure they won't mind me sharing.

One cousin is exactly my age the other slightly older. Just recently they had a scary experience. The younger cousin had just arrived at the older cousin's home as they were going somewhere together. She was 10 minutes early.
 She had just stepped into the house when the husband of the older cousin had a massive heart attack while sitting in his chair. He is 78 but seems much younger. One took his feet the other his top half and they dragged him to the ground. Fortuitously the younger cousin had done a first aid refresher not too long ago so she started CPR while the older cousin got on the phone and called the ambulance.
( apparently you don't do mouth to mouth now ) Fortunately the ambulance was only about 10 minutes and they took over the CPR. They worked on him for 30 minutes before transporting him to hospital where efforts at resuscitation  were continued. He remained on life support for nearly 3 weeks. He thrashed around and talked nonsense. The family discussed turning off the life support with medical staff. One son who was there thought he heard some words that made sense. The others said he imagined it. This happened again so they decided to wait another 2 days. Quite unexpectedly he roused and gradually started calming and moving normally  and then talking.
 He is now home with a pace maker inserted and doing well. He is a keen reader and apparently required 98 % of his previous brain power to read. He can! He has no lasting side effects. Quite, quite remarkable. The medical staff were astounded. He was about 45 minutes with no heartbeat or breathing.
 The timing of events was amazing. A few minutes later and he would have been home alone. My 2 cousins said they surprised themselves with how well they coped.
 The moral of the story surely is don't be too hasty turning off a loved one's life support !.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What Are You Eating?

You are what you eat. Are We? I have just finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, " Animal, Vegetable Miracle." It was published in 2008 but never appeared in our bookshops so I got our local bookseller to get it in for me. I knew it would be a troubling and controversial read but wanted to all the same.
This non fiction book is the record of  how Barbara's family moved from Arizona back to a family property in the Appalachian region to live  and grow their own food for a whole year eating locally or self grown food only. The book has parts also written by her daughter Camille and husband Stephen Hopp.
 if you are interested there is a website www. animalvegetablemiracle.com
The Farm Tour  slide show of photos is worth looking at.  The shot of the pantry shelves loaded with jars is amazing! Recipes from the book are also available there.
 Barbara says she has always been a scribbler. I wonder if that is similar to a list making, diary keeping, blogger?
 I knew this would challenge my thinking. We grow avocados and kiwifruit for export to other countries. ( NZ apples were mentioned as ones to avoid  because of the miles ) Eating only locally grown ( how far is local? ) It  is much easier if you live somewhere like BOP New Zealand or California but not so good if you live near a desert or in Iceland like Gudrun.
 Personally I think a balance where  a few imported bananas; coffee; cocoa and  spices are acceptable because somewhere else grows them better than here.( and because I like them! ) 
 Growing and eating seasonally makes sense. Farmer's markets make huge sense. Growing as much of your own as you can space/ time wise makes great sense.( We are trying )

Parts of the book that got me upset were about GM crops; the stranglehold a few companies have on the sale of seed and the long term short sighted greed of such companies. Things I learnt - Monsanto; Syngenta; Mitsui; Aventis; Dupont and Dow control 98% of the World's seed sales. I already knew about Monsanto altering crop/plant physiology so it can be sprayed over with Roundup killing the weeds but not the plant and that they Monsanto own both the seeds and the spray.( and ALL rights to both )I did not know they allocate US$10million a year to investigate "Seed Savers". And prosecute them.
 Rather than me relate the story here,  google or look on Wikipedia,   "The Case  of  Percy Schmeiser ( Canadian farmer ) versus Monsanto."
 How ridiculous and appalling has the world got when this sort of greed takes hold?
     *****
 Here in New Zealand Kay Baxter started saving heritage seeds in 1986.
 2 other worthwhile seed companies are Kings Seeds and Egmont Seeds.
 I also found out Yates seeds in New Zealand are owned by an Australian chemical company.
    ******
 Certainly there is lots of food for thought in this book and if you grow your own you will laugh knowingly at the parts about zucchini turning into marrows over night and similar. The parts I really enjoyed were about little Lily and her hens and egg selling business at a tender age. Also informative was the part about the turkeys' breeding or not as the case may be. I can recall Percy Peacock who lives in our neighbourhood finding both rabbits and coloured  objects attractive and   worthy of his attention and tail display.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Growing.

 My coffee table vase of flowers, picked this morning.
 I would give them to you Soooziii and Sally. Thank you for your comments (- sometimes I need to hear from friends it gives me a boost when I am so busy.) The wee flowers smell so good;tiny pink roses and philadelphus ( from my climbing vine not my shrub one )

 Mother Nature heard my plea for fine weather and has given us a whole week of warm lovely days. I am very Thankful but a bit exhausted.Things now need watering so that takes time  - but rewards. I haven't been getting my full range of Vitamins. I have had an overload of Vit V ( vegetables and F ( fruit )) but no P or Q vitamins( patchwork / quilting ).
 Most of this lovely fresh produce from my plantings had to be picked yesterday or it would have been past it's best. The broccoli went into the fridge as we  had a huge salad with BBQ meat last night.

Some things that show promise are 9 wee apples on the Royal gala tree planted in July 2010. I hope they make it throught to eating this year.
Lots of Blueberries on our bushes but unless we keep them covered the birds take more than their share - they are prepared to eat them un ripe.
 When my Kalmia shrub flowers I am immediately drawn to thinking of the gardens of my childhood. Both my Mum and my maternal Nana had paler versions of this shrub that looks as if a cake decorator has been at work making these incredible buds.
 Something else that pleased me this week was seeing this small low growing mauve/ purple Rhododendron daphnoides flowering. It had a ride in the wheelbarrow 3 or 4 years ago and had sulked ever since but with extra rain is happy again out near the front gate. It is a very attractive bush even when not flowering ; it's compact and very green..... not sprawly like some rhodos.( it is more purple than the photo suggests )

*******

 Out in the orchard this is happening.
 The air takes on the distinctive smell of Kiwifruit flowers. Here there are both sexes in the photo, where a male vine is right beside a female. Male on the left a slightly apricot or pale orange colour. Where the flowers are so close together it makes is more likely a bee will visit both sexes and the female will get pollinated.
 We have 63,0000  bees here working for us at the moment. They live in 21 hives grouped in sunny spots around the orchard. ( I am carrying my deodorant with me when working under the vines - it is still the best thing I have tried for stings of any kind. ( I also found it takes the heat out of burns really well-I kid you not! Keep reapplying frequently .) ( there is already 30,000 working in the avocados ) Luckily none of our new neighbours are allergic to bee stings we checked.

The dry warm weather has slowed the spread of psa in the vines.This is what you see at our front gate or the front gate of many other orchards.( the notice not the marigolds. )
 We are continually bombarded with information about the spread of the bacteria causing psa. Growing Kiwifruit in NZ ( or most other places ) will never be the same as it was in the past. It will now always be there lurking waiting for the right cool wet conditions to multiply and destroy. It has at this stage for us personally made the job a bit more challenging and probably less profitable as the costs of dealing with it have been added. At this stage for us we have a lovely flowering and fruit set already so let's hope we manage to get this crop through to picking next May.
 *****

Isabelle -  Alstromerias grow very well here. I have red and pink very tall ones and a miniature pale pink and a wine colour one in a pot. They would probably grow for you in a pot if protected during the Winter.. They are renown for long lasting as cut flowers. The red ones are always very useful at Christmas time for that red/ green colour contrast that says Christmas colours.







Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Avocados.

 ( Gavin emptying his bag into the bin )
Avocado picking started yesterday, the first pick for this season. Using 3 hydraladas and pickers / drivers ,Gavin, Lisa and Justin. They have all picked here before. R and I did the ground picking - we can reach about 12 foot high using the long handled picker. Some I can reach just standing on the ground.( but I have to carry them in a big picking apron around my neck that's the tiring part ) ( the top avo block is also on a slope so I try and walk downhill with a full bag .) R also moves the bins and takes the full ones back to the shed in the shade till evening when the truck arrives to take them to the packhouse. It was a long very tiring day for us. R likes to use a bin trailer so 3 bins can be transported at once, but when he towed the bin trailer over to the top block where we started picking, (getting ready on Sunday afternoon ); the wheel fell off. He then had to get it back to the loading area again with one wheel  ( whoever made it did a very minimal welding job -  no wonder it broke! )

 Luckily yesterday nothing else went wrong. It was slow picking as we were picking to size the smaller fruit being left on the trees to size up and be picked in a couple of months time.We got 13 bins yesterday. It should pack out well as mostly it was good clean well shaped fruit.
 If the fruit had all been in close clusters like this it would have been quicker.
 When avos are directly exposed to the sun they get sunburnt ( just like us ). First they turn yellow then red. This is the most red one I have ever seen. It is not exportable being this colour.
 It is not easy to get good clear photos of the pickers working as they as often hidden well inside the trees. Here is Lisa showing girls can do anything. She is a really careful, reliable, happy worker.
 The 3 hydralas should be finished by lunch-time today. My picking from the ground finished yesterday. Today I will just check the fruit in the bins before they get sent to the packinghouse where they are graded and packed into trays for export to Australia ( maybe some to Japan or other parts of Asia - haven't been told where they are going yet. )  The rejected or non exportable ones get graded further some going onto the local domestic market the lesser grade get made into avocado oil which is delicious and very good for us. So eat up your avos everyone please we would appreciate a decent price so we actually cover our costs.