Tuesday, November 29, 2011


If we look back 2 posts to one week ago, we see the progress that has happened with the kiwifruit flowers. Many are now set. See the fat round shape behind the stamens - that is the fruit starting to plump out. The petals are falling off, as their job is done. This makes working under the vines messy as the petals and stamen fall all over me and down my neck. That will all soon be gone. Yesterday we had the second ( and final ) round of artificially applied male pollen. Mary goes up and down each row on her quad bike.

It is difficult trying to get a photo of the pollen in the air.

I watched her do the whole of this block. She is a very careful, capable lady. The pollen is blown up from the triangular shaped stainless steel chute. ( can you see any in the air? )
Strapped on the back of the quad bike  is a sack of pollen for when she needs to refill. There are many operators all around the area doing the same job. It took just over an hour to do all our blocks. ( it just gives the bees a helping hand and hopefully gets to any flowers they may have missed.)

I took this photo to try and show some of the wind damage. See the dried up leaves where this small branch has been broken out at it's armpit. We have to very carefully remove it without breaking any more bits. Sometimes cutting it into several bits works best. It is lucky we started with so many flowers cause the wind sure is a ruthless pruner.
 That's all looking a bit green again. Here are some brilliant scarlet flowers in the garden for a contrast.

Petunias and below a Day Lily.

* the forecast rain was only half a mil over night so that's not much help.
* JEH  I doubt very much if there will be any peas left when you get here. That's why we are freezing some. See you really soon!
* No sewing has taken place. sigh.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Good The Bad and the Ugly.

I understand that not too many of you want to become orchardists then! I'm not surprised!
 Lots to report on.
Today is a  brilliant sunny, calm, day, but yesterday and the previous days the wind has done so much damage. The oranges were ready so lots falling on the ground doesn't matter. I have given lots away. I have been juicing them. The are very sweet with no seeds ( Franklyn Naval. ) The old faithful Kenwood has a juicer attachment. ( I have frozen quite a lot of it ).

In the kiwifruit the bees have been battling on against the wind. There are fruit already set. We have had one lot of artificial pollen applied. More tomorrow. The vines have sustained many many broken fruit growths. luckily we had lots but it will have reduced our potential crop.
 More sadly the wind broke out a large fruiting branch ( the only one with fruit set ) (and about a third of the total tree ) of my little new apple . So annoying when the fruit had set. It broke at a cicada damage on the branch.

Lots of lovely peas are now ready.

 This lot got frozen. We have eaten some, freshly picked -  they are hard to surpass.

Here's how the garden is looking this morning; a bit wind blown but okay....but is it? One potato plant was displaying alarming wilting symptoms. So it has been removed. I then set about trying to find out what was wrong. We are really worried it might be psyllids.( potato and tomato psyllids ) I started inspecting each tomato ( in the middle here ) plant with my 10x lens. I found and digitally killed several different creatures and some nymphs. Are they phsyllids ?. Not totally sure yet. Google images is helping with my research.we will be so sad if our criops get destroyed at this stage. The potatoes are ticklable....I took 4 little spuddies for our dinner last night - yum. New potatoes with new peas are such a delight. ( along with tomato, pumpkin and salmon fritters it was a tasty feed. ) I will keep you posted about my research. Other neighbours have lost crops last year with psyllids - that's  why we were worried. ( yet another pest NZ didn't use to have )

This is one of 2 rafts of eggs I found during my search - they are NOT psyllid eggs, but the precision with which these eggs are laid is amazing so I kept them to watch.They are like little pearls.( good or bad -I wonder? )
 Yesterday New Zealand had a General Election. The National party   was returned to office, but they will need some coalition partners to have a majority in the house. The Green party did very well ( their best effort yet ) and will have list members in the Parliament. That is good, they have some good ideas BUT worrying for us too as  they seem to think any sort of farming is bad and don't understand that the country needs food and more importantly exports. Every thinking person wants to look after the environment so they don't have that on their own.  United Future and the Mana party and John Banks for Act each  got one seat. ( Act  didn't get enough party votes for Don Brash to get in thank goodness! )
 Not so good perhaps, is the NZ party including leader Winston Peters also got list members in. I don't mind their policies but can't abide Winston's behaviour. It is all about HIM. He cannot say the simple words yes or no but always follows a question with a question.It will waste so much time in the house.
 Also yesterday as part of the election there was a referendum about our voting system. 55.7% of the voters said keep MMP - our current system.
 So generally speaking the results sit comfortably with me. National and their coalition partners will have a tough 3 years - whoever got in would have had, with the world economy being in such disarray.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Come to Work with Me.

Yesterday afternoon during the big wind I took the camera with me to work as I thought I could show you what is happening where I work - in the orchard. Before you leave the house check you have stout shoes on and clothing for all weather and temperatures and you'll need a cap or hat to keep your hair clean. Wear some sunblock. Make your afternoon tea in a flask, get a snack and some bread for Percy Peacock( the supervisor ). Get R to sharpen your secateurs. Make sure you have a supply of clips ( vine ties ) and stocking tops and MOST importantly for me your deodorant....there are so many bees about it is my instant answer if I happen to get stung( it really works! )The photo above show my ( carpenter's ) apron I wear with my gear in it -  the blue top is the deodorant right at hand. On the back of the tractor you will need a beer box and cushion to sit on , the radio, and your storage cube with gloves, spare radio batteries, water bottle, plaster all those sort of things. All Ready?
      Please get in the tray on the back of the tractor, hold tightly as we drive down to block 2 b where I am working today. That is right near where the peacock patrols ( and sleeps in the sun ). There are 8 beehives against the casurina hedge in this block,
( if you enlarge the photo you can see them in the air. )
That's probably close enough without taking risks.  They go in and out through the slit at the base. Sometimes there are queues on the outside...or they may just be cooling themselves. The bees get buffeted by the wind and sometimes bump off my person. Just leave them alone, unless they are in your hair or mouth or ears. They will mostly just leave you alone.
This is the canopy overhead. So many flowers are now out. Luckily there is now dabbled shade to work in.

As you are working respect the bees and if they are busy you give them right of way. See how the wind has blown some casurina needles from the hedge onto the vines - it is a pretty strong wind.

Sometimes there is some competition - 2 bees in one just opened flower. They just work around each other. They methodically work their way around the stamens in a circle , usually going anti clockwise( not sure why ).Look closely and you can see all the pollen collected on the bees legs.( lets hope the bee has been to a male flower first to bring the male pollen into that flower.) They seem to know what they are doing....... just as well we don't have to organise or instruct them. ( 33000 x 21 hives = 651,000 bees ) Because it is so windy a large part of our time today will be spent clipping down any flower shoots to the wire to stop them breaking out. Also remove any old sharp stalks or cut clips or anything close enough to a flower that it will rub a fruit when it forms there.
Percy Peacock will hang around so it is best to give him his afternoon tea slice of bread early on or he will be under your feet. That won't stop him asking for more when we have afternoon tea. Between times he will snack on dock leaves or grass . Sometimes if he likes what is on the radio he will sit down happily and dose. Be aware that for no reason at all or if their is a noise he will honk very loudly and make you jump out of your skin.

You are working really well but it is knocking off time now, so if you liked the job you may come back any time at all.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just a little Sewing Time.

It has been such a busy weekend I had little time to sew but by mid afternoon yesterday I was exhausted and had to give in and sit and sew for a while. Following some mind jogging by Digital Gran who made some felt lavender hearts, I set about making some little lavender bags from an old treasured throw over.
I think I have enough lavender to fill 6 small bags. They will be all different sizes as I had to use the still sounds parts of the fabric and try and incorporate part of the embroidery on each ( I didn't do the embroidery but  did not want to throw it away. ) Sewing that fine fabric was a nightmare, but it lets the perfume through so that is what I was aiming for.
An up date on my selvage blocks shows I have finished blue, green, black and purple blocks.

I am currently working on a fawn and brown block. I have taken to reading all the selvage messages carefully - there is quite a bit of humour to be found.
 Thank you Molly, Thimbleanna, Jennifer and Isabelle for your concern over our kiwifruit problem in NZ. On relooking in the daily newspaper on Friday evening I see the number of infected orchards is far larger than I said -  almost double!
 In the night our 21 beehives arrived.( they are transported at night to make sure the majority of the bees are inside the hive ( asleep? )  at the time it is moved. ) This morning is one of the windiest we have had so that makes their first day with us very difficult. It takes them far more energy to fly against the wind and they can be seen being buffeted about. It is sunny so lets hope the wind drops.
The very first green peas are ready - just enough to steal for on a salad or eat out of the pod where you stand. My beans are also nearly there but because Polly Peacock dug so many out there will not be enough for a feed. I have since purchased some wire netting cloches to protect my subsequent plantings. I found Miss Polly lurking at my little extra garden late last evening - my she can fly well when chased! Yesterday I also wheelbarrowed compost to my garden and added sheep pellets to give things a boost.
 Today keeping the washing on the line is a challenge. The row of socks is River
Dancing really fast. Every thing else is twisting madly..... good drying day, but tough on things.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kiwifruit Update.

I took this photo yesterday where I was working in the slowest to mature block in our orchard. It shows a female kiwifruit flower just open and buds almost open. It is hanging right beside a metal ag beam ( one of the support structures ), the extra heat the ag beam gives off from the sun seems to boost those buds right next to it. All the rest of the orchard blocks have a few open flowers so that means we need to get bee hives in probably Sunday night.( when 10% are open ) We are well up with our bud thinning and pruning and the potential crop looks very promising. SO ALL OF THAT IS GOOD. BUT the threat of the disease PSA  is lurking everywhere around us.
       It is a year now since the first gold variety kiwifruit vines in Te Puke  were found to have the bacterial disease PSA ( pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae )All those vines in the first infected orchards have been totally pulled outand burnt or buried . But the disease has spread. Every day the number of infected orchards seems to increase. 434 orchards currently have Psa ( 408 are in Te Puke area. ) 72 % of NZs kiwifruit vines are now in priority zones ( that means have some disease nearby ) Waihi has 1; Katikati 3; Tauranga 14; Whakatane 7; Opotiki 1.
      Things we know about the disease. Gold varieties are more susceptible, male vines are more susceptible, younger vines are more susceptible. It can be spread in many ways...by the wind, on footwear and clothing,on tools and vehicles, possibly by bees and insects and birds, possibly transferred on pollen artificially applied. There is a lot we still DON"T KNOW.
   What is happening as a consequence. Zespri the marketing part of the industry that sells the fruit worldwide and organises the shipping etc are planning to greatly reduce their staff. Growers and all involved working in the orchards are having to take strict precautions to try and not spread the disease.  Disinfecting tools, vehicles, footwear, hands  clothing between orchards. For us this means we must police this to see this happens. This is what happened yesterday.

      A large truck with a hydralada arrived ( photo above on driveway )( note hose for washing vehicles on wall bottom left of photo ) to replace broken insulators on the main high tension power lines that run between Tauranga and Waihi.  2 of their poles cross the bottom end of our property. They needed access to get to them with their vehicle and 3 men. They stopped at the house to get permission and be shown where to go. We gave them an orchard map and list of hazards as we are obliged to do.
"How were they going to disinfect their vehicle and equipment and clothing we asked them? Do you know about PSA we asked them?"
"Oh yes we do," they said."We were going to clean our vehicle on the way OUT!"
"How does that protect us," we asked.? .....
"Well our disinfecting stuff is currently out on Matakama Island," they said.
"Sorry you can't come in. Go and get some more disinfectant please."  ( Zespri had provided them with it ) 45 minutes later they had organised themselves and done what we asked .WHAT if we hadn't been home?
 So you see it is us who have to be constantly vigilant. I read in one of the magazines that arrived today ( we are constantly being emailed and posted information - ( far more than we can possibly read if we want to work as well ) that the bacteria has been found in trials to survive on leaf litter for 56 days, on wood for 15 days and on plastic for 8 days. That is  is very scary.
       Some of the down stream effects are land with kiwifruit on it is now worth less than bare land. All packhouses and associated businesses are having to cut down staff numbers.  Apart from copper sprays there is very little growers can do to protect as yet uninfected vines.
 What does the future hold for growers ...for the BOP which is the largest kiwifruit growing area in new Zealand  ?
 For us as yet uninfected it means carry on as usual and hope we can bring the lovely crop hanging in the vines to picking time next year. ( it's a bit like the plague or Foot and Mouth, but in kiwifruit vines )

 ps. last night we ate the last 2 fruit I had kept from this years' crop, picked in May. They have lasted unrefrigerated since then. There certainly will be less kiwifruit to sell to the world in the next few years.


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

There's Always a First Time.

Before I get on with my subject I want to say Thanks to those of you who always send me email replies when I comment on your blogs. It is very kind of you. Here I tend to reply either in the next blog post or in the same comments section where you lovely folk leave me comments. That's just the way I like to do it. I do so love hearing from you ALL.

There is always a first time for everything. For me making broccoli soup just happened this weekend because we had a surplus, and some were starting to get over blown. I hate waste, so what to do? Go on, be daring make some soup. So I did and Oh how pleasantly surprised I was.
 I admit while it was cooking I had serious doubts because of the smell. ( enzyme sulforane ) or "eau de public toilets." Apparently that is the part that is so good for us?
But it was delicious. I have googled the recipe and found several, so mine is a combination of most of them. I see some Michelin Star chefs make it, so Gordon Ramsey I did a little mild  swearing as I made it. Here is my very easy recipe. It would also be useful not just when there is a surplus but to make a head go a long way for many mouths.
 Broccoli Soup.
2 chopped onions                                 2 tblsps olive oil
I head of broccoli ( about 500 grams )    4 cups chicken( or vege ) stock
1/2 cup of milk,     pepper to taste. 1 cup grated tasty Cheddar cheese (or Parmesan )

Chop the onions and gently fry off in the oil in a large saucepan. Prepare the broccoli by cutting into florets, include the stem and all( peel if coarse ). Add the broccoli and the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer / boil for about 10 minutes till cooked through. Cool. put into a liquidizer and blend. Return to the saucepan and reheat , add the milk ( or cream if you eat it , or rice milk could be used ) and bring nearly to boiling point again. Add the grated cheese and pepper and serve. ( we both liked it so will make it again. )
 The recent wind trashed the leaves of this Bird of Paradise so it sent up and unfurled a new pristine leaf. ( for how long? )

 Cecile Brunner  rose seems indestructible. It has been cut to the ground twice but always wins and bounces back. It does need serious pruning as it climbs into neighbouring trees.

The very first rhododendron I planted here 33 years ago was Virginia Richards. It hasn't flowered well for some time but is back doing it's thing this year. Thrips get to it I think.
This is the same purple bearded iris I showed in the vase of flowers on Saturday. It is my favourite and has only spread to make 3 clumps over about 20 years...so not invasive in any way.
* As I am typing I can hear the bang, bang, bang of the post rammer putting in the piles for under the container. It will then be shifted off the metal loading area and can get painted and camouflaged to some extent.
 *It is calm today so while R was waiting for the rammer to turn up he has started spraying some of the weeds on the drive and shell path. Thank goodness for that it is long overdue! ( he has a tank on a little trailer behind the Hustler mower so that saves me using a Knapsack sprayer ! )
* Only a little sewing has happened. The mail box wall hanging got it's label  - a chook with a mail bag delivering letters ( off the new label CD ) and 2 hangers for the al rod. So totally finished and hanging!. I have also started on the brown selvage block. They are going well and the others are now half square triangle blocks about 12" square.
 But back to work now.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


The destructive winds have gone and the sun is out. Yesterday was really warm. Everywhere I turn in my garden I see plants flowering. Weeds of course are flourishing too, but I will get to them soon. I do so love flowers and being able to go into the garden and pick a vase full of bright delights makes me very happy. Here I have picked irises ( 2 types...your favourites Sooziii ) little roses, watsonia; renga renga lilies and Azalea mollis.
 Lots of veges ready too. More lettuce and broccoli than we can eat. It is lots of work but the rewards outweigh that.
Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Did I Buy Anything?

Still on the subject of last Saturday's trip to Calico Christmas, as well as some purchases I arrived home with this . ( above ) A tradition we have on this trip is the club supplies  snacks for the journey home. This time T and D made us each a noodle box with cute picture on it containing cheese, crackers, sweets etc. As well there was fruit juice and seedless green grapes. But as well we got a small piece of fabric - mine has strange animals in black and white; a tiny packet of novelty buttons and a lovely poem.( click to enlarge so you may read the poem ).
I bought some ( much cheaper than I have previously had) sheets of fabric to print on and with it a CD of labels &  borders . I have already done one trial label and found out how to type what I want on it. This product was made in Australia the previous ones I have used were from USA, so thet may acccount for the better price.  Also here some die - cut felt flowers for use in making my felt embroidered balls.
 I got 3 metres of extra wide plain white fabric for use in my selvages quilt. I have finished several large squares now.

These are just because fabrics...... just because I like them!

I really loved the colours in this FQ so had to get it too. I might use the colour palette in it for a quilt. Usually I buy a book but didn't see one I needed or even wanted, so no book.

 When I started exploring the idea of making a circle based quilt, prompted by one I saw at the museum in Bath in July I did not expect to fine someone else had got there before me.

This is Val William's, " Red Circles," that I came across on Saturday. She had also hand stitched it . So it just goes to show it is difficult to come up with an original idea. Val I liked your quilt. I wonder now how I will proceed with my idea. I hate copying anyone else's work. More thought and trial and error needed by me I think.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Part 2. Quilts at CC.

The Theme for calico Christmas was nautical. The entries in this section were displayed in the cafeteria area. These 2 I liked, especially Rosemary Rush's Knots, Nets and the Fish that get away.
These 2 were a bit different, as there were lots with underwater scenes of fish, shells, coral, seaweeds and sea creatures.

The maker of this small quilt had every reason to be very disappointed in the way her entry was hung! ( I think it was Jocelyn Atkinson ). I liked it anyway Jocelyn.

 On the 2nd floor was a display of the work of the late Barbara Bilyard.
 Many items were lent back for the display by family and those who own them. What amazing and fabulous work she did.

 Some were unfinished.

There were examples of how she worked. This showing her way of drawing her quilting pattern on tissue paper and sewing through the paper then tearing it away. I must try this method.
 Such a loss the the NZ quilting scene. I was given a DVD of one of her classes after I wrote in her obituary book. Unfortunately my computer will not have a bar of it the virus programme Norton threw it out , so I am unable to view it. I will give it to someone else in our club to see if they can view it.
 Luckily the CD of labels I bought works for me. I'll show that tomorrow.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Quilts At Calico Christmas.

As usual we had a great day out in Auckland at Calico Christmas. I'll talk about our trip, what I bought and some special exhibitions tomorrow, but here for today are the quilts and wall hangings that I choose to photograph. Out of so many I often take too many photos, so, this time I  just picked the one's that were my favourites.
"Line Infused with a Little bit of New Zealand," by Catherine Parkinson, was painted and stitched.

Hazel Foot's, "Indian Rhapsody"' had fabulous colours. ( yes, this is the same Hazel who was our tutor 2 weeks ago when we made our wall hangings. ) This photo does not do her quilt justice.
Again this year there were several Tapa cloth inspired quilts. I liked Karen Robertson's best, because it had little splashes of extra colour.

Rosemary Rushes, "The fantastic Faraway Tree," was such fun. I'm sure Enid Blyton would have liked it.

Sandy Bedggood, "Tile Play, " had pleasing design and shapes.

Sampler quilts are often not my thing, but Nikki Graham had used such great colours and unusual blocks I studied it for quite a while.
( all photos should enlarge by clicking on them . ) More tomorrow. Enjoy!