Monday, March 27, 2006

Bountiful delectable figs

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
We can't believe that some people don't like them or appreciate them. But those who do rave over them. They have to be picked at the optimum time. Too early and they have a milky weeping, too late and they tear. We need to use scissors to get them cleanly and the process is to remove the tie securing the net covering the tree, then get the ladder lent to us and climb up to get them. Then put the tie back on, which requires two people.

We have had an interesting time trying to get rid of the crop. Stephans restaurant buys them for a good price but are not always there and it is a reasonable drive up there. Ruth Pretty tends to use them for weekend functions. More local shops to try yet. We gave some to two neighbours, neither of whom had ever tasted them. It seems there is an education job to do on the population regarding the use of figs. I believe growers in Hawkes Bay are now growing more figs so they are appearing in Commonsense Organics and Moore Wilsons at a premium price.

We have one late tree yet to ripen, a huge one called Adriatic. These are Peter Daldin and Brown Turkey so far.

I had an email back from Kay Baxter of Koanga Gardens who advises planting the followiing ground cover under figs: catnip, wormwood, catmint, geraniums, dentate lavendar, pizza thyme (whatever that is) and oregano. Might try to find some of those and plant them in the autumn or winter.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ivan makes compost, and allows for air

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Well it seems there was some old wire netting hanging around under the trees near the compost, so Ivan rolled it up and placed it in the middle of the compost heap for aeration. He said he thought it up himself. "A rule of permaculture says you must recycle and reuse." When I told my sister Lesley in Christchurch about this, she said they had been doing it for years. So there is nothing new in this world!

Making seed balls

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
I have been wanting to plant some borage near the apples to help with attracting bees for pollination, but the ground round the trees are mulched and the grass in between is mown. I also wanted to plant coriander, which is a plant which puts its roots down deep to bring up nutrients and help with reestablishment of microbial life.

Ivan said that in Holland he learnt to make seed balls. He started with a container each of soil, sand, and water. He put seeds in the bowl, added soil and shook it. Then a bit of sand, then a spray of water. Then he repeated it till they were of decent size.

When the seeds are thrown to the ground, they remain covered in this clay until the optimal conditions for sprouting. Hopefully this will work!

Ivan makes a cloche out of hazelnut vines

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
For some time I have been doing battle with white butterflies, winning from time to time with rosemary or pennyroyal or spray. But it is easier in the long run to protect the plants physically.

Ivan has used the saplings from the hazelnuts and tied a couple of them together to make a semicircle. These are very bendy. (they are used by water diviners for finding water). Over the top we have fine netting. He has also divided the bigger garden in two with a couple of our railway sleepers.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The figs are just delicious!

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Three days ago we got our first ripe figs. There is nothing so delectable. We have nets over four of the bigger trees and there are another six trees with no nets. Every morning before breakfast our wwoofer Ivan Bonafe goes out to get some fruit. This is what he brought back.

We have not yet discovered how to grow figs organically. Several websites say grow rue under them but one said the jury is out on that topic. We need to make contact with organic fig growers.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Steve shows Ivan how to test soil for clay content

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Ivan is our first wwoofer. He is from the Tyrol area in Northern Italy and consequently speaks both German and Italian. He has done a lot of wwoofing round Europe and South America and since he eats only raw food is happy on a property like ours where he can eat well. He has been eating only raw food for two years and consequently it is important where he lives. Cities are no good for him!

This is a shot from the apple orchard. We have 35 heritage apples but only two have fruited this year. There are no worms in the soil. The secretary of the Levin Soil and Health has kindly provided us with a great many comfrey plants and here Steve is teaching us to plant them on the drip line of the apple. Just as well. I would have had them planted too close to the trunks. The mower will mow over them and that's fine. They will bring up good nutrients from way down deep. We will also plant lavendar and borage for bees.

To test for clay you roll a cylinder of soil and then bend it till it breaks. Ours broke at 15 degrees. You double that and that is the percentage clay of your soil = 30%.

Steve Calcinai the orchardist visits and advises

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
My granddaughter's school friend Wendy has a father who is an orchardist. Yesterday Steve brought three girls down from Wanganui Girls College boarding school for the day. He kindly brought a six foot tripod ladder with him and then showed us how to prune the apricot tree. He was full of all sorts of knowledge and we all learnt heaps from him.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Some of today's harvest

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
On Friday we had a big southeasterly storm, wild enough to stop ferry sailings in Cook Strait for a day. I was home by myself when the wind hit and the unripe quinces fell hard to the ground. Fortunately I was there to pick up the pears that fell before the birds consumed them. Two days later I spend quite a time picking up fruit - the first of the walnuts and chestnuts, more pears and plums, more peaches, tomatoes, and sweet corn. Here is some of it.

The best news is that Bryan and Susanna were here overnight with Daniel only and that the caravan now has electricity. I will take in the gas bottle to fill, and hopefully the stove will also go. It has been very sunny in patches today and after Susanna and Bryan and Daniel had gone I lay in the sun at lunchtime in the caravan and read. It was wonderful. I am thinking of changing the curtains so the colour scheme looks better...Qunices anyone?? I will have to cook the yellow peaches as they get brown rot or the birds start on them. What a shame Malcolm doesn't eat stewed fruit. Maybe I will dehydrate them, just as I did the small sweet white peaches which didn't keep long.