Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dave Johnston's wonderful photo of a silvereye in a fig

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
A silvereye hangs upside down in a fig tree. Above it is another fig and to the right is the fig it has eaten. Dave is the local Bowen Therapist.Common sight!

Adriatic figs are the late ones

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
And they are just delicious. With a green skin and red interior, they are the only ones to ripen after being picked. Just as well too because they are only just coming into season now. We have two trees, one of which doesn't seem to get much sun. It is huge so the net doesn't quite cover it, with the result that birds are invariably having a party inside the net. Anyway we are eating them now. I have made fig jam out of the brown turkeys, and also poached some for two hours with honey and cider vinegar, then dried them out in the oven. They were very popular tonight with Winsome and her guests.

Robert fells a dead eucalyptus tree

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Today Robert Atack came round to fell a couple of dead trees and will come and collect the firewood later. He has a website and provides us with DVDs, CDs and books on the topic.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A little bit of this and that on 20 April 2006

What? Another day in paradise? Well my back is better after the Bowen therapy but my right heel is still very sore and has been for a couple of months now. I walked too far in poor shoes when I got here and found myself dependent on the physio and underfoot strapping. The physio says she gets plenty of business from new “lifestyle block owners”.

Malcolm has just come home from biking to the gym. On the way he dropped off some feijoas to friends and they gave him a wonderful jar of honey as they have three hives. Great! Another friend gives us minced tuatuas as she lives at the beach.

Malcolm thinks the soil has improved in the vege garden. Today I discovered my granddaughter helper thought she had thinned the carrots but in fact it was all chickweed. So out it all came and I sowed some carrots. Probably the wrong day of the lunar calendar to do it but I needed something to help me procrastinate doing my taxes. Moreover the temperature is lovely in the autumn, and the ground is moist and warm. This place has little wind.

I want to grow kale because Malcolm loves it. The row I had in looks as if it has been eaten by white butterflies. So I weeded and hoed them, sprayed them with Organic 100, a seaweed/fish waste mix, limed them and then scattered some Neem pellets around.

Feijoas are everywhere. Last night I sliced some and put them in the dehydrator with some sliced apples and sliced figs. They taste delicious dried. I also froze some feijoa puree yesterday and even though we now have a second fridge/freezer, there Is hardly any room left in either freezer. My daughter helped my granddaughter set up to sell feijoas for $2.50 a kilo outside a Wellington house last weekend. They sell for $7-8 a kilo in the Wellington supermarkets there, so they went like hot cakes.

We have so many daily opportunities to sample food these days that we don’t get desperate for meals. While picking figs this morning, we ate both types – the Adriatic, which is green outside and pink inside, and the Brown Turkey which is brown inside and yellowy inside. For lunch today I put the following on a plate: whole chestnuts (I boiled yesterday’s split chestnuts and they peeled off beautifully), spring onions, ham, fresh celery tops, parsley and a small cheese sandwich. A drink of organic raw milk washed it down. Delicious. The combination of chestnut and spring onion was especially good.

This afternoon my friend Wendy arrived with a chestnut and pumpkin soup. What great timing, as she is turning out to be one of my chief garden advisors. She identified the borage I had planted in the vege garden (I couldn’t remember what I had planted in that seed box I planted out), told me to burn the kikyu grass we had taken out yesterday, told me to sow mustard in the glasshouse now to give it time to sterilise the soil before I plant out early tomatoes in the spring. I would have dug in compost but apparently that can wait till spring too. I would have dug a lot but she said not to. She approved of the broad bean and sweet pea I had planted together outside. So much to learn. I am a very late starter at this game.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The two year old grandson loves feijoas

5 great iPhotos
Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Here Tereana aged 14 is feeding Hamish her two year old cousin, a feijoa. He can eat 14 at a sitting and we all spent ages picking them up, scooping them out, and even freezing some. But the purple and white striped pepinos aren't at all a favourite. Those of us who ate them got very sore tongues. The first of the Adriatic figs have started, they have a green skin and pink flesh.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Malcolm with the latest chestnut haul

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
We have at least four chestnut trees bearing now, and one of them has big shiny dark chestnuts, the colour of chestnut hair. Yesterday I picked up a whole bucket full of chestnuts. You have to tramp on them first and roll them till they yield their nut. I think when my grandchildren come in the weekend I will give them a bucket each and make it a competition to see who can gather the most chestnuts. Time to get rid of the husks. The neighbour burns them but we don't plan to waste them to that degree. I have no idea how long it would take for them to compost.

Split figs after rain and wind

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
Well it ain't all beer and skittles is it? Thse figs were picked after a weekend away, during which it rained heavily and there was a strong wind I believe. Anyway they were squishy and very ripe so I put them in the kitchen whizz and froze them for future use. The figs are quite blemished now. Adriatic has a lot of figs on and will be ready at the end of April we understand, but it looks as though it is badly sited with insufficient sun, so we are hoping. The black fig with a pink centre is quite deliciious, but once again it is not in a great position. We mostly have Peter Daldin and Brown Turkey,

Saturday, April 01, 2006

104 feijoas a day now

Originally uploaded by otaki4fruit.
These are the feijoas Malcolm has picked up these last few days. Big and juicy. And there are some very crisp apples in the bucket.

The figs are still going and we have given a lot away. Each time we pick them we find a silver eye in one of the trees which are netted. Takes a while for them to finally leave. We still have an orchard ladder lent to us and have now ordered our own, a very light aluminium one with three feet.

Today I discovered a dead rabbit caught in the net covering one of the apple trees. Must have been a rotten death.

We thought we had a lot of chestnuts, but today visited the neighbours who are doing it commercially. They have irrigation at every tree and some of the chestnuts are huge. They feed some of their smaller chestnuts to their three jersey steers and the animals had very shiny coats. We had picked up all the chestnuts lying on the ground, but discovered the green ones are no good. You stand on them and if they don't come apart quickly you are wasting your time.

Today we went to Pukehou Nursery and bought three wormwoods, some catnip, cat mint and oregano plants and a third avocado. Hopefully that third avocado will help, as the two ten year old avocadoes already on the property are large but have yet to fruit.

The blackbirds are gradually eating the last of the quinces lying on the ground. It takes them ages. They must be so full after an hour or two eating it!

Walnuts are still falling and are drying out in the various warm spots around the property including the shed and the garage and store room.