Monday, May 19, 2008

My first ever kumeras

A guy in a garden centre told me he had financed his university studies by growing kumera and in Wellington no less. His secret was to mound them up and put them under black polythene. So I did this and even in poor soil, they grew really big. More to harvest yet.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Grow your own food in sunny Otaki. Beat rising food prices

Ranui Orchard
202 Otaki Gorge Road, Te Horo
7 minutes from Otaki town, Kapiti Coast, Wellington, New Zealand

A tree cropper's delight. Be self-sufficient in organic fruit, veges and nuts. A rare opportunity to acquire a food growing property where the development work has been done. Live in a spacious house where views from every window delight the eye.

* 233 sq m on 1.4 hectares (3.5 acres)
* native bush, lawn, fruit trees and nut trees, woodlot
* converting to organic since January 2006
* 3 bedrooms, kitchen/dining/living room, lounge, rumpus room
* implement shed, glasshouse, chookhouse, double garage, storeroom

Price: $595,000NZ
Enquiries: Phone 021 660113 office 06 364 8350 AH 06 364 2430
Or email firstnationalotaki(at)

For photos see entry on November 13, 2007 on this blogspot.

About the House
This special tree cropper's property is just seven minutes from Otaki at 202 Otaki Gorge Road, Te Horo. It has three spacious bedrooms, a kitchen/dining/living room, a large lounge and a huge study. The study was originally going to be the double garage so that is the size of the room, and it can be adapted for anything. So it would be listed as four bedroomed. There is an ensuite and a walk-in wardrobe. Altogether there are three toilets, a bath and two showers. A generous back porch area makes for easy country living. Full insulation with more wool recently blown into the ceiling. Monier tile roof, brick cladding. Deck out from living room.

Range hood over ceramic top electric stove.

Heating is by woodburner in the living room, with a pump transfer system to the lounge. This works very well.

The other buildings
There is a generous double garage with an attached store room and pump room.

There is a mower and implement shed with attached glasshouse and chook house. A shade house is situated near the garage. The Walker mower, valued at $10,000, is for sale separately. Nets go with the property.

What is growing on the land?
Of the 1.4 hectares or three and a half acres some is in eucalyptus firewood (there is always plenty of this), and three quarters of an acre is in native bush with magic pathways throughout and a clearing for events like weddings.

A large number of fruit and nut trees have been planted over the last seventeen years. There are walnuts (a good crop is on its way), macadamias (looks good this year), hazel nuts, and chestnuts. There are over 35 heritage apple trees, fifteen fig trees, four pears, two apricots, four plums, one nectarine, four peach, 2 almond, 1 cranberry, 4 persimmons, 1 guava, 2 lemonade, 2 nashi pears, a hedge of green tea, 2 carob, 1 grapefruit, 2 lemon, 1 lime, 1 mandarin, 1 orange, 1 raspberry, 1 cherry, 2 rows of red currants, 1 blackcurrant, 3 avocados, 1 kumquat, six olives, three kiwifruit, one tamarillo, five loquats, two rows of red grapes, several table grapes, a most wonderful vegetable garden, and a very good orchard of feijoas. The red currants and black currants are good this year too and a cherry has good fruit on it. In addition there are pine nuts and some unusual non-fruiting trees. In the summer the glasshouse is full of tomatoes. Corn, pumpkin, potatoes, Maori potatoes, kumera and yams were all in last year and now we have broad beans, broccoli, onions etc in. Garlic will go in soon.

Who would it suit?
This property has been organic for two and a half years and before that was not too chemicalised, so it would suit people who like to grow their own food organically and develop it as a permaculture property. There is scope for kunekune pigs, a house cow or chooks, as well as for installing irrigation.

What is the soil like?

It is classified as stony loam and everything has been planted by removing the stones just below the surface. Rock dust, compost, mulch, liquid seaweed, worm wee, manure, lime and EM (Effective Microorganisms) have been applied regularly to increase microorganisms in the soil and the worm count is increasing. Bokashi buckets have been dug into the vegetable garden regularly.

Wind, shelter, water and frost
There is an excellent water supply from the Hautere Plains scheme and the property seems to have its own microclimate. It gets very little wind as the shelter was planted early and it only has occasional light frosts.

Why are we leaving?
Our advancing ages. We have loved living here but our time is now up. It is one of the best houses we have ever lived in. Sadly, we must now move on.

We will miss the kumquat marmalade and the bees

These have been the most marvellous citrus. Here is the kumquat in full flower and when you pass it there is a hum of bumblebees and honey bees. When the crop comes you can make the most deliciously tasing marmalade. It is unequalled in flavour.
This property is on the market

We will miss these chestnuts when we sell

It takes a while to harvest them float them and cook them and peel them but look what you get!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Harvesting chestnuts

We have at least six chestnut trees and the season is now. From the fallen pricky balls you extract the nuts, which are strictly a grain. Roll your gumboot over a ball and use gloves to pick up the nut.

We have had chestnut and pumpkin soup, chestnut and kumera soup and just plain boiled chestnuts as a vegetable.

This property is for sale

There is no greater pleasure than digging good soil in moist conditions

Yes I had to prepare part of the vege garden for the next crop. I had grown corn and thought I would have to plant a green crop like mustard or lupins to fix some nitrogen and build some more soil after heavy feeders. But The soil was fantastic. I had dug in some bokashi buckets last year and of course the ground has had many feedings of worm wee and seaweed and blood and bone. So each spadeful was a delight. The clay below had some worms in it breaking it up and to see it fall apart so easily was super. I think I wlll plant either garlic or onions there.

This property is for sale

The quinces survived the summer drought too

No problem. They actually thrived and there were few blemishes on this year's crop. Lots of stewed quince and friends have made jelly or jam.

It's feijoa time again

Our families are now gorging themselves of feijoas, some grandchildren eating ten at a sitting or more. This bucket on the doorstep is a common sight in April and May. They survived well despite the drought this year.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Walnuts nearly finished, chestnuts coming on

The walnut season has been a bit strange this year. Great promise in October and November with good crop swelling well, but the drought after that was phenomenal. It only broke in April. So the walnuts didn't mature before they dropped. But then it all happened. They then matured and dropped normally and we will have more next year I am sure because the trees are getting bigger and there are six of them. Four are still quite small.

As for the chestnuts they have driven us mad because we didn't know how to use them and tried to keep them without success. There is nothing worse than getting a bag of chestnuts from the freezer only to find that about 5% are any good and the rest have rot in them. So we are trying to just eat them as they come and last night had them as a vege. We float them and throw away the floaters which last night wasn't many at all. Maybe we will ask a family member if they want to market them. Anyone who wants any will have to pick up their own this year I think. We have six mature chestnut trees.