garden notes

While it was raining an army of stink bugs amassed in my garden. They are absolutely everywhere, sucking the life out of everything. I squashed alot while I picked some things for tea, but as many as I squashed the same amount dropped onto the ground. They do that when they smell their mates "stink", then I can't find them. A friend suggested Neem oil for next season after I moaned that the catch crops, squashing and garlic and rhubarb sprays were just not doing the trick. Most of the outdoor tomatoes will be a write off I think, luckily I have quite a few going strong in the glasshouse. The rain has also made the blackberries go mouldy, while the immature peaches have got a bit of brown rot showing up.

The corn and basil are tops at the moment. I'll have plenty of corn for the freezer and am whizzing up a batch of basil pesto as I write.My "golden midget" watermelon, next to one of my Dads. The great organic verses inorganic competition is heating up. He won on melons but I'm winning hands down on corn and cucumbers and am way out front on flavour!

Finished pesto, this lot is being frozen for winter.


Cloth doll for PJ

Last night PJ had to go to the Dr and get stitches in her chin after trying to ride skatey boy's unicycle. L took her cos I really hate after hours Dr's visits. I stayed at home and sewed the doll I was working on for her before Christmas. I didn't finish it until now as I was struggling with how to do the hair. The ghastly yellow fine merino jersey from the red cross was perfect. She was thrilled with it because I made it look like her and used her favorite colour brown. She wants me to make one now that looks like her best friend. The brown merino I was wearing today will probably become the hair, I looked down and thought that while I was helping L split our winter firewood. Quite timely with a cold change upon us.



When L and I met we lived in a house bus for several years so didn't have a garden of our own. I grew herbs in planter boxes of course but we over came the lack of a garden by doing alot of foraging for food and firewood. There are still several spots I visit where I know good fruit and nut trees are growing wild. I usually say to L at this time of year "better go and check if my peach tree is ripe" and he knows exactly where I mean. I also have several walnuts to call on, along with mushroom circles, rose hip bushes, elderberries, wilding plums, apples and pears as well. A couple of years ago I found, with a little help of a friend where some hazel nuts are. The jewel in the crown though is the pine nut tree I think. My brother and I visited there last week filling our pockets with the little treasures.The kids will have to do some cracking for me so I can make a fresh batch of pesto with local ingredients. Both my brother and I have saved some seed to try and germinate as well. Our property is not big enough for one of these massive trees but I've had plenty of people offer to let me plant them on their land. I looked to see if the seeds need any kind of stratification but haven't found anything to suggest they do. Has anyone got any tips? I seem to have trouble raising trees from seed in pots but get plenty of walnuts, peaches and apricots coming up if I just throw the stones in the garden and ignore them til the following spring. I'd love it if people would come and dig them out of my garden and give them new homes, I have even thought I should go on a fruit tree planting mission in public places so others may benefit from the fruit.
If you like the idea of foraging, Johanna over at star-cooked has some good posts about it. The native flax seeds are one I'm keen to try.


Thinking of

My thoughts are with the people in Australia who are dealing with the massive bush fires.
I was born there, I have family and friends there - they are all safe, though I know many people are grieving. I hope all the people I have met through blogging are safe and sound.


Harvesting and planning

As the school term gets going I've enjoyed catching up and hearing what every one's been doing during the summer holidays. It' seems 3 out of 4 people I talk to have been camping, enjoying the top of the South Island's beautiful sites; Golden Bay, Marlborough Sounds, Nelson/Tasman and the West Coast. I sort of envy the "idea" of camping but actually hate packing up, getting bitten, sunburned, and doing all the Mum stuff away from the conveniences of home. Also 3 years living in a house bus and hand washing nappies, I think has put me off entirely. Admittedly I'm becoming a bit of a Nana in my middle age. It sounds like my friends all enjoyed their adventures even the hiccups. Lucky for L and I we have a "village" to raise our children so they haven't missed out on adventures, they've been away with good friends and family. We must be doing something right cos they get invited to go back again and again.

Back here in the garden, locals and blog readers have asked about the cannelini beans. They have been a super crop here, the first lot I harvested early as I grew them in the glasshouse but it seems there was no need because the outdoor ones which I planted around the fence lines have produced beautifully with no extra water after they got established. The little bit of rain we got a few days ago wasn't even enough to wet the soil underneath the corn and pumpkins. So to answer about the cannelinis; I leave them to dry off on the vine then once picked leave them in their shells for several weeks longer to dry right out. I learnt this is the hard way after harvesting some dryish pea pods and shelling them straight away, popping them into a paper bag only to find some of them went mouldy. Plants going to seed all over the garden make it look pretty messy and disorganised but I reckon it's a sign of a good productive garden. Mine is looking pretty wild but I know where to find the tomatoes, spring onions, lettuce, pumpkins, melons and beans. The kumara are putting on alot of top growth so I'm hoping too that there is something going on beneath the soil. They say when you're planning your garden to check out what's growing well in other local gardens, so I have to share that the Nashi pear is my best productive tree aside from my citrus. It's laden with fruit, grows beautifully organically and is just about ready! Highly recommended.

The glasshouse is producing really well though an aphid infestation will probably get the better of it soon. I'm watering, feeding and using pyrethrum to try and stay on top of it.
I haven't quite kept up with sowing all my own seed, recently I've sowed lettuces, leeks, brassicas, peas, coriander and parsley in my messy little nursery/shady spot. I've also bought extra brassicas from a good little plant stall in town.

The brassica's I've put in where the garlic came out. I've mulched them heavily and hope my little paper wasps can keep up with all the caterpillars. I sprinkled round a bit of blood and bone too as the soil was looking a bit depleted.Finally somewhere in the middle ground of this picture is a patch of horrible seedy paspalum grass overtaking the onions. I weeded it out twice but it got away on me over Christmas so my poor onions look like pickling onions! I must get onto pulling it all out before the seeds spread everywhere. "1 year seeding 7 years weeding" So that is how I'll spend New Zealand's national day "Waitangi Day" before I head over to the airport to see my bro.


Garden notes Jan

The last week of our kids summer holidays has flown by, we all slept in till around 9am this morning so I'm totally dreading getting up early tomorrow and having to be organised to be places! L is still on annual leave as well, so it's still going to feel like holiday mode to everyone especially with my brother and his family arriving from Adelaide this Friday. I can't wait for that, it will be the first time I've met my two nephews.

Since picking up L, skatey and PJ from the airport last Friday I've packed in a bit of desperate last minute holiday activities all of which I forgot to pack the camera for. Hence the good old garden pics. (Busy bumble bee amongst the teasels and corn silk.)
We finally caught up with a friend who's garden I'd been looking forward to seeing since spring, they live by the Motueka river so we took a nice walk along the river while the biggest boys were swimming. The teen enjoyed it so much we went back to the river a few days later with the other kids. While the whole district suffered in the sweltering summer heat we just might have had the best spot to be at, shade for me, cold shallow water for the littlies, a massive rope swing for the teen and only one other small family group there to share it with.
I also made an effort to meet up with some Playcentre friends to collect natural collage materials from the beach, coincidentally discovering possibly the best lot of seaweed washed up since midwinter last year. I filled two sacks for the garden and went back for more the next day with helpers in tow. The garden is so weedy I need it everywhere but of course I never have as much as I need so stuck it round some celery and beans which were yet to be overtaken by weeds and cleared out the glasshouse using the rest as mulch under the tomatoes, which are producing well unlike the outdoor ones which haven't ripened yet and are already getting stinkbug sucked. The Cleome is doing a good job of attracting stinkbugs but they are still attracted to the beans and tomatoes as much as before. I've happily harvested quite a few of the cannelini beans that I planted early spring and we've munched our way through the first block of corn. Corn is the only vege that the red head will eat at present.
The chooks recently took a wee break to sit on eggs while several others made escapes into the garden each day for me to chase on the regular stink bug squashing missions. I still haven't found where the chooks were getting out but have caught the escapees and put them in the small house for a bit. The sitters didn't get the job finished, hopping off their eggs a few days early. I suspect it was mites and heat that drove them off so have cleaned and disinfected the chookhouse and given them fresh bedding. Skatey requested the rotten eggs and lead us down to the neighbourhood stream last night for a bit of eel watching, good old kiwi entertainment bringing back lots of childhood memories for me. With the eggs thrown into the river it took only about 5 minutes for the eels to start showing up attracted by the smell. The kids really enjoyed the eels but weren't happy to see someone else had set a hinaki net in the stream to try and catch them. I recall having smoked eel as a kid but I don't think my lot would be willing to try it, all are keen however to go and throw eggs to the eels again.
They are also all enjoying not having Mum glued to her sewing machine, so as usual at this time of year I'm feeling like I want to spend more time with them and less time trying to make money. We'll see how that goes, for now I'm not going to try busting my gut making and selling things and I'm not going to study full time yet either.

Now I'm off to make some things for the lunch boxes.