Tuesday, March 15, 2016


This summer we've had a little bit of success with melons. I think that has something to do with the unexpected rainfall, as a drought had been predicted. I didn't plant very many - one rockmelon which did not ripen very well. We enjoyed x2 watermelon, these were pink fleshed but had yellow skins and I forgot to take a photo of them - sorry! Have saved seeds to try to grow them next year as they were good.

I would say the most success however has been with these little Korean melons pictured below:

They are sweet and crunchy and as you can see by the comparison with the pen, only very small. This means one is a nice serving and you don't need to worry about storing excess cut melon in the fridge as you would with a large melon. Also the small size means that there seem to be more per plant than with normal melons. I have a couple of vines that have about 5 each on them, almost ripe so will be harvested any day now.

Otherwise in the garden things are starting to slow down a bit. Although having said that I am still picking tomatoes!

The pumpkins are just about done, have picked some and they are curing in the sun - we have had no rain for a few days now but I think it's forecast for the weekend.

Time to get in there and clear out a lot of stuff now, get the soil turned over ready for some seeds to go in for over the winter season. Mostly will be hoping to grow a decent amount of carrots. I have had some success with carrots in the past, tending to be a case of numbers - the more seed sown the greater chance of getting some to harvest. I normally just scatter the seed too rather than sowing neatly in rows. I also want to get some greens going, spinach and chard. My Cavolo Nero kale is still producing really well however.

How is your garden shaping up this Autumn, and what do you intend to grow over Winter?

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Plums. Lots of them this season. And the best ones so far here at CTF have been the Luisa variety, which is a Japanese type of plum. We have 2 trees of this variety and they have done really well, producing lots of huge juicy fruit.

 The Luisa plums can get pretty big...

Here's a link to a page telling about the history of the plum in NZ - you need to scroll down to almost the bottom of the forum to see the post. Very interesting.


We are suffering with very high humidity here at the moment (approx 96%) and many of the other stone fruit trees are succumbing to rot, but not the Luisa plum. It's fantastic. We have picked numerous kilos of fruit, it's a real winner! I have bottled them in the past but we are not eating much bottled fruit now that we have cut down on sugar, and besides these plums taste best when fresh.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes........!

Yes it is that time of the year again. We have loads of big juicy tasty tomatoes ripening daily. The varieties I grew this season are beefsteak, the red one is 'Brandywine Pink' and the green is 'Aunt Ruby's German Green'.

And they can grow pretty big, especially the Brandywines. Here we have a few heavy weights, the first weighs in at 444gs:

This one a little heavier 474gs.

But this is the winner (so far), 603gs! A record.

I should also note here that these tomatoes have done well pretty much all by themselves, they were planted with a good amount of compost in the hole, I haven't fed them much other than a slosh of liquid manure and they have pretty much relied upon rain to keep them alive (thankfully we had a fair amount in January while I was away). So these are winners!

So what do with all those tomatoes you might ask? Well we've been eating them almost at every meal, and are not sick of them yet! Last night they were made into sauce to go with meatballs and spaghetti (zoodles for me).

I've cooked up a few batches just simply with onion, salt and pepper, then processed preserving jars full of cooked tomatoes in my Fowlers Vacola. I now have several lovely jars of ready to use tomatoes lined up on the shelf for when needed.

Apart from preserving the tomatoes, I have also frozen quite a lot of them. I just chop them into big chunks, freeze them on trays then when frozen bag them into Ziplock bags. That way I can just take out however much I want for any particular use (i.e. making a pasta sauce or pizza sauce, or adding to mince for bolognese sauce).

Here are the Aunt Ruby's German Green variety:

These are quite big tomatoes also. They are ripe when slightly yellow. They are not quite so disease resistant however, but still a very nice tomato, and the green colour is pretty. This biggy weighs in at 456gs:

Tomatoes in the garden, early January 2016

Note to self: always stake tomatoes well! The sheep netting affair I have here is not adequate to keep them staked properly and with the weight of all those heavy tomatoes they are now flopping all over the ground :-(

Aunt Ruby's German Green

The garden late January 2016
This was the first season in the new garden space. It is flat, and fenced from the wind. Next time round however I will do things a little differently, like not having pumpkins and melons trailing everywhere! More photos and blog posts to come soon on these.