Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Garden harvest and tree planting

Today I harvested a small bunch of small carrots (variety 'Touchon'). I steamed these and served them with butter and honey, they were absolutely delicious! Looking forward to more carrots, this variety seems to be doing quite well, I haven't had any luck with my purple ones so will sow some more.

Another small but tasty treat out of the garden right now is leeks! These were sauteed in a little butter until tender and were sweet and scrumptious.

Over the last few days we've been busy planting trees along a watercourse on our property. They are mainly cabbage trees, coprosma, and pohutukawa. We still need to put in some flaxes along here.
Even after planting several trees along the stream we still have quite a lot of plants left over. We got these going several years ago from small seedlings when we were living in Auckland, and they have all been waiting in the wings for the last couple of years for us to put them in the ground! Most have survived well, as we had them in a damp sheltered area near our pond, some are a bit root-bound but once they go into the ground they'll be fine. We have another area in mind that we want to plant out so it's great to have all the trees ready to hand and I'm glad we did all the hard work of growing them from wee plants all that time ago!

This watercourse should look great once the trees grow up. We need to dig out the stream a bit more (purely for aesthetic purposes!).

Lastly, the amaryllis is in flower and looks great:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The beginnings of a citrus fruit harvest

The rangpur limes are pretty hardy (thank goodness!) and have the most fruit of all our citrus trees at the moment, even though they are still very small trees. These were the trees I grew from seed some years ago and transplanted when we moved here. I have made a couple of batches of marmalade with them, and this has turned out very well. Fortunately, since G does not eat my jams and marmalades as a rule I have several jars still on my shelves! Yay.

While the ground is still soft, we may get around to planting a few more citrus, I think more mandarin trees would be a good idea as they are always a popular fruit, especially with litte Mr D.

Meanwhile, we have some fruit appearing for the first time on the 'Yen Ben' lemon, which is a type of Lisbon lemon. We do have a 'Meyer' lemon but it is pitifully small at the moment! However I do get regular gifts of lemons from G's aunty as most people with a lemon tree have way more lemons than they can use.

Now I'm off to hunt for that lemon pickle recipe......

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Equinox gales

Dead chicken house!   

Well this was the result of a severe hammering from the strong winds we've had over the last few days. Yesterday the chicken house copped it and had flipped upside down. Amazingly the 4 eggs the hens had laid earlier were still intact. And the hens were all OK, no casualties! The hen house has subsequently been re-erected and is now hopefully more secure.
Thankfully we've suffered no other damage on the property, apart from a few things blowing about.
Today is the actual Spring Equinox and also the full moon, so I'm hoping the windy weather will settle down soon - although I read that this may take about 4-6 weeks!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More gardening notes

Well I've had to wait for some time to identify this plant, which I was given by my mother-in-law several months ago. It is a 'Walking Iris', and has very pretty pale lavender blue flowers. The plant propagates itself readily by forming little plants after the flowers have finished, so would be ideal for mass planting on a bank. I think I will try to get several plants going before I put them into a permanent location. Meanwhile they look great in pots.

Another of my pot plants, 'Baboon flower' (Babiana stricta) is in flower. I just love the deep purple colour of the flowers and the texture of the leaves. These bulbs never need any looking after they just come up year after year.

And down at the bottom of the section in the bush across the way, the kowhai are in full flower:

It's a close call between kowhai and pohutukawa for my favourite NZ native tree!

In the last couple of days we've sowed some more seeds: sweetcorn - good old Honey and Pearl, and Florida Supersweet. Hopefully we'll have a better crop than in previous years as it was either too dry, exposed or both. Also wanting to plant other varieties for popping and possibly some Inca corn if I can obtain it. Now that we've moved the pigs on to their new enclosure, we will be able to turn their old run into some nice new beds ready for all the corn and pumpkins. Now we just have to make sure we have a  plentiful supply of water!

Other seeds I've sown so far are:

Zucchini - Gold Rush, Costata Romanesco
Cucumber - Mini White*
Melon - Banana
Pumpkin - Musquee de Provence*
Lettuce - Summer Queen*, Butterhead
Parsley - Italian Flat
Basil - Sweet Genovese, Fino Verde
Epazote* - a herb used in Mexican chilli sauces, supposed to blend v. well with coriander
Nigella - Eastern Spice
Salvia - Blue Bedder*
Garland Chrysanthemum*

Again the ones marked with an asterisk are ones I've either not tried before or did not manage to grow well. But this isn't the finish - the list goes on!!! I'm keen to have lots of flowers in the veg garden this year, so I have several more to get going over the next week.

Hope your planting/planning is going well.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Update for September

It's been all go here on Cabbage Tree Farm and I've let the blogging slide again! As usual we've several projects on the go, and trying to juggle them all plus working and looking after a preschooler can be somewhat of a challenge!

The pigs are going to get relocated any day now. G has done a fantastic job of constructing their new pen and a big shelter, and they should have a lot more space to roam once we've put up a bit more fencing. Their current enclosure is now a total mudpool and has been horrendously slushy in all the recent rains! Not a worry for the pigs, only for us I think! It will be good to get them out of this space and into some pasture again, plus the benefit of doing all the hard work for us. Watch this space as we work on turning their old run into a productive area for growing yet more veg!

The veg garden is looking quite good now. The broad beans are all in flower so won't be long before we have those tasty pods. Garlic and leeks looking good. Loads of coriander coming up everywhere. Carrots coming along. Peas coming along well. Celery galore, gee this has self-seeded everywhere too.

I have made a start with sowing some of this season's seeds. The ones with an asterisk I have not tried before (or I did not manage to grow). So far:

Carrots (Touchon, Purple Haze*, Nutri Red)
Pea - Dalmation, Wando Select*
Peppers - Topepo Rosso*, Bell Colour Mix
Chillies - Pasilla Bajio*, Ancho St Luis*, Jalapeno Early
Tomatoes - Cocktail Mix, Aunt Ruby's German Green* (great name!), Brandywine Pink, Garden Peach*, Black Krim, Black from Tula, Roma
Beetroot - Chioggia, Bulls Blood, Albino
Onions - shallot, Red amposta*, Yellow Sweet Spanish*
Eggplant - Tsasoniki*, Long Purple*

and many more to go!

The chickens are all laying well, even my IG hen is now laying again - I wasn't sure she would as she is quite old now. Unfortunately though, Mr Roo the rooster died yesterday which was not a surprise. He will be buried underneath the kumquat tree.