Sunday, August 28, 2011

Some photos of the new citrus orchard

Frost cloth to the ready!

Hopefully a good spot, sheltered and north facing

A healthy Kaffir Lime

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Spring flower

This is one from a plant cutting my mother in law gave me, but unfortunately I cannot remember the name. It's beautiful though and was blooming for the first time on the bank garden this morning, in the bright sunshine. It was quite hard to get a good photo as I kept casting a shadow on the petals! And now the sun has gone in so it's closing up!

Friday, August 26, 2011

On my mind..

today is Spring! Here are more of those lovely little freshly pulled carrots from the garden. I cut some fresias and put them in a vase on the kitchen table - their scent is gorgeous.
I've been outside tidying up a few things and getting my potting area ready for seed sowing. During Winter I had given this area over to storing pumpkins (under cover), but now I have moved the remaining 7 pumpkins to another area to free up the space again. We don't yet have a polytunnel/grow house, so I'm making do with trays on tables, covered with plastic sheeting (I use hoops of wire to keep them off the seedlings) to make mini greenhouses. This worked fine last year and I raised some good seedlings.
Last night was very cold, with clear skies. I put the frost cloth back on the new citrus trees, but I don't think we got a frost in the end, just a lot of cold fog. Still the cloth would have hopefully kept the trees a little more protected from the elements.
Today though it was nice to potter around in the Spring sunshine, the temperature was just perfect and there was not a jot of wind.
I'm linking this post to Rhonda's On My Mind over at Down to Earth.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Afternoon tea and aristocracy

We usually have afternoon tea. It will always be homemade baking. Most days I'll be whipping up a batch of cupcakes/muffins/scones/friands or baking a cake.

Lately it's been afternoon tea outside somewhere in the orchard, while G downs tools to have a well-deserved break. He's put a lot of hard work and effort into planting more lovely fruit trees for us.

This season we've increased our orchard majorly, adding a whole heap of new citrus in a much better location - mainly more sheltered from the strong winds we get here. He also put in loads more stonefruit and we have given all the trees that much required pruning. After we had a bit of advice from some local orchardists, we got stuck in and gave the trees a good trim. While it will put a hold on the immediate summer harvest for us, the trees will eventually be a more manageable size when fully mature and also produce better quality fruit. I anticipate lots of jam making in the future, as well as other fruity projects!

Talking of jam, we had plum jam and lemon honey/curd on some homemade pikelets (we knew them as Scotch pancakes in the UK) for our afternoon tea today. The recipe I used was from the Edmonds Cookery Book, which is a bit of a Kiwi icon. An easy batter that you fry up in the frying pan to make little thick pancakes. Very simple and quick. And the pikelets are delicious.

Back to the Edmonds Cookery Book. I have had my copy for several years. It was a preloved gift from my mother in law, and looks to be from the 60s but I'm not sure as there is no date inside. It's not a cook book that I normally get out to inspire me, more a book I search out if I need to look up a particular recipe, such as the pikelets I made today. I don't usually make pikelets, usually opting for muffins as a quick baking standby. I also got 'the Edmonds' out a few days prior to make date scones.

So when the latest copy of Cuisine arrived at my door yesterday, I was interested to read an article all about the history of The Edmonds Cookery Book! What I found particularly interesting was reading about the lavish morning and afternoon teas that the new settlers enjoyed because they were keen to live like aristocracy. Well while here on CTF we don't live like aristocracy, we sure enjoy our afternoon teas!

A few days ago D wanted cupcakes in silver foil with blueberries on top, so I duly made some vanilla cupcakes and iced them with butter cream icing, with a hint of natural pink colouring. He put the blueberries on top and then decorated his with a Space Shuttle candle for an added touch!

What do you enjoy baking - and then eating?!

Thursday, August 18, 2011


I harvested these carrots today while up in the garden doing some bed preparation. These are the carrots I sowed in Autumn and are now getting to a reasonable size. We've had reasonable crops of carrots for a while now. In the next few days I'll be sowing some more carrot seed (Amerstam Forcing and a 'Rainbow' blend), hopefully these will do OK also. As a raw snack, these are just as sweet, crunchy and fresh as you'd imagine!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Winter walk at the beach

I went for a walk at a beautiful beach (Mangawhai Heads) today. The tide was out so I could walk a fair distance around the cove. Winter walks on the beach are great, there are hardly any other people about too (apart from a few dog-walkers) so it is nice and peaceful. Here are a few snaps:

Dog prints on black sand
The highlight though was seeing 3 Orca!

What a shame my little camera just couldn't capture their fleeting appearances! I watched them (I could see them surface with their distinctive fins) for quite a while until they headed further offshore. It was the first time I've seen Orca in the wild and I was pretty thrilled.

Should do this more often methinks...!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tree planting time

We have G has been out in the orchard working away, weedeating/mowing, and digging lots of holes (with spade and post-hole borer) and then yesterday we planted out several fruit trees (about 20 or so!) to fill out some empty spaces in our orchard. The trees are mainly peaches, nectarines, a couple of apricots, a quince and a mulberry.

They are all locally grown, and mostly local heirloom trees which is really exciting. One in particular, the Pahi River Peach, is a special fruit tree - this is the one that started it all with Kay Baxter and Koanga Gardens in terms of saving the plants that would have otherwise disappeared forever. For more on that read here.
So I was thinking of this as we planted these trees yesterday and am grateful indeed to Kay Baxter, as I'm sure many are.

All the trees will need quite a lot of hard pruning, as will our other established trees as we've been a bit timid with pruning them! I also have to carefully map them out, otherwise we'll be wondering which tree is which when the labels blow off in the wind!

I hope they do well for us in the years to come.

While I don't have a photo of the river peach as we don't already have this variety in our orchard, here is a photo of the absolutely stunning, and truely delicious, 'Blackboy'  peach. Bring on the summer stone fruit!

Anyone else busy planting fruit trees?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Making doughnuts!

We had fun making these doughnuts today:

D enjoyed decorating them with the icing glaze and sprinkles. The other ones are dipped in cinnamon sugar. I got the recipe from this excellent video on You Tube.

I deep fried the doughnuts, although as Nicko mentions on the video,  you could bake them in the oven if you are concerned about fat.

They were a nice sweet treat!

I'd like to try making ones filled with jam or apple too. Anyone else tried making doughnuts?