Thursday, December 27, 2012

A little post Xmas update

Hoping everyone had a pleasant Xmas day. Ours was good despite the warm, humid, windy & wet weather from the remnants of the tropical Cyclone that hit Fiji a couple of weeks ago.

Just thought I would post a few photos from around the farm. Here is our cattle - 2 cows and 1 steer:

They've been enjoying some flax (Phormium tenax/native harakeke) which I try to feed them on a daily basis, it's supposed to be good for them as I recall reading somewhere. They come running to me now in anticipation of a few leaves! Also they've got a Himalayan salt lick in their paddock (not in these photos) which has lots of minerals.

My Grosso lavandin/lavender hedge is doing quite well. According to the information I've read about it, Grosso is a relatively slow growing lavandin but considering it was only planted at the start of the year , it hasn't done too badly. The plants at the top and bottom of the hedge are doing the best, while the ones in the middle are a bit smaller - maybe it's drier there or soil not so good. Anyway, I shall cut the lavender on the next dry/sunny day and give the plants a feed. The mulch I put down a few months ago which looked great at the time has long since been scattered by birds and rabbits..! Never mind, it has kept them a little less dry, and the weeds down.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Summer Solstice

Today is our Summer Solstice here in the NZ (the 'shortest LONGEST day'), looks to be a beautiful day outside. Hope all is well with everyone and that your Christmas preparations are going well, the stress levels not too high! Always a busy time here in NZ, what with school holidays, summer and Christmas all at the same time.

I've been fairly busy here, doing the occasional spot of gardening, most of the veg are coming along nicely. We are getting regular zucchini (hoorah for zucchini!). I planted the ribbed Italian Costata Romanesco again this year which I think has better flavour that the smooth skinned varieties.

We've also eating beans, lettuces, herbs, spinach/rainbow chard. Cucumbers, chillies and tomatoes are in the wings. Pumpkins, corn, squash and more beans are coming along nicely. Hopefully we should get a good harvest of pumpkins for next year's pigs.

And here's a photo of the lovely hollyhocks, they are very tall (over 6 feet) and deep purple almost black. They obviously like the spot I've got them in. Might grow some other colours further along the fence next year.

Anyway, wishing you all a very enjoyable festive season and all the best for 2013.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Just thought I would share this photo of our new hop structure. I started out with 2 plants 3 years ago, and had planted them temporarily in the veg garden up against a wall. While this worked reasonably well and they grew rampantly and produced lots of hops, harvesting them was another matter. Because the vines (or bines as they are correctly known) all wrapped around each other even though I had a string for them to climb along, harvesting was difficult as the hops were all tangled up together. It took ages, and that was just with 2 plants.

After a bit of research on the net, I decided the above structure would be simplest to build while letting the hops 'do their thing' i.e. grow skywards at a very fast pace! Come time to harvest the hops, all we/I have to do is undo the rope from one of the poles and lower the whole thing down - a bit like an old-fashioned washing line I guess. I can't take any credit for this other than finding the design, as hubby built the whole thing for me! (Isn't he wonderful :-))

We now have 9 hop plants, 2 are doing great guns and have already reached the top of the strings (they are the original ones) and I have another 2 of this variety (Pacific Hallertau) which I took as root divisions when we moved them. The other varieties are Sticklebract (x3 plants) and Smoothcone (x2 plants).

I've noticed that there don't seem to be many varieties available to purchase, while there are in fact quite a lot of commercial varieties. Maybe it's just a question of knowing where to get them. I'll do some further research on that. Meanwhile, if these 9 plants do well this year we should have a good hop harvest.

What to do with all the hops........I guess I'll just HAVE to make that beer!