Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Fantastic February Fare

 It starts!  The mad summer basket-a-night harvests!  What a wonderful frenetic time!  We eat so much fresh food and still have plenty to preserve!  Everything is coming up cucumbers, beans and zucchinis!  We have been stir-frying our fresh onions, with zucchini and jazzing it up with freshly squeezed lemon juice and tamari (soy sauce).  Then adding seaweed noodles or rice or even on top of toast and cheese!  Yum!  Sadly, we would be harvesting mega-amounts of tomatoes at this time of year too, if it weren't for the fact that more than half my tomatoes succumbed to blight due to the unprecedented amount of rainfall at the beginning of summer!  Bummer! 

Plums, beans, small crystal apple cucumber, pickles, tomatoes, zucchs and cucs.

The weather has been beaut lately and while I feel for those who are experiencing drought conditions all over the country and accross the Tasman, I am loving it!  Luckily we have a sprinkler system in our veg beds which can be switched on and off for 15 mins each day or two as needed.  Other areas of the garden are lucky to be hand-watered once every week or two.  So the garden really is looking great in all her summer clothing!  We harvested our garlic crop which was a flop too, thanks to all the rain we had early in the season!  Bulbs were not fully formed on many, with plenty undersized ones.  Oh well, can't always have success in everything we do!!  We can still use the garlic, albeit small.  

Old garlic bed which was host to the chicken tractor treatment  for 2 weeks before being
planted out with some red cabbage seedlings and beans which can be good companions.

Chicken tractor now sits on a pathway which has become overgrown.
 Note bamboo blind which offers additional shade on hot days.

As previously mentioned, beans are the vegetable of the moment!  I planted out 4 types of heritage American runner beans for the Central Tree Crops Research Trust seed saving project.  Lesson to self next year:  don't plant too many beans at one time!!  I didn't know what the strike rate would be and so over-planted the beans and look what a jungle they have become!  This tent-shaped teepee is planted with Turkey Craw beans on one side and Yellow Yeome on the other side.  The Turkey Craw seem to be more prolific and earlier cropping than the Yellows.  I picked a small basket-full on Saturday and managed to prepare 4 bags for freezing, with a small bag of fresh beans left over to cook and eat.  The beans are all named after Native American tribes - Yeome, Hopi and Apache.  The Turkey Craw is named after a story of a hunter who shot a turkey and found the seed in it's craw or crop.  Very, very cool to be part of this project. All I have to do is save some seed and send it back and report on the growing conditions.

Bean Jungle

Red Turkey Craw bean harvest

 Mellow Yellow  Yeome
Our plum harvest is sadly finished, the tree did not bear too much fruit this year, probably due to the fact that I pruned it so zealously last year!  But we aren't crying buckets of sour sobs yet, as the prune tree (that's right - a prune is a fresh variety of plum, that is much higher in sugar content and therefore perfect for drying) is just beginning to develop the wonderful deep blush of ripeness.  The flesh is yellow and very, very sweet - beautiful to eat fresh!  I have bagged most of them to protect them from marauding birds who have already smelled their sweetness and are beginning to snack on the still-hard fruit!  Our Monty's Surprise NZ Heritage apples are filling out and dropping some fruit before fully ripe - good for cooking.  Unfortunately some of them have coddling moth!  What a bane!!  When fully ripe, the apple is tart but sweet, and is said to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all apples.  Each apple is bigger than is comfortable to hold in one hand!

Monty's Surprise 
Beautiful day lilies underplanted beneath our prune tree.

Curiously blue-black tomatoes ripening up

Turkey Craws

Grapes  clinging to our fence
 I have begun another little experiment - growing peanuts, ginger and potatoes in pots - that way I can bring them under shelter when the colder weather sets in.  I tried to grow ginger last year but the frosts got them.  So I will try again in a pot.  I got the tubers from our local Indian food supply store.  The owner, a friend, was throwing them out on account of them sprouting!  Perfect!  Just what I needed to kickstart my ginger project!!  Around the pots I have a dense cover of nasturtium and pumpkins.  I planted corn seed under and between the feijoa and fig trees - they are doing very well and the corn is fattening up nicely.

Pots of peanuts, ginger and potatoes

Nasturtiums supply ground cover between the corn, feijoa and fig trees.
Salads and juice - all from the garden!  A thrilling experience.  All home grown.
Not sure how to describe our house style - Mike suggests Ethnic Fusion!  The exterior is Mediterranean, with Indian/Moroccan decor!  Added to that, a dash of kitch and a touch of  garish.  But home is where the heart is, where one can retreat from the craziness of the World Outside.  A safe haven.  A place where one feels comfortable and happy.  That is how our home feels to us.  How lucky to have a place we can call home.  Many people the world over don't have such a luxury!  A few palm fronds or corrugated sheeting is all that separates them from the elements.  It is good to count our blessings and experience that sense of gratitude and belonging.  

We went to the movies this weekend, to see The Impossible - a true story of one family's experience in the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in Thailand.  It was generated by an earthquake of magnitude 9.1.  The movie was frightening and a little too real for us.  We shed a few tears in gratitude for having been spared the trauma and pain of being caught up in the wave.  Our own little family holidayed in Thailand at that time and experienced the earthquake and aftershocks on sheltered Koh Samui, being spared the full force of the wave which hit the western seaboard.  It was frightening for us, but we were spared so much of the devastation that occurred to Phuket and Khao Lak. Lucky us!   Peace, Love and Gratitude for Life.

Moroccan table

Moroccan lamp
And on the house front,  we've visited India.  One day we will visit Morocco!  And then maybe we'll cruise the Med! Then our home will make more sense to visitors.   As summer is so busy in the garden, we may plan some winter travel, follow the sun!  Sounds like a good plan!

Trusty little Masport Mulcher eating up pruned branches
And in ending, I just had to add this gruesomely odd picture that I took on a roadside in Rotorua - a wallaby!  We were amazed, confused and disbelieving at first!  Was it a set-up?  A movie prop?  Was Peter Jackson filming an Aussie epic just around the corner?  Googling brings up the explanation - some marsupials were released into New Zealand in the late 1800's.  Despite attempts at eradication, it is not unknown to find wallabies, along with pesky possums in Rotorua bush apparently!!   This little guy probably met the Two Moon Monster (road vehicle) in the dark.  (Wallabies are nocturnal.)  

 Odd!  Truth is sometimes stranger than fiction!

Bottoms Up!

6.03.13 Post Script:  It seems curiously bizarre that I posted this yesterday and have heard that there is a Tsunami warning for New Zealand today after an earthquake struck the Solomon Islands this morning!  

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