2015 - Dry and hot. It hit 30oC in the shade recently.
2017 - Dry, overcast, hot, stiflingly humid. The morning was
dead still, cool, almost cold. Autumn.
2017 - Our small-fruited early peach is over - the crop was
pushed to an early oblivium by the combined efforts of sheep and
possums. The ram standing on his hind legs to reach delicious
peach leaves rested his considerable weight on a main branch
laden with peaches - and snapped it off. The possums continued
the assault at night. No bait in the Timms traps were more
attractive than the peaches. Sigh...
2017 - A few scrappy fruit have fallen.
2017 - A few ripe fruit have fallen.
2017 - Malta has started, plus a few others.
2017 - Our little coffee plant
planted in between a couple of avocado trees surprised us with
its first ever flowers. The flowers are delightfully fragrant,
smelling a little like gardenia flowers. Unsurprising, as
both gardenia and coffee are both in the same family
(Rubiaceae). We appear to have Coffea canephora
), whose roasted seeds are sold as 'Robusta'
coffee. Apparently Coffea canephora
flower buds are 30
mm long (as ours are), whereas Coffea arabica
buds are shorter, about 18 mm long. Sadly, Wikipedia also tells
me that Coffea canephora
is self infertile - whereas
'Arabica' coffee, Coffea arabica
, is self fertile.
A 2002 study of coffee pollination ('Bee pollination and fruit
set of Coffea arabica
and C. canephora
(Rubiaceae)' by Alexandra-Maria Klein, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter
and Teja Tscharntke) found that the female stigma is receptive
when the flowers first open in the morning, and pollen starts to
be shed very soon after. I still found some pollen available in
mid-afternoon. The pollen is pure white, and showed up well as a
white streak on my finger. Self pollinating these 'self
infertile' plants may not be as futile as I first thought - the
above researchers found that hand self fertilisation of the
flowers resulted in around 8%-10% fruit set.
Even although arabica coffee is self fertile, fruit set was
increased by about 12% when cross pollinated by bees, rather
than by wind pollen dispersal and gravity.
2017 - The Hass are ripening on the tree. There are not a huge
number, but still more than we can eat. My partner took a few
down to the monthly 'farmers market', and they were 'snapped
up'. Maybe because they are a bit bigger and better looking than
the ex-coolstorage artificially ripened fruit in the local
supermarket. The Reed fruit have been dropping for a while. Most
have some form of damage - scars from possums 'taste-testing'
then when they are still unripe, or branch rub or similar. And
because we don't spray them with copper these damaged areas
become point of entry for rot fungi. And because we have
so many damaged avocado fruit falling, we don't pick usually
pick sound fruit from the trees (except to give to whanau). So
we have multiple damaged and starting-to-rot fruit sitting
around, more than we can eat, but you can't give away fruit that
a rot on it. So we end up with fruit sitting around far too
long, going totally rotten, and being fed to the chooks. Maybe
we should fatten a pig...
Hashimoto fruit are ready to pick, and are superior to Reed at
this time of year. The Reed fruit have become extremely oily,
but have lost some of their flavor. Pinkerton fruit are hanging
on the tree well. At this time of year they are good, but
unremarkable. Hass and Hashimoto are definitely the best.
2017 - A few days ago a nice group of well-grown young quail
came up the drive, led by a female and escorted by two males.
Today, the entire troupe came down the deck. I don't know why,
there is no food for them there. They were cautious, but not
perturbed by the humans within the house. A female stood guard
on the deck railing, and after a short time they all moved off
as quickly as they had arrived.
2017 - the grass is now growing very strongly, following the
rain of a week or so ago. It has been a life saver. I will keep
the lambs a bit longer to help deal to the strong pasture
2012 - Its officially autumn. There has been a southwest change,
and with it, strong winds and good rain overnight. Showers
today, sun and wind and cloudy periods when the temperature
drops. There was surprisingly little damage from the storm.
2013 - It has been 4 weeks without any rain (other than a 4
minute shower 2 days ago). The temperature (in the shade) at
noon is 28.5oC. This is the hottest it has been for days, but
the days have been hot and sunny, nevertheless. Some days have
started cloudy, which is a great relief. A warm wind often
comes off the sea by afternoon, bringing some relief from the
heat. The native forest and the shelterbelt trees are still deep
green, but the ground under the trees is littered with dry crisp
leaves. It is like walking on cornflakes.
2012 - The nashi are continuing to ripen
2013 - Birds flew up from one of the nashi trees as I passed
underneath. There is a light crop this year, and a quick scan of
the canopy shows the birds have already got the bulk of it. I
tried an undamaged fruit. It was sweet - maybe too sweet - and
2012 - We have an abundance of tiny dense peaches on the
self-sown peach tree. Brown rot is setting in, but the tree is
laden with ripe and ripening fruit. A possum is taking
liberties, and so far has not responded to the lure of carrot
and nutella in the Timms trap.
2013 - Heaps and heaps of seedling peaches. They are small
fruit, fairly dense, maybe slightly bitter around the skin, but
are sweet and juicy. Several trees have fruit with brown rot,
suprising considering the aridity. The sheep end up with about
half a bucket of damaged and diseased peaches a day.
2013 - a few stragglers of Black Prince have ripened. The skin
goes very dark black-red when fully ripe. I thought the acidity
would drop when fully ripe, but not so. They are still very
sweet, sharply acid, very dense and meaty.
2013 - a few raspberries and blackberries come in, but it is
desperate days in the berry patch. There is no water nearby, and
all they get is enough buckets of washing machine water to keep
2012 - I picked some little 'black sapote' fruit today. These
are a subtropical persimmon with chocolate brown flesh. The
fruit are very small indeed, at least, the fruit on our seedling
are. They remain green skinned,even when ripe, so its really
hard to known when to pick them. One fruit had a bit of damage,
and had softened on the tree, so I tried it. The texture is
soft, like chocolate mouse, and I thought it had a chocolate
taste. The whanau disagreed, and said while moderately sweet, it
had no particular taste at all. Well, there ya go...
2012 - The little Chilean Cranberry (Ugni molinae
, or Myrtus ugni
) are now ripe. These are tasty,
resinous little fruit, and are easy to grow. I really like them.
Curiously, the birds don't seem to eat them.
2013 - heaps of little 'Malta' figs are being brought in by the
figologist. These are very small figs, faintly pinky-brown
skinned with a heavy bloom. They ripen sweet and with a pasty
flesh, and not a lot of flavor. I like them a lot. The
figologist says they are normally 2 weeks earlier than the main
fig crop. The fig trees are pretty dry, and leaves are turning
yellow and fruit shriveling, so we will see.
2012 - The first feijoas have fallen. They are small fruit from
a mammoth 'seedling'. 'Unique' normally starts virtually on the
same day, but no fruit yet. Unique fruit are bigger than the
seedling, but its good to have 2 early trees. The local possum
population also think so.
2013 - There are probably a few early feijoas, but due to the
lack of feed, all the small paddocks have been left open open
for the sheep to forage on fallen leaves and fruit
2013 - The trees are doing OK, in spite of not receiving any
water. They cope by selecting leaves to withdraw all resources
from, then toss them overboard. To my surprise, the initial show
of color on the fruit hasn't turned to a mass full ripening on
the trees. They are holding well, which is good considering
really crappy small fruit at the supermarket are around $2.50
2016 - hot, a slight breeze, hard to stay long in the sun. The
weather over the last month or so has been fantastic - heaps of
warm rain, humidity, drizzle, hot, hot days. Overall it has been
almost subtropical. The grass is growing like stink and all the
trees are looking good. Just an amazing growing season.
2016 - A flock of 10 Californian Quail were spotted on the
place. Most were at, or near, adult size. Numbers have fallen
from around 16-17 or so not that long ago. That's how it goes
when everything wants to eat you.
2016 - the flock has been 'downsized', with a couple of unwanted
lambs being kept as 'killers'. With the amount of grass needing
being 'sheep mown', it looks like they will be safe for quite a
long time to come...
2016 - Nashi are ripe, and it is a big crop this year. The birds
should have a feast. There are heaps of apples on the tiny apple
trees, although many are pretty small.
2016 - Peaches? Brown rot and possums. Not much more to be said.
2016 - the first arguta fruit are ripe. A good number on the
2016 - the plants have been fed well, and have had a month of
very good rain, so they are looking fantastic. Up till then they
looked the opposite of fantastic! Two bunches that were full
size but not coloring have suddenly started to ripen in the
heat. They are quite nice, a little splitting, but not much. A
very good bunch on the Goldfinger banana formed even before the
two bunches I picked is still sitting there, totally green. It
seems to need a very long time to ripen.
2016 - a whanau member tells me they are ripe.
2016 - heaps of Maltas are coming in. They are nice, maybe not
as sweet as normal. Some 'go over' pretty quickly, presumably
because they are moisture-pumped. The figologist picked the
first Madeline fig. It was sweet, but without much flavor. The
trees are a bit shaded by adjacent feijoa trees, plus the wet
summer, so the flavor isn't as pronounced.
2016 - the trees are looking fantastic, deep green and healthy
(mostly). Leaf drop is all but over, and the normal drop of the
smaller new seasonal fruit has started. The current season Hass
fruit have turned black, indicating natural maturity. None have
fallen off the trees yet, but it can't be that far off. The
patchy and overall meagre new season crop are sizing well - a
bit better than golf-ball size. The Reed fruit are mature, and
the odd one falls from the tree from time to time. Hashimoto
fruit now have a blackish wash to the skin and are perfectly
ripe. The fruit are like cannon balls, and have a hard
shell-like skin. The flesh is quite 'dry', well not 'dry' as
such, but dense and not as soft as some. The flesh separates
from the 'shell' almost by itself, which is quite odd to see.
They are favorsome and very nice, but distinctly different to
2016 - the first few fruit have fallen.
2014 - true autumnal weather - cool, clear, and still in the
morning, often with mist filling the valley below, warm later in
the day with an onshore breeze developing. We had a burst of
rain 4 or 5 days ago, which gave us a welcome 8 mm. It has
stopped the feijoas from wilting, and probably helps the
chewed-down skin of kikuyu, but all else is brown and dry. I
spend quite a lot of time watering. The dam is pretty low, but
there is still a little bit there. Temperatures have been around
about 25oC, probably due to the southwest change, but it still
feels hot. The lowest night temperature has been 10oC, which is
nice. At this point, no rain is forecast for another 8 days.
Several days have "a chance of a shower". I'll take anything at
all, at this stage.
2015 - the last 2 weeks have been hot and dry. We had maybe 4
days on which there was a good shower or two, enough to keep the
kikuyu going, but that's it. The ground will take a lot of rain
2014 - with the cooler and shorter days, several of the ewes
have come into season, and the ram seems a little distracted.
The ewes are in good condition, in spite of lack of grass. They
continue to be fed large numbers of fallen 'scrub' peaches,
undersize feijoas, bamboo, and they hoover up every peach leaf
that turns color in the drought and falls.
2014 - Kaiteri grown in a tub is dropping heaps of good sized
fruit. The fruit are quite pale skinned, and are juicy and nice
sweet/acid flavored. While the feijoas get water on the odd
occasion, those in the ground don't. So most of the early fruit
(apart from one larger fruited seedling) are relatively small.
Kaiteri is a bigger fruit than most other early season feijoas
anyway. It seems a heavy and reliable producer, even when tub
2014 - heaps of peaches are still falling and ripening. We are
seeing quite a bit of brown rot following the little rain burst,
but its not too bad. They go to the sheep, anyway, so they
2014 - the wild blackberries have essentially finished.
2014 - Brown Turkey is ripening in dribs and drabs, a few
Madelaine, Lisa and Adriatic is just starting. Malta, the
earliest fig, is almost finished. They have been outstanding
this year - sweet, sticky, delicious.
2016 - late blueberries come in. They are pretty tasteless, but
probably good for you.
2012 - Sunny, humid, overcast, cool at night.
2012 - Fruit is everywhere. The early feijoas are producing well
- enough for both the whanau and the possums. 'Unique', the
self-fertile early feijoa, is also now producing. One fruit of
'Anatoki' (from a tree growing in a tub) has fallen. 'Anatoki'
is supposed to be earlier than 'Unique'.
2012 - The small, dense, self sown peaches are dropping fruit
all over the ground. Lots of brown rot in parts of the tree, but
heaps of unaffected fruit in other parts. The possum (s)
continue to resist all baits. Some peaches go to the possums,
some to us, and the rotting and possum chewed ones to the sheep.
2012 - There are still heaps of nashi (Asian pears) on the two
2012 - The small, sweet 'Malta' figs are finally ripening - two
weeks late. Most of the figs will probably fail to ripen this
year. The late raspberries are fruiting now, and the
blackberries are still going surprisingly well. The blueberries
are now very ripe, and have finally developed some genuine
Some years ago, I saw an article in
'Growing Today' magazine by Graeme Platt extolling the potential
of the West Australian eucalyptus species Karri and Tuart. I
imported some seed from the Forest Service in Australia with a
view to growing a dozen or so of each species along the edge of
the property. The Tuart turned out to be a dead loss, but a
number of the Karri trees are OK. A few years after
planting out the best looking seedlings, a teenage member of the
whanau planted a couple of the surplus trees that had been
languishing (forgotten-about) in pots. He put them in an
'unused' part of the section without asking me. I didn't do
anything about them until recently, when I dropped them, as they
were casting shade in an area I wanted to fiddle about with
I believe these trees are fairly rare in New Zealand, and I have
been waiting for the biggest trees to flower and set seed, with
the idea of passing it on to farm foresters and the like.
Nothing yet, though.
Karri, Eucalyptus diversicolor, flower and unripe seed pods.
About 4.5 metres of straight
trunk. Firewood for next year.
Anyway, the tree I cut down today has clearly flowered and set
heaps of seed pods. I didn't spot it. I would have left it
another year if I had known. The tree itself has about 4.5
metres of good straight trunk, so the seed would have been
worthwhile. Oh well, pity about that.....
2015 - Hot and dry, cooler in the mornings, which is a relief. I
have given up expecting the forecast showers or rain to really
happen, because, well, they don't. What grass there is still
green, so it is still 'ticking along'. I feed the sheep
additional rations of mulberry and bamboo leaves. Both these
plants provide deep green lush leaves.
2015 - there are at least 2 'mobs' of Californian Quail on the
place, one of 2 pairs of adults plus 4 near mature juveniles,
another of a dozen mixed adult and near mature juveniles. I also
spotted some fuzzy little chicks being hustled out of the way a
week or so ago. They seem to like moving along the driveway,
maybe getting grit, I don't know, but it puts them fair in the
territory of the 2 newly resident cats. Hopefully at least some
of these birds will survive and breed.
About a week ago I noticed several wool carder bees have
re-appeared. Good to see them.
2015 - a few feijoas are falling, and are quite nice.
2015 - a bumper year for peaches - relatively little disease,
considering the trees are unsprayed. Possums are hammering some
of them, so, apart from the chief 'bottler' compulsively
bottling the damaged fruit, a good number go to the sheep.
Miscellaneous birds, hedgehogs and maybe rats also look as if
they are making use of the partly eaten possum-falls.
2015 - the Hellen avocados are falling in numbers, partly
accelerated by the dry soil. Much of the fruit is 'pinched' and
creased at the neck, and the seed is loose in the seed cavity. I
guess that is what drought does. I am surprised at how well
these un-irrigated, barely mulched trees survive. Their strategy
appears to be to progressively throw fruit and some leaves
overboard as the dry continues on. Hopefully they won't reach a
point of no return. Very few of the trees here receive any
water. Some of the newer planted trees have a smattering of
fruit, and the trees and the fruit are looking good. These trees
are well mulched, a have received a little water. Lemon tree
borer is affecting several of the young Hashimoto trees. I don't
recall seeing lemon tree borer in avocado before. Puriri
, yes, lemon tree borer, no.
The large Reed tree is dropping the odd fruit, and a pesky
possum is helping it along. So far, the possum finds the
avocados more attractive than the peanut butter and carrot bait
in the trap. Looks like there are only half a dozen (at best)
young fruit on the tree for next year. It's not surprising, as
it is carrying a very good crop right now.
The good smattering of fruit on the oldest Hass tree are
now beginning to turn black, so we will have to start picking
them. They can hang on the tree into may, but the flesh tends to
become too ripe and almost too highly flavored at that time.
2015 - Malta is ripening its fruit, but the fruit are not
sizing, and the birds are hammering them (as usual). A few
Petrovicha and a few Brun d'oro are also ripe. Brown Turkey
won't be far away, according to the figologist.
2013 - Every day is a new day of heat, blue skies, and never
ending drought. Temperatures at midday are 28oC in the shade. A
few days ago, they hit a touch over 31oC - in the shade!
Selective watering is a constant chore. It is a boring and
time-consuming job. At least the dam hasn't run out - yet.
2016 - Hot and sunny, no wind in the morning, then the gentlest
of breezes. It is 25oC in the shade at midday, and the overnight
low in the last few days has been 11oC. The ground is moist, and
we could do with more. Grass is out of control. The dam is full,
as it has been almost all summer.
2013 - Our seedling peaches continue to ripen and drop. The
'fruitologist' just keeps bottling them. A fiddly job, given
many are pretty small. If it were me, I wouldn't bother.
2013 - One of the 2 very tall varieties we have has ripened its
bunch. I didn't notice it, probably because it is fairly high
up. Tall bananas don't seem that good an idea to me. When I
chainsawed the stem in order to 'bring the bunch down', it fell
and crushed a good number of yellow bananas. Pity. I have no
idea what the variety is, but a notable feature is that it has
14 fruit per hand, which is several more than all the other
varieties here. And the bunch was large and heavy, as well. Many
of the fruit have split, but not too badly. Ants have made a
nest in one hand. The fruit are very sweet, quite dense,with a
good flavor, with only the slightest trace of astringency at the
I see another bunch on a different variety has a ripe fruit. The
bunch should be picked, but we have ripe and over-ripe bananas
in abundance, so it can stay on the plant a bit longer.
2013 - the first fruit are now ripe. The cultivars are
Petrovicha (a variety selected in Northland by Russell Fransham
from a home garden), Brown Turkey, and Adriatic. Madeline is
also ripe, but the birds have virtually harvested each fruit as
it ripened. Malta continues to produce - as it has done for
2016 - occasional Adriatic, bulk Maltas, the birds have eaten
most of the Petrovichas and some of the Madeleine (which are now
too high up the tree to deal with properly).
2013 - the 'maxipinon' (Pinus maximartinezii
) trees are
now shedding lots of needles. I recently located some old trees
down-country, and had graftwood shipped up. I grafted the
precious wood into our trees 3 or 4 weeks ago. What with the
drought, the timing couldn't have been worse.
2013 - The usual autumn ramp-up in rats hasn't really started.
The macadamia nuts are untouched. I will lay poison bait today
just in case. A family of mice have taken up residence in the
garage. Luckily, that is where the possum bait is stored...Ants
are thriving in the dry weather, and more and more are coming in
the house. We expect ant 'incursions' in very wet weather, but
not when it is dry.
2013 - The sheep remain in very good condition. They eat every
peach and plum leaf that falls. They even eat the very tough and
wiry 'rats-tail' grass. This species was introduced to New
Zealand as a drought hardy species, which it is, but sheep won't
usually eat it. I feed the sheep so much bamboo that I swear
they are slowly morphing into pandas...Several of the ewes have
come into season already, so there could be lambs in late
august. There are still 4 of this seasons lambs to sell or kill.
I doubt the pasture will have recovered by the time of the new
lamb crop. No doubt this will be the same for sheep farmers
across New Zealand. If the autumn is cool or dry, a few hard
decisions will have to be made.
2013 - Its around 10 days since we have had precipitation of
any description. It has been cooler, around 25oC most
days, and with quite a lot of cloud. The remnants of cyclone
Lusi are expected to arrive early tomorrow morning. Heavy rain
is expected in Coromandel and Hawkes Bay. We on the western side
will get something out of this, the question is, how much?
seemed to disintegrate a bit as it began to reach New Zealand.
By about 3 pm the front was just making landfall in
2013 - the wool carder bee is back. But with company. There are
at least 6 bees on the oregano and lavender flowers this year.
There are several big ones, which I assume are male, and most
are small, so probably females. They are very active in the
heat, and so are hard to get a photo of. This is what I got:
2014 - the wool carders are back again this year, in similar
numbers to last year. It looks like they are going to be a
2014 - I am always surprised at the bananas tolerance to
drought. The plants are deep green, wind tattered, admittedly
(from earlier in the year), and with some yellow leaves, but
basically they seem fine. One or two even have some flowers
open, although I notice the number of individual flowers in the
flower head are much fewer than normal.
2014 - most of the seedling golden queen types are now over, and
the odd later cropping one is ripening its fruit.
2014 - the only Hass tree with fruit on it is looking pretty
stressed. but it is still hanging onto the remaining fruit crop
with an iron grip. The fruit are not fully black, but far off
it. Most of the young avocado trees have fully matured their
flushes, are deep green, and looking good. Plants I have hand
watered to keep my grafts alive are attempting a modest flush -
rather, the rootstocks underneath the grafts are. One of the
freedoms enjoyed by the home gardener is the freedom to
experiment a little, in the full knowledge it will likely come
to nothing. Normally, once a graft has 'taken', any growth from
the rootstock below the graft is quickly removed. This puts all
the plants energy into growing the graft into a fine example of
whatever cultivar you put on the stock. But I like to leave a
few side branches from the rootstock in place. I tie them down,
or chuck a small log on top to keep them horizontal so they
don't grow up and compete with the grafted variety. The
rootstocks I have used recently are mainly seedlings of the
'Reed' variety. If I was very lucky, the odd one might flower
within the next 3 years. If I was even luckier, one or more
might set and hold a fruit. If I was luckier still, the fruit
would be worth eating.
last year, a seedling tree produced a few fruit . This after I
can't remember how many years - probably 20. For quite a few
years it has flowered without setting fruit. Today I noticed it
had around 30 new season fruit on it, sizing up nicely. They are
way at the top of the tall spindly tree, reflecting the trees
informal name - 'Too Tall'; so called on the basis that if it
ever had fruit the tree is 'too tall' to be able to be pickable.
2014 - the fig main crop is under way. Brown Turkey and Brun
d'oro are ripe. After the rain (if we get it) many will split
and go sour. The Brunswick type fig we call the 'Doug White' fig
2014 - the green grapes climbing up the deck are now over. We
had the best year ever. No splits, no bird pecks, no rots, and a
good crop. The drought has been good for them (and the figs).
2014 - the main season is under way. Most fruit are pretty
small, unsuprisingly, but they are the sweetest and most
flavorful I have ever had. Once again, the drought is good for
2015 - We received the outer edge of tropical cyclone Pam. We
had continuous light rain overnight and all day. Most welcome,
but the heavy rainfall I had hoped for just didn't appear. At a
guess I would say we received about 25mm or so. We need probably
another 110 mm for the soil to arrive at field capacity. It was
windy for a while, but nothing special.
2014 - Cyclone Lusi brought a day of very strong winds, then a
night and day of strong winds with somewhat light and modest
rain, but the rain was continuous. Sunday morning was calm, just
a light southerly, cloudy, humid and warm. The rainfall
contributed by the cyclonic system, as at Sunday morning, was a
very useful 38 mm. However, coincidentally, a local farming
newspaper reported out that while there has been good rain to
the east of the Auckland province, the northwest has experienced
drought conditions (again!). They reported that NIWA (National
Institute for Water and Atmospherics) recorded a soil moisture
deficit in our area that would require 130 mm of rain to restore
to field capacity. So, ideally, another 100 mm is needed to
reach the ideal. But the 38 mm we have will do.
Temperatures were moderate, 25oC max.
2014 - 12 new season Hass were blown off the most exposed
avocado tree. That's a shame, because it has a pretty small crop
for this coming spring. A mature fruit also blew off. It is
amazing how the mature fruit are hanging on, in spite of the
fierce winds it was exposed to.
2014 -A dozen Brunswick type ('Doug White') figs were
picked today by the figologist. The birds had just started to
destroy one fruit, and there were the beginnings of splits on
the neck of others. This is quite a soft fruit when ripe, and
the thin skin is prone to splitting. The figologist also picked
the tail end of the Maltas, which are particularly nice
following the dry - sweet, stick, nice flavor. Heaps of big
Brown Turkey came in, big, soft, rather moist and juicy as
opposed to pasty fleshed, sweet, pleasant, but without a great
deal of flavor. Adriatic, a green fig with moist, deep
black-purple and pink red flesh, is just starting. This fig is
sufficiently sweet, but not packed with sugars like some others.
It has a taste that I can best describe as the taste of the
smell of fig leaves! There is also a very subtle bitter note to
it, as well. What's the bet this variety is full of protective
plant compounds. We also had a dozen or so Brunoro come in.
These last figs are probably correctly called something like
'brun d'oro', but the name has been anglicised. The trees are
readily available from nurseries under this name, so the name
Brunoro fruit are not very big, and have deep black, tough skin,
the flesh is pasty, sticky, and very flavorful (well, at least
this year they were). This is the first time we have had more
than one or two, and in spite of the tough skin, I rate them
In the photo above, the Brunswick type is the green fruit at the
top of the photo, Brunoro is bottom left on the plate, and the
Malta fruit are bottom right.
Correctly identifying fig varieties has always been difficult,
both overseas and in New Zealand. The master fig identifier was
Ira Condit (USA), and he identified an astonishing number of
regional synonyms and mis-identifications of many fig varieties.
Some figs varieties have had as many as 17 synonyms over
recorded history! His 1955 monograph is available on a number of
2014 - The little Actinidia arguta
fruit on the deck are
continuing to fall as they ripen. The fruit are hidden under the
foliage, so they escape attention. I picked a small bowl fall,
and made a mental note to pick more. The fruit have a little
thrip scarring, but his year the passionvine hoppers which
normally plague them simply haven't been around. Don't know why.
Some of the leaves on the vine have turned yellow, and
others are following. Probably partly the drought and partly the
natural cycle of the plant.
This is in strong contrast to Actinidia deliciosa
'Hayward', and, to a degree, to my Actinidia chinensis
The arguta leaves may be turning color, but the plant itself is
'laughing at the drought'. There is no sunburn or leaf
scorching, no sign of nutritional deficiency. The chinensis
seedlings seem much less resilient. While its true they are
under great water and crowding stress, taken as a group, the
leaves of the chinensis plants have been scorched by the sun,
the leaf margins burnt by water stress, ripped by the wind, and
some plants show quite marked nutrient deficiency symptoms.
Hayward and Skelton, the green fruited kiwifruit, are just
astonishingly deep green and vigorous. They are planted in the
same row as the chinensis (although they are older, and have
more space) and are subject to at least as much water stress as
the chinensis (and the adjacent bamboo makes the soil even
drier). To be fair, seedlings of anything always show
variability, and the varieties we select tend to be the
strongest. Indeed, the Sally chinensis is one of the deepest
green of the chinensis, and probably the most drought resilient.
It is carrying an absurdly large crop, in spite of the drought
(see photo left)
2014 - the cyclone blew heaps of leaves and twigs and fruit off
the line of feijoas. Virtually all the fruit are small due to
the drought, and most aren't worth picking up, but the ground
under the trees was a carpet of fruit. The chief fruit-picker
compulsively went through and picked up ones she thought big
enough to bother with. She then turned the sheep into the area,
and they fed on feijoa fruit and fallen fig leaves until they
could eat no more, and lay resting in the shade, the picture of
satisfaction. When they were turned out of the area in the late
afternoon, they left a good number of uneaten fruit behind. I
guess they couldn't face another fruit. I know how they feel...
2013 - the remnants of a tropical cyclone have brought relief
from the drought. 20mm of rain fell here. Fan-bloody-tastic!
2014 - sunny, humid, hot, a light breeze. Ideal growing
2015 - the day started sunny and still. Showers are promised
from the southwest. I can only hope,
2014 - most trees either in advanced flower bud, or are
2014 - now flowering and setting fruit. Around 8 small fruit of
this seasons crop (for what these fruit are worth) are still on
2014 - The Nishimurawase tree is laden with orange and
yellow-orange fruit. For some inexplicable reason the waxeyes
(just forming their autumn flocks of destruction at the moment)
haven't touched them yet. This variety has to have a full load
of seeds for it to be eaten as a firm-ripe fruit. If part of the
fruit is seedless, that part will be full of mouth-puckering
tannins. Technically, it is a 'pollination variant
non-astringent' variety. In the picture, the fruit on the
left is soft ripe, slightly transluscent, and a reddish orange.
The one on the right is firm ripe, crisp and with orange skin.
If it doesn't have enough seeds in the fruit, the one on the
right will be astringent. The soft-ripe redder fruit will have
no astringency regardless of how many or how few seeds it has.
This is because it is fully ripe, and the tannins that cause
astringency have reacted with the soft-ripe flesh and been, in
2014 - the Kaiteri in the tub is about finished. The Anatoki in
a tub is dropping its first few fruit. The main row in the
ground continue their rain of small fruit, as usual.
2013 - a further 10mm of rain fell last night. The day broke
feeling very cool and autumnal, but soon improved. It is windy -
quite gusty, in fact - but warm. The wind itself is warm. We
have had a mixture of warm/sunshine and cloud through the day.
The cicadas have fallen silent, and their taken over by
2013 - rats and mice have suddenly appeared. The round of
placing mouse and rat traps and laying bait around buildings, in
sheds and by compost heaps has begun.
2013 - wood and buds for the spring flowering have matured
nicely. The biggest Hass tree is dropping fruit, including small
next seasons fruit. But a good crop remains on the tree, much of
it showing some color change.
2013 - the start of the main crop is still gearing up. The fruit
are good quality, so far, although they have to be picked a
little under mature to beat the birds.
2013 - the sheep have now been locked out of the area where the
feijoas are, so we are getting a few fruit. They are the
smallest fruit ever, not really worth picking up. Not
surprising. Still, they are juicy enough, and the flavor and
sweetness is there. It's just that there is not much to them.
2013 - Small numbers of various apples continue to fall, some
are early season varieties, some are drought-dropped fruit. Not
much attention is paid to the apples as a fruit, and quite a
number end up as sheep food.
2013 - the kikuyu will almost certainly rebound now that we have
had good rain. But kikuyu is a warm weather grass, so its growth
will stall in a few months. The fine grasses - ryegrass and Poa
, primarily, seem to be dead and gone. Is there life
hanging on at the base of the dried up culm? We'll see. Even if
there is, it will be hard to get past hungry sheep and grow
enough to re-establish. Looks like I will be feeding out bamboo
for a while. Ironically, the bamboo is in great shape, deep
green and healthy. It is even starting to grown its late summer
spears. Quite some years ago I planted a 2 or 3 trees of a
couple of kinds of shelterbelt poplar, just to try out, to see
how straight they grew and whether they would be hit by poplar
rust. One type grew straight and tall, with lots of healthy
foliage. Looks like sheep food to me. So I dropped a couple of
trees, and the sheep were on them like vultures on a carcass.
2012 - Some rain, some sun over the last few weeks.
2014 - I spotted a juvenile Californian Quail lounging under an
avocado tree, and managed to snap a picture. I'm a big fan of
these birds, and I am very pleased to see at least some get
through to near adulthood.
2012 - The hazels have all but finished their pathetic 'crop'.
2012 - We have a few scungy little walnut trees here, and while
one has quite a few nuts for its size, the nuts all usually get
walnut blight (a bacterial disease, Xanthomonas juglans
). To our amazement, in
spite of the rain, no disease this year. The nuts on the
Californian variety ('Serr' from memory) are splitting, and the
local selections will be a week or two after.
2012 - Feijoas are in usual over-abundance.
2012 - Asian pears are still abundant.
2012 - The late summer to autumn avocados (Hellen and Reed) are
dropping mature fruit from time to time. Assorted birds, rats,
mice and hedgehogs get into them straight away.
2012 - The nights are pretty cool, but we have had some very
welcome sunny days - even if there is a southerly breeze. The
grass is growing like crazy. This has to be one of the best
seasons for grass growth in many years.
2014 - As yet, the nights recently have never dropped below
14oC, so are pretty warm. It is very autumnal, mist filling the
valley in the morning, nice and cool in the mornings. Daytime
maxima in the last few days have been 28oC. We have had only one
brief shower since the 16th of march. It is drying out again,
and it is dry for the next 8 days, according to the Met
2012 - Yesterday evening we picked up a total of 3 Hellen fruit
that had dropped naturally. This morning I kicked the tree and a
further 9 dropped off! Looks like late march might be
Hellen's natural season of full maturity.
2014 - the larger of our 2 Reed trees now only has 2
fruit left on it. The flesh is very oily, and if left to soften
too long, is rank and bacony tasty. Some seed in some fruit is
starting to grow a tap root, a sure sign of excessive maturity.
There are still a handful of Hass fruit hanging on the tree.
Still they are not falling. Hass is a truly remarkable variety.
The fruit we pick become ripe very quickly, but the skin remains
pretty non-pliable. They quickly develop rots if the fruit is
left to feel soft. Fully colored fruit with a little 'give' is
excellent. Just stunningly good. The new season crop of Reed
fruit are about golf ball size, or a little bigger. The new
season Pinkerton fruit are variable in size, from better than
golf ball to Hass sized or bigger.
2014 - Egremont Russet and the little Dandeap are now falling,
so I assume this is their season. The Lobo is at peak perfection
- crisp, juicy, sugar sweet.
2014 - The Doug White fig is producing lots of intensely
colored. sweet, flavorsome, jammy fleshed fruit. They are
outstanding. The Brown Turkey tree is losing its leaves to fig
rust, and the large crop on the tree is not receiving nutrients,
so while the fruit are big, they taste fairly insipid, and are
only moderately sweet. Sheep food, really.
2014 - heaps of fruit continue to fall, most are small. The very
mediocre fruit in the local supermarket are $8.99 a kilo still.
Quite a number of the fruit in the display are small, ones we
wouldn't even bother picking up, except to feed to the sheep.
2014 - just ripening. Love these things.
2014 - I picked a bunch that had a couple of fruit ripening on
it. The fruit are really skinny. I probably should have left it.
There are heaps of green bunches yet to come.
2014 - the 2 red varieties have been throwing both fruit and
leaves overboard for several weeks. The ground is littered with
pinky-red semi mature fruit. The trees have very few leaves on
them. A couple of seedlings are doing better.
2016 - Hot, a nice breeze, and quite a bit of cloud cover. The
nights are warm. Torrential rain a few days ago is keeping
everything extra lush, including the kikuyu. The new spears of
the bamboo are growing before our eyes.
2016 - Malta is about over, 'Dough White' is ripe, but the
delicious jammy fruit are being hammered by birds. We get very
few, and are forced to pick at a much more immature stage than
we would prefer. Brun d'oro is also fruiting well, and Brown
Turkey is now under way.
2016 - probably at about the peak of their season, fiddly but
resinously delicious. We found by accident they dry quite well.
When dry they are chewy, crunchy, sweet and tangy all at the
2016 - The Hass are mostly fully black. As usual some new season
fruit were blown off in the storm of a few days ago. A late
Hashimoto ripened up in the fruit bowl and was absolutely
delicious - amazing deep yellow flesh, oil, and with richness of
flavor that was almost tipping into the 'bacony' and overripe.
Another day in the bowl and it would have been 'too far gone'.
There are still a few Reed fruit hanging on the trees.
2016 - Hot, sunny, 25oC at 1200 hours. Lowest overnight low over
the last few weeks was 10oC.
2013 - true autumnal weather yesterday - refreshingly cool in
the morning, warm later in the day - has given way to a totally
overcast, warm day. We had a tiny burst of rain - 2 mm - in the
late morning, then hot, humid overcast conditions for the rest
of the day. Temperatures over the last 3 or 4 days have maxed at
about 25oC, so its definitely not as hot at last.
2017 - Hot, muggy, sometimes sunny, sometimes overcast. Humid
and oppressive, presumably due to tropical air from Cyclone
Debbie which hit Queensland yesterday. The nights are warm. Good
rain a few days ago means the grass is very lush, including the
kikuyu. More and more new spears of
bamboo, are appearing.
2013 - The main crop is well under way. The 'Doug White' figs
are quite extraordinary - sticky, jammy, very sweet. Some fruit
split at the neck when very ripe, which is a shame. But it has
been so dry they haven't spoiled. The sweet, soft Madeline fruit
has all gone to the birds, and the crop has been pretty poor
anyway. The birds seem to prefer this fig. We pruned the trees
heavily, which resulted in lots of weak new growth, which may
have had a bearing. The Brown Turkey are producing well, but I
think they are pretty mediocre this year. The Adriatic is
particularly reliable, and this year is no exception. The fruit
are sweet, with a slight bitter note, and a pronounced flavor.
2017 - Heaps of Doug White figs, but the Drosophila
flies' target them because they have a relatively open 'eye' or
pore. Once the 'fruit flies' get in, the fruit start to ferment.
What a waste.
2013 - the Cattley guavas have set little green fruit, and the
tropical guavas have just finished flowering. We have a seedling
of a salmon-fleshed fruit which has set one fruit while still in
the pot, so I am hoping for a preview of its quality (or
lack of quality).
2013 - A bunch from a very nice variety has a few yellow
fruit on it, and I harvested it today.
2013 - our Fernie variety has a nice little crop on it for the
first time. We have had the tree for 20 odd years, and it has
never had more than dribs and drabs. The skin is already a faded
lemon color, and I an wondering if it is mature enough to pick.
Seems a bit early, really.
2017 - Hass are turning full color on the trees, and the possums
are hammering them. So we picked them all, just to spite them.
Hashimoto and Pinkerton fruit continue to fall steadily. Once
they hit the ground, the birds get into them at the point the
fruit detached from the stem. Left overnight, hedgehogs etc help
finish them off.
2017 - It has been a poor year for feijoas. Other people have
reported the same, but yet others have normal crops. We are
still getting a lot of damage from what I suspect is some
juice-sucking insect or other. There is a very small amount of
guava moth damage, but this is usually easy to 'diagnose', and
the mystery damage is not from guava moth. I still have no idea
what the insect (assumed) causing it might be. Others also
experience this kind of damage on their feijoas.
2014 - maximum today was 24oC. Hot and dry.
2014 - The dry grinds on. The day started cool and dead still,
mist filling the valley. Then the sun came up, and it was
another hot day, with a cooling gentle sea breeze. Maximum
temperature today was 21oC, although it felt a lot warmer.
2014 -Figs are still coming in. Apart from the jammy 'Doug
White' and the tough skinned pasty Brun d'oro, I'm sick of them.
2014 - Buckets of feijoas come in. I'm sort of sick of
Apples are starting to crank up, in variety, and I find them
completely unappealing. The tiny little Dandeap are OK, because
although they are rather sweet, they also have good acid, and
the fruit are crisp and are small enough that you don't feel
bloated after eating one.
2014 - the main 2 garden centre trees are almost devoid of
leaves, but have lots of fruit, most of which are on the ground.
They are partly colored, and continue to color on the ground,
but they are immature and not worth picking up. I'll leaves them
there to rot.
2014 - The kiwifruit plants are surviving the drought, but they
are under a lot of stress. The odd plant - especially the older
ones - are carrying a heavy crop load. I picked a couple of
cartons of 'Sally' gold kiwifruit on the 16th of march, and
ripened them with some dinged apples and overripe feijoas (for
the ethylene gas damaged fruit emit). They were ripe 9 days
later. We ate a few, but not all whanau members like kiwifruit,
and ended up giving a carton away. The other carton is getting
over-ripe, and will have to be ditched. In my opinion, you can
only eat one or two kiwifruit before you get sick of them. Most
people seem the same in this respect. Feijoas, in contrast, are
easy to 'pig out' on. I'm not sure what the difference is.
The early green, the rather large and long 'Skelton' variety, is
dropping a few fruit. It is 'technically' pickable in mid march,
but needs ethylene to ripen. Sweetness is a bit low at that
date. Their 'natural season is about now, as this is when they
start to fall, and when the birds start to attack them. Unlike
'Sally', firm fruit will ripen with an apple or banana etc in
about 4 days or less.
2012 - The odd Hellen and Reed fruit continue to drop. The
avocado trees have matured their late summer flush, and many are
starting to flush again - it is that warm and wet.
The 'out of season' flowers on the Hass are still going, but
only just. I haven't noticed any insects visiting them (beyond
ants and the odd German wasp), but then I haven't paid them much
attention. Nothing looks set, at the moment. Apparently there is
quite a bit of 'out of season' flowering in commercial Hass this
year, so the fruit should turn up in the supermarkets next
Interestingly, a tiny 'Gwen' tree I have been nursing along has
developed an 'out-of-season' panicle, but it is still in bud.
Gwen is a Hass seedling, and is said to start its fruit ripening
season roughly a month after Hass, so this later flowering fits
2012 - Chilean cranberries continue to produce, but only
the 'dag end' of berryfruit remain.
2013 - The main crop of feijoas has sort of started, but
the early tree set this year has been poor. The commercial
growers must be having the same problem, as I am told they are
selling for $9 a kilo in the supermarket. The 'Anatoki' feijoas
are still ripening and falling from time to time. Unique's crop
is very light.
2012 - The apple crop this year is very heavy. Most of the trees
are on Malling 9 rootstocks, which forms a very small tree
indeed. Some trees are only knee high. Malling 9 is best suited
to heavier, moist soils, rather than the shallow, sandy soil
where they are planted. But the wet summer has meant the apples
have developed well, in spite of the usual total lack of care.
Apples overlap and follow on from peaches, but, to be honest,
the nashi, feijoas and figs are so abundant I'm not that
fussed about them, except, maybe, Rhode Island Greening, which
microwaves up in 5 minutes to perfect 'baked apple'. The hard,
dense, acid-sweet spicy Egremont Russet is also nice as an early
apple. And both Freyberg, and its parent 'Golden Delicious' are
Rhode Island Greening - a
Egremont Russet, dense, spicy-acid,
prolific 30 year old
Golden Delicious on Malling 9
2012 - This was supposed to be a bad year for figs, or so
I thought. And its true, there has been precious little heat and
sun, but it seems the combination of ample water and some sun
has been enough to set and hold a very good crop. Astonishingly,
there is no evidence of rots and fermentation of the fruit
(normally associated with periods of rain). Doubtless that will
For the first time, we have a good crop on the 'Doug White fig'.
We named it after the workmate who gave us the cutting many
years ago. It is a good fit for the description of the variety
'Brunswick', so that may be its true cultivar name. It is a big
fig, quite long, with dense red flesh. It is sweeter than our
other red fleshed figs ('Brown Turkey' and 'Adriatic'), but
doesn't have quite as much 'fig' flavor.
'Adriatic', in contrast, is smaller (although quite variable in
size) and intensely fig flavored, but not as sweet.
'Brown Turkey' is usually delicious, but this year is only
'good', presumably because it hasn't had enough heat and
The early (and usually prolific), rather soft white
skinned 'Madelaine' has been a disappointment, with fruit
failing to ripen properly after picking.
Doug White's fig - probably Brunswick
'Malta', also known as
'Celeste', had a poor crop last year, and a very good crop this
year. It starts early, and has a fairly long season, tailing off
about the beginning of April. The resident figologist tells me
she has picked around 800 fruit from one not particularly big
tree. This is not as impressive as it sounds, because Malta is a
small fig. Malta is a pinky-amber, slightly sticky fleshed fig.
It is moderately sweet, and has a pleasant but unremarkable
flavor. I like it because it is reliably OK, and highly
'snackable'. I can easily eat 10 or so a day, with no
discernible acceleration in food transit time (!).
Overall, Adriatic takes the prize for reliability in the face of
poor sunshine hours. As long as it hasn't split, or been
bruised, Adriatic keeps reasonably well after picking. On the
downside, not everyone likes the strong 'fig' flavor, and,
because it is thin skinned, if it is left too long on the tree
it can quickly spoil after picking. Malta is probably the best
'keeper' after picking.
Malta, small and prolific
Brown Turkey Brown
2012 - We have planted several 'pairs' of pine nut trees over
the years, and today I noticed that 1 of the 2 'umbrella pines'
like it might be just starting to form a cone. This species is
said to start to have seed bearing cones in "6 to 10 years". The
tag under the tree says we planted it in 1991, so it is a bit
One of the challenges of looking ahead to a post-retirement
downsizing in property (maybe 5 years off, all else equal) is
propagating plants to take with you. Once you reach 65, you
don't want to start from scratch with a seedling Pine nut that
takes 10 years plus to have its first cone. So I am
experimenting with grafting some of the older pine nuts. Pinus maximartinezii
rarest, so I thought I would start with that. I read on the
internet that it is possible to graft it onto Pinus pinea
. I also read
elsewhere that there can be delayed incompatibility, where the
graft fails 2 years after an initial apparent success. Still,
nothing ventured, nothing gained, so, after studying information
on various websites devoted to grafting conifers to make bonsai
trees, I decided to have a go.
The graft is a 'side veneer graft'. It seems to be the one
favoured by the Bonsai hobbiest community. Its not a graft I
have tried before, but it seems fairly easy to do, and has the
advantage that the piece you are grafting on (the scion) doesn't
have to be exactly the same width at the tree receiving the
graft (the stock).
The scion is a piece of terminal twig from a branch that was
clearly in active growth. It had a clear terminal bud (sometimes
the bud at the tip dies for various reasons). I removed most of
the needles from the scion, except for those near the tip. After
grafting, I wrapped the scion in 'Gladwrap' to keep it from
[Note from May 20th 2012: A bit over 6 weeks later, and 7 of the
10 grafted pieces of scion-wood are well and truly dead. There
remain 3 grafts with the needles of the scions still as green as
the day they were grafted into the stock; but I won't count them
as successful until I see some growth.]
[ Note from April 2013: 2 scions survived and are doing well.]
2013 - Today was distinctly cooler. A front brought 5 mm
of most welcome rain this morning.
2016 - Sunny, warm, but it cooled fast as the sun went down.
Grass is still growing like stink.
2013 - the main crop is producing well. The fruit are small, but
the recent rain is helping, as some trees are now producing
slightly bigger fruit. There is a good crop on some of the mid
to late season trees. Guava moth continues to affect a number of
fruit, but we are not as badly affected as some in Northland. A
visitor from the winterless north popped in today, and observed
that guava moth affects a lot of feijoas quite badly - as well
as peaches, plums, apples, and oranges. Maybe we are less
affected because the sheep eat all windfalls.
2013 - Our northern visitor has had many decades of
experience with various fruits, including figs. After tasting
'Doug White', our best fig (which we think outstanding) is not
as good as Brunswick in our northern figologists view. At
least he cleared up the question of whether or not it was
Brunswick. It isn't. In his view, the best tasting fig is 'Mrs
2015 - showery and cloudy at first, then sun broke through
late in the day. Humid and warm. We have had some intermittent
rain over the last week or so, as well as stonkingly hot days.
More rain is needed, as it is still quite dry 100mm or so below
the surface. Even so, the grass is growing rapidly, the sheep
are happy, bamboo is rocketing up its new spears, and the
drought is over. Rain is predicted later in the week.
2015 - Reed fruit are hanging on, but a persistent possum is
half-eating one fruit a night and damaging one or two others.
Some of the foliage on one of the Hashimoto trees has blackened
twigs and little piles of white exudate/frass. The frass and
apparent dead tissue of the twigs is typical of lemon tree borer
damage. The puzzling thing was that the leaves remained
perfectly healthy, and the affected branchlet didn't die. I
split the branch to look for the larva. There was none. The
damage seems to be caused by something puncturing the bark, why
I am not sure. It is not the easily recognizable cicada
egg-laying damage. Only one tree had the damage, and it was very
localized. It remains a mystery.
2015 - We have a few plants of Ananas bracteatus,
a pineapple with long, narrow, very spiky leaves.
Apparently this has now been stripped of its species rank, and
is now regarded as a variety of the 'common' pineapple - Ananas
. This plant is more
cold hardy than the 'tropical' pineapple in commerce, but it has
taken years to fruit, and although we may have picked it too
early, its dry and not sweet. And it takes up a lot of space and
is savagely spiny.
2015 - This little berry was previously known in New Zealand as
, but this is a synonom, not the currently
accepted botanical name. In Auckland, at least, for years it has
been known by the common name of 'Chilean cranberry', athough it
is completely unrelated to the American cranberry, Vaccinium
. This year has been a bumper year for these
sweet and 'resinous' little fruit.
2015 - The Doug White figs are tailing off. The figs are about a
week later than last year, and as it has been so dry it was
looking like it might be a poor season. But the leaves have held
on, and the fruit didn't fall after all, so we are swamped in
fig fruit all of a sudden. I quite like Brun d'oro, a
productive black fig with a quite tough skin and red flesh. It
is quite sticky, reasonably sweet, and has a good flavor. Lisa
is productive, reliable, but it is soft, and doesn't keep at all
well once picked.
2016 - Adriatic is now in full swing. They are losing leaves
'big time', so it is race to ripen before the leaves stop
photosynthesizing. The brown turkeys are also ripening. This is
a reliable tree, but the main season crop are not flas, just OK.
Like Adriatic the leaves have fig rust and are falling, so many
will not fully ripen. The birds are also into them. The last of
the brun d'oro are coming in. They are an excellent fig, sticky,
jammy, flavorsome. The become very very ripe. The Petrovicha
fruit are also ripe, but have to be picked early to beat the
birds. They are one of the few figs of all the fig varieties in
New Zealand that will continue to ripen off the tree.
2015 - For some inexplicable reason, we have had almost no
bronze beetles this year. Passion vine hoppers are also all but
non-existent. And while there are reasonable numbers of wasps
around, they are not in as big numbers as usual. In fact, now I
think of it, I haven't even found one nest, where most years I
would find and destroy two or three.
2015 - As usual far too many apples. I have 'gone off' apples of
recent years. I do like Jonathon, it is a wonderfully flavored
apple, but it is ridiculously large. Freyburg is, as always,
2016 - Millions of apples. Who cares. Let them rot on the ground
I say (others have different opinions).
2015 - the fruit are ripening on our early tree.
2012 - It was hot last night, well at first, anyway. Then it
became really quite cold.
2012 - I don't know if night temperature has anything to do with
it, but this morning I found 2 fully mature Reed fruit, 1 new
season fruit about tennis ball size, and a small late set fruit
- all fallen overnight. The tennis ball size fruit drop is
unexpected, but not the smaller one.
The Hass trees are also dropping small (golf ball size) late set
fruit. Funny thing is, the oldest, largest Hass tree (only 20
metres away) is still holding mature fruit on the tree without
any fruit drop at all, well into the tail end of the natural
Hass season (admittedly, the tree is shaded, and therefore later
in fruiting than the younger trees).
A further fruit fell off around midday. Reed is a big fruit, and
it is not really convenient to have 3 fruit drop on the same
day. Not as bad as the 9 Hellen fruit that fell off on the same
day (25th march). We never did quite manage to get through all
the fruit before the last 3 went 'off'.
It has been a spectacular hot, calm cloudless Good Friday. Just
a picture. I took a moment to admire the sheep lazing in the
morning sun in our small grove of eucalyptus saplings.
9th April 2012
|There is an abandoned
persimmon plantation here, comprising both
'non-astringent' (eaten as a firm fruit, such as the
'Fuyu' fruit you buy at the supermarket), and
'astringent' persimmons, which can't be eaten firm
ripe,but have to be left to become very soft.
This is a fruit of a variety called Nishimura wase that
isn't astringent when seeds are present (and is
astringent when no seeds form).
The birds have decided the fruit is ripe enough to eat.
Personally, I would have left it to become a dark
orange-red before eating it...
The amazing run of fine - even hot - Easter weather continues.
I was working in a small area where I want to try out various
avocado varieties. Up till recently it was grazed by sheep, but
I 'locked them out' when the avocado seedlings went in. This
meant I had to resort to mowing the grass by hand. The pasture
had some endive sown into it, as its tap root supposedly brings
mineral up from deeper in the sub soil. I like endive flowers,
so I mowed around any plant I noticed. They are now flowering,
and they provide little glimpses of colour in the kikuyu-clover
My eye was
drawn to an
odd looking bee
working the flowers furiously. It was typical bee size, but it
looked like a cross between a German wasp and a bee! It had
distinctive black stripes on a yellow background all along its
abdomen. Its thorax was dark, much like the 'Italian' strain of
bees you see around here. It sounded just like a buzzy bee,
collected pollen like a bee, but it kept its abdomen curved
under, like a wasp stinging its prey. I was really startled.
There have always been several species of native bee here,
although their numbers have declined over the years. The natives
are solitary bees, usually nesting in a hole in the ground, and
in years past some areas of exposed sandy subsoil have had
countless bee holes in them. Bare areas have decreased with
improving soil fertility, and the population has fallen back as
a result. I thought this must be a native bee species I hadn't
come across before, so I googled NZ native bees, but no images I
saw resembled this one.
Finally, I struck gold on a page
from Landcare. The bee is clearly a 'wool carder' bee Anthidium
Landcare say it was first found in Napier and Nelson in 2006,
and is from Southern Europe. One website notes it as having
traveled "as far north as Albany". We can now make that "as far
north as Helensville" (at least).
photo Landcare Research New Zealand Ltd
According to a UK page of this bee, (Wool_Carder_Bee
), it is a hole nesting species, but unlike the New Zealand
natives, it makes its nest in holes in wood, wall cavities and
the like. The female scrapes fine hairs off the stems of plants,
rolls it into a ball of 'wool', and takes it to her nest (thus
the name 'wool carder' bee). The 'wool' lines the nest where she
will lay her eggs. Once she has 'laid up' lots of protein rich
pollen for her grub(?s) I assume she dies. The new generation
emerges in spring. Given it nests in holes and cavities on wood,
and 'lays dormant' over winter, it is no wonder it has spread
around the world, presumably in holes and gaps in imported
All the walnuts are now maturing their nuts. The macadamias
won't be far off, and the rats are being controlled fairly
well,so the whanau should get its share this year.
The time has come to 'rationalise' various aspects of this
place, and a fair amount of rationalisation involves a chainsaw.
One of the first trees we planted on this place when we came
here was a 'fuerte' variety avocado tree. As it happens, the
neighbors planted some tall g
rowing shelter trees on their side of the
boundary, which cast a cool shadow over the tree, especially
when the sun is low in winter. Fuerte needs more heat at
flowering time than most avocados. And it flowers in winter. The
nett effect is that the pollen doesn't work correctly and we get
lots of tiny fruit with no seed. These are called 'cukes',
because they are the same shape as a
cucumber. Pity they aren't the same
So I cut the tree down by about half. This lets a bit more light
into the tree, and leaves me plenty of space to graft over to a
more cool tolerant avocado variety.
l avocado varieties will have some
cukes, but usually only in small numbers. The photo shows two
Hass fruit of identical age on the same panicle. One has a seed
and the other, the 'cuke' hasn't. Sometimes the Fuerte 'cukes'
will ripen adequately, but often they end up either ripening
very unevenly (with the centre remaining hard and unripe), or
they don't ripen at all.
Many years ago I imported seeds of a
fruit the Americans call 'Pawpaw', or 'Papaw'. This is the fruit
of a small deciduous tree in the cherimoya family, and unrelated
to the tropical fruit that New Zealanders call 'Pawpaw'
(although we are increasingly calling it by its internationally
traded name, 'Papaya'). The latin name of the tropical papya of
commerce is Carica papaya
The latin name of this native American woodland fruit is Asimina triloba
. The two
plants are completely unrelated. Indeed, in an effort to avoid
confusion, someone suggested that in New Zealand, at least, the
American 'Pawpaw'. Asimina
, should be called 'Asemoya' ( a combination of
the genus name, Asimina
and the common name of the cherimoya tree, genus Annona
The American seeds were from recognised varieties Davis,
Overleese, and Sunshine. They have been growing here for at
least 25 years, and in that time only one tree has ever had a
fruit. They are not self fertile, and while all the trees
flower, we do not have the specialist pollinating insect needed
to transfer pollen between plants. A few varieties are known to
be self fertile. 'Sunshine' is one. Not one of the 'Sunshine'
seedlings here is self fertile, unfortunately. I gave away and
traded spare plants,and, as sods law would have it, I learnt
years later that a plant I gave to (the late) Peter Kent in
Tauranga fruited so heavily that he was at a loss to know what
to do with all the fruit! (He ended up making wine from it, I am
Anyway, today, for the second time in 25 years, I harvested a
solitary fruit. Maybe the plants can read my mind. They are due
for 'rationalisation' out of existence next year.
it is still dry.
Promised rain keep disappearing over the horizon. Not even a
shower. Still, some rain is forecast for the 14th and 15th, so
here's hoping. The temperatures are still very warm. It was 25oC
here at midday, and the overnight low in the last few days has
2014 - vast numbers of German and/or or common wasps are in the
air. They travel up and down each row of trees constantly,
luckily more or less near the tops. I cannot understand what
they are doing, as the shear numbers means there can't really be
any food there. Maybe its a mating thing. I don't know. I have 2
more nests to destroy at some stage, a slightly risky job. I
don't know if it makes much difference, nests are probably all
over the place in the native forest and in neighbouring
farmland. Its a pity that the parasite introduced into
Marlborough to control wasps (Sphecophaga vesparum
Ichneumonid wasp) was unsuccessful. It only established in a
limited number of nests, and it is not thriving. Apparently a
single female was released, and it may be that the genetic base
is too narrow, or that the 'strain' of parasite is not suited to
New Zealand conditions. Sadly, no other strains of this parasite
have been tried. New approaches are being tried. Apparently
there is some work being done to identify the female Queen wasp
pheromone so that it can be used as a lure in wasp traps.
2014 - the sheep are in very good condition, as the dew on the
grass seems to keep it alive and growing slightly. Kikuyu is
key, of course. The bamboo is deep green and lush, and I feed it
out every day, but they are not really that hungry. They
continue to get damaged apples and feijoas every day. The ram is
getting a little stroppy, and has 'had go' at a whanau member
and at myself. He's easy enough to dodge at intimidate, but you
have to know he's aggressive. The whanau member was unaware he
was feeling 'peppy' and got an unexpected wack on the thigh,
which has the potential to be quite damaging. Due to this
experience, I was aware the ram might 'turn', and after feeding
up close to me on the bamboo I was cutting, I saw him decide to
line me up, so its easy to move aside and give him a kick and
shout at him while chasing him a short way. This works well as
long as it works. The day he decides it's an invitation to a
scrap is the day he signs his own death warrant. Once the girls
are no longer cycling his hormone levels will drop, and he will
be fine again. Until next year. As the old saying goes, never
turn your back on a ram.
2014 - foliage is deep green on all plants. Only the odd plants
has any flush going. One of the Pinkerton plants has a raceme of
flowers open on one side of the tree, while the rest of that
tree is also in very fat flower bud. It is a young tree, not
carrying a crop, so it is primed and ready to go. I will be
interested to see if a fruit sets on the off-season flowers,
because the warm day and night temperatures are ideal for set,
and the raceme is physically touching a lavender hedge that is
just swarming with bees and bumblebees, so say nothing of wool
2014 - the big garden centre trees, although near leafless, are
dropping semi-ripe full sized fruit. A couple of branch tips
even have a few flowers. What troupers!
2014 - the apple season is winding down. We will have to have an
earnest discussion on just how many apple trees we 'need'.
2014 - still producing like mad. We will have to have an earnest
discussion on just how many feijoa trees we 'need'.
2014 - the 'Skelton' green kiwifruit are falling at an
increasing pace. I brought in a few fruit and ripened them with
an apple. They are very nice this year, good sweetness and
flavor. No one is interested in eating with, and I how found
that that if you more than 2 or 3 decent sized kiwifruit a day
it tends to 'shoot you through'. Might be time to reduce the
Skelton kiwi and use it to graft seedlings onto. Or something.
There are heaps of gold 'Sally' kiwis on the vines, but I am
just leaving them there in 'living storage'. There is no point
picking them, we can't eat more than the tiniest fraction, other
whanau members are not fans of any kiwifruit anyway, and this
variety doesn't store well (probably because I don't spray with
fungicides). So I will leave then as long as possible, and give
a way as many as I can in the interim.
2014 - for the first time ever, a few acorns have appeared on 2
of the Quercus ilex
) trees. There are about 10 acorns in all.
The trees are both in our little chook run, and just why these
set acorns and the others didn't, I don't know. In spite of the
fertiliser, the trees are no bigger than the others. Just one of
those random things, I suppose.
2012 -Feijoa 'Opal Star' fruit are now dropping. The few
remaining nashi have been left to the birds (and bees).
2013 -The high has been 24oC today. The overnight low last
night was 12oC. Still autumn days, cloud and sun, hot by midday.
We have still have only have a couple of millimeters of rain
since 4th of april (when we had 5 mm), and the soil is dry under
the immediate surface. Its going to take some sustained moderate
to heavy rain to re-charge the soil moisture levels.
2015 - A cold airmass has been moving over New Zealand, dropping
snow on the volcanic plateau and causing temperatures here to
plummett. Up to now it has been an extended summer, balmy, warm
and dry. It became winter virtually at the flick of a switch -
icy winds, cold, and "where's the jersey". On the positive side,
we had had probably around 50 mm or 60 mm of rain.
2013 - fruit are dropping in large numbers, but the size is way
down, and the sheep are having a feast on the 'smalls'. Guava
moth is the worst we have ever seen, with maybe 30% - 50% being
affected. The initial feeding by the newly hatched tiny
caterpillar causes the flesh to turn brown in the
immediate area. The larvae presumably drill their way out of the
fruit in order to pupate into the adult moth. I have never
spotted them in the flesh, and certainly can't taste them if
they are there!
2015 - We still have a lot of insect damage in the feijoas,
characterized by two or three puncture marks on the skin and
browning in the flesh. The puzzle is that often the extensive
pulp browning is unrelated to the area where the skin was
punctured. In contrast, very few fruit have guava moth damage,
and the damage is very different - the brown tunnels in the
fruit wall and pulp are very clear, and, initially, at least,
there is no diffuse browning beyond the tunnel. The cause
remains a mystery.
2015 - Our only remaining mature garden centre tree, a
red-fruited although near leafless, are dropping semi-ripe
full sized fruit. A couple of branch tips even have a few
2013 - several bunches are showing a ripe fruit and will need to
be picked soon. There are lots of newly flowering bunches
setting, but they won't be ripe until november/december.
2013 - our two youngest Hass trees have some out of season
flowers on them. This is the second year in a row these two
trees have had out-of-season flowers. The two oldest trees do
not have winter flowers. One tree, in particular, has set
a good crop at the very top of the tree, and almost nothing
lower down (except, curiously, for an in-grafted branch of
another variety). The foliage lower down is dark green and with
full sized leaves, but at the top of the tree the leaves are
much smaller, light green, and 'tatty' looking. They are being
drained by the current season crop and next season crop, both
hanging intermingled in the branches. We have a relatively newly
planted tree of 'Carmen Hass', a Hass selection that always has
an out of season flowering. It has only just commenced opening
its few panicles of flower, which puts it well over a week later
than the earliest flowering of the two out-of-season flowering
trees here. It will be interesting to see if Carmen Hass starts
to flower earlier as it becomes better established. Having some
of its rather sparse foliage eaten by a lamb when the gate was
accidentally left open doesn't help it to flower on time...
2013 - fruit I test-picked from the gold seedling 'Sally' has
ripened beautifully after 4 days or so in a bag with a damaged
apple and a banana. It is not as yellow-fleshed as it perhaps
can be, but it is the sweetest I have ever had it, and its
melony flavor well developed. Several people have tried this
seasons fruit, and agree it is very nice. I have found it is
best eaten when still pretty firm to hand pressure. In past
years I have waited until it is appreciably soft, and the flesh
texture then tends to be a bit 'pasty'. The Sally fruit are the
biggest I have ever seen, in spite of the lack of water. And the
crop load is very good, as in the crop on the green 'Skelton'
variety. Curiously, the green 'Hayward' vine has only 11 fruit
on it in total...
2013 - Cloudy, blustery, showery all day. Rain is forecast for
tomorrow. I hope so, because I have put fertiliser on the
avocados, bananas and citrus in anticipation of it raining.
2014 - The last few days has seen a little pathetic drizzle,
maybe we got a few millimetres at best. There was a tiny bit of
rain early this morning, but not significant. It is warm, 19oC,
cloudy, overcast, a tiny amount of drizzle, windy. Rain is
forecast for the day after tomorrow. Here's hoping.
2013 - I was wrong about the guava moth infestation in the
feijoas. The fact that I could not find any larvae or frass
inside the affected fruit had me puzzled. So I looked up the
lifecycle of the moth (see the links
turns out that the guava moth lays its eggs on the surface of
the fruit, rather than under the skin of the fruit. After
checking 10 or so freshly fallen fruit with tiny 'sting' marks
on the surface and brown discoloring in the fruit wall beneath
the 'sting', things became a bit clearer. The 'sting' is tiny,
not much more than a pin-prick. There is a small patch of
degraded fruit wall tissue directly under the sting, but this
damage is isolated to the thick fruit wall. Where there are a
series of 'stings', the browning can coalesce and penetrate to
the pulp cavity. Once there, the damage seems to trigger
browning in the adjacent pulp, and over time, the entirety of
the pulp can be affected. There are no eggs present in the
fruit, or in the fruit wall. The most likely explanation is that
some insect with piercing-sucking mouthparts is feeding on the
tissues of the fruit wall. The browning might possibly be caused
by an enzyme secreted by the insect to break down the tissue and
make it easier to suck up, but this is speculation. Which insect
might be responsible? The green vegetable bug seems the obvious
choice, or perhaps the passion vine hopper. But I have seen
neither insect on the feijoa trees. Mind you - I also haven't
paid a lot of attention. But we tend to notice when there are
bugs 'out of place'. And green vegetable bugs (for example)
would be out of place in feijoa trees, as we have never spotted
them in feijoas. I can find no reference to green vegetable bugs
damaging feijoa fruit. So while the lack of larvae and frass in
the fruit is explained, the mystery remains.
2014 - still going.
2014 - The species guavas fruit are falling, they are very small
again this year, due, presumably, to the dry. They are less acid
than usual, quite sweet when fully mature. An adjacent cattley
guava is also dropping fruit, and although this is supposed to
be a large fruitited selection, the fruit are usually small, and
even smaller this year. They have concentrated flavor, very
nice, very sweet. The dry is good for something, I guess. I self
sown species guava seedling is fruiting for the first time, and
it has really big fruit that are quite sweet, much less acid
than others of its species, but it also has a lot of small
fruit, presumably due to the drought. The flavor and sweetness
is probably a drought effect, and in a normal year this may well
be an acid tasting tree, as is usual for the species.
The two big species guava trees are covered in small ripe fruit
where they should be big ripe fruit, but that I understand. What
I can't understand is that the trees are totally devoid of
native pigeons. Every year. these two trees are a seething mass
of native pigeons fattening up on the guavas. This year, there
are none. I don't know what's going on, but I don't like it....
2014 - one walnut cultivar is shedding its few nuts.
2014 - the trees are still mostly green, certainly Mahan is, but
no nuts are mature yet.
2014 - a self sown seedling, probably a Nelmak seedling, is
dropping nuts the only one yet, but this is pretty early.
2014 - the top-most new shoot buds are extending. These are the
ones that will have the female strobuli.
2014 - the last Reed fruit have fallen. While initially firm,
they ripen very quickly, and are so ripe they taste 'bacony' and
not good. The figologist has long argued that they should be
picked on size in january, and the last fruit should all be
picked by the end of march, no later. I have always argued the
last set fruit will hold on the tree until june, and probably
july. Perhaps we are both right. Perhaps in a cooler wetter year
the trees will flower and set a little later than they did in
spring 2013. Perhaps the fruit in a cool year will hold with
good quality into july. But in a hot year, such as the last 2
years, perhaps flowering is a little earlier and the fruit
maturity a lot earlier. I just don't know. The Californians had
a similar problem with the avocado cultivar Esther, which in
very hot years quickly became overmature and rancid by late
autumn/early winter. Except that the Esther variety was too
bland to compete with Hass in late spring and autumn, unlike
2014 - The promised rain from the northeast arrived, along with
very, very, strong winds. Apparently this is the remnant of a
tropical cyclone. We got 22mm, and it is warm and 'growthy'.
Temperature at 4 pm was 24oC. The lowest night temperature over
the last few days was 16oC.
2014 - 12 new season Hass fruit have blown off in the wind. Not
very many remain on the Hass trees, so next spring and summer we
will have to rely largely on the Pinkertons, the main Reed tree,
and the Hellen tree. No new season fruit blew off these trees.
Pinkerton has a reputation in California for holding onto it's
fruit in windy conditions far better than Hass. The Pinkerton
trees here are only a bit better than head high, whereas the
Hass tree that had fruit blown off is way taller than that. When
our two 'sized-controlled' Hass trees finally bear a crop I will
be interested to see how well they hang onto the fruit in a
2013 - A humid northerly airflow covers Auckland. There was some
lightening on the horizon last night, out to sea on the west
coast, but it came to nothing. Today it is blue skies, warm,
humid and sunny up to midday. Midday on was patchy cloud and
sun, then brief bursts of showery rain, several millimeters, in
fact.. Midday temperature was 23oC, a little less than the
previous weeks high, which was 24oC. The coldest night in the
last week was 12oC. We have had a total of 20mm of rain over the
last 5 days, so we are now in very 'growthy' conditions as long
as it remains warm. Showers are predicted by the Met office for
the next 8 days, with the front end warmer northerly quarter and
the back end cooler southerly quarter.
2014 - A welcome brief burst of rain in the night, followed by
sun and cloud in the morning. A light northwest wind brought
heavy showers and sudden short bursts of torrential rain with
it. Thanks to the downpour we ended up with 30 mm by the end of
the day. The soil moisture deficit will be reduced well, but
more will be needed to get to field capacity. At least the dam
is full again.
2013 - In the orchard areas where there is grass, it it now
growing away under the sheep's feet. Both fine grasses and
kikuyu. The sheep are in very good condition, and spend extended
lengths of time chewing their cud in the shade.
There would be a sheep dung pellet present on virtually every
square centimeter of the sward surface. Most are hard and dry,
but these will soften and rot down fairly quickly from now on -
especially if we get enough rain to 'wake up' the earthworms
aestivating deep in the subsoil. The warm, moist conditions
should also bring a 'storm' of blood sucking Barber's pole worm
sp.). I will dose the remaining lambs wither
this week or next.
2013 - The foliage of our older Reed tree has 'perked up' with
the rain. It has shed four or five fruit, mainly the very last
fruit to set. This is a shame, as the late set fruit have the
most potential to hang into late autumn and early winter. The
rain has also helped 'size up' the Hass fruit. Most 'old season'
fruit now has at least some color, and at least one fruit will
detach itself every day. Its a matter of getting to the fallen
fruit before birds do. The area where the fruit has fallen off
the stalk is soft and easy for birds to get into, so most bird
damage tends to be from the tip of the neck downward.
2014 - There are still some Brown Turkey fruit on the tree, but
the figologist is leaving them to the wasps and waxeyes, because
there are no leaves left on the tree. Not due to autumns
insistent gravity, but due to persistent aridity. Now a little
rain has come, the Brown Turkey is starting to sprout new leaves
- when it comes, autumn's cold will have them before they are
fully formed, I suspect.
The last of the Doug White figs are coming in. They are not as
good as they were, but when the starting quality is so high,
even an inferior fruit still eats well.
2013 - Yesterday we had some patches of rain late in the day,
complete with a very brief fall of quite large hail. It rained
last night. A total of 30mm fell over this period, and at mid
morning it looks like we will have more rain. Under the feijoa
hedge, the soil 50 mm under the surface was still dust dry on
the 21st. So the 30mm of rain will help dampen the soil to
greater depths, but a great deal more will be needed to reach
field capacity under the fine-rooted trees. The temperatures are
still warm (18.5oC at 10.00am), with the night low over the last
few days of 14oC and the highest daytime temperature reaching
2013 - The younger trees started to flush in a small way some
weeks ago, but the pace has picked up dramatically ever since
the first little bit of drought-breaking rain. Big, spreading
trees don't seem that good an idea to me, so I am trying to see
just how amenable avocados are to the idea of being a single
leader, narrow tree. The fat flower buds are evident on parts of
these trees, which is earlier than would be expected. Normal
spring flowering buds aren't obvious until about mid winter, or
later. I can leave the obvious flower buds, but when matured
foliage (as distinct from new flushes of foliage) is cut off,
some spring flowering wood is being cut off. Most of the pruning
is removal of soft 'watershoots' that tend to spring up whenever
older limbs are cut back hard.
The tree on the left has some 'out of season' early flowers on a
few of the mature branches on the lowest part of the tree.
Several fruit have 'apparently' set. We'll see if they hold.
Before pruning (2013)
Figs are still coming in. The Adriatic are the best quality, but
the main producers are Brown Turkey. They have good color, but
they are a bit watery and lack sufficient flavor and sweetness,
in my opinion. A few 'Doug White' figs are still coming, and
they are stunning, jammy, sickly sweet.
A bunch I picked 3 or 4 days ago has ripened from top to bottom.
Another bunch, from a different cultivar, has also started to
ripen quite suddenly, and had to be picked. The first bunch had
8 hands of bananas, with 14 fruit per hand in the topmost
4 hands, then 3 hands of 8 fruit, and a small hand at the very
bottom with 3 fruit. That's what, 80 odd fruit.... Gratifyingly,
none of the fruit had split. Some hands have quite a lot of
healed scarring on the upper surface, and while it looks
horrible, it makes no difference to the integrity and quality of
the fruit inside. Scarring will have been caused by insects, or
possibly snails. I guess the commercial bananas remain scar free
and attractive because they are sprayed with insecticides
The second bunch is from a very tall variety. The fruit are
somewhat angular and squat looking. The skin is quite thick, and
the flesh very white. Like all the New Zealand bananas I have
ever tasted, the very white flesh was dense. It was also a bit,
well 'slimy' textured. The taste was moderately sweet, little
acidity, and with a vaguely 'floral' flavor. It had only the
suggestion of residual astringency (a common fault in cultivars
of bananas grown in New Zealand. It was OK, but that's about it.
There were 9 good hands, with 12 bananas in each hand, except
for the last, which had 11 fruit.
2014 - Showery but warm and humid. Last night was quite cold.
The weather is finally becoming autumnal. Now we have had some
rain, the autumn flush of grass growth has started. Fungi are
starting to appear.
2014 - fruit are down to a minimum.
2014 - the Nishimurawase fruit are now all but destroyed by the
birds. The Fuyus have started to color, and waxeyes and tuis are
giving them a hammering.
2014 - We have had some more good rain showers over the last few
days, we have had sun, cloud. The high of the last few days was
24oC; today's high was 21oC. It was sunny and warm today; a few
cicadas started up in the middle of the day, swamping the
chirrup of the crickets. The lowest temperature over the last
few days was 10oC. The late afternoon is calm, clear, and cool.
Autumn is here. Mushrooms of all kinds are appearing after the
2014 - Wood pigeons re-appeared suddenly today, but after
faffing around in the sky over the native forest for a short
time they headed off in the direction of the coast, and didn't
come back. It's a nice day, so maybe the wanted some sea air.
The rat poisoning I did about a week ago has paid off - I found
2 nice sized young rats dead on the path near the avocado
trees.I will put more bait out in a few days time - the price of
undamaged fruit is constant vigilance.
2014 - a few of the swelling Reed fruit have fallen, which is
not unexpected at this time of year. More will likely fall over
the next month or so. The healthier and more vigorous of the
young Carmen Hass trees are flowering well, and there are a lot
of new panicles (and even flower buds) yet to develop. Looks
like Carmen Hass will flower over a long period. Daytime
temperatures are good, but nights are cooling; there are very
few pollenizer insects around - not even flies. I am interested
to see if any fruit set.
2014 - in full fruit.
2014 - I found a ripe bunch on a stem that had blown over in one
of the recent windy episodes. I hadn't noticed it, so the fruit
are all perfectly ripe, so ripe that many tore off the bunch as
I picked the bunch up off the ground. A lot of the fruit are
bird pecked, so while they are nice, most will end up as chook
food or sheep food.
2014 - pretty much no leaves left on the trees. A few fruit came
in, but this is about it.
2014 - Granny Smith and a few Rhode Island Greening remain on
the trees; Horei would still be hanging on, but a combination of
bird attack and some fruit rot meant they had to be picked. The
Braeburns were all picked today, bar a few green ones. Monty's
Surprise - a big red apple said to be full of beneficial
phytochemicals - is still hanging on. The few golden delicious
are now golden and perfectly ripe, and were also picked to
thwart the birds.
2014 - The rather large kiwifruit crop is still being stored on
the vines, and apart from the Skelton green, seems undamaged by
birds - not that I have paid much attention to then. The
Actinidia arguta vine on the deck is well and truly turning an
attractive autumnal yellow - in complete contract to the greens
and golds, which, while wind and drought savaged, are still
2013 - An additional 35 mm have fallen since april 22nd. So
around 85 mm have fallen since mid april.Today is a mix of sun,
wind, and the odd shower. It is humid and warm. The soil
moisture levels will be building by the day. It is 20oC in mid
afternoon, and most days have been around 20oC to 22oC. The high
over the last few days was 23.5oC. The nightime low over the
last 4 days was 14oC. So conditions remain very 'growthy'. Fungi
are appearing everywhere, notably puffballs. There are also
'cotton wooly' white hyphal mats on the ground in some places. I
suspected this was the growing 'basket fungus' prior to forming
its distinctive basket-ejecting 'puffballs', but it urned out
not to be the case. It remains a mystery to me. Another fun
fungus is a tiny red species (almost certainly Cruentomyces
viscidocruenta, syn. Mycena viscidocruenta
- 'tip of the
hat' to Clive at 'hidden
'), found in numbers on litter under a banksia
Slippery jack picked at the 'button' stage
2013 - There is a massive fruiting of 'slippery jack' fungi
) under the pine trees and hazels. The
youngest 'buttons' have an extremely slimy cap and pale yellow
flesh. This is the ideal stage to pick them at, but there are
not many that are 'just right'. Most have grown on a bit, and
the flesh has turned a more sulfur yellow color. I haven't tried
them at that stage, but I am told they are not as good. They are
normally cooked gently in butter (the sticky brown cap peels off
relatively easily), when they are 'meaty' and pretty much
flavorless, except for the flavor of butter. I guess that's why
they're called butter fungi. A bit of fun, but nothing to get
2013 - the trees have dropped large numbers of leaves. The
remaining leaves are now affected with fig rust, and are
yellowing. Figs remain on the trees, but they have 'missed the
boat' as the season is about over. They won't ripen
2013 - the 2 'Opal Star' fruit have both dropped. They are
large, one has a nice pinkish blush on one side, and I think
they are very good. They are sweet, with some acidity to add
flavor, white fleshed, juicy pulp but with a firm fruit wall. I
detected no bitterness in them, altho' a whanau member claimed
2013 - Our 'Burtons Favorite' and an adjacent self-sown seedling
tree have fruit set sizing well from the late december 2012
flowering, but for some reason these two trees have continued to
flower and set right up to today. Some mature seedlings of this
cultivar some distance away have a single discrete december-set
crop and no recently set fruit, and I assume the 'Bronceada'
cultivar cherimoyas at the bottom of the property are also
behaving 'normally'. The normal fruiting season for cherimoyas
here is about october, and in some years going a bit later. This
set of fruit, assuming they hold on the tree, will ripen from
the start of the season in october, and keep going perhaps as
long as january. In theory.
2013 - The pomegranate shrub - you can't call it a tree - has 3
fruit, one of which has split open (they seem to do this when
ripe). The fleshy and juicy arils around the seed were from
bright to deep red. The fruit was clearly nearly mature, but not
quite. The arils were very pleasant, somewhat acid, good flavor,
but low in sugar. There was some astringency, and the ratio of
pulp to seed was low. The seeds were a little soft, and
surprisingly edible. It will be interesting to see how the
biggest (and presumably most mature) fruit turns out. The leaves
on the shrub are starting to turn yellow, so it must split soon,
2013 - the Hass tree with the early 'out of season' flowers is
holding a few tiny newly set fruit - so far. A weta was seen
lurking suspiciously close to the raceme, and as these animals
eat leaves, I wouldn't trust them with succulent flowering
racemes, let alone delicious little avocado fruitlets So
it has been transferred to some trees some distance away.
The second Hass tree to have some early flowers is in flower
now. No insects on them except the odd ant.
2012 - It has been warm, dry and sunny for days and days - "the
summer we never had" as someone remarked.
2013 - sunny, cloudy, warm, sticky, humid, breezy. It was 21oC
2014 - lots of welcome rain (20 mm) from the south over the last
few days (Canterbury was hit hard by torrential rain - not
welcome there!), and a drop in temperatures, but some sun
in-between. Still relatively mild.
2013 - the 'fernie' casimiroas remain faded lemon yellow.
Another tree has either dropped a couple of fruit, or they have
been knocked off. They are pretty squishy. The fruit on the tree
remain green and hard. I find casimiroas hard to time for
picking - pick them too soon and they don't ripen, they just go
leathery and shrivelled. Too late and they fall off the tree and
splat on the ground...
2012 - Feijoa 'Opal Star' fruit continue to drop. There are some
very late set fruitlets on the tree, but I doubt they will come
to anything. I like this fruit. It is acid, sweet, and has a
definite flavour. The fruit isn't soft, but has a nice firm
skin. It seems to have a faint purplish blush on the sunny side.
A very good late fruit.
2012 - The Chilean cranberries have finished, but not
before I discovered that they are absolutely delicious when
added to micro-waved baking apples. The Rhode Island Greening
'bakes' into beautiful 'baked apple' in 3 - 5 minutes (depending
on fruit size) in a microwave. I added the Chilean cranberries
to the cooked soft flesh as soon as the dish was taken from the
microwave. Their resinous perfumed flavor changed created a new
flavor sensation! Yum!
2012 - In another unexpected turn, I found that Egremont
Russet is outstanding as a microwaved 'baked' apple - even
better than Rhode Island Greening. The cooked flesh is naturally
very sweet (almost too sweet), and with a slight yellow tinge
absent in RIG. The skin, where the protective phytochemicals are
largely concentrated, is not obtrusive when you eat it (which I
do). RIG has a somewhat tougher, sort of 'greasy' skin, and it
is more of a duty to eat (albeit it has a slight bitter edge,
which likely means it is packed with healthful phytochemicals).
2013 - The birds know what they like. They have hammered
'dandeeap' fruit into extinction. Dandeeap is a Zaiger genetic
dwarf apple, but appears not to be available any more. They also
like 'Horei', which is a very nice crisp gala-ish but more acid
apple in its own right. It is really valuable because it hangs
on the tree to very, very, late in the season. We ended up
having to throw a net over it. Good thing it is on dwarfing
Malling 9 rootstock.
2012 - Hellen
avocado dropped a fruit yesterday, and I found another today.
This last fruit had been almost completely devoured overnight by
a connoisseur possum. There is a poison bait station 10 metres
away, and it has recently been emptied. I hope it is my avocado
The late flowering Hass has a second 'tranche' of flowers coming
on, much to my surprise/annoyance. So called 'winter Hass'
avocados are ripe in about may-june-july, and are OK, but not
very flash. They are a funny shape - they don't look like Hass
Winter Hass fruit
2012 - The last walnuts have fallen. They are 'Roadside6',
a 'Wilson's wonder' type, selected and sold by Cheddar
Valley Nurseries (no longer in operation). This tree is always
late, and also holds its leaves longest before falling. The
tree, like our other grafted walnut trees, is subject to
branchlet die-back. Our grafted trees are all small, around 2.2
metres, and spindly. This tree is now 14 years old. (On a side
note, the little wooden bowl was turned by a whanau member from
some olive tree trimmings that have sat around the place for the
last 5 years or so. I'm amazed at its durability.)
2012 - My golden Kiwifruit are now sufficiently mature to
pick, but they might as well hang on the vine while the leaves
are still healthy and the sun shining. We are not short of
fruit, as the feijoas continue to fall and the apples are in
2012 - The Asimina fruit ripening in a bag with an apple
in about 5 days, and was delicious, but packed with large, flat,
black seeds. Smooth, sweet, custardy flesh.
2012 - The resident figologist is still collecting figs
2012 - 3 more Hellen avocado have fallen; and one Reed fruit.
I'm not sure if a change in temperatures triggers fruit drop, or
whether it is just random as fruit age. The 3 fallen fruit had
been set upon by possums. The adjacent Timms trap had gone off,
and was pulled over, but the intended victim escaped. Perhaps it
had a big enough fright to stay way. We'll see.
2013 - warm, sunny, cloudy. The midday temperature is 21oC. The
maximum temperature in the last few days has been 23oC, and the
minimum has been no lower than 13oC.
2014 - warm, then hot after a cold night. It was totally still
until after midday, when we had odd wafts of light breeze come
up from time to time. The sky was totally clear until midday,
not a cloud. At 1100 it was 22oC. The overnight low was 7.5oC,
so the nights are suddenly colder.
2013 - the Fuyu persimmon are mostly well colored now, and are
being hammered by waxeyes and blackbirds.
2014 - nishimurawase leaves have fully colored and many
fallen. The remaining fruit on the tree have been almost totally
consumed by birds. They must love this place...The fuyu leaves
are still green, altho' some of that green might actually be the
little green waxeyes which are currently heavily infesting the
2013 - at last the fruit production is slowing down.
best Hass tree continues to drop fruit at a partially colored
stage. We have been a bit slow, and the birds have consumed 5
2014 - One tree has the tail end of this years crop still
hanging on. In the past, I have found that fruit will hang into
may, with the flesh becoming oilier and oilier to the point of
'off flavors' developing. The seed will often sprout roots
inside the fruit. I'll be interested to see what happens with
these last few fruit.
2 little Carmen Hass flowering at the moment (photo far left)
still have a distinct lack of insect visitors, except for the
odd German wasp, which barely stay on the flowers more than a
few seconds. I thought, well what can you expect, it's getting a
bit late in the season for bees and other pollinators. But when
I wandered 20 metres or so away, on the other side of a row of
bananas, I found bees, bumblebees, Asian wasps and wool carder
bees aplenty on a self -sown row of chia plants that are just at
So there are, in fact, lots of pollinating insects around on a
sunny calm day, you just have to offer them something a bit more
rewarding thing the odd panicle of avocado flowers. As the
flowering of chia seems to exactly overlap the flowering of
Carmen Hass, I am going to try to remember to sow some chia (Salvia
) seeds around the Carmen Hass trees next year.
The bumblebees on the chia are all Bombus terrestris
the short-tongued bumblebee. Apparently, 4 species were
introduced very early in the twenthieth century, but only the
short tongued species have really spread around - Bombus
being by far the most common.
Three species (Bombus ruderatus
, B. hortorum
)are successful in parts of the South
Island because they have a specialized tongue that can reach the
nectar in legume plants that have a long corolla. And it happens
that the South Island is ideal for growing seed of the
long-corolla'ed red clover (Trifolium pratense
) and the
equally long corolla'ed weed Echium
thrives on poorer
hilly sheep sites of the Southern Alps.
Red clover doesn't take grazing pressure hugely well , so it is
not sown as much these days. As a result, "B. subterraneus
which is now very localised and scarce" according to
researchers. While Bombus ruderatus
, and B.
(in particular) may be in decline in New
Zealand, in their homeland, in Europe, they are in critical
decline - because "species rich meadows" are in decline in
Europe, and, in a curious twist, because working horses have
been largely replaced by tractors. Apparently, long corolla'ed
legumes such as 'horse beans', which we call 'broad beans' (Vicia
) were grown as an important component of horse feed
for working horses in Europe. These legumes were an
important food source for native long-tongued bumblebee
species, which are native to Europe. In New Zealand (and
elsewhere) the short tongued Bombus terrestris
hole in the base of long corolla'ed flowers so that it can reach
the nectaries! So New Zealand has, by accident, become something
of a tenuous survival outpost for several of these European
2013 - the biggest of the pomegranate fruit has now split open.
I didn't pick it, which was a mistake, as the birds have been
helping themselves, and there is not much left.
2014 - cold and bleak in the morning, the temperature slowly
climbed to 19oC by midday. The overnight low was 10oC. Totally
overcast and still in the morning, later patches of sun came
through and it felt relatively warm.
2014 - the morning dawns dead calm and sunny. There is almost no
wind. The early morning still echoes to the distant sound of
shotguns, interspersed with duck calls. It is the first day of
the duck hunting season. A male and female duck appeared on our
tiny dam a few days ago. We were surprised that they didn't seem
perturbed by people walking past the dam. They didn't even fly
off when we were using garden machinery only 6 or 7 meters from
them. Now I know why. The days high is 23oC.
2014 - the rain has helped bring on some late ripening feijoas.
Only a couple of trees are producing any number of fruit, but
they are still producing.
2014 - we decided to pick the better part of the Sally crop. We
picked 2 cardboard cartons and a supermarket bag of the
reasonable sized fruit. There is probably still around about
half a carton left. There are lots of very small fruit, around
golf ball size and smaller, but we have left these for the birds
and possums (which have just started on them anyway).
One seedling kiwifruit plant has a smattering of flowers open,
which is pretty crazy. I notice one of the plums also has a
couple of open flowers...
2014 - Red tamarillo fruit have suddenly turned color on our two
trees. Could be the cold nights recently. Heaps have dropped.
They won't be much good, because the trees dropped almost all
their leaves in the drought. One tree has big red fruit,
and I think we bought it as 'Ted's Red'. It has only about
2 leaves left on it, and looks more like 'Ted's dead'.
2012 - It has been sunny and calm, but suddenly very cold at
night. A solitary cicada briefly brought back the sounds of
2014 - warm - hot even - by mid morning. Everyone was
moaning about the heat and humidity. By midday it was a touch
over 24oC. The overnight low was 10oC (again).
2014 - Living dangerously, yesterday afternoon the ducks
flew off to who knows where. Perhaps they thought the duck
shooters were gone. I thought that would be the last time I
would see them. But this morning they both touched down on the
little pond. They seem unscathed.
2012 - The Hass trees which flowered and set fruit earliest now
have some fruit that are about full sized. Another two Hellen
fruit have fallen, and as before, they have been eaten by
possums. A Reed has also fallen. The bait station was shifted to
under the Hellen last night, and it is now half empty...
- One (only) branch of a young Pinkerton tree is flowering. I
don't expect it to set fruit, as I suspect Pinkerton needs a
pollenizer tree, and none is available. I noticed several small
bugs on a flower, perhaps feeding on the flowers
juices with their hypodermic-like mouthparts (see the photo
left). Actually, my impression was that they were feeding at the
nectaries, and wondered if they were nectar feeding as adults.
But a google search found no reference to any species of Nysius
feeding on nectar, so I must assume they are sucking the
juices out of the flower - and are therefore a pest.
We have a self sown seedling by the deck which is covered in
panicle of out-of-season bloom. I don't expect much it will set
fruit - it has flowered (always 'out of season' for 4 years now,
and in that time only set half a dozen fruit. The fruit fall
very readily when ripe, so we have only managed to taste 2 fruit
- one we picked, one from the ground. The one we picked was a
little bitter, somewhat sweetish, and clearly immature. One fell
in mid august, and it had dry, oily flesh, with excellent
flavor. The trouble (apart from not setting) is that the fruit
have a massive seed, and the flesh adheres strongly to the skin,
which is quite annoying in an avocado. Given that very early set
Hass is picakable in mid August in warm years, then the tree is
without much merit. I want to chop it out, but I am told that it
gives valuable summer shade to the house...
Possums are becoming increasingly problematic, and, as usual,
spurn our kill traps. Today we found one of the precious final
half dozen current season Hass fruit on the ground with possum
teeth marks in it. So we picked all 5 remaining fruit. There are
still the handful of 'off season' fruit on another tree which
would probably be OK if picked now, but I'd like to leave them
until they show a little skin color change - possums allowing.
2012 - The seedling persimmons we planted on the drive are now
looking at their best. In warmer years they barely have any
color at all, but this year they are lovely.
2014 - Rhode Island Greening continue to fall, the Granny Smiths
are hanging on, and one of the very later varieties, Horei, has
a good crop. One other apple has finally started to ripen. This
is a seedling I grew from a late ripening apple called Kempton.
We like Kempton because it is really crisp, white fleshed, and
quite a hard apple for the late season. A local orchard sells
the apple, but I have never seen the tree available in
nurseries. So I put in a few Kempton seeds, three trees grew,
and now, around 15 years later, 2 trees have a few fruit for the
first time. One is a hard, acid greeny yellow apple (to be fair,
it is a late apple, and it might sweeten in a few weeks time).
The other is a red-striped apple, looking a bit like a flattened
Gala. It is sharply acid; sweet enough, but not too sweet, but
still flavorsome. Like its maternal parent, the flesh is white,
hard and crisp. If it keeps well, I'll be very pleased, as it
will be an acceptable substitute for Kempton.
2012 - I haven't noticed a huge number of fungi around the place
this year. Maybe it is a bit cold now. But there was one basket
fungus (Ileodictyon cibarium
) near one of the young avos.
Some years we have quite large numbers of these odd fungi. But
not this year.
Seedling persimmon selected
for its autumn foliage
- a New Zealand native
2014 - A little gentle rain fell in the night,
and there were a few brief warm showers this morning. There is a
steady warm northwesterly blowing, and the skies are totally
overcast. The ground is moist, and worms are really ramping up
in the pasture - their casts are everywhere. They will
soon bury the vast amounts of sheep marbles scattered heavily
over the pasture.
- We are trying to spell parts of the orchard so that the new
shoots of the fine summer grasses have a chance to grow a
little. So the sheep continue to be fed on windfall apples and
feijoas, and, from time to time, lashings of bamboo foliage. The
sheep like bamboo, and seek it out. I wondered how much
nutritional value there is in bamboo leaves as a forage, and
eventually found a US department of Agriculture paper
investigating the forage value of various cold hardy bamboo
species in the Appalachian region (bearing in mind it snows in
winter in the study region). [link
In the study, the youngest leaves were carried in mid summer,
and the crude protein content averaged across all seasons and
all species was around 14% - 16%. One species hit nearly 20%
crude protein in mid summer, but was around the 14% level in mid
winter when snow was on the ground. They made the point that
older leaves were more fibrous, but even so the quality of the
forage was enough to act as a maintenance feed in winter for
goats (the subject of the trials). Several species had very good
spring, summer and autumn values of around 17% protein. While
our bamboo, Bambusa oldhamii
, wasn't tested, it is
likely to have similar feed value. I am slowly bringing the
hedge down to about chest level and cut some of it every year.
As a consequence, the leaves on the hedged sections are never
more than a year old, and tend to remain deep green and much
less coarse than older leaves. I am willing to bet the forage
value is at least 15% from late spring to late may.
- Success at last! Hopefully the end of this possum
(and its joey) will give us a lull in the damage to the avocado.
I wonder if Peter Jackson got his inspiration for how Gollum
should look by looking at a possum joey...
2013 - sunny, almost still, not a cloud in the sky, warm. A
contrast to the last 3 days of rain and wind. We had about 50mm,
mainly from the north and northwest. It has been cooler at
night, with the minimum dropping to 11oC. The maximum since the
last reading on the 1st of may was 24oC. At 1230 today it was
20oC. Quite a number of 'horse mushrooms' have popped up. These
are a large and rank-tasting species closely related to the
normal field mushroom. I have eaten them once or twice, but they
are far too strong-tasting for me.
2013 - late feijoas continue to fall.
2013 - Fruit continue to fall. I notice distortion of new growth
on a couple of orange tamarillo seedlings, so it looks like we
have had a chemical trespass spray-drift incident from a
neighbours autumn thistle spraying.
2013 - the recent storm has snapped several stems carrying a
fruit bunch. Stems that were properly supported with a couple of
bamboo poles survived intact.
2013- rain all day. The soil is now saturated. Worms casts are
everywhere, and the sheep droppings that littered the pasture
have all but gone. Perhaps the bountiful manure will cause an
earthworm explosion, increase mineral availability, boost grass
growth, and so and counterbalance the effect of the drought. An
interesting idea...Conditions are ideal for giving avocado and
citrus some NPK compound fertiliser pellets, so on with the
coat, and out into the rain.
2013 - A few immature Reed fruit have fallen - annoying, but
inevitable, I suppose. Fruit continue to fall off the
'intermediate age' Hass tree here. Blackbirds and thrushes have
been in full song over the last few days, claiming their spring
nesting territory. I saw a fat male blackbird feeding on a
fallen Hass fruit today. Must be in his territory. The
proprietor of a prime piece of blackbird real estate, I would
2014 - mostly cloudy, a few torrential (gutters overflowing) but
very brief cloudbursts, a little sun,mild. The high was 21oC.
2016 - overcast and cloudy, then sunny and warm. It has been
still and either overcast or combo sunny and overcast for the
last 4 or 5 days. It has been ridiculously warm - shorts and T
shirt weather. The lowest overnight temperature was 12oC, daily
temperatures are in the 22 - 24oC (in the shade) range. We need
rain, albeit the ground is still somewhat moist. The bamboo
spears are growing strongly.
2016 - A few Adriatic figs are left, but it is the very end of
the season. It has been an excellent season this year - enough
rain, tons of heat.
2016 - The main Reed tree is over, the small tree has about 10
or so fruit left. They fall from time to time, and it is a
matter of getting to them before the birds. Another Reed tree
from a graft done a couple of years ago has about 8 mature fruit
- but a possum ate 2 of those and half ate another all in one
night....The Timms trap also got it, it went off, the bait was
nibbled, but no possum. Judging by the fur left at the entrance,
I would say it was 'foul caught', maybe by an arm, and managed
to pull free. Another 'Timms trap shy' possum. Sigh...
There are fat flower buds on the Pinkerton trees, and one tree
has a panicle developing in the early stage. I can see one Hass
tree is also working up to some 'off-season' bloom. Carmen Hass
is still going, but the only attendants are the Australian paper
wasps (Polistes humilis
The (self sown) chia plants are flowering, and full of bees. I
wish I had remembered to plant some near the off-season avocado
2016 - Our trees are all turning color. Some have even dropped
all their leaves. The Fuyu is also turning, although some leaves
are green. The Fuyu fruit are ripening, but are not fully
colored. The persimmon orchard down the road is still in full
deep green leaf, even although it is lower altitude (and
possibly cooler as a result) than us. Their Fuyu fruit are at
about the same stage. Bit odd.
2016 - More grass than they can ever eat. The fine grasses of
autumn and winter are coming through strongly, but even the
kikuyu is still green and growing. It has been a fantastic
summer for grass growth, just exceptional.
2016 - Cynthia and 'Bold Gold' are dropping, and a possum is
taking full advantage. Two Timms traps and a bait station, under
the trees, but no luck so far.
2016 - The plants look fantastic - there has been enough rain,
and there hasn't been enough wind to shred the leaves. They are
lush and green. No bunches left to pick, but some have set, and
will be ready in spring or summer.
The ornamental banana, Musa
a, has had its handsome tiny red fruit bunches fat
and ripe-looking for some time. Today, the first fruit 'self
peeled', looking like bizarre little stars. They are absolutely
packed with hard rock-like black seeds. There is a thin veneer
of flesh there, and it does taste like a banana, but it is only
a millimeter or so thick, at best.
The plants are quite dwarf, only about a meter or so high. In
difference to the edible banana, the bunch stands up vertically
and erect, and the male flower, the 'bell', is therefore at the
top of the bunch, rather than at the bottom. I suppose you could
say the bunch is 'upside down'.
2014 - sunny, mild, a little cloud from time to time. Last
nights low was 10oC. The rain and warmth has put a rocket engine
under the new bamboo spears. The speed with which they grow
- the first few nuts are ripe. The nuts are encased in a green
outer fruit that splits open when the nuts are mature. But when
I checked them today, I found some varmint had been biting the
end off the fruit, exposing the nut meat to its greedy
attention. This happened last year as well. We blame the Kakas,
but, in fairness, the marks on the fruit might well be possum.
The end result is that we try to pick some nuts from the tree
just as soon as pressure on the point caused the fruit to split
open. If it is willing to split, the nut inside is ripe enough
to collect. The nuts usually have the normal grey-brown color of
a ripe pecan, but often one end is still pale cream. Sometimes
the entire nut is still cream. Interestingly, the shelled nuts
in the basket usually 'color up' overnight.
This year the nuts are pickable earlier than many past years.
Most of the Giles will 'pop when pressed', many of the Gratex,
and some of the Grabohls and Terry. As usual, Grabohls has by
far the largest crop, followed by Gratex, Giles and Terry. Terry
(photo right) is a local seedling selection, and it is
shaping up to be a good bearer, but while the fruits are very
large, the nuts inside are rather small. Pity about that.
A 'Southern pecan' variety whose name has been lost (called RH9
by Paul Dodgshun) had a few nuts for the first time this year.
The tree has almost finished dropping its leaves, and while a
few of the nuts were ripe, most still tightly adhered to the
wall of the enclosing fruit husk. I suspect this variety will
not mature its nuts quickly enough to fully ripen under our
2014 - one of the self-sown seedling macadamias is dropping a
useful number of nuts, making it quite an early variety.
2014 - One of the young Maluma trees is starting a little
off-season flower. The Carmen Hass has apparently 'set' some
pin-head sized fruit. I expect most to fall off. I spotted an
early-set fruit on the tree, and it is about pea size. Looks
promising. Some new season fruit were blown off a Hass tree a
few weeks ago. A whanau member collected them, which seemed like
a wasted effort to me. I didn't expect them to ripen - they are
far too small, and months off any semblance of maturity. But
ripen they did. They were pretty tasteless, but didn't have any
'soapiness' or sweetness so typical of grossly immature avocado
fruit. The flesh was a little firmer than normal, but soft
enough. They made an uninspiring but perfectly edible guacamole.
2012 - Heavy rain 3 or 4 days ago, but still warm in-between. It
has been cool at night, but fairly mild some nights. The grass
is growing like stink, continuing the outstanding season for
2013 - The last few days have been sunny and clear, but with a
cool southerly breeze. Nights have been cold. The overnight low
for the week gone was 7oC. The high was only 21oC. Today, the
morning was warm and sunny, without a cloud in the sky. It was
still and calm. Mist completely filled the lower half of the
river valley. Above the mist, the sun shone brilliantly. As the
day heated, the mist rose and thinned, obscuring the sun and
turning the afternoon hazy, but it was still warm. It was 16oC
at 5 pm.
2012 - Several more Hellen and Reed fruit have fallen over the
last few days. There are still 5 fruit remaining in the Hellen,
and 2 on the Reed. The 'old' Hass tree here still has a useful
number of last seasons fruit on it. Many of the new seasons
fruit are about the same size as the mature fruit. It can be a
bit hard to tell them apart, but the new season fruit are
totally green, and somewhat shiny, whereas the mature fruit usually
have a slight
purplish blush, and the skin is dull.
2013 - Warm, mostly sunny. At 2 pm it was 20oC. The maximum for
the day was 21oc. The overnight minimum was 10oC.
- Fruiting is almost at end. Only a few late seedlings (a few
are worth eating, but most aren't) are still going. Possums have
hammered the feijoas for the last week. The feijoa-gatherer
reports that well over half the daily pick-up are damaged. Some
are eaten on the trees, some are eaten on the ground. Initially
I thought kaka from the adjacent patch of native forest were
responsible. The pattern of a lower crescent-shaped bill mark
and an upper narrow 'bite' reflects the shape of the kaka beak.
But on examining the mouth of one of the two possums
(technically 3 - one was a female with a joey in her pouch) I
caught last night in a Timms kill-trap, it is clear that the
circle of small upper teeth will make the crescent, and the long
projecting rat-like lower front incisors would make the narrow
'bite'. Today's fallen fruit are undamaged - so the kakas are
off the hook.
2013 - The fuyu fruit are about as ripe as they are going to
get. There were 5 tuis in the tree the other day, feeding on
damaged fruit. Today there were several tuis, a mynah, and a
small group of waxeyes.
Red species guavas
There are very few fruit left. In fact, a family member who is
very fond of these acid fruit complained there were only 3 fruit
on the ground under the trees. The reason is clear - up to 5
native pigeons have been feasting on the fruit every day.
Normally they do minimal damage because most of the fruit of
this species are too big for them to swallow. But this year the
fruit are relatively small, probably due to the drought.
2012 - A southerly came through yesterday, and we had cold winds
and driving cold rain. The plums are bare of leaves, and the
peach trees are well on the way, and their yellow leaves litter
the grass. The kiwifruit are just starting to shows signs of
turning colour, and lose a few leaves. Most of the figs are
bare, or their foliage is yellow and falling. Only the Asian
Pear is still in green leaf. Yesterday, it felt like winter was
almost here. Today, the wind has turned to the west, and between
showers it is warm and sunny. Suddenly, the prospect of winters
cold is gone again...
2013 - sunny for most of the day, cloudy in the afternoon,
but still warm. Not much wind. The air chills quickly as night
2012 - Late feijoas continue to fall, as do apples.
Red species guavas
2012 - Falling in good numbers
2012 - Tamarillos are nearly fully ripe, they will not be far
2013 - the red tamarillos have been falling for about a week
now. There are the usual splits, rots, and immature fruit, but
the two trees produce more fruit than we want. Not because they
fruit heavily - they don't. They are straggly trees, full of
powdery mildew, and not very productive, but we eat very few of
these fruit, so that works for us. I find the big reds a bit
acid and very much lacking in sweetness. We have planted a
couple of seedlings grown from a very nice genuinely sweet small
orange tamarillo we have had for many years. The parent plant
died last year, so I hope the seedlings produce similar quality
2012 - Early mandarin varieties are ready now (in the shops!).
2012 - The figs are fully sized, but are reluctant to ripen.
When they do, they lack flavor and sweetness.
2014 - nights have been cool for days now, but the lowest has
still been no less than 8.5oC. Days are cool to mild, overcast
or sometimes sunny, the odd shower or burst of rain. The high
over the last week or so was 21oC.
2014 - in heavy flower bud, fruiting. The fruit are green when
unripe, and a duller green when ripe. The fruit on the tree can
go from hard as a rock to slightly yielding to fallen on the
ground in a very short time. Fruit picked from the tree too
early simply wrinkle, but remain firm and never soften to the
stage of edibility. A few varieties go light yellow when they
are ripe. Fernie is one such variety. Even then, if they are
picked yellow but very firm, they don't ripen properly.
2014 - our odd 'out of season flower' still produces a panicle
of flower from time to time. The tree also has quite a lot of
fat flower bud - as does Pinkerton. But Pinkerton (along with
Fuerte) is the earliest to start flowering, so you would expect
2014 - our Kempton
seedling is proving to be a late apple. A fruit I picked today
has better 'ground color' than the fruit I picked earlier in the
month, and the red has developed more. It is still pretty much
an acid and sufficiently sweet apple.
2012 - Its a beautiful warm day today - at least, out of the
wind. In fact a cicada again sounded briefly in the middle of
the day. The last few days have had their sunny moments, but the
wind has been from the southwest, there has been frequent rain
and showers, and its been pretty windy and cool.
2012 - The Fuyu persimmon has suddenly started to substantially
change color and increase the rate of leaf drop. We still
managed to harvest a whole supermarket bag of undamaged fruit.
We left the yellow and faint orange ones on the tree, because
they tend to retain some astringency, even when they soften. We
find that even orange fruit have residual astringency unless
one or more seeds
are present. This makes eating them a bit of a gamble.
'Fuyu' is a 'pollination constant non astringent' type in areas
where the climate suits it. This means that the tannins in the
flesh effectively 'disappear' as the fruit matures and turns
orange on the tree. The fruit are usually seedless. Seeds in
persimmon fruit speed up the natural reduction in tannins. In
the case of Fuyu, the fruit should
be non-astringent when they are orange, whether there are
seeds present or not. But our climate is not quite warm enough
for them (at least, where we are, anyway), and so the fruit look
mature, but retain
some residual astringency. That's where pollination saves the
day for us - if the flower has been pollinated, seeds will form,
and the seeds will have precipitated the 'removal' of the
2012 - The waxeyes have just started to get into the
yellow kiwifruit, so I guess they must be mature enough to pick.
We have a seedling I grew from the commercial yellow kiwifruit
cultivar Hort16A. It is much smaller, and while it is nice, it
isn't as flavorsome as Hort16A. The flesh isn't as 'smooth' in
mouth feel as Hort16A, it tends to a slight 'pastiness', which
becomes more pronounced as the fruit age.
We named the fruit 'Sally' after a friend of one of the whanau -
the first non-whanau member to taste it.
'Gold' kiwifruit are Actinidia
, a different species to the green (A. deliciosa
). I grafted a
piece of Sally onto a green kiwifruit variety called 'Skelton',
and this branch has fruited very heavily. Whether this is the
influence of the 'Skelton' plant (a very vigorous kiwifruit), or
because it is grafted near ground level and gets better winter
chill and thus flower bud formation, I don't know.
The 'Skelton' kiwifruit was bred by Don Skelton
quite some years ago. It was tried as a commercial variety, and
exported for a few years, but the then Kiwifruit powers that be
decided it would be 'too confusing' for the consumer to have a
large long kiwifruit on the market as well as the more oval
The plant is 'polyploid', which means it has extra chromosomes,
resulting in larger leaves and a lot more vigor than Hayward.
Skelton flowers and matures a month or so earlier than the main
Hayward variety (it needs its own early flowering male plant, a
variety selected by Don which he called 'Merv',). I can pick
Skelton in mid - late march and ripen it with an apple; when it
is moderately sweet and quite good. However the best
flavor and sweetness
is from fruit picked in may. This is still at least a couple of
weeks before Hayward is pickable. I am talking here about fully
vine-matured fruit - Hayward could be picked earlier - and is
commercially - but the full flavor and sweetness wouldn't be
there. They would taste 'good - but not 'best'.
2012 - It is a beautiful warm and sunny late autumn day,
2012 - Rats are eating the macadamias. I must have left it a
little too long to replenish the poison bait. However, they
prefer one particular variety - whose name I have long forgotten
- so they other adjacent trees are untouched. That gives me time
to 'feed them up' on poison bait - after all its a lot easier to
sit in a bait station and eat bait than spend time chewing
through a macadamias hard shell.
Waxeyes are gorging themselves on the unpicked late figs. These
figs are fully sized, but are dry and lack much sweetness. And
while they are eating the easy-to-access-figs they are leaving
the kiwifruit alone. Everyone wins.
The wool carder bee I saw in early april (if it is the same one)
seems to have taken up residence in a dentata lavender border. I
like this colorful little animal, its territorial behaviour and
busyness (interspersed with periods of languid sunbathing) adds
interest to the garden.
2015 - A
larger than normal black sapote fruit we picked a week ago
ripened up. We thought maybe it was larger because it might have
been pollinated, and have seeds in it. But this was not the
case, There were a few aborted seeds, but nothing else. This
particular fruit lived up to the better side of its reputation -
tastes like chocolate mousse, sweet and pleasant. It really
caught our attention. There is a small sheep-munged black sapote
a few metres away from this tree, so I am determined to rescue
it and hopefully grow it to flowering stage so it can cross
pollinate the main tree. Then we will see if fruit with
seed are much bigger than these little seedless fruit.
2014 - The overnight low was 12oC. Today's high was 20oC. The
last week or so has brought some good rain, and cool southerlies
interspersed with sunshine.The weather is now from the west, so
its is warm and humid, mixed sunny and cloudy. Last night we had
heavy rain and wind. The last week or so have brought 50mm of
rain. The grass is growing well again, and worm casts are
everywhere. Fungi are everywhere. The forecast is a sudden
change to the south tonight, and low overnight temperatures.
2014 - most of the trees are still green, with some just
starting to show a color change. The remaining nuts on the
Grahbols - and there were quite a lot - have been totally
cleaned out by some varmints. The only possible culprits are
possums or kakas. It may well be an attack on two fronts. The
ground is littered with pecan shell shards.
2014 - The little Carmen Hass trees continue to flower and set
initial pin head size fruitlets. A few small-pea sized fruitlets
look promising. There is a lot more flower to come.
2014 - our seedling tree is now maturing and dropping its fruit.
There are 12 fruit splattered on the ground under the tree. I
picked another 7. Some go distinctly pale yellow when ripe,
others have a light yellow blush, and others remain green even
when very soft and near over-ripe.
2014- one of the whanau spotted a small bunch of bananas I had
missed. About half the fruit had already been eaten, many have
split after the rain, and rat droppings on top of one hand tells
me that I need to lay poison yet again.
2014 - our 'june' feijoa continues to drop fruit, as do several
seedlings. The possums continue to give them a solid
working-over. So far we have only caught one in the Timms traps.
2014 - the leaves on most vines are still green. There are
zillions of fruit. I may have to find a food bank to give them
2014 - a mix of sun and overcast weather. A cold snap has been
sweeping the South Island, and the cold air has moved to Central
North Island, dumping snow on the volcanic plateau and bring
cold wind to Helensville. The temperature only reached 16oC
today, although the previous night was warm at 12oC.
- we picked a couple of autumn-set 'loco' Hass fruit about 8
days ago, and these have now turned dull dark green with a light
overlay of purple-black. One had a little 'give', so we decided
to try it. It was little firm when I cut it (photo left), but
the eating quality was very good. It was somewhat 'dry' in
texture, oil, very good flavor, and peeled like a dream. The
seed was enormous. Still, it should probably have been left
another few days to soften the flesh more.
Later, I cut down a dozen or so tall avocado seedlings I had
planted tightly packed in several rows by the veggie garden.
They were shading the veggie garden, and although at least half
have flowered for 3 or 4 years now, none have set fruit. After
cutting down the first seedling, I found 2 new season fruit
amongst the foliage. In spite of staring at length into the
foliage of the other trees before dropping them, I found a fruit
in the foliage of another fallen tree. I spotted several fruit
high up amongst the leaves of another tree I was about to cut,
so it still stands. So does another tree that always flowers
very heavily - one more chance! The only other tree I left was a
tree that has quite a lot of autumn flower.
The autumn flower on the seedling by the deck appears to be
setting fruit. I hold low expectations of them holding on, but,
naturally, I hope they do.
2014 - It was cold last night. The Antarctic air from the
Central Plateau dropped the overnight air temperature to 2oC.
Ground temperature was clearly lower, as we had frost on the
lower and flatter parts of the property. The mid-day high was a
meagre 14oC, although it was sunny and cloudless. The air was
cold out of the sun.
2015 - I wondered where the native fruit pigeons had gone this
autumn, because I hadn't seen more than the odd one of recent
days. However, today my attention was caught by the appearance
of a squadron of 5 kaka flying up from the patch of native
forest, screeching and scrapping with each other in flight as
they went. A group of 4 large birds flying due north of them
caught my eye, and it turns out they were the missing pigeons.
Its the guava fruiting season, and the guava trees are laden
with fruit; which is a bit odd, because the trees would normally
be infested with two to four pigeons every day gorging until
there is no more fruit left. Why they spurn the copious ripe
offering, I don't know.
2014 - The flowering Pinkerton and the Carmen Hass were both in
full-on female phase early this morning. Pinkerton needs a
male-phase pollinizer when it is in female mode, but Carmen
clearly won't work. It is so cold early on that no insects are
about anyway. Even bumblebees take some time sun bathing before
they can fly.
2012 - Its been foggy and cold, then heavily overcast, grey and
brooding, then rainy and mild. The pace of leaf fall is
accelerating, and even the Fuyu persimmon is on the way to being
2013 - An icy southerly blast covers the country. It is very
cold - the overnight minimum fell to just 4oC. It feels like
2014 - The overnight low was 2oC again, and the ground
frost was a little more extensive. The day never really warmed
up, only reaching 16oC. Apparently this was the coldest may
night in the Auckland region in 40 years.
2015 - It was cold last night, at 5oC air temperature - probably
as cold as it has been up to this date - but while a real winter
morning, there is no ground frost. The day dawns still and
sunny. The temperature tops out at 18oC. It has been a warm May
- the first half in particular. Grass growth has been luxuriant,
and the weather very 'growthy'. The last few weeks have been
rainy, drizzly, and overcast, interspersed with sunny patches,
but the weather has been from the north west or west, so it has
been very mild. The last week has seen first, torrential
thunderous 'tropical' rain, then a swing to the southerly
quarter. A cold snap in the South Island has extended its
way to the north, bringing icy winds a sudden break-out of the
2012 - There has been a sudden surge in possums - we caught 3 in
the last few days, two of which were females (and one had a
joey, so technically we caught four). But one of them took a big
chunks out of almost all the few remaining fruit on the Hellen
avocado tree - including out of a very immature new season
fruit. Very annoying.
2015 - In spite of our efforts, the possum population seems to
have ramped up. Sometimes it feels like we are the only ones
attempting to control them, but I know that is not true, as at
least one neighbour goes after them. Rats are starting to appear
from time to time, but since baiting regularly their autumn
population boom has been effectively nipped in the bud.
2015 - The quail are back in evidence, and have 'mobbed up' into
a group of 10 magnificent fully grown birds. Mounds of brushy
cover is constantly increasing as I drop some trees and
severely prune others. The rate of increase in piles of branches
far exceeds the rate of dealing with them!
A kaka was
feeding in a pohutakawa tree I planted many years ago at the
edge of the native forest. Neither I nor my off-sider could
decide whether it was hunting out little insects in the bark and
lichen, or feeding on the lichen itself (my favored
explanation). The sun was behind it, and the tree in shade, so
it was hard to pick out what it was up to even although it was
only about 5 or 6 meters away. In any case, it was using its
tongue constantly, and favoring dead branches of around 30mm +
These birds seem to feed silently, and you can be right under
the tree where they are feeding and never even notice them until
they move. Their colors blend in very well with the shadows and
bark of the trees.
2012 - Red guava, both the Cattley guava and another much larger
species (one of the then 'Department of Scientific and
Industrial Research' introductions from South America at the
time of the 'hort' boom' of the 1980's) are fruiting heavily.
The wet summer and autumn has meant some of the species guavas
have grown really big. This particular guava is has very little
sweetness, and is quite acid. Oddly, at least one member of the
whanua prefers the acid guava over the sweet and mild Cattley
These acid Psidium
sp. have been very large this year,
due to the rain over summer. Fallen fruit rot on the ground.
2015 - The Reed fruit are still falling. Possums 'taste' unripe
fruit, damaging it, or pull and partly eat several fruit off at
a time. Two Timms traps have proved unsuccessful, but poison
bait has finally done it in, as the damage has stopped. For the
moment. Waxeyes capitalize on the 'opened' fruit, and they can
completely eat out a half eaten avocado in the course of a day.
They find them so attractive that it is possible to get closer
than a meter from some feeding birds. They feed with one eye
constantly fixed on you, which is a little unnerving. The few
new season fruit are sizing rapidly, and it won't be long before
they will be a similar size to the current season crop. Only
their shiny skin will give them away.
Carmen Hass continues to produce flowers and new racemes. The
few 'loco' fruit are really big now - nearly Reed size. They
should be ripe about June.
2015 - We have had several small bunches of bananas over the
last month. The fruit is OK, but not spectacular.
2015 - Some of the lucuma trees are flowering heavily, the spent
flowers litter the ground below the trees. The flowers have a
spicy smell, strengthening as night falls.
2015 - The figs are now officially over. The leaves have mostly
2015 - a few scrappy end of season feijoas continue to fall.
They have thick, hard shells. Even the feijoaologists can't be
bothered picking them up. The feijoaologist claims the end of
season fruit seem to have more guava moth in them. The main crop
didn't have guava moth worth mentioning, but the mystery of the
areas of flesh browning continues unresolved for another year.
2015 - the Actinidia chinensis
plants are yet to turn
color, although the leaves are starting to look scrappy. Hayward
and Skelton, both A. deliciosa
, are resolutely dark
green. The Actinidia arguta
, in contrast, is fully
autumn yellow and dropping leaves rapidly.
2014 - cold overnight, low of 5oC, and the day only reached
about 15oC. The weather is from the southerly quarter.
2013 - totally overcast, no rain (at last), mild.
2016 - the last week or so has been mild, but with lots of rain,
torrential at times. It has been astonishingly mild all may.
Apparently this has been the warmest May on record.
- we caught another 2 possums last night. Possums give birth in
autumn and spring, apparently, but whether this has anything to
do with the sharp uptick in numbers, I don't know.
2013 - this is definitely the peak of casimiroa ripening. The
fruit are becoming fully ripe on the trees, pull loose from
their stalk, and fall splat on the ground. The waxeyes are
feasting on them.
2013 - We had netted Horei, a very nice late apple. It holds on
the tree until june. Sadly, there was a tear in the net we
hadn't noticed and the waxeyes have hollowed them out. Sigh...
2013 - almost over.
2016 - all but over.
2013 - we are still picking Hass fruit stored on the tree. They
don't seem to become fully black in color, and the skin is
thicker, so once picked, some are ripe but still feel hard and
unripe to the touch. As a result, we have left some fruit we
picked for too long, and lost them to internal rots. The fruit
continue to fall off the tree, neatly detaching where the stem
enters the fruit. Birds continue to get up earlier than we do
and capitalise on the breach in the fruits defences.
2016 - the Hass fruit are finally all gone, and so have most of
the Reeds. There are still useful numbers left on the Reed
trees, and the small tree, in particular, is holding the
2013 - the last little fruit on the bush has split. Birds have
helped them selves. The frit are a soft red-carmine, and
streaked with browny-gold russeting. I think they are really
attractive. They seem to have a rich antiquity about them. The
leaves on the tree are now pale yellow and some have started to
2013 - continue to fall. Quite a number have split, presumably
due to the rain after the drought.
- the birds haven't yet attacked the fruit, so they can be left
stored on the vine a bit longer. Another seedling in a row of
Sally seedlings I grew has fruited for the first time. The few
seedlings that have fruited so far have all had very small fruit
with little or no sweetness and flavor. So I didn't expect much
from this new one. But the birds thought it was pretty good, and
did a thorough job of cleaning every last fruit out. I'll have
to wait until next year to try it.
2016 - we have boat loads of kiwifruit. We don't bother picking
the small yellow Sally fruit, or the green Skelton fruit. That
probably tells the story in itself. The green Hayward fruit are
full size, and the vines are still in pretty good leaf, where
the leaves on the yellow seedlings are very tatty and falling.
The Hayward are very definitely worth waiting for. The only
better fruit, in my view, is Hort16A - now decimated by Psa