Great 'growth' time of year, but
can be icy cold.
Tomatoes are tradittionally planted after Labour Day, when the soil has
Rooted kumera 'slips' (cuttings) are also planted around Labour Day,
for the same reason. You can grow your own 'slips' by putting a healthy
tuber in moist sand and keeping it in a warm place. Kumera take roughly
5 months to mature good tubers, so are dug and 'cured' for storage
2014 - Rainy southeasterlies, cold. It rained all night long, water
everywhere. It rained throughout the day until mid afternoon, when it
eased to totally overcast and drizzly conditions. The high was forecast
to be 13oC today, and that would be about right.The weather is said to
swing to a northerly influence over the next 4 days, with clearing
skies and warmer temperatures. Typical spring.
2014 - a bunch of Ducasse bananas on a sucker put aside as a
'spare' ripened. The fruit are very small, the ripe ones have all
split, and the green ones are very skinny. In spite of that, the ripe
ones are sweet, with very good flavor. They do, however, has a residual
2014 - Nelmak nuts continue to fall in good numbers. The green husks
are now almost all well and truly split open.
2014 - the grass is really skinned, and we have been feeding ever
increasing amounts of sheep nuts - an expensive business. Bamboo has
been an important adjunct feed, along with coprosma, mahoe, and olive
foliage. I had hoped to kill at least one old ewe to reduce stock
pressure on the grass, but the rain and mud have interfered with my
plan. The lambs can start being weaned by mid october, when milk will
supply only around 10% of their diet, if that. Temperatrures
2013 - sunny all day, still in the morning, and a breezy southerly in
the afternoon. The lowest night time temperature in the last few days
was 5oC. The temperature in the shade at both 9 am and 3 pm was 15oC.
The highest temperature recorded in the last few days was 18.5oC.
2013 - Still flowering, there are lots of bumblebees and bees on the
plums, and on the Pixie plumcot in particular.
2014 - rain. The weather is turning to the east.
2014 - Easterly conditions continue. It rained briefly in
the morning, then the sun came out until about 3 pm when thunder and
some lightening rolled in, with rain until 5 pm. Very warm. T
shirt weather, according to a whanau member. There was a
relatively brief torrential ultra-heavy downpour in the city, almost
2013 - yesterday was very cold in the morning - bleak, really - but
sunny in the afternoon. End of day reading was a high of 15oC. The low
over the last few days was 5oC.
2014 - low cloud, totally overcast, warm, still. A brief heavy
rain about 3 pm, then overcast again. The rain guage says we have had
125 mm of rain since
2013 - the small Carmen appears to have set some pin-head size fruit,
It will be interesting to see if any hold on. The Dusa tree has a nice
number of flowers open. There is an ant in every one, so clearly nectar
is being produced.
2014 - Pinkerton fruit continue to hold well on the trees, although I
did find one on the ground today. I sloshed around in the warm rain
throwing urea under these trees.
2014 - the Kirby plumcots are only just beginning to open some flowers,
while the Pixie plum has a good number of early flowers and lots of
flower buds at the point of opening.
2014 - the plants look pretty battered and torn, and the foliage is
rather yellow. There are two or three bunches of fruit, and one is
nearly ready (the fruit are starting to split, anyway). These bunches
that 'mature' over winter and early spring are not very good.
2012 - The last few days have been mixed sunny and overcast, but
relatively warm. The maximum air temperature over the last 4 days was
20oC, the minimum (overnight) was 10oC. At midday it was 18oC.
Temperatures are expected to drop over the next few days.
2012 - Although it has been very warm all morning, it is very windy. In
contrast to some of the days in late winter, the blossom has very few
pollinating insects in it - just a few bees.
2012 - The plumcots still have a lot of blossom on them, but they
are past their peak. New leaves are pushing through the blossom.
The new plumcot 'Spring Satin' is now in full bloom. The
flowers are small and pure white, rather attractive, really. Knowing it
was going to rain, I hand pollenized a few flowers with the last
remaining apricot flowers, hoping to maximise the set.
2012 - The early pollenizer varieties, Billington and Heard, have
finished flowering, and the apricot trees have only a few flowers
remaining. The plum 'Black Prince' is at about peak bloom. Santa Rosa
is flowering well at this time, and I hope it is a good pollenizer for
it - especially as the canopies now touch. 'Elephant heart' is on the
other side of the "Black Prince' tree, and it is in early bloom. It
hasn't set much fruit for us over the years, but with Santa Rosa now
flowering well, we hope for better results.
2012 - Some peach blossom is now open, and more will follow.
2012 - Virtually all the avocado trees are are just starting to show
growth flushes. I gave the trees a good sprinkle of NPK fertiliser when
it was raining about a week or so ago, and this should help the trees
cope with the demands of both flowering and producing new extension
We have caught two or three young male possums over the last few weeks,
but not before one had eaten a new season far-from-mature Reed fruit.
2012 - The figs are just tipping out some green leaves from their
terminal buds, and several trees are already showing an
impressive number of incipient ultra-early 'breba' figs. The resident
figologist was exited at the prospect of the best-ever crop of brebas,
but I reminded her that this is 'hormone spray chemical trespass'
season, and, going on past experience, we are likely to lose the lot.
2012 - The raspberry plants have leafed out (except for the black
raspberries), and are in flower bud. In spite of the best of
intentions, the boysenberry plants still haven't been reduced in
number, and besides being overgrown with weeds, the paths in the berry
cage are snared with escaped boysenberry runners. The berryoligist has
a big job ahead of her...maybe I had better give a hand...when I'm not
There are still a few orange tamarillos on our few scrappy trees, altho
the reds are finished. We haven't yet been invaded by the potato/tomato
psyillid, so I may grow a few fresh plants to replace the incumbents.
2012 - It has been very windy, with rain (and a thunderstorm)
overnight. Overnight temperatures haven't dropped below 10oC.
2012 - Several of the ewes were calling to their lambs "all bloody
night" according to a member of the whanau. Not a good sleeper at the
best of times, she was awake for the better part of the night. The
lambs tend to hunker down in some cosy spot and ignore their mothers
calls. Or they answer, and she answers back. It can go on and on. One
ewe in particular has a particularly high pitched and loud call. She
may be one of the first to go when I cut the numbers back next
year...The upshot is that it has been 'agreed' that I will shift them
to a more distant paddock overnight and bring them back up to the house
paddocks during the day. I don't need another chore. Time to de-stock,
and maybe move to a system of resting areas for a year so they can
re-seed naturally - something I have been thinking about anyway.
2012 - We have started to 'size pick' the odd Hass avocado fruit while
still dead green. It ripens in 4 or 5 days if it is put in a plastic
bag with an apple or banana. The fruit are perfectly acceptable in
flavor, but far from the rich flavored fruit of the natural season of
Decades ago we bought some unusual avocados from a local veg shop. They
were round, the flesh was quite dry in comparison to Hass, and had
easily noticeable fibres. However, when eaten, the flavour was good to
very good, and the fibres not really noticeable. It was an avocado
variety called Hashimoto. I had forgotten all about it until very
recently when looking for a decent winter fruiting avocado. Hashimoto
is said to mature its fruit from june on in New Zealand - or, at least,
that is when they mature in the Bay of Plenty. They might start in may
here, but if it has a fairly extended flowering season the late set
fruit should be available in at least june. Maybe they will hold on the
tree into july, or even august. I don't know.
Anyway, I was fired up and very keen to put a few plants in. The
problem was that I didn't think it would be very readily available at
the garden centres. So when I found some excellent plants at the Kumeu
Garden Centre I was 'over the moon'.
The have gone in beside the 'former' alder shelter belt, and if the
windy weather doesn't tear their leaves off, or snap them off at the
graft, I am hoping for good growth this season.
Excellent plants - healthy roots, in a pine based
In the ground
I don't know how big Hashimoto avocado trees grow - these will be size
controlled from the start - but if they are as naturally small and easy
to manage as Pinkerton avocado it would be a big bonus.
Avocado Pinkerton - a small tree, flowering
Avocado Sharwill with male flowers open - tub grown.
Pinkerton is flowering heavily right now, but I doubt any more
than one or two fruit will set - at best. It really does need a
suitable pollenizer variety. Sharwill is looking promising, as the male
flowers on may tree in a tub (unfortunately a long way distant) have
been open and shedding pollen when Pinkerton has its female flowers
open. Whether or not there are any insects around at this rather cool
and changeable time of year is another matter. Still, there is the
odd bumblebee around, both species of paper wasp, and I have just
seen my first drone fly of the season. These flies are good
pollinators, and are a close mimic of honeybees. Presumably the mimicry
dissuades predators from eating them.
Drone fly, Eristalis tenax, sunning itself on a Kawakawa leaf
2013 - The high over the last week was 18oC. It rained or
showered under a black sky all day yesterday, but was still 15oC at
11.00, and the overnight low was a warm 14oC. Most of the weather was
from the northwest. Today dawns sunny and calm, and it was 19oC by
1100. Insects have suddenly appeared. The sun held until late in the
day, when it clouded over. Rain started falling at 9.30 pm.
2013 - Spring Satin plumcot is in full bloom.
2013 - the fruit are pretty much full size. The wet conditions have
been ideal for the spread of the black fungal disease that attacks the
fruit. I suspect we will get very few fruit in the end. Most will end
up rotting on the ground.
2013 - the young Hashimoto trees I planted on the 9th last year have
done very well. They have put on several flushes of growth, and today,
to my surprise, I see they are in flower bud.
2013 - another bunch has several ripe fruit on it, albeit the rest is
dead green. The ripe fruit have split. I'd like to leave it longer for
the green fruit to develop more. but it I can't leave it too long or
the rats and birds will be attracted.
2014 - showers and sun, mostly overcast. Mild. Windy at first.
2014 - vast numbers of an 'ink cap ' Coprinellus
micaceus (glistening inky cap, mica cap) have come up
underneath the young Hashimoto avocado trees. They were planted hard up
against a row of freshly felled alder stumps, and two
years on, the dead roots are being consumed by this fungus. Apparently
it one of the last fungi to colonise dead wood under the ground,
preferring wood that has become spongy and soft from the action of the
fungi that first spread into the wood. While it lives on dead wood,
there is one reference to it inhabiting living tissue, but producing no
disease symptoms(technically, it lives as an endophyte). Some
endophytes help the tree survive drought by drawing up water through
the fungal mycelium deep reaching within the soil. Some fungal
endophytes even fight off parasitic fungi. Wouldn't it be nice if the
glistening inky cap fought off phytopthora? Still, even if it doesn't,
this species is edible, although the reference I have seen are
underwhelming in describing its gastronomic worth 'mild flavor' is
about as enthusiastic as they get. When cooked (or overcooked), it
turns to something resembling snot, apparently...
2014 - Plumcots (except 'spring satin') are now in heavy flower, as is
2018 - It has been an astonishingly warm winter. Spring is shaping up
warm, without the normal hail and icy cold days from the south. The
cold southern air has been blocked all winter long by warm weather
systems coming down from the north - quite unusual. Today is really
hot, if breezy. At midday it is 24oC in the shade. The weather forecast
is for 'frantic' weather systems from the subtropics coming down later
in the week. Yet there is snow to low levels in the South Island...
2018 - There is a big mob of Californian Quail is using this place as
part of its territory. Delightful birds, and a privelege to have them
here. Something eats the possum carcases if we are a bit slow to bury
them - I hope it is hawks rather than wild cat, for the quails sake.
Kaka are using the adjacent forest remmnant as a base again, and they
are typical Aucklanders - off 'somewhere' at early hours of the
morning, and back in the late afternoon. Their raucous calls and
penetrating whistles announce their movements. There are usually 4
birds, sometimes 5.
2018 - We are at the tail end of the crop. It has been a great season,
in spite of a huge amount of possum damage. There are three self-sown
seedling trees here that are top notch, very delicious indeed (if you
like cherimoyas, that is). Tt would be a shame to lose them,
so I may propagate them.
2012 - Today, I heard the first shining cuckoo of spring. We
have had strong northeasters and later northwesters, so maybe he got a
fast ride across the Pacific from the Cook Islands winter feeding
2018 - How about that - first call of the shining cuckoo today, same as
2012 - We have had periods of 3 or 4 days of mixed sun, warmth, strong
winds, rain, drizzle. But overall, temperatures have still been around
10oC overnight, and about 18oC maximum (air temperature) - except for
one day when it was 2oC overnight! Plenty of frost in the valley that
2012 - A Misi Liki banana stem didn't survive the strong winds - pity,
it would have fruited in late summer.
2012 - The little Hashimoto avocado plants have survived the winds The
avocados continue to flower, and will for a good 6 weeks yet. The
Pinkerton remains a mass of flowers, with big numbers open, but I must
say the Hass flowering is not really that great yet. We are in the
curious position of having one tree that started flowering in late
autumn and has continued all winter (and is still flowering), one tree
that started flowering in late winter, one tree that is probably going
to start opening flowers in a week or so time, and one tree that is
probably 3 weeks or more from any open flowers. I am hoping to reach a
better understanding of the inter-relationship between temperatures and
insect activity as it effects fruit set in Hass. I Have an impression
that significant periods over a minimum temperature has a very
large bearing on fruit set, and insect pollination is somewhat
secondary (for Hass, in particular). We'll see.
2012 - The main Kirby plumcot flowering is over, as is the apricot
flowering. Spring satin plumcot is still flowering heavily. I hope it
is self fertile, because there is nothing else near it that could act
as a pollenizer. Wrights Early plum is still flowering well, as is
Elephant Heart. Santa Rosa is fading out, and Black Prince has finished
Macadamias continue to fall, and the first new leaves of the 'Grabohl'
pecan are just emerging. I have neglected to pay enough attention to
the right varieties to give cross pollenization in our short row of
pecan trees. Looking at some info on the internet, admittedly from the
very hot southern USA, it appears that I should have cultivars such as
Shoshoni, Wichita, or Cherokee to act at pollen donors for Grabohl's
female flowers. We did acquire Shoshoni in 2007, but it is a long way
from Grabohl, and the tree has been significantly damaged by puriri
moth larvae. Even thin branches have been ring-barked by this
troublesome pest. So a little TLC is needed if is ever to grow big
enough to take some bits off to graft into Grabohl.
2018 - Fine at first, then overcast, then breezy. Humid and warm. It
was 19oC in the shade at 1130. Overnight low of 12oC. Yesterday was
warmer, hitting 25oC.
2018 - a mother mallard duck and her ducklings appear on the little
pond from time to time. Where they go in between times is a bit of a
mystery. Blackbirds and thrushes seem to be marking their territory
(singing!) all day long, which is quite delightful. Grey warblers are
also suddenly evident, but only the odd fantail at this stage. Native
pigeons continue to feast of plum flower and leaf buds, as well as the
tender new leaves.
video on twitter: https://twitter.com/i/status/1037593262511411200
2018 - all the avocados are throwing the odd fruit overboard - nowhere
near mature, but near full sized. Spring is leaf drop and flowering
time, then a new leaf flush, so maybe hormones have something to do
with it. One Pinkerton tree has a fair smattering of flowers open in
one area of the tree, but none of the other trees have any
flowers open, apart from Fuerte and a few (only) on our little Sharwil
2013 - A warm day (18oC at 3 pm), but breezy and totally
overcast, and in the afternoon there were a few spots of splotty rain
from time to time. Northerly. A few days ago we had some cold but clear
sunny weather, and night temperatures dropped to about 5oC.
2013 - Wright's Early is still flowering very strongly, Black
Prince is past its peak, Sultan is starting to crank up, the 'Kerby'
plumcot is all but finished, and the Spring Satin plumcot is in full
2013 - all but finished flowering
2013 - new growth is under way. The flower buds appear at the base of
new growth. This is very handy, because it means you can prune them
back hard in winter, and not only will they form new buds on the bare
wood, the new growth will generally flower straight away in spring.
There are already a few 'out of season' flowers open here and there.
2013 - new leaves are expanding.
2013 - many of the yellow kiwifruit seedlings have lovely lime green
newly developing leaves. A few plants have flower buds. The green
kiwifruit remain totally dormant.
2013 - another clump has a bunch with half a dozen ripe fruit on it.
The skin on some of the fruit has split. They taste OK, sweet enough,
some flavor, but there is a touch of residual astringency. The green
fruit really don't look sufficiently mature to me - they are very
'angular', not plump. These fruit will be from a late summer flowering.
Late summer set flowers mature about early- mid spring. but as they are
'filling' over the cold winter season they often not that flash.
Flowers that set in mid winter ripen in summer, and are far better as
the bunch is filling at the warmest time of year.
2014 - warm and sunny. Very pleasant.
2014 - Spring is definitely sprung. Yesterday I heard the first shining
cuckoo of the season. Best of all, two pairs of Californian quail have
taken up residence, and the cock birds crow their territorial claim.
These are wonderful and engaging birds to have around, and I hope they
survive and breed.
2014 - Pixie plum has finished flowering, but just about all the others
are in full bloom.
2014 - most peaches are now flowering, and the earliest are in full
2014 - the first few avocado flowers have appeared, but their numbers
are passing smallat the moment. Pinkerton is flowering, as are Fuerte
and Sharwill. Carmen Hass continues to flower, although the end of its
flowering period is probably not far off.
2014 - bedraggled and tatty looking, and rather yellow. Sustained heat
plus rain is needed for them to take off again.
2013 - Several days ago we had a subtropical front pass over from the
east, bringing very high winds, heavy rain, and a closed State Highway
16 (flooding). Today, it is dead calm at 0830, overcast, humid, warm,
already 16.5oC. Breezy by 0930, some odd sun moments between low grey
clouds. Overcast. By 1030 there were more sunny breaks, warmer, hitting
23oC in the shade! Humid. Dew on grass. Breezy/windy, with calm
periods, threatening showers. Lots of insects around. At 1245
temperatures are 21oC. Overcast, bit of wind, humid, warm. About 18oC
at 1600, totally overcast.
2013 - the plants look pretty tatty and sparse. Blue Java dropped
yet another stem. I am increasingly unimpressed with this cultivar.
2013 - most have started new leaf growth.
2013 - still dormant
2013 - early plum blossom is over, Elephant Heart and a few
others are flowering on.
2012- I killed a sheep today as the first move in dropping numbers a
bit. She was a small ewe - her mum was a very small ewe from the flock
established on Arapawa Island in the 1800's. We ended up with
14kgs of usable meat cuts and a wheelbarrow load of wool, skin, bones
and guts to bury under an avocado tree. In the meantime, our only ewe
not to have a lamb this season ended up dropping a late lamb, much to
everyone's surprise. So 'de-stocking' is not making much progress yet.
2012 - Two macadamia trees continues to drop nuts while at the same
time starting to open the new season flowers.
Peaches and Plums
2012 - Peaches are blooming well,
several pears are in full bloom, and there seems to be a good set of
fruit on the plumcots. The spring satin plumcot is just coming to the
end of its bloom. It has a surprisingly long blossom period. Prunus
capulin, the Capuli cherry, has started its bloom. It produces
prodigious numbers of flowers that are extremely attractive to bees.
When the tree is in full bloom the noise of humming bees is almost
2013 - the improbably pink blossoms of the peaches continue to intrude
against the blue sky.
Pinus wallichiana syn Griffithii male
strobuli shedding pollen
Pinus koraiensis male strobuli,
not yet shedding
Immature male strobuli on Pinus edulis
New spring growth on Pinus maximartinezii
2012 - The male strobuli of several of the pine nut species here are
now full size. Pinus koraiensis and Pinus pinea will
start to release pollen soon. An adjacent ornamental species (Pinus wallichiana
syn Griffithii) is shedding copious pollen. Pinus
maximartinezii has spires of new growth, but has not flowered yet.
2013 - a small Pinus pinea ('Umbrella pine) in a tub on the
deck is flowering for the first time. The male strobuli release clouds
of pollen when the branch is shaken. Interestingly, it is early
relative to the 2 trees planted out on the property, presumably because
it is in a very sheltered and hot spot. Apparently this species remains
as a male-only plant for a number of years before it ever has female
'flowers' (strobuli). The male strobuli appear on the lower half of the
tree, and, in time, female strobuli appear on the upper third.
2012 - One of the raspberry varieties is flowering well, and I noticed
the first bronze beetle of the season.
Diseased cherimoya fruit
Possum and half eaten cherimoya. The 2 fruit and the leaf in the
both affected with fungus.
2012 - We have 5 or 6 cherimoya trees here, but while they fruit quite
well we don't usually end up with more than a few fruit as the fruit
are always infected by some fungus that turns the fruit black and
rotten. For some reason this year the infection has been much less, and
we have harvested a decem (10) or so fruit, and likely at lest another
decem will escape the plinge. The next biggest pest of cherimoya fruit
is, as always, the possum. We still don't have a lot of luck catching
them in the Timms traps, but we do get the odd one. The campaign of
constant bait on offer in 4 or 5 bait stations has helped a lot, altho'
a lot of bait is being eaten, and it is expensive stuff.
2013 - a very bad year for the black fungus on cherimoya,
presumably in part because of the very wet winter and spring. We have
pretty much decided to cut these back to almost 2 dimension trees so
the air gets thru them, and to maybe spray with copper after flowering
(which is soon).
2013 - this is clearly the peak blossom time for Pinkerton. The racemes
are fully expanded, and today was warm (22oC in the shade) and humid.
The trees are putting out their characteristic odour, and the racemes
have attracted very good numbers of bees, as well as the usual wasps
and flower flies. Pinkerton may need a male pollinizer cultivar (unlike
Hass), and today both Edranol and Sharwill would have pollen available
for the later part of Pinkerton's female bloom. Ettinger has pollen
that overlaps fully, but the little tree only have 6 or 7 flowers open,
so it is a little late. Dusa would be an exact match.
The younger Hass trees have some flowers open, but not a big number.
Conditions are ideal for fruit set, I would say (warm nights, warm
days, humid, often overcast, a little breeze).
A Hass seedling we have had for years is a solid wall of avocado
blossom, and it is dripping with bees and other pollinating insects.
Pity it only ever has ten or so fruit (at best).
Leaf drop is well under way in most cultivars. The bronzy-pink
new shoot tips are now pushing through the tips of the flower racemes.
Hashimoto has bright lime green new growth. It's pleasing to see these
newly planted trees growing well, but a bit disconcerting to see the
healthy deep green mature leaves being shed. At least the other trees
suck much of the goodness out of the tree first, so they are
gratifyingly yellow when they hit the ground.
2013 - 2 more bunches have coloured. There is minimal splitting, so
that at least is good. Pity they can't be left to mature a bit more in
the warming weather.
2011 - By early october, insect activity on avocado flowers begins to
Polistes sp. on Hass avocado flower racemes.
2013 - sunny, some cloud cover, warm
2013 - flowering is well under way. The conditions over the last 3 or 4
days have been very good for pollination and fruit set - night
temperatures have been 10oC or above, day temperatures 16oC to 22oC, it
has been relatively calm, often overcast, and quite a number of
pollinating insects are around. Although it is a little early in the
flowering season, I would not be surprised if some fruit set on Hass
2013 - warm weather has really brought the grass on, and at last grass
growth seems to be getting slightly ahead of the growing lambs and
their lactating mums. The lambs are at (or passed) weaning age. Time to
kill one or two, and sell most of the rest.
Plums and apricots
2013 - I thought conditions for fruit set were quite good this year,
but the apricots and earliest flowering plums appear to have had a poor
set. Mid season and later varieties have flowered quite well, but the
flowering seems protracted, some that have had flowers for several
weeks, and still have flower buds yet to open.
2011 - It rained heavily last night, and again this morning. The sun
has come out, and there is no wind, its warm and humid. Rain is
forecast for this afternoon and the next few days.
2011 - Conditions are ideal for growth, and ideal for washing in
fertiliser. So I quickly did 'did the rounds', chucking some pelletised
general fertiliser under the avocados, citrus, figs, and feijoas. All
are just starting out with new leaves and with flowers or flower/fruit
buds,so I figure a boost now will really show results in two weeks or
do time when leaves are expanding to full size and new growth extending.
2011 - Orders had been received to pick some cherimoya fruit, which are
about ripe from here on. We have a constant battle with possums over
these fruit. They love them. And, as always, they are taking a big toll
on the unripe fruit.
There are 2 Timms kill traps set under the tree at all times during the
as well as a bait station nailed to the base of the tree, with fresh
cinnamon scented pellets constantly available...
But all to no avail. The possums rarely feed on the bait in the bait
station. They ignore the fresh apple in the kill traps. We have
tried sprinkling the apple with cinnamon, with curry powder, we have
tried plum jam, marmalade, and even peanut butter. True, we did catch
one hedgehog and one rat, but zero possums.I'll have to think of a new
strategy, and have something in mind.
Rats are the number one problem for anyone with an avocado or macadamia
nut tree. But at least they take bait pellets. We are right next to a
patch of native forest, so we have an inexhaustible supply of rodents
and possums. And rats love both avocados and macadamias. Indeed, for
the first time, we have had a rat that not only ate the whole avocado
fruit, but started to eat the seed as well!
One rat, in particular, lunched freely on the chook food at feeding
time, and became so cocky he would come out in full view at the rattle
of the feed tin. However, we have far more luck with the live traps for
rats than we do with possums. These small spring-loaded traps are super
reliable if you do two things - first, spray them with a zinc rust
protective coating; second, always test the door can close cleanly when
the trap is triggered, and the wire door lock is set properly. We have
had far more success with these live traps than we have ever had with
Debrief after a quick underwater swimming lesson. He received a 'fail'
2011 - Sadly, one of the twin lambs received a 'fail' grade in the test
As near as I can make out, he had slipped on steep ground in the 'back
paddock', and managed to inextricably wedge himself under a fallen
kanuka sapling. Well, as every farmer knows, if you have livestock,
expect to also have deadstock. Pity, He was a big boy, and from his
weight as I took him for recycling, was growing very well before his
He has been buried near a newly planted banana. We will eat him yet,
but not directly...give it a two years or so.
2011 - The recent days have been a sunny with overcast periods,quite
breezy, and varying from cool to mild. Some nights have been rather
cold. Overnight minimums have been around the 10oC mark, so grass
growth is strong.
2011 - The twin of the lamb that died has also died. Again, it is a big
healthy lamb, and mum is bursting with milk, so it remains a bit of a
2011 - Blossom is trailing off now. New terminal growth is pushing
through the avocado panicles, and the Hass trees are now flowering
well. There are very few bees around, but a good number of german
wasps, some bumblebees, the blowflies are multiplying, there are lots
of little midgey-things around, and so pollinisation shouldn't be
inhibited. We'll see.
2011 - Two of our banana plants flowered back in late febuary. This is
really the wrong time of year to fill a bunch of bananas, because the
weather becomes cool and the bananas stop swelling over winter. One
bunch, in particular, was quite well formed by winter, so I pegged a
piece of clear plastic around it to keep it clean and maybe raise the
temperature on the bunch to aid ripening.
I checked it pretty regularly, but it showed no sign of ripening, even
as late as a couple of weeks ago. When I checked today, I found that
both bunches had suddenly started to ripen. About 50% of the fruit were
The ripe fruit in the covered bunch had virtually all split,
albeit not badly in most cases.
The uncovered bunch had also split, and split badly.
Individual fruit are easily damaged when a banana bunch has this many
ripe fruit. Even laying it on a table will cause some split ripe fruit
to tear and fall out of the skin. It is difficult to remove individual
ripe fruit from the bunch without them tearing.
The better bunch had over 80 fruit, the smaller one had 58 fruit. The
worst went to the chooks, a good number were frozen for use in banana
cakes and the like, and the least damaged were kept for fresh eating.
The flavor of the bananas in the larger bunch was very good, while the
smaller bunch had acceptable bananas, fairly sweet, but rather bland.
These late-summer set fruit took about 7˝ months to mature.
october 20 2012
The weather has been typical
spring for some time - sun, overcast, showers, cold, warm, and then,
several days of howling wind. The tender new growth on the
avocados is cupped, distorted, and the leaf margins are pencil-edged
with black wind-burn. Maybe some of this is spray drift from
neighbouring farms. Don't know.
The leaves on the bananas are shredded, and some are bent and broken. I
guess this is how they survive hurricanes in the tropics. New leaves
will emerge as the weather warms and the wind drops. One of the effects
of human-accelerated permanent global warming is modeled to be an
increase in rain and wind in the upper and lower latitudes (which
includes NZ). The other effect the models suggest is a warming and
drying out of the continental middle latitudes. The current 50 year
record dry in USA might be an indicator of this suggested
There are lots and lots of marble sized plumcots on the ground, but
even so, there is still a very good crop remaining on the trees.
Interestingly, while plum flowering is all but finished here, the
Spring Satin plumcot still has a few flowers open, and the odd few
flower buds yet to open. It has a an extraordinarily long flowering
We continue to size-pick early set Hass fruit from last year. They are
now very good. Not 'best', but 'very good'. We have a seedling which
ripens fruit at this time, and while it is a very poor producer
(and has a massive seed), the flesh is very oily, almost dry, and as
good as the very best Hass in Hass's true season. I bought 3 avocados
at random from one of the major supermarket chains, and while the taste
was 'OK', they all lacked oil, tended to wateriness, and were barely
'good'. These fruit are clearly picked early to take advantage of
higher prices early in the season. The green fruit are 'ripened' with
ethylene gas, but really, the fruit is not mature (in the quality taste
sense). Even so, at $1.00 each, they provide good nutrition at a
relatively affordable price. At about 240 grams a fruit, say 200 grams
without the seed, that is $5 a kilo (protein rich eggs at about 50
grams each and $3 a dozen, are also about $5 a kilo - a very good
complement to each other). So a good meal of 1 egg and half an avocado
would cost 25 cents for the egg and 50 cents for the avocado half = 75
cents. Half the cost of a hamburger.
Possums continue to be a problem. We are running through around 100
grams of bait per bait station every 4 or 5 days. This is expensive.
The possums remain wary of the kill traps. I try various combinations
of bait to try to hit the 'irresistible bait', but no luck so far. I
have been trying peanut butter on carrot, which has sometimes worked in
the past. No luck. Maybe I'll try vegemite...
2013 - Hot but breezy. The days high was 28oC. The overnight low last
night was 10oC. It has been rather dry for the last week or so, apart
from a very brief burst of showery rain yesterday.
2013 - the main season is under way, and damage from possums has been
relatively limited - so far. Poison bait is out constantly.
2013 - set on the Elephant Heart is the poorest ever - only 2 fruit.
2013 - Pinkerton continues to bloom heavily, and today saw the biggest
number of bees on them I have ever seen - around 10 bees per tree. The
new growth flush is only just beginning to develop at the end of the
flower panicle. Several Hass trees are flowering very well, several not
so much. Reed is flowering very heavily, and also has a good number of
bees on it.
2013 - Loquats are in full swing.We have a few seedlings here that are
a reasonable size and quite nice, but personally I not that impressed
with loquats as a fruit - in contrast to a whanau member who is a big
fan.A kaka in a kanuka tree at the forest edge was giving me the evil
eye the other day, and it wasn't until I moved a little further away
that I found out why - it flew straight into an adjacent loquat tree.
The ground underneath was soon littered with mangled fruit. Well, I
guess that's one more fan of loquats in the 'hood...
2012 - The early flowering (and early fruiting) feijoa 'Kaiteri' has
started flowering. So has 'Anatoki', but it has fewer flowers. Unique,
the mainstream early fruit (usually ripe in late february here) is
still in bud.
2013 - Strawberries are in full swing in the shops. Our struggling
little patch in the vege garden are only just starting. The berryfruit
aficionado put a net over them the other day.
2013 - the yellow kiwifruit are at the tail end of their flowering. I
have had a number of seedlings growing here for aro und 5 or 6
years now, and I every year hope that a plant will flower for the first
time ever, and it will be a female, not a male. There are only a few
first time flowerings this year, and not one is a female. The plants
look great with their lush new lime green leaves, and the air is filled
with the spicy scent of their flowers.
2011 - Temperatures are well up over the last few days, 13oC minimum at
night, and daytime temperatures up around 20oC. It looks to stay that
way for the next 4 or 5 days.
2011 - All the avocados are pushing new leaves through the terminal
flower panicles. The avocado 'spring flush' is officially under way.
Older leaves continue to be shed.
2011 - For days now, its been warm, often showery, hot sometimes, even.
2011 - The first tiny 'pinhead' fruit are just visible on some avocado
flower panicles.Unless all of them are shed, we will likely get at
least some fruit.
2011 - Plum set has been a disaster. Maybe it was too wet during
flowering and the pollen was washed out, maybe it was oo cool and windy
for bees, maybe there weren't enough of the more cool weather tolerant
bumblebees around. Maybe there was a whiff of hormone spray drift from
neighbouring farms trespassing on our property. Don't know.
2011 - In contrast, a small plumcot, variety 'Spring Satin', which we
bought and planted in january of this year, has 6 very well developed
fruit. This tree is a long way away from our 'plum area'. The nearest
possible pollenizer is a well established 'Kerby' plumcot, which only
has 26 fruit on it, when it is usually laden.
2011 - We have 2 cherry trees. One,variety 'lapin' about 2.5 metres
high, we had had for 6 or 7 years. It has 14 fruit set. Another,
'compact Stella' is 3 years old and about head height. It has about 7
fruit set. If past experience is anything to go by, the fruit will
ripen progressively, and just as the first one has some color, it will
be eaten by birds. We will then say, "we should put a net over the
trees". I'll think "hardly worth it", matters will drift, and we'll
forget about it until I prune them in summer . We live in hope of a
'crop' worth investing some time in, but hold low expectations...
2012 - Kaiteri, Anatokil and Unique feijoas are all flowering. All are
early fruiting feijoas. Unique is self fertile, but Kaiteri and Anatoki
aren't, so need each other (or Unique) for cross pollination. 'Gemini'
is also starting to flower. It is about the fourth earliest feijoa for
2012 - Tons of grapefruit litter the ground, and this year they are
exceptionally sweet and well colored. I am starting to eat them cut
into quarters, like an orange. Not bad.
2012 - As an experiment, I planted some avocado trees under the shade
of some eucalyptus trees. I didn't expect them to thrive, but thought
they might produce a little fruit, especially as these are a mixture of
different varieties, and all planted within 3 metres of each other.
This is the second year they have flowered well, and the second year
when there is no fruit set (correction, 2 fruit set on a Pinkerton last
year - the possums got both long before they were ripe).
Oh well, maybe next year...
Avocado under eucalyptus - bad idea
flower fly on avocado flowers
The weather has been mostly sunny, but with a southerly for the
last week. Temperatures briefly hit 25oC one day last week. Today it
was 20oC at 10.00 am. Not bad. However, there have been some cold
nights, and the temperature has fallen to 5oC overnight in the
past few days.Even so, it looks like there has been quite a good set on
the Hass avocados from the last week or so. Reed is really ramping up
its flowering now, and there is a large 'apparent' set, straight off.
Quite a contrast to Hass, which has only started to set right at the
end of its flowering period. Our tiny 'Gwen' avocado continues to
flower, albeit the amount of flower on the tree is minute.
Interestingly, the avocado flowers in general are clearly very
attractive to bees and other pollinating insects right now.
2012 - One of our two small cherry trees has flowers, set fruit, and
green fruit on it, all at the same time. I haven't netted it yet,
because I want to give the bees access to pollinate the remaining
flowers. The received wisdom is that cherries don't fruit in Auckland
because it is not cold enough. It is true that the leaf buds don't
burst very well, and there can be bare areas on the branches, but there
are usually a fairish number of flowers.
I generally prune the tree once or twice in summer to keep the growth
in check and to force little side branches. In my view it is this that
is resulting in some reasonable (for Auckland) flowering. Maybe I'm
wrong. Maybe it would have just as much flower if left to grow tall.
But then I couldn't net it.
2012 - The Spring Satin plumcot, for which I had high hopes of a good
crop this year, has dropped all its little 'set' fruit. Nothing remains
on the tree at all. In contrast, another plumcot variety 18 metres away
has a good crop.
2013- sunny and overcast, the odd shower (other parts of Auckland have
had isolated thunderous torrential rain patches), basically warm, but
with a cooling wind. Nice in the sun when its out. Overnight lows have
been 10oC or above. The highest temperature in the last 2 days was 24oC.
Birds abound - blackbirds seem to be everywhere. Cuckoos call. A lonely
cock quail was heard a few days ago, but has now fallen silent.
2013 - the
early feijoas are flowering well. A whanau member drew my attention to
a tiny mutant feijoa seedling that we have had for many, many years.
The shrub has tiny little heaves, and has been incredibly slow growing,
but has never flowered. Until this year. It has a good smattering of
flowers on one side of the plant, and altho' the leaves are tiny, the
flowers appear normal size to me.
Tharfield Nursery Ltd (Trading as 'Incredible Edibles') were granted
Plant Variety Rights protection for another small feijoa, a variety
called 'TharFiona'. This (confusingly) is
sold in garden centres under the trade mark Bambina™. It
is described as being "small in size, leaf, flower and fruit". It is
further described as having "...delicate, wee fruit". From the photo on
the website, I would say the leaves are larger than the stupidly small
leaves on the seedling here. If the fruit on their plant are small,
then I suppose the fruit on my plant will be microscopic!
These mutants are found in seedlings from time to time, and, for
obvious reasons, they are not considered to be as desirable as, say,
some of the smaller-sized and more compact 'conventional' feijoa
cultivars. Writing in 'The National Horticultural Magazine' in july
1933, Knowles Ryerson, then working for the US Department of
Agriculture involved in introducing new plants for the benefit of US
horticultural industry, noted "In addition to the more common and
desirable upright form, there are several other distinct types: a much
less desirable one, open, sprawling and low, and another almost dwarf,
compact and with small leaves being fairly common."
2013 - there have been several periods of humid, warm weather at the
end of october and the beginning of this month. A good initial set on
the younger Hass trees is encouraging. Hass flowering is in its end
phase, and Pinkerton has all but finished. Reed is in mid flowering.
Hass has only set at the very end of its season, as usual. Most of the
Pinkertons look as if they will have only one or two fruit.
The first of the new seasons Hass avocados are just starting to turn
2013 - a few flowers now open.
2011 - Warm and windy mostly sums it up.
2011 - The avocado spring flush it well advanced now, and the pinky
bronze new leaves will soon be full size and turning green. The tender
new growth on the avocados is highly attractive to foliage-eating
insects, chief amongst which are the bronze beetles (Eucolaspis
brunnea). This annoying native emerges from the soil in mid spring
in large numbers. They chew holes in the new growth of our berryfruit,
almonds, stone fruit, feijoas, and avocados, often cutting the soft
developing stem tip, effectively killing the growing tip. Boysenberries
get hit hard early, blackberries a bit later. Only wineberries are not
hit too badly.
2011 - The chief 'berry fiend' in the whanau usually spends
ridiculous amounts of time collecting them from the raspberries and
brambles by hand and crushing them. Sprays are 'out' because the
'bronzies' hit hardest when the berries are in full flower - and we
rely on bumblebees and bees to pollinate them. But spraying is the only
practical option for the hardest hit, which are the berryfruit. So I
have sprayed them twice now, with pyrethrum, as it has the shortest
witholding period. To minimise death of pollinators, I have sprayed at
dusk - albeit on last time there were still 2 worker bumblebees working
2013 - this mornings paper says that 2 days ago the temperatures in
Auckland reached 26oC, a new record high for november. We have had 27oC
highs for the past few days, so I am not surprised. To be fair, the
temperatures have been pretty even throughout the day, at around 24oC.
The thing that struck me is that these temperatures have been reached
by about 0930 in the morning.
We had one very heavy downpour, for almost an hour, but that was a few
days ago. It has been hot and dry for over a week prior to that, and
has been hot and dry since. We need rain. Some rain is promised in a
few days, and I am gambling on that.
2013 - strawberries are producing well, and I was astonished to find
that the berryologist had successfully rescued a form of the old
'Captain Cook' variety. We had plants of this variety from the late Ken
Nobbs. It was a well liked variety about the 1930's -1940's or so. The
fruit are pathetically small, but the flavor is sort of 'port winey'
and delicious. The plant she has is probably a seedling (decades ago I
grew a number of Captain Cook seedlings as a result of a failed
experiment in crossing them with larger present day varieties), not the
original cultivated variety. It is a misleadingly pale pinky red,
looking not quite ripe yet even when ripe.
Raspberries are now producing about a punnet of fruit, in spite of the
dry. Removing the bantams from the berry cage has helped, too, the
berryologist cryptically notes. The aurora berry has also started. It
doesn't produce much, it is a fairly weak plant under our conditions,
but the berries are outstandingly delicious - sort of perfumey.
2013 - the season is all but over, and we have had a good number of
fruit. They are quite variable, some soft and almost mushy, some
firmer, some seedy, some not, some with a marked slight bitter
'wintergreen' flavor (which I like), some with none. The most
productive trees are seedlings. The grafted trees, chiefly Bronceada,
have been badly affected by looks like a fungal disease called 'black
canker', Phomopsis anonacearum. It is at its worst in wet
conditions, so the trees have been severely pruned to allow more light
and air through.
2013 - the grass is down to the deck, but, thanks to the kikuyu and
small-leafed clover, it is holding its own. The regrowth is high
quality, and the sheep are getting fatter in spite of the very low
sward. This is the grass seeding time of year. If we don't get rain,
the matured seed heads will temporarily halt grass growth and the
pastures will start to yellow off.
2013 - Apricots are almost non existant (about 6 fruit), and plums have
set very poorly (or not at all) except for Wrights Early, Black Prince,
and the Damson. We pruned all the plumcots very heavily, so there is
nothing. A whanau member in the valley has such heavy set on his plums
that he describes them as 'wall to wall' fruit. Sigh...
2013 - Our tiny pond was visited for two days by a pair of paradise
ducks and their 8 little duckling. This follows on from a mallard, also
with a mob of duckling, also a two day visitor. Where they came from, I
don't know. Maybe the near-dry 'streamlet' at the bottom of the heavily
native-forested steep little valley adjacent. Where they went to, well,
who know? I like the paradise duckling, in particular. They are very
attractive in white with black stripes.
Fat native fruit pigeons crash around the 'weedling' kawakawa trees
that come up everywhere here. They eat the new fleshy spadixes in the
green stage, which surprised me. They don't pay much attention to me,
and they look great as the bright sunlight reflects the iridescent
green of their plumage.
2012 - Reed dropped a fruit
2012 - temps up now, 18 - 20 air temps, up to 24 sometimes.
2013 - it has regularly been 24oC all day for many days. Promised rain
came a couple of days ago but was light, although in aggregate useful.
It has been warm and humid for quite some time now. This morning was
extremely windy, and a passing tui was caught in the gust and ended up
flying backwards - I thought it was funny, even if the tui didn't.
The grass is seeding in our little plantation of newly grafted
avocados. Several Californian quail have made it a feeding ground. I
really appreciate these lovely birds, and am always pleased to see
them. This sentiment is not appreciated by the female side (an
extremely light sleeper), as the cock quail starts its monotonous
single note call very early in the morning. Add in the tuis starting
around 5 am, and there is a certain amount of anti-bird sentiment by
2012 - Late fruit set high on Hass. Native bees now out,
co-incide with the flowering of the Queen Ann's Lace. They like Hass
flowers. The trees are all in mad growth flush - peak - except
Pinkerton, which did its thing earlier.
- The avocados have finished flowering, bar some late flower on Reed,
Fuerte and Hashimoto (and a rare 'tail end' flower or 3 on Hass and
Pinkerton). We have had a fantastic initial fruit set on Hass and Reed.
But over the last 4 days there has been massive fruit drop. Reed has
held good numbers of fruitlets, but some Hass trees have dropped almost
everything. Fruit set on these trees is both disappointing and patchy.
Yet Reed seems to have retained good numbers of fruit (as has Fuerte),
and some Pinkerton trees have ended up retaining more fruit than they
ever have.I counted 10 pea sized fruitlets one one tree. But it is
early days yet, and even these more promising larger fruit could yet
fall. The earliest flowers have been the ones to set, the flowers and
fruitlets from the last few weeks have all been tossed overboard. There
are some very recently set pinhead fruit on Hass, and it will be
interesting to see if any of these are retained.
The trees here are unirrigated, and perhaps that is the reason there
has been such a large fruit drop in Hass. That said, Reed has held good
numbers, and even a couple of very little new Maluma trees are still
holding onto a couple of fruitlets.
2012 - First color blush on plumcots
2013 - first color blush on one of the 3 spring satin plumcot fruit. It
is not just spring satin that has had a poor set. Apart from Wrights
early, Black Prince, and the Damson plums, fruit set has been extremely
poor on the stone fruit this year. The old seedling apricot tree,
usually somewhat reliable, has about 8 fruit on it, and the Santa Rosa
has zero, in spite of flowering well. Guess its a lack of pollinating
insects earlier in spring.
2012 - Raspberries in full flow.
2012 - Blueberries - some are ripe
2012 - Bramble Aurora just starting. The
fruit are very perfumed.
2013 - Raspberries are producing well, the berriologist is picking the
few precious aurora berries, and some loganberries are also coming in.
2012 - Last cherimoya has now been picked.
The cherimoya are flowering again
2013 - Cherimoya are coming to the end, There are still some fruit on
the trees, but only a few. They are ripening very, very quickly once
picked. One tree, a Burton's Favourite seedling, is germinating the
seeds inside the fruit! This seedling is a particularly nice one, with
no bitterness, and a good flesh to seed ratio. I must get around to
propagating it sometime.
2012 - The fruit are fat on the trees.
2013 - There are 4 breba figs on the brown turkey "which is pathetic in
the extreme" according to the figologist. There are no breba fruit on
the Madeleine, and the Petrovicha, which always has breba fruit, did
have some, but dropped the lot. Presumably the long dry is the cause.
2012 - Now flowering
2012 - starting to flower
2012 - cherries showing a little color.
2013 - a crop of 6 on one tree, and maybe 6 on another (the flowers are
2013 - the Hayward green kiwifruit are now flowering well. I haven'
toticed any pollinating insects on them as yet. The gold kiwifruit
plants are carrying a heavy crop this year, in spite of the extreme
drought last year. Gold kiwifruit flowering is now finished.
PSa has been found recently on an orchard in Kumeu - luckily quite some
distance from here. This disease pops up in commercial orchards at
great distances from sources of infection. It seems to me that it must
arrive on orchard machinery, particularly contractor machinery, or
contract workers boots, or clothing, or industry advisor's footwear
etc. Luckily, home gardeners such as myself have no such visitors or
machinery traffic, and so (hopefully) little chance of infection.
2012 - Pinus maximartinezii new
growth' candles' are starting to show needles P. koriensis
candles are already in needle
2012 - the male flowers are not shedding
2012 - walnut are shedding pollen and have
2012 - the tams are flowering now