Hot, obviously, but we often get the tail end of
cyclones around December or early January (on average there is
at least one a year). However, these cyclonic influences often
only really hit the east and the north. Sometimes we only get
drizzle from them. January can be very hot and humid. February
can be have prolonged periods of dry, but other years it can
have useful rain and cloud cover. It is almost always hot and
humid in February, and nights can be hot as well. Here on the
Western hills north of Auckland we seem to experience hotter
highs than Auckland City. Auckland's hottest air temperature
ever was recorded at Whenuapai on February 12th 2009, hitting
32.4oC. On January 17th 2016 we recorded 32oC while the City
recorded only 26oC.
2017 is shaping up to be 'warm'. The Met service said that
January 2017 was the hottest month on record. Not just the
hottest January, the hottest of any month, ever, since records
began 150 years ago. It beat the record by a massive 3oC. The
hottest temperature recorded for any part of New Zealand in
January was 37oC, recorded in North Canterbury. On one day
recently we hit 35oC in the shade. I would expect temperatures
this high in mid February, not late January. The high
temperatures are due to anticyclones blocking cooler air from
the Antarctic, allowing the ocean to build up heat. A
'maritime heat wave'. Warm air holds more moisture, and when
the summer cyclones drift down from the tropics, they can pack
a lot of wet. Cyclone Fehi hit us on the 31st of January
bringing a heavy dump of warm rain to the country, reaching
the far south Island and washing out roads near Fox Glacier.
2018 was the hottest summer on record (by 0.3°C). The seas
were warmer, up to 6°C above average, and we had the tail end
of 2 tropical cyclones.
2019 started with classic hot summer weather here. The ocean
surface is warmer by about a degree, but the weather is fairly
typical - except we haven't had a tropical cyclone yet.
2017 - Cool at first, overcast, sunny spells, warm, a few
showers. Cool in the evening. The grass is growing well, lots
of black crickets about, it feels more like autumn, really.
2012 - A Reed fruit fell off. I thought it was too early in
the season, and would be immature, but it ripened up on the
kitchen bench and was very good.
2017 - A very good crop on our big Hass tree. They are holding
well, most are still green, a few have turned black on the
tree, but not many. Very few fruit have set for next year.
2014 - Hot, breezy, intermittently cloudy. Cicadas started mid
morning, but gave up after a hour or so.
2014 - Going down the road early this morning I was startled
to see two kaka's hanging upside down feeding on the nectar of
the roadside flax plants outside this place.
2014 - the 'goldfinger' tetraploid banana variety has finally
started to color a few fruit on the bunch that has been
hanging, full sized, all spring. I was under orders to collect
it today, but the possums got to it in the night and wreaked
substantial damage - even biting the ends off green fruit.
Some eventually ripened, and I thought it good, but another
whanau member just wasn't impressed.
2014 - Reed has numerous small fruitlets, some Hass trees look
to have a good set, the two little Gwen trees are hopeless and
haven't set a thing, one little Maluma tree has apparently set
hugely, and the others not a thing. Hashimoto is looking very
promising, fruit set wise. The Pinkertons that cropped heavily
appear to have set very few fruit. I counted 6 pea sized fruit
on one tree, and about 18 on another, the other two in
2014 - Both Pinus maximartinezii and P. pinea
have finished their male flowering. The exhausted male
strobuli are drying up and falling apart.
2014 - Hot sunny, cloudy, cool northwesterly. The cicadas
in the adjacent native forest are in full cry today, even 'tho
the wind makes it feel a lot cooler than yesterday.
2018 - A large green cockchafer
munching on avocado foliage. Pretty, but not welcome. Three
beautiful big Spanish fallow deer hinds appeared in a paddock
a few days ago. We have plenty of grass, so in principle I
don't mind. But they snack on foliage, topping the male
flowers from our few pathetic little sweetcorn plants,
breaking plum foliage, and trampling on plants in the vege
garden - narrowly missing the newly planted basil! I managed
to trap them at the top of the little narrow paddock, but
before I could dispense justice they sprang over a 1.5 meter
fence from a standing start and bounded away. Pretty
impressive. They are large animals when you get up close, I
was quite surprised. The Woodhill pine forest wild deer (where
these probably come from) are the dark variant of the species,
and I suspect they may be a little larger than the much more
common farmed brown spotted type.
Kaka have been around for months now, coming in to feed on the
loquat trees (along with native pigeons and rosella,
blackbirds, tuis...). The loquats are over now, so I guess
they are just waiting for the first plums to ripen...
More welcome are the Californian Quail, which are now
constantly around, mostly 'paired up'. I hope they have a good
2009 - first Pixie plums are ripe - very early.
- a Pinkerton avocado fruit was partly eaten on the tree last
night, and I wasn't sure if it was a rat or a possum, so I set
a rat trap and a possum trap under the tree. Next morning, I
found the rat trap had caught a young possum! I don't know
which of us was more surprised.
2012 - Torrential
rain, warm and humid. The temperature at 2.00pm is 20oC, the
lowest overnight temperature has been 16oC. The highest air
temperature in the last few days was 25oC.
2012 - The new growth flushes are almost at full extension
now. I am cutting out ultra vigorous 'watershoots', and trying
to remove rampant growth without affecting the remnants of the
flower panicles, some of which which may or may not have set a
few fruit very late in the season.
The row of 4 Pinkerton trees have set 1 pea sized fruit each.
There is one small ultra late sub-panicle of flowers open and
in bud. The young Reed tree a few metres away is in flower,
and although both are 'A' group flowers, I will be interested
to see if any flowers set. Temperatures are certainly high
2012 - after a very cold night, the weather is warm but windy.
A few cicadas burst briefly into song, and many pokutakawas
are well into flowering.
2009 - first Wrights Early are ripe.
2012 - the very first Wright's Early plum is about ripe.
2013 - hot and warm, we have had good gentle rain over a
period of days, and the soil is fully re-charged and moist.
Growing conditions are ideal, and the bamboo shelter has
coloured up and started to extend new growth. The grass is
starting to grow again, and the sheep are doing well.
2005 - Pixie plums have the first odd fruit ripe.
2013 - Pixie plums are coloring up, but nothing is ripe yet.
2009 - first wineberries are ripe - about 2 weeks early!
2013 - all the berries are producing very well (the
wineberries are yet to start). The boysenberries are
producing, the earliest we have ever had them, according to
2013 - There are 10 or so flowers open, and more buds to come.
The biggest flowering ever. Only the first flowers to open are
likely to ripen a fruit, I would guess.
2013 - The green Skelton variety has well and truly set, and
has a good crop, as it always has. The Hayward has just
finished setting fruit, and it has a small crop, but better
than last year.
We received a flyer from AsureQuality today telling us a
representative visited our property "as part of a survey on
behalf of ZESPRI International and the Ministry for Primary
Industries". According to the form letter, the survey "is part
of an international breeding programme which requires an
extensive search for any kiwifruit plants in this area to
identify an area free from the much publicised Psa-V disease."
It then went on "We did not undertake a thorough search of
your property due to your absence..." A search of our
Psa (Pseudomonas syringae pv actinidiae ) was
found a few weeks ago in a commercial kiwifruit orchard in
Kumeu. A 'control zone' with a 10 kilometer radius has been
set up, wherein any duly appointed officer under the
Biosecurity Act can enter and search properties for this
unwanted organism. Fine. But we are well outside the control
zone....so what the hell is someone with no statutory
authority doing attempting "a thorough search" of our
property? Especially when Psa " is also believed to be spread
by footwear, vehicles and orchard tools, animals and humans."
according to an MPI information page
A phone call to AsureQuality Ltd. in Mt. Maunganui established
that in fact there was no statutory authority, that the
survey was unrelated to the Psa outbreak in Kumeu, and it was
a commercial operation to try to find a Psa-free
kiwifruit orchard that could grow budwood of new kiwifruit
varieties to export to ZESPRI Ltd's partners in Europe!
Apparently, European Ministries of Agriculture require a
documented official assurance from MPI that the wood comes
from an area of at least 4 kilometres radius officially found
to be free of Psa. Such an assurance can only be given if a
properly conducted survey is done.
Given Psa has been found in Kumeu, roughly 20km as the bird
flies, and given "The disease can be spread via windborne
pollen, strong winds and ....also believed to be spread
by....animals..." (MPI site), then Psa turning up here is
always a possibility. I decided to allow the inspection
subject to the most strict precautions. The inspector duly
turned up, parked outside the property, put on
pre-bacteriocide treated disposable paper overalls covering
the total body except for the face, donned disposable footwear
covers, and put on disposable gloves. The check of the
kiwifruit plants revealed no symptoms of Psa, and a further
check is planned for autumn. All protective clothing, gloves,
foot covers etc was removed on the roadside and secured in a
plastic rubbish bag. The biosecurity precautions seem to me to
be 'spot on', and I am confident the inspector is very
unlikely to be a vector of the disease. Which turned out to be
a good thing, as it turns out the inspector was in a Psa
infected orchard the week before...!!!
When he left, I continued pruning the kiwifruit, and as the
foliage piled up on the ground, I reflected on the poor
bastards who have Psa infected orchards, and have seen the
value of their property and business flushed down the
toilet...beats me why anyone would be a commercial grower.
Often-times price takers, screwed by the supermarkets, and
even before you get to market, screwed by pests and
2012 - The weather has been sunny and hot over the last few
days. The maximum reached 32.5oC in the shade. The lowest
overnight temperature was 16oC.
2016 - After days of variable overcast muggy weather
with odd light showers, it is now sunny and windy. A cicada
sang, and it almost feels like summer. At last.
2018 - Hot, muggy. At 1200 it was 26o
C. Later in the afternoon it hit 30o C. In the
2016 - Fruit are ripe on the tree. The biggest they have
ever been. Flower buds are also just starting to appear. The
flesh of the ripe fruit are very smooth, unctuous, sweet, with
a faint persimmon taste. There is no astringency. There is no
'chocolate' flavor. The seeds are small - probably only partly
Soft ripe fruit (left), cut fruit showing the rich chocolate
2007 - the first Wrights Early plums are ripe.
2016 - Native fruit pigeons have eaten almost all young fruit
of the Wright's Early. They also feast on flowers and plum
leaves. We harvested 1 fruit. Very nice, well worth having.
Santa Rosa plums are ripening, and, unlike the Wright's Early,
there is a modest smattering left by the pigeons. When fully
ripe, they have a perfumed very pleasant flavor.
2009 - first Santa Rosa seedling (Waitakere) apricot is ready
- around 2 weeks early
2013 - Summer has hit with a vengeance. Clear skies and
sunshine for days. Today it is oppressively humid and very
hot. At 6 pm it was 22oC. At the hottest point of
the day it reached 32oC in the shade. Thunder had
been rumbling out at sea, but the skies remained clear
and no rain fell here. But a torrential thunderstorm
pounded Helensville township for about 15 minutes late in the
day. We had "about 5 drops of rain" according to the whanau.
Apparently the thunder that boomed and rolled through the
valleys was so loud that the local cock pheasant population
rocketed into the air in terror, giving their alarm call.
2017 - After an insanely wet winter and spring, the rain
switched off in November. Since then it has been hot and dry,
with several days reaching just over 30oC in the
2018 - Warm, muggy, overcast, a high today of 33oC
in the shade. Thunderstorms predicted for tomorrow.
2013 - according to today's Herald, it was 27oC in
2018 - muggy, warm, sultry, thunder in the afternoon and brief
2018 - Kanuka is now covered in its white flowers. Birds are
nesting everywhere - sparrows, starlings, blackbirds. The male
blackbirds mark their territories with evening songs of liquid
beauty. Kaka and Rosellas are eating the first ripening plums.
Summer time is also
grass flowering time. We have so much grass we are leaving
some areas ungrazed so they re-seed naturally. Perennial
ryegrass (Lolium perenne) is flowering right now. By
the 20th day after pollination the glumes enclosing the seed
start to turn brown. The seed reaches its maximum weight about
28 days from flowering - but even at 14 days after
pollination, the seed germinates well, even although it has
not reached full weight.
(Left) Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata), a
distinctive, relatively tall grass, is also flowering well -
producing copious pollen. It tolerates dry conditions in
summer better than ryegrass, but can't be grazed as hard as
ryegrass and the finer grasses, or it will die out.
Yorkshire fog (Holcus lanatus)is also heading up, and
will soon be releasing pollen.
Some bird or birds -
probably Mynas and/or blackbirds - are eating the huge
'Petravicha' breba figs. They are almost ripe, but not quite.
The figologist picked some of them anyway, to "save them from
the birds". She has started putting home-made frost-clothe
bags on some of the others. A nuisance, but worth it for the
first figs of the season.
2012 - The last week or so has been quite hot. Earlier in the
week the temperature maximum was 25oC. Today it was
29oC. Night temperatures have not fallen below 12oC.
2012 - The first Wrights Early are ripening well now. They
lack sweetness (the tree is shaded by a shelterbelt, but are
OK. Billingtons Early is colouring well.
2012 - the Santa Rosa flowered well, but only set half a dozen
or so fruit, the first of which we found on the ground today.
It had a bird peck, so we assume it was given an 'early exit'.
It was fully coloured, the flesh had good colour, but it was
almost crisp rather than soft and pasty, and it was acid and
without any sugar whatsoever.
2012 - first now ripe, a bit medicinal. Hard to tell when they
2012 - species blueberries are ripe.I think these are
"Hortblue Onyx, aka onyx aka smoothie(Vaccinium simulatum). Berriologist picked a large yoghurt pot
2012 - Hass - it is now obvious that only one tree has set any
fruit at all, and even then only at the top of the tree. An
avocado orchardist further down the road reports that their
trees have also only set fruit on the tops. He has bee hives
in his orchard, so there was no lack of pollinating insects.
To add to the puzzle, some fruit have set low on the Hass
tree, but on a branch that has been grafted to a different
variety. The Hass flowers directly touching the branch
didn't set - and I observed pollinating insects on both the
in-graft flowers and the adjacent Hass flowers!
The only theory that we could come up with was that the
weather was too cold for fruit set, and that as the top
flowers are a little later to bloom, they just escaped the
cold and thus set.
Reed - Our young Reed tree, now around 3 metres high, is at
the tail end of flowering. It appears to have set a very large
crop of fruit. The fruitlets are a bit bigger than a pin-head.
Going on past experience, I would expect most of them to drop
off. Hopefully some hang on and give us some fruit.
2013 - the young Reed tree has matured about 10 or so fruit,
and most have already fallen. The fruit were rather on the
small side, but the trees are unirrigated, so maybe that's
why. A large number of fruitlets have set. Fruitlet drop has
been under way for while, but its not yet clear how many
will ultimately hold and swell. The small old Reed tree has a
similar number of fruit, but has not dropped any yet. It, too,
has a huge set of fruitlets.
The Hass fruit set, such as it is, is swelling well. There is
quite a range in size of developing fruit, so set has clearly
been over quite a period of time.
2012 - Bronceada trees are finished, as is the Burtons
Favourite. Some self-sown Burtons Favorite seedlings still
have the odd fruit available to pick, but most are fairly
pleasantly sweet, but without the acid note, the slight
bitterness, and the complexity of flavor of a good cherimoya.
One seedling is very nice, but it has finished fruiitng. Many
of the trees have dropped their leaves, and are now re-leafing
out and flowering.
2013 - Hot and relatively still. The high was 32.5oC.
2013 - this has been the best year ever for berry quality. The
boysenberries are fat, turgid with juice, and free of
'dryberry' damage. They are still a fairly acid and slightly
bitter number, but they sure pack the flavour and color.
Likely they are very good for you. Success this year has been
attributed to a combination of lack of rain during flowering
(avoiding the fungal diseases that later destroy parts of the
fruit), mulching, and significantly less damage from bronze
beetles (attributed to the work of the little hens that have
been in the berry cage over winter and spring). Sheep poo may
have helped, as well.
2013 - warm and windy today, with the briefest of showers in
mid afternoon. The high was 25.5oC.
2018 - Hot. It reached 30oC in the shade.
2013 - a bumper year for birds. Sparrows and blackbirds are
nesting everywhere. The annoyingly relentless peep of the
shining cuckoo chick is heard most days.
2009 - first plumcots are ripe (2 weeks early), and Wrights
Early are now effectively over.
2013 - the first few Pixie plums are now ripe. Wright's Early
has also started.
2017 - first plumcots are ripe (2 weeks early), and the first
Wrights Early are now ripe. The plum and plumcot set this year
is extremely heavy, Black Prince has branches so heavy with
green fruit they droop to the ground.
2018 - plumcots are a wee way off from being ripe, but
midnight raiders are eating them green. We strongly suspect
Kaka, the silent night-time feeders. The Spring Satin crop - a
whole 2 fruit - have changed color and look ready. We picked
them today, before they are eaten by our 'friendly
2017 - the seedling apricot is now ripening it's first fruit -
2 weeks early.
2011- Its been windy, showery and rainy for weeks. Mostly from
a warm quarter, but there has been one genuinely cold
2011 - The wind has blown quite a lot of the stone fruit off,
and we seem to have a plague of blackbirds, waxeyes and the
odd kaka damaging and knocking off the early 'Pixie' plum
fruit before they are properly ripe.
2011- One 'Spring Satin' plumcot has fallen off, and the rest
look pretty ripe. We tried the fruit, and it was sweet and
very good. The taste was a bit different from our other
'Heritage' plumcot - similar, but not the same. The flesh
color was a winey pink, with a goldish tinge through it. The
skin is apparently smooth, but actually has a just-perceptible
'fuzz' to it, a bit like an apricot.
This is now the earliest ripening stone-fruit on the property.
2012 - Ennervatingly hot and humid, almost without a breathe
of wind, the temperature in the shade at 1200 is 26oC.
The skies are alternately sunny and covered in dark clouds.
The forecast is for rain starting tomorrow and continuing for
2012 - The Wrights Early are ripening at a great rate now, and
are much better tasting. Usually they would be 'done and
dusted' by about the 30th of january. Billingtons early
are still 'acid as'.
2012 - the Santa Rosa fruit have had to be picked under-ripe
to prevent further bird damage. We have a seedling here
(probably a Santa Rosa seedling) that has a good crop on, and
the fruit are a little behind Santa Rosa. They are usually
ripe just after Xmas, but bird pecks are staring to appear.The
fruit are better than bought ones right now, even if they are
rather acid. They crack badly on top, so when the rain comes,
they will split. Besides, the birds are just starting to put
holes in them. We have picked the ripest, just in case. As the
apricologist says, "it's a bit of a balancing act. Pick them
too early and they don't ripen, leave them and the birds get
them. I would rather pick them under-ripe and use them for jam
than have the birds get them."
2012 - Ripe, but very hard to pick when they are perfect. The
berriologist says there is quite a lot of dry berry, and they
would be best grown in a less humid climate (or sprayed - but
who can be bothered?).
2012 - first few fruit are ripe.
2017 - Hot, some cloud a little wind. The weather has been
very, very, hot and dry ever since late November. We have had
the odd shower, nothing of substance. We desperately need
rain. The pond is now very low, nearly as low as I have seen
2006 - wineberries starting.
2017 - a bumper crop on the avocados this year. Heavy mulching
and feeding has paid off. Improbably large numbers of new
fruit have set on the Reed and the Hellen. I expect most to
drop off. Some Hass fruit are starting to ripen on the trees.
2017 - a breba 'Petravicha' fig ripened today. It was
eneormous, and I mean ENORMOUS! It had split open, but as it
is so hot and dry, it hadn't rotted. And because the
figologist had put a paper bag over it, the birds and insects
hadn't been able to get it. The first fig of the season. It
was excellent. The rest of the figs (the main crop) are a long
way off. (The breba crop of 'Madelaine' would also usually
start now, but the Madelaine is so shaded no breba crops set
2011 - The first 'Pixie' plums are ripe enough to eat. They
are a mid red, with a light bloom on the skin. The flesh is
moderately red, and the small seed is a clingstone. While they
are moderately sweet, they have quite a bit of acidity, and
the flesh immediately around the seed is quite acid.
2011 - It has been a bumper year for the berryfruit, with
boysenberries in particular cropping like crazy. These fruit
are large and juicy, but no matter how soft, I find then often
a bit acid, and with a hint of bitterness. Probably very good
for you. To be fair, they are large, hugely productive, have
plenty of intensely red-purple juice, and are easily crushed
into ice-cream or yoghurt, when they cut the over-sweetness of
these products nicely. They have to be picked as darkly ripe
as possible, which is nis easy to distinguish from the 'nearly
ripe' condition. Having the sun behind you when picking them
makes it easier to accurately judge. The Aurora berries are
shiny and black when ripe; taste-wise, they are often very
'perfumed', but can also be a bit acid.
2011 - The cherries have disappeared from the tree...
2012 - some light rain overnight, then totally overcast, with
periods of light showers and a few brief rain showers. Warm,
around 26oC. The last few days Tropical cyclone Evan was
downgraded to a storm by the time it reached NZ, and the
greatly anticipated rain only affected Northland. This part
of West Auckland had only drizzle, total cloud and heat.
2012 - The figologist picked the first breba figs of
Petrovicha, Brown Turkey, and an unknown cultivar ('tree #4").
Birds have eaten most of the Petrovicha brebas have been
almost entirely eaten by the birds, so the figs were picked
before they are as ripe as they should be. Petrovicha was OK,
Brown Turkey had a lot of flavor but no sweetness, and number
4 was sufficiently sweet and had good flavor.
2012 - Boysenberries are in full production. The berriologist
says that lots of the berries now have little creamy opaque
caterpillars in them. Around 50% of the fruit are affected to
a greater or less degree of dried up druplets in the berry.
Most have to be thrown out. Boysenberries have a wonderfully
strong flavor, but it is very hard to pick the point when they
are relatively sweet and not acid or over-mature and soggy and
sour or rotten tasting.
2012 - A smattering of wineberries are ripe.
2012 - Wrights Favorite has very large numbers of fruit dead
ripe. They are quite good, but last nights light rain was
enough for every single dead ripe (deep purple-red) fruit to
split its skin. The plumologist bottled some this morning, and
chucked the rest out.
The Billingtons Early (which we suspect may be Billington), is
still not fully mature, albeit you could eat the reddest ones
if you had to.
The first Santa Rosa is ripe. This is "quite early" for this
variety here (according to the plumologist), although it seems
to vary by a week or two every year.
The first Pixie plums are ripe and falling from the trees.
2012 - This years crop has turned out to be the biggest and
best we have had in at least 20 years - and all from one tree,
a seedling we bought from a guy in Waitakere many years ago.
The fruit incredibly, have not split or rotted in spite of the
showers and constantly humid conditions. The fruit are small,
yellow-orange blushed with pinky red, and they are sugar
sweet, and with a nice acid bite. A year to remember. Birds
damage is minimal so far, and the few somewhat immature or
badly damaged fruit have been turned into jam.
2012 - one of our two smaller Hass trees with a good crop of
early maturing fruit has dropped several green but mature
fruit overnight. The few remaining fruit have sized up
markedly in the last week. There are no fruit set for
next year on this tree (albeit there is bound to be the odd
one that I can't spot).
The intermediate age Hass tree is holding a good crop of
mature green fruit, some of which are a very good size, but no
fruit have fallen yet. It has set and held a useful number of
small 'next season fruit' high on the tree.
The other of our two smaller Hass trees has only a few current
season fruit on it, and late sets at that, so they are small
relative to the others. This tree flowered very heavily, and
had some 'match-head size' fruitlet set, but has not held
anything for next year.
Our 'old' Hass tree has quite a good crop of fairly small
fruit, some of which are starting to color on the tree. I
expect they will start dropping soon. It had a very sparse
flowering this spring just gone, and there is zero set for
Our seedling Hass tree which had a massive number on
match-head and small pea sized fruit set has dropped almost
all of them. There are two marble sized set fruit visible from
the main flowering, and a smattering of late set flowers of
match-head size. Whether they hold remains to be seen.
The 'old' young Reed tree has 3 or 4 'large marble' sized
fruit set from the main flowering, and a good number of
match-head size fruitlets set from the late stage of
flowering.The young tree had a massive number of match-head
size fruitlets apparently set from the main flowering, but
dropped all bar 2 or so fruitlets, which are now marble sized.
There are a useful number of late set flowers that have
apparently set and formed match-head size fruitlets. Whether
any will hold remains to be seen.
The few marble sized fruit on the Pinkerton earlier in the
month have fallen off.
It is clear that we will have very few avocado fruits next
2011 - The heritage 'Kerby' plumcots we have here are just
starting to ripen. They are about 2 weeks later than normal,
don't know why.
These very attractive light red and gold skinned fruit have
soft, juicy flesh, and are freestone. They are sweet, quite
without acidity, and with a hard to describe flavor - maybe a
hint of fingernail polish (amyl acetate, similar to the flavor
of a very good musk melon/cantaloupe). They are very
The possums think so, too.,,
2007 - Newcastle fruit now ripe.
2012 - we harvested 3 perfectly ripe deep red-purple from our
netted cherry tree, which is, from memory, Lapin. They were
intensely flavorful, sweet and crisp. All the new foliage is
heavily damaged by aphids, but who cares (who would spray a
tree just for the sake of 3 cherries?).
2005 - the first plumcots are now ripe.
2012 - the plumcots are producing heavily. They litter the
2005 - Pixie starting.
2007 - Waitakere seedling (Santa Rosa seedling) starting.
2012 - It has been raining on and off for days.
2013 - sunny and hot. It was 25oC air temperature at noon. The
weather over the last 8 days or so has been a mix of cloudy,
drizzly, some rain, still and clear, blue skies and sun. One
day was very hot, hitting a staggering 30oC air temperature!
2014 - overcast, a little rain, drizzly. Northerlies, with a
possibility of isolated thunderstorms later this afternoon.
Relatively warm. The last 2 weeks were not as hot as the
beginning of december. There was one hot day about the 19th,
but for the rest it has been warm and pleasant, interspersed
with overcast days, some showers, and one day with enough rain
to re-wet the soil. We have just 'scraped by'
soil-moisture-wise. It would have been better to have more,
but we did get 'just enough'.
2012 -The berries continue to pump out without the expected
fungus, much to my surprise.
2012 -The stars, taste-wise, as always, are the raspberries,
which have amazing and unique intense fragrance, sweetness and
'just right' acidity balance.
2013 - raspberries are still going well, especially the
'black' raspberries (which are dark purple, really). There is
now a genuinely black raspberry on the market, a variety
called 'ebony'. Black, alright, dark purple, raspberries have
a slightly more muted flavor compared to the red. But the
flavor is nevertheless intense.
2012 - Second best berryfruit are the loganberries, which are
like a longer and oversized raspberry. They have the raspberry
flavor, but with more acidity.
2013 - these very vigorous berries are producing well, in
spite of the 'dryberry'. The berriologist is fed up wih them,
because they are so vigorous they block the path,the dry-berry
mean sa lot are wasted, and they are very hard to get exactly
ripe, not under and not over. She says she will eliminate them
entirely, and put strawberries in their place. Fair enough.
They are quite good, but I find them often a bit acid.
2014 - boysenberries are now slowing right down. Wineberries
have started, and while the ordinary raspberries are
effectively finished (they will have another small crop crop
later), the 'black' (dark red, really) are just getting under
way. These late raspberries are inferior in flavor, but still
2012 - The Pixie plums are now fully ripe. They are a dark,
dull wine red, covered in a whitish bloom. The flesh is still
firm, crunching slightly as you bite into it. It bears,
according to the chief fruit picker "just insane" amounts of
fruit. The tree has been visited almost every night by one or
more possums, and half eaten fruit litter the ground. The
chooks are sick of them. The plum-picker dutifully and
resignedly reminds me - as she does every year at this time -
that I had promised to build a pigsty and buy a weaner to
fatten on windfall and damaged summer fruit...oh well, next
2013 - lots of Pixies ripe. The trees have a heavy crop. The
fruit litter the ground, and we leave them for the sheep (we
decided the maths of feeding a pig, plus the time cost of
humans picking up the windfalls, didn't stack up). The
plumologist cut some into pieces and sun dried them down to
thin red chewy acidy things. Quite nice. The flesh is creamy
yellow in the ripe fruit, so I was surprised they dried to a
predominantly red color (due to the skin).
Wrights Early is finished, and Santa Rosa plums are ripening
well now. The Billingtons (a small red fleshed plum,,deep
red/purple and with a with a heavy boom when fully ripe. It is
similar in appearance to Pixie, but Pixie is a little larger,
deeper purple when fully ripe, and with a heavier bloom.
Billington may have a marginally better flavor.
2013 - our yellow skinned and flesh plum with soft juicy flesh
is ripe. Moderately sweet, no real flavor, forgettable.
2014 - the birds have eaten everything. Only one or two
Billingtons have been left. The quite nice late yellow plum
are being eaten. We could pick them early, but they are not
really worth eating unless fully tree ripened. A state the
birds will never allow. The plumcot crop has been poor this
year (they were pruned very heavily last year), and the birds
have got most all of them. We picked the ripest Santa Rosa
fruit to beat the birds, so they got into the half ripe fruit
instead. So we had to pick the remaining half ripe fruit, too.
These frustrations with bird damage lead to a conversation
with the chief plumologist on how many plum trees we really
need versus having a wide variety, the size of the trees,
dwarfing rootstocks, pasture management, using sheep versus
mowing grass, and netting whole trees versus growing so many
the birds can't eat them all. A lot of thought-provoking
ideas. Maybe a major rethink of the most appropriate practice
2013 -the last dozen or so fruit have been picked, not
because they are fully tree mature, but to beat the
birds. What a year it has been for this tree! We even dried
some (as pieces, not halves, as they sun-dry quicker when cut
2012 - The spring/summer flush on the avocados now have full
sized leaves, but they are still soft and not fully mature.
The older leaves behind the new flush have been dropping for
several weeks now. The older leaves tend to drop at, or soon
after, initial fruit set.
2013 - flush are nearly mature, and vigorous growers like Reed
are maturing their soft 'watershoots', they axillary buds of
which are now growing thin laterals. The ground is moist and
the weather hot, so I had another go at grafting. The
commercial folks graft in spring, I think, before flowering
starts. But I think that is mainly grafting seedlings, and is
probably done in a greenhouse. The scionwood is too soft and
young at this time of year, and the new buds are not that
mature. But I had a go anyway, as well as grafting some
seedlings I have on hand. I tried side wedge grafting with
small terminal pieces of soft wood (the only semi-decent wood
I could find). It is tedious and hot work, and takes me hours.
There has to be a better way.
The Reed still has some match-head sized fruit set, in
addition to its 2 or 3 marble sized set fruit. Our Hass
seedling has around 20 - 30 fruitlets of pea size. How many
will remain is a moot point.
2014 - new growth flushes are tearing away on the young trees
that are yet to fruit. Older trees are having a further modest
leaf drop and small flush.
2013 - the figologist brought in half a dozen massive Brown
Turkey breba fruit. She picked them to stop the birds from
getting them. They are fully sized, but not tree mature. Once
ripe, I am willing to bet they will be OK, but lacking sugars.
2014- the few breba figs we had this year got eaten by
2014 - one of our 2 longan seedling trees had a couple of
flower panicles last year. Nothing set, maybe because the
bronze beetles damaged the panicles severely. This year, it
has a few flowering panicles again - about 3 weeks earlier
than last year. The other seedling also has a few flower
panicles - the first ever for the tree, after around 20 -30
years in the ground. There is bronze beetle damage, but not as
much as last year. Maybe a fruit or two will set. Even if it
did, because these are seedlings, the fruit are likely to be
inferior to imported fruit.
2014 - leaf drop is almost complete on most trees. They are
now flowering heavily. Mummified fruit destroyed by the black
rot fungus litter the ground. A whanau member has chainsaw
pruned the trees very severely in an effort to improve airflow
and reduce disease incidence.
2014 - the sheep are in pretty good condition, but the same
can't be said for the pasture. It has been 'holding its own',
but the driest faces have deteriorated and become full of
Acaena ('bidi bidi'),
2014 - sunny and windy this morning. It is hot and humid. At
10:00 (real time) it is 27oC.
2013 - sunny and a little windy this morning, but by midday
there is only a light breeze and it is hot. It is 29oC at the
2013 - The Pixie plums are very ripe now, and falling from the
trees. Santa Rosa is in full flight. The ripest are very
perfumed, hard to describe, sweet, very juicy, and then really
quite acid at the skin, which takes the edge off the pleasant
The yellow skinned and fleshed plum is now actually quite
pleasant, although it has no acidity, only sweetness.
Plumcots continue to pump out absurd amounts of fruit. The
most fully sun mature are very very nice, but other fruit are
pretty mediocre. They are very soft at this stage.
2013 - Our earliest to mature Hass tree has thrown off another
4 fruit, all a very good size. The old, small, Reed tree has
probably a dozen fruit set, mostly small marble to marble
size, plus a couple of very late set pea sized fruit. All the
trees continue to drop old leaves and harden new flushes.
2013 - There are now around 5 banana clumps hosting a bunch,
from just set to several months old. The earliest set bunch
should ripen about june, but the cold may stall it. The rest
will likely be late winter to spring. Not the best time of
2018 - after huge amounts of rain December (2018), January has
been dry and sunny so far. Yesterday the temperature in the
shade hit 30oC, and today it is 29oC at midday.
2019 - All the plums are over now -about 2 weeks earlier than
2011 - Rain and showers on and off, with the odd sunny break
have continued (and look set to continue for some time yet).
2009 - Early small species blueberries have about finished.
2012 - The 'early' blueberries we have here are all but
finished. Most are from garden centres around Auckland, and
virtually the only blueberries you can get are those supplied
by 'Incredible Edibles' Ltd, who have a licence to propagate
blueberry varieties bred by HortResearch Ltd (the former
government department 'DSIR' before it was made a State owned
According to their website,
these are .
We have Blue Dawn, whose real name is 'Takahe'. This is our
biggest blueberry, but is still only around a metre high, and
is pretty much an evergreen. It has had only a couple of ripe
fruit so far this year. It is a ‘Rabbiteye Blueberry’, Vaccinium ashei. The
'rabbiteye' group don't need as much winter chilling to fruit
as most others, and are said to be a bit more adaptable to
soil type, not requiring as much acidity. We threw in a good
amouint of peat when we planted them in out sandy clay-loam,
and have subsequently mulched them with pine needles to keep
the acidity levels up.
We had , but it has died. Whitu is
also a rabbiteye type, and we planted it as a pollininizer for
Takahe. Note to self: must buy another plant.
O'Neal is a variety in the 'Highbush' group, but from the
Southern USA, meaning it requires less winter cold to fruit.
It is a inter-species hybrid, incorporating the low chill
with both Northern and Southern Highbush varietys (species and
hybrids of mainly Vaccinium
corymbosum with some
V. angustifolia). We put this one in a few months
ago, so there is no result as yet. It is supposed to start
fruiting in late November, which would make it the earliest
blueberry on this place.
But the earliest blueberries are our three 'Smoothie™' or,
correctly, 'Onyx' cultivar blueberries, which are selected
from an 'upland' highbush species from Southern USA, Vaccinium simulatum.
These are dwarf blueberries selected more for their ornamental
flowers more than their copious quantities of very small
fruit. They are highly productive, but the dark blue fruit are
pretty forgetable - slightly bitter, somewhat seedy - but
still sufficiently juicy and pleasant enough.
2012 - The Kerby plumcots continue to ripen, in spite of the
2012 - the first Santa Rosa plums have turned dull red. The
possums continue to ignore our Timms traps...
2012 - A bunch of bananas has ripened on a variety I have had
for years, but which has not, until now, produced fruit. I
bought the plant locally, from Nestlebrae Nurseries (now
closed). It was sold to me as 'one of the better Ladies Finger
types'. I previously didn't pay it much attention, as most of
these 'Ladies Finger' bananas seem pretty similar to me, we
already have several clumps of "Ladies Fingers', and
Nestlebrae couldn't tell me the specific cultivar name anyway.
But this one has turned out to be a cut above the rest, so
far, at least. There were only a few fruit in the bunch that
had split, and the fruit were sweet, dense fleshed, and had a
nice flavor. Most importantly, there was no trace of
astringency. The unopened flower bud appeared in April 2011,
so this autumn flowering, winter/spring maturing fruit has
taken 12 months from bud to harvest - in contrast to the
summer flowering, autumn/winter maturing, October
2012 - totally overcast and grey, humid, breezy. Temperatures
are moderate, 22oC. It hit 31oC in one of the last few days.
It is dry.
2013 - the first Elephant Heart plums are fully colored and
near ripe. The Black Prince are beginning to show color. The
yellow plum, so insipid earlier in the season, are deeply
colored and very ripe, and rather pleasant. Some Santa Rosa
have ripened to to a deep purple-red, at which point they are
even more bursting with juice than usual. Santa Rosa seems a
particular favorite of the birds. They are still acid at the
skin, but significantly less so. The plumcots are all but
done, and the Pixie plums are also fading fast.
20123- Trees are shedding leaves at an accelerated pace. Some
are starting to flush again. The most advanced set Hass fruit
are about small plum size. The fruit remaining on our middle
sized tree are gaining a lot of size.
2013 - the figologist harvested a few more very large breba
Brown Turkey as the birds have made their first tentative peck
in them. They are not as fully tree ripe as they should be,
but by tomorrow the birds would have hollowed them out. They
will continue to ripen off the tree. This year, the Brown
Turkey breba crop is extending into the very beginning of the
main crop, which means Brown Turkey will just about crop
continuously this season.
2014 - It has been very windy and overcast for days. But no
rain. At least it was a bit cooler. There has been just enough
odd shower in the last few weeks to keep the grass vaguely
ticking over, but that's about it. Once again, we are thankful
for kikuyu, which the sheep nibble close, forcing succulent
new growth. Today is breezy, sunny, blue skies, and hot. It is
25oC at 1 pm.
2014 - every time the berriologist claims the 'black'
raspberries are over, she seems to come in with another
cupful. They are intensely flavorful, sharp, only a little
sweetness, and full of juice. The boysenberries keep coming,
and the wineberries are really pumping out.
2014 - We don't have any peaches ripe yet, but either kaka or
possums have started on the unripe fruit.
2014 - fruit set on some trees is looking encouraging, but the
jury still out as to how many will hang on through the
increasing dry. Some young trees that flushed several times
earlier in the season have now stopped flushing and fully
expanded their leaves. Their leaves have now turned dark
green, and the trees look well set up to photosynthesis over
summer and pack on the reserves needed to flower well and set
fruit in the end of year flower season. As long as we get some
rain in the not too distant future....
2018 - windy, hot, sticky, overcast and sunny. It has been
very hot and with no rain for weeks. Nights have been hot and
sticky. Weather more typical of February. Luckily we had a
cyclonic downpour just after New Year which saved us from deep
drought despair. It has been hot and dry since, but rain is
forecast for a little later in the week.
2018 - Our large tree has a mega crop. We have been giving
avos away to whanau, but we still have a large number on
the tree, and they are starting to turn colour. We had a a
very good crop on our two head-high Maluma trees. These are
far better than Hass in the early part of the season, but at
this time of year, while Maluma is oily and nice, it simply
does not match Hass in flavor.
2018 - a mega plum year again, especially the Pixie
plums and the Plumcots. Fallen plums litter the ground under
the Pixie - far too many, even for the birds. They squash
under jandalled foot, and you can slip if you are not careful.
The Spring Satin only had a few fruit, as usual. Possibly it
is too far from a pollenizer. A heavy flowering Kirby plumcot
close by obviously is not suitable.
2018 - Passion vine hoppers (Scolypopa australis)
are present in big numbers on some of the avocado trees,
mainly on some young trees we have here. White avocado
sap-sugars crystallize on the leaves below their activity.
They focus on young growth, and particularly like the stems of
small developing avocado fruit. They are becoming a bit of a
menace. I could spray them, but I almost never use
insecticides here, and besides, I can't be bothered...It
puzzles me that birds don't eat them. Or if they do, I haven't
noticed - and they don't eat enough! Apparently there are
several tiny parasitic wasps that destroy passion vine hopper
eggs, and they are fairly widespread. If they are on this
property, I'd like them to work harder!
2012 - We have had spells of fine weather, bright sunshine
even, amid the cloudy, showery days.
2012 -The garden is host to a fat shining cuckoo fledgling,
whose incessant, high pitched squeaking to its grey warbler
foster-mother for yet more
food soon becomes tedious.
2012 - The berryfruit have slowed down, especially the
boysenberries. The few loganberries now ripen too quickly.
They are firm and acid one day, but over-ripe the next.
Raspberries remain the stars - even picked a bit underripe
they are quite good. At the moment, there are a 'fair lot' of
berries in the freezer, the providtrice has made several lots
of jam, bottled boysenberries, and one whanua member has made
made some experimental berry leather. Berry eating is a
compulsory, not optional, activity...
2012 -Early plums have gone, and Santa Rosa, the next cab off
the rank, is also about finished. Santa Rosa plums are very
juicy -dripping with juice in fact - and sweet, albeit a bit
acid around the skin and the stone. They have a vinous, almost
floral flavor, altho' several members of the whanau claim they
taste 'chemically', and refuse to eat them.
Black Prince is the next (and for us, the last) plum to ripen,
but it is a way off yet. The possums have been climbing in the
little tree and knocked off a significant amount of the fruit
while it is still green. They don't seem to eat the green
plums - in contrast to the little green immature peaches by
the house, which an possum was noisily munching on at 3.30 in
the morning the other night...we continue to have no success
killing the little bastards with Timms traps ( even though we
have 3 set most of the time).
2012 - The rain and warmth has meant that the avocados
continue to flush. I had hoped the flushes would have matured
by now, as I want to have another go at grafting while the
weather is warm and the ground is not yet dry. Last year I put
on around 15 or so grafts, but only 2 took.
2012 - Its been overcast and rainy all morning.
2013 - the last week has been cloudy, windy and somewhat
cool, with temperatures of around 25oC. But the last few days
have been hot and windy, with lots of bright sunshine.
2009 - main crop blueberries now starting
Bananas and Avocado
2012 - Our corn plants are looking somewhat yellow, clearly
needing nitrogen. So its on with the raincoat and gumboots and
off into the light rain with a bucket of urea granules. The
bananas and avocados would benefit from some nitrogen as well.
Spreading urea is always a gamble, and an expensive one
(something like $4 a kilo bought in a 40 kg sack, from
memory). So a bucket of urea, at roughly 6 kgs, might be worth
nearly $25. If the soil isn't already damp and you don't get
at least 5mm of rain soon after application, a significant
part of the nitrogen will be released to the atmosphere,
rather than to the soil. As soon as the urea was distributed,
the rain slowed to a misty drizzle. I knew that the soil was
starting to dry out underneath the trees, so I stood there in
soggy shorts and wet gumboots, watering the urea in with the
hose. Such is the fate of the home gardener.
In contrast, the commercial boys and girls don't have to
worry, because they have irrigation to all their trees, and
they run liquid fertiliser through the pipes at the same time.
The soil is kept optimally moist, and the trees well
fertilised with relatively little effort.
2013 -the ground is very dry indeed. We need rain, and
persistent rain. The avocados have almost done their drop of
last years leaves, and vigorous new shoots have either
hardened up, or are hardening up. It's time to prune the
avocados. One Hass tree has no fruit set, so has been pruned
relatively close in to the trunk, and topped at about 2. 4
metres.The small crop set on another tree are about golfball
size. This years mature crop is hanging well on out 2
producing trees, and some fruit is now quite large. Hopefully
they will store on the tree until march/april (longer if I'm
2012 - The resident figologist harvested the remaining early
'breba' fig crop - all 4 fruit.
These are the 'Brown Turkey' variety of fig. The breba figs
are large, but there are generally very few of them - and the
birds love them. As it happens, the season has been so wet and
'sunshine deficient' that they are pretty tasteless - altho'
the figologist claims they are still quite good. She tells me
that the fig variety 'Madeline' has the largest breba crop -
but only a handful matured in the last 2 years (although last
year years fruit drop was likely caused by hormonal spray
drift from neighbors, a recurring problem in most rural
2013 - the figologist had to harvest the few remaining
breba fruit early, as Kaka parrots have ruined the rest. The
main crop figs are still yet to start.
2012 - The possums appear to have moved onto our white-fleshed
peach tree (possibly 'wiggins'), just as they are about to
I've set 2 Timms kill traps under the tree, baited with fresh
sweet carrot with a hint of cinnamon. Having ignored the Timms
traps for weeks, I don't suppose they will now find them
interesting. Still, y' gotta have a go.
2013 - the first white fleshed peach has fallen from the tree.
2013 - the few Elephant Heart fruit, much treasured by the
plumologist, are now ripening. They ripen over quite a long
time, but their crop is being cut short by Kaka, which take a
little bit out of quite a number of fruit before settling down
to have a good feed on one fruit. These birds are increasingly
The Black Prince are starting to color a little more, so they
won't be very far off - as long as the Kaka don't destroy
2018 - We have had showers and some bursts of rain recently,
all of it warm and 'tropical'. Today is overcast, sometimes
sunny, sometimes with a welcome slow breeze. A few cicadas
lazily drone into the humid air. It is unpleasantly muggy,
quite impossible to be outside without soon being prickly with
2018 - A very decent group of adult and juvenile quail moved
through the garden today. A joy to the spirit. Kaka are
noisily present from early morning, either falling silent or
disappearing in the heat of the day. A shining cuckoo calls.
We now have four diamond doves frequenting the place. I enjoy
their gentle but admittedly monotonous cooing. Other whanau
members find it irritating, and refer to them in rather unkind
2018 - Our small heavy-bearing peach is ripening fruit - a bit
earlier than usual. As if on cue, possums suddenly appear to
eat them. No luck with the Timms trap as yet. Sigh. We don't
spray the tree, and the humid heat is ideal for brown rot,
which is spreading.
2012 - Another bright sunny day with a cool southerly,
just like yesterday.
2012 - One of the side effects of having unmown pockets of
trees fenced off from the sheep is that we have rank tall
grass and weeds in these areas. While I more or less keep on
top of the more objectionable weeds like thistles, anything
else is left to grow, flower, seed and die. So we tend to have
some good food sources for miscellaneous insects.
The Queen Annes lace is flowering at this time of year, and I
really like the tall flowers, with their 'grapey' smelling,
flat, creamy-white umbels. An odd, wedge-shaped insect
also shares my appreciation.
Our copy of 'The Life-Size Guide to Insects', by Andrew Crowe,
identifies it as the 'Large Pintail Beetle', Mordella
antarctica. (There are actually 7 species of Pintail
beetles in New Zealand,and all but one are natives.) If you
get too close, they abruptly jump, or fall, off the flower.
Apparently they are part of a group of beetles commonly
referred to as 'Tumbling Flower Beetles'. A drawing on page
156 of a Landcare paper (.pdf) is here.
2014 - A low pressure system coming off the Tasman carried a
lot of rain in its leading edge, giving us a sustained burst
of heavy warm rain. The gutters were overflowing. We had about
20 mm or so, which will make a huge difference to the drying
2014 - the first few hazels have fallen. Although fully
formed, almost all were empty.
2014 - fine but overcast, mild, warm. Dry.
- the Reed trees are dropping some of their small new season
fruit, as they seem to do every year. The set is very good, so
it doesn't matter.
2014 - the trees are flushing
well. The flushes are at different stages of maturity in
different trees. The flower buds on the new flushes are quite
well developed. I tried a few cuttings of the soft new
flushes, but they died pretty quickly. I'll try again when the
flushes are a little more mature.
2019 - Sunny and hot, light breeze. A high of 29oC in the
2019 - Sunny and hot, light breeze. High was 31oC in the
2012 - Sunny days at last.
2013 - windy, hot, dry. Hasn't rained since late December, and
even then it wasn't that much.
2019 - a bit of cloud, hot, slight breeze, 32oC in the shade.
2012 - The boysenberries have pretty much finished.
2012 - Our few thornless blackberries are just starting. Most
years they are a favorite of stink bugs and passionvine
hoppers. As a result, the fruit usually have damaged dried up
patches on the berries. The thornless blackberries are larger
than, but inferior to, the wild blackberry. Most years the
wild blackberries around here are pretty scrappy, small,
insect damaged, and not very prolific. This year it is
different. The fruit are big, fat, juicy, plentiful, and with
very little insect damage.
A whanau member mounted an expedition following favorable
reports on the remarkable season for the wild berries. The
four of us filled 6 ice-cream containers (2 litre) in an hour.
The outstanding season is not confined to our backyard.
2012 - The 'Black Prince' plums are nearly ripe. We finally
killed a young female possum by the bush edge, near the plums
trees, I hope she is the one who has been eating the peaches
and plums. Given a patch of broadleaf native forest adjacent
t0 pasture can support from 10 to 25 possums per hectare, I
doubt it was acting alone. A neighbour tells us that when the
ARC did a few months intensive trapping in this patch of
native forest, they killed 80 possums...
2012 - One of the 2 longan trees we have had here for nearly
quarter of a century (and in a pots for years before that) is
finally flowering. I don't expect much, partly because bronze
beetles are feasting happily on the tender new inflorescences,
and partly because New Zealand isn't really warm enough to
mature these fruit. That said, the former Nestlebrae nursery
in Helensville did have a seedling longan that set and matured
a few fruit - but the fruit were very small, and not much more
than a obscurity, really.
2012 - The newly set avocados continue to 'size up' steadily.
The trees continue to flush, which is a bit unusual.
2013 - Overcast, warm and windy this morning, by midday there
are sunny patches, it is windy and hot. The temperature is
27.5oC. I don't think we had any rain at all here last
2013 -The heat, wind and total absence of rain have meant
peaches have ripened with minimal brown rot - only 3 or 4
fruit. The white peach that the possums hammered last year has
given us (and the sheep) some nice fruit. A nice large yellow
flesh peach on a small tree is about to ripen. Even eaten
slightly firm it is delicious - juicy, sweet, and with good
acid. The only drawback (as with all peaches) is the slightly
fuzzy skin, although the skin peels off easily. I think the
variety might be 'Orion', an older kind, but I am not
For the first time in a long time we have managed to get a few
nectarines. The tree is a light cropper, and they usually have
a lot of brown rot. These are white fleshed, juicy, sweet, and
highly flavored. Utterly delicious.
2013 - A few elephant heart remain on the tree, and the only
question is whether we get them or the birds do.
The Black Prince continue to ripen, and are a sort of strange
mottled bronzy-green color. The flesh is deep red, and at the
moment firm and crisp, acid, some sweetness, and quite a good
flavor. But they have a little way to go, and the acidity is
We had a Louisa plum recently, sort of prune shaped, large,
red skin, yellow flesh, clingstone. It was sweet, juicy, soft,
and I though very nice indeed.
The last of the Pixie plums have kept in the fridge for weeks.
The skin is deepest purple black, there is now almost no
acidity, they are moderately sweet and mellow, with smooth,
very fine-grained, almost pasty flesh. I really like them,
they are very refreshing.
2013 - it is very dry, and the big, soft new flushes on the
seedlings I planted for grafting onto are wilting. I gave them
some precious household water and mulched them heavily with
chipped dry bamboo stems. I took a couple of buckets of water
from the little dam we have, but it is very low and muddy.
The biggest and oldest Hass tree is starting to color up some
fruit on the tree, but none have dropped, which is good. The
fruit are small, but it has a fairly good crop.
The small fruiting Reed tree has dropped another fruit. It
would have fallen in the morning, and by mid afternoon when I
found it, it was blackened and sunburnt on the skin surface
facing the sun.
2019 - Many of the Hass avocado fruit are fully colored, and a
few fruit drop every day. The new season crop are holding well
so far, in spite of the heat. In one area the fruit have
'overset' to a ridiculous degree, and many of these developing
new season fruit will likely fall in the ensuing months.
2013 - The yellow kiwifruit are full size. What surprises me
is that they continue to put up vigorous watershoots, even
though the ground under the vines is so dry there are large
cracks (I don't water the plants). Where do they get the water
from to support growth?
The green kiwifruit also have some watershoots, but nothing
like as many as the yellow.
2013 - the ground is like dust, and some leaves on the bananas
have yellowed. I find bananas to be amazingly drought tolerant
plants - which makes no sense at all given their lush tropical
2014 - Hot and dry, only a light breeze. The temperature hit
28oC in the shade, but there is so little humidity it actually
feels OK to work in.
2019 - A small but useful shower of rain this morning.
By afternoon it was back to clear skies, heat and humidity.
2014 - still quite a few wineberries, a few boysenberries, and
the odd blue berry coming in. The wild blackberries are
producing like we have never seen before, and the quality is
2014 - we collect the odd bird-pecked Black Prince, and they
do actually ripen up in the bowl, and are sweet/acid and good.
2014 - the first of the nashis are ripe. This is the small
somewhat caramel tasting one, very nice.
2013 - still hot and dry.
2019 - Hot, no relief in sight.
2013 - nuts are now falling, but quite a number look
immature. Presumably this is a drought effect.
2019 - Hot and dry. It was 31oC in the shade.
2013 - Rain at last, desperately needed.
2014 - Hot and dry, some cloud cover.
2014 - a shining cuckoo chick is still peeping around the
place. There must have been a good crop of shining cuckoos
this year - I found 3 grey warbler, Gerygone igata,
nests (empty); 2 in the bamboo, low down, about chest height,
and another in the very top of an avocado tree.
2013 - Rain continues, off and on between drizzle. Good
amounts have fallen, maybe 50mm or so.
2014 - Totally overcast with an extremely strong easterly
blowing all day. A brief rain shower was welcome but the
endless wind will have undone any good the shower did.
2014 - A whanau member decided to pick the damson plums to
make some damson wine and damson jam. She came back with 15
kgs of fruit. This tree just keeps giving year after year.
2014 - The very strong winds have only blown off 8 new-season
avocados - so far. Not bad considering its strength.
Curiously, these are all Hass avos, not one Reed or Pinkerton
fruitlet was blown off. To be fair, the fruit were blown off a
Hass tree that is relatively exposed to wind.
2014 - the wind has also blown a couple of red Bartlett (aka
Bon Chretian) pears off. One has insect damage and is total
soft and rotten. The other is not fully ripe the flesh is
almost crisp but the flavor and sweetness is 'OK' (while not
'the best'), which is interesting.
2014 - initially overcast and a little cool - autumnal
feeling, even - it soon turned to clear skies and hot sun. It
reached 25oC by midday. I spent quite some time watering some
of the avocados and some new tamarillo plants.
2019 - The heat keeps going. Clear skies again, 31.5oC in the
shade, thankful for a nice breeze.
2014 - It has been a challenging season for the kiwifruit.
Very dry, a period of extremely strong wind, and with no
irrigation. It amazes me how drought tolerant the big
kiwifruit are. In spite of the dry, they keep putting up
vigorous watershoots, and the foliage remains (mostly) deep
green. The crop load on the yellow Sally plant is just stupid.
There are almost more fruit than leaves. The stress on the
plant must be enormous. But they are planted about 1.5 meters
apart, so the roots have some space to forage for water and
food. In contrast, the seedlings are crammed up at about 30cm
apart in the row, and the competition for resources of
moisture and food really stresses them. There is quite some
variability in how the seedlings handle this years intense
sun, and the water and nutrient stress. Some show marked
nutritional deficiencies and some don't; some sunburn readily
when I cut back the crowded foliage, some don't.
2014 - the late golden queen type seedling is yet to start. It
is a pretty mediocre fruit, and the tree is very subject to
disease. In contrast, another seedling peach which produces
firm-fleshed juicy, sweet, flavorsome small peaches
(80-100grams) has been fruiting extremely heavily. It has been
so dry this year that we have had zero brown rot in this tree
(we don't spray). What we have had is possums. They have been
hammering the tree night after night. We have varied the bait
in the Timms trap under the the tree, but so far without
success. Going by the number of possums spotted on the road at
night, the possum population seems to be booming. Time to
intensify poisoning and trap set, it seems. These small
peaches are really worthwhile- we have had a constant stream
of them, many kilos worth, and the queen of the preserves
bottles them almost obsessively. She notes that peaches are
currently $5 a kilo in the supermarket...
2018 - another huge peach crop, but brown rot is now rampant.
We have caught 6 possums under this tree so far, 2 with the
Timms trap, 4 with the live trap. The tally for the last
fortnight across the property is 8 possums in a fortnight.
Quite a surge.
2018 - Reed fruit are falling. There are still quite a
number of Pinkerton hanging on the tree. They also fall from
time to time. The seed in some of these Pinkerton fruit is
2014 - the sheep are doing well, in spite of the drought.
Their condition has been assisted by my laziness. I had left a
space in the fence around a few small avocado trees I had
planted under some eucalyptus trees. The idea was that a gate
might usefully be hung there at some future point. In the
meantime a sheet of old corrugated iron closed the gap. It has
got a bit rusty around the edges with the passing of the
years, and the recent wind rattling it did the rest, The sheep
had a marvelous time eating the young (and struggling!)
avocado trees, the lank dry grass, seedling coprosmas, and
anything else in reach. No wonder they were lounging around
like stranded whales this morning!
2014 - At last, 3 or 4 millimetres of showery rain fell for a
short time this morning. Apart from one brief shower on the
6th, it has been dry, and either sunny or windy ever since the
rain-burst on january 26th. This little bit of moisture will
keep the kikuyu green, but that's about it.
2019 - Hot. 31oC in the shade.
2014 - The baby Californian quail are now quite well fledged,
and if we have a 'surprise meeting' they fly up with a whirr
of wings. They look like a small flock of sparrows taking
flight. A big, wild-looking cat has been seen stealthing
around the place recently. I hope it doesn't kill too many of
these delightful little quail. Maybe it will go for the
abundant rainbow skinks, much easier prey. Their baby-pea
sized white eggs turn up buried in t he soil, and the babies
are hatching out right now.
Several times in the
last 25 years we have come across an unusual very 'chunky'
robust skink. One was brought in by the cat many years ago,
another was briefly captured by the kids and let go after
marveling at its unusual size. Recently we came across another
one, but it escaped into the debris around the house before we
had a chance to examine it. These unusual skinks have all been
found around the shaded and cool side of the house, where
there is leaf litter, and a retaining wall with very large
grade scoria creating lots of lizard-sized spaces.
Interestingly, I have never ever seen a rainbow skink in this
area. This is a nice cool environment, and the rainbow skinks
seem to be found in sunny places.
This area is a cobwebby narrow space, and the whanau have
grown up, so no longer play there. But some of their plastic
toys and other residues of childhood remain. So one of the now
adult whanau members started removing the artifacts of
childhood, and removing the dead tangles of the Akebia (Akebia
quinata) vine that I sprayed out some years ago. He
disturbed a skink, which ran up under the hardiplank wall
cladding, but didn't quite make sanctuary before it was
This skink is similar to the other unusual lizards we have
seen previously, but is much more conventionally slimly
skink-shaped. It's head shape, color pattern and orange eye
with a white 'tear-drop' under it suggests it might be the
Oligosoma smithi. According to Landcare, this
lizard is found in the upper North Island, with distinct west
coast and east coast populations. Apparently it will dive in
rock pools, so it is sometimes known as the diving skink. It
also eats coprosma berries, and climbs kawakawa plants to eat
the fruit when they are ripe. Insects are likely to form the
main part of its diet, though.
I sent some photos through to the New Zealand Herpetological
Society, and they replied that it is actually a young ornate
ornata). Apparently the golden ornate pattern on
the tail and the white 'teardrop' under the eye are diagnostic
of this species. Apparently it is a threatened species, and
for this reason we are quite lucky having this species on the
property. The Department of Conservation threat classification
from 2010 is "Very large population and low to high ongoing or
predicted decline. Qualifiers: Conservation Dependent, Partial
Decline". So I guess the upshot is that there is a reasonable
population, but it is declining, and the rate of decline
depends on measures to conserve habitat, and get rid of pests
such as rats, mice, hedgehogs. And control wild cats. (Not
much you can do about pet cats.)
2014 - Bamboo has really greened up, and has lots of succulent
branch tips. It has to be cut, or it will get away on me. A
bonus for the sheep, which love the tender new shoots. They
are also getting windfall apples and possum munged peaches, as
well as the usual trimmings of invading mahoe and coprosma.
2014 -The geese have been in the 'new' little avocado patch
where I intend to play around with size-control single leader
pruning of interesting varieties. The grass has been allowed
to grow and seed, and the kikuyu has also ramped up. Some
areas of grass are moderately well controlled by the geese,
but it is a grassy field, not a lawn, that is clear! The geese
spend a lot of time lounging in the shade, and have started
their moult, so they are not much use as lawnmowers right now.
So I have put them back in our tiny dam area.
2019 - Hot. 31oC in the shade again.
2013 - The rain we had earlier in the month is it. Not a drop
has fallen since. It is very dry. The maximum temperature was
34oC earlier in the week. Today it is a moderate 26oC. Recent
overnight lows have been around 15oC.
2013 - Sheep - Kikuyu is just hanging on. Bamboo and tree
trimmings - loquat, mulberry, plum, coprosma - keep them in
good condition. Plus windfall fruit.
2013 - Geese - I am experimenting with a pair of Chinese geese
for grass control between small low-to-the-ground avocado
trees. It has been moderately successful so far, but today I
found the female dead. She had moulted and been 'off the lay'
for months now, but when I found her it was clear that she was
'egg bound'. This is completely the wrong time of year to form
eggs, so I don't know why this happened. The main symptom of
egg binding is not eating and listless laying about. It has
been so hot, that is pretty much what the geese do in the day
anyway - rest in the shade.
2014 - Hot and very dry. The temperature at 2:15 in the
afternoon was just over 29oC. Cicadas are deafening -
literally - near some of the groups of trees on and around the
property. They are in full song even at 3:30 in the morning,
when it is completely dark. In fact, they sing right through
the night. Where do they get their energy?! Click beetles and
baby crickets have appeared.
2014 - now falling.
2014 - the first Maltas are ripe
2014 - a solitary small fruit was found on the ground. It
appears to be ripe.
2014 - our prolific small peach is over, and the first
of the Golden Queen type self sown fruit have coloured and
been chewed and knocked off the tree by possums.
- the experimental size-controlled Hass trees were putting out
too much new growth at the very top of the tree, where I can't
easily get to it . So I chainsawed the top out of both trees.
All the avocados have matured their main spring flush fully,
and are having a modest summer flush - a bit surprising,
considering the dry. Some trees - notably the size controlled
Hass - have put out very strong and vigorous 'watershoots'.
The South Africans call these 'bull shoots', which could be a
bit confusing if you say it fast....Anyway, they are not the
sort of growth I want, so I prune them right out. The lower
watershoot had already been cut back once previously. It has
responded by putting out numerous small shoots. These shoots
can be useful if you are trying to 'fill in' an area of the
tree that has been cut back heavily, but if not, they have to
go. The 'normal' growth flush can be seen in the lower left of
the photo. The leaves are full size, and are still a bit
bronzy colour. They will soon be deep green. They have an
active growing tip, but won't put on significant extension
growth (unless we have torrential warm rain...)
One little Hashimoto tree had a couple of fruit set, which I
thought was pretty good, given how young the trees are.
However, I found them on the ground today, black and dead.
when I cut one open, I found the seed had not formed properly,
so it looks like it had not been properly pollinated.
The smattering of current season Reed fruit have become
noticeably dull and almost 'dusty' looking, with perhaps a
very faint dark undertone to the skin. They are perfectly
mature right now. In fact, some have softened on the tree.
2014 - Some blackberries are still being picked. They are not
as flavorsome as the wild ones, but some of them are pretty
good. I'm suprised they are still producing, given the dry.
2019 - Sunny and hot, still most of the day, then a welcome
light breeze. A high of 35oC in the shade. It is now very dry,
the ground is cracked.
The forecast was for 27oC today, but the morning started
windy and overcast. Heat built up under the cloud cover, and
the humidity was intolerable on this coast )the east coast was
much less humid). Temperatures hit 31oC . There is no rain
forecast for at least the next 7 days. Some plants will be
looking a bit grim by then. I have been siphoning water from
the little dam from time to time for strategic watering - a
very time consuming activity.
The high for today was 28oC, and if not for the nice strong
breeze, it would be stinking hot again.
2014 - The apple variety 'Lobo' is pickable. Not at its best,
but certainly acceptable.
2014 - I picked up a decent handful of nuts 5 'trees'. The
other 20 odd trees produced nothing (or nothing worthwhile). A
whanau member had picked up 3 times this amount 4 or 5 days
ago. Quite a number are still in the green husk, and are
whitsh and immature. Whether wind has blown them off or
drought has caused them to jump early, I don't know. Rats are
eating the nuts - the first time they have ever been attacked.
Guess we were just lucky up 'til now.
2014 - overcast at first, brief humid drizzle. Enough to ramp
up the brown rot, but that's about it.
2019 - hot and humid, overcast, 32oC in the shade. Waiting for
rain to break the drought, hopefully overnight.
2019 - Our Petrovicha fig has had a small crop of
'intermediate season' fruit. These are slightly distorted,
sometimes slightly 'turbanned'. The breba crop of very large
fruit is always very small, the main crop more numerous bit
the fruit are 'average' size. We have never ever had another
crop in between these two before.
2014 - A clear, sunny, hot day. The high was reached 30oC.
2014 - we have a seedling that produces large, slightly
beaked, dense fleshed very mediocre tasting fruit. It has
quite agood crop every year, but it is very disease prone.
This year is no exception. Brown rot affects almost every
fruit. I found only 6 unaffected fruit. The most productive
use for this tree will be as firewood, I think.
2014 - Another clear, sunny day. The high was only 24oC, due,
I guess, to the very breezy cool southwesterly. The
temperature at night has really fallen.
2014 - I notice the earliest persimmon fruit (Nishimurawase)
is starting to color up.
2014 - our other 'good' small firm peach is now dropping fruit
everywhere. It has a bit of brown rot after the recent humid
day, but not too bad.
2014 - suddenly 4 or so trees have started to drop fruit. They
are pretty small, but that is hardly surprising, given the
drought. Unfortunately, we now have to run the sheep in the
area, as grazing is at problematically low levels, so they
scoff them before we ever see them.
2014 - most of the lucuma trees are now flowering, or in
flower bud. Last years fruit set are sizing up nicely, but
apart from one tree, the set is very poor.
2014 - our poor little stunted Reed avocado tree is really
suffering in the dry, especially as a row of feijoas is hard
up against it and it is too far uphill to gravity feed water
to. It dropped 4 fruit today, all of them soft, tree ripened,
in fact. All had some sunburn, but the flesh was perfectly
ripe, deepest yellow with a lime green halo, peeled perfectly,
and no rot under the blackened sunburnt portion. As a whanau
member observed, when you cut a Reed, you almost always have a
perfect attractive flesh, with none of the rots or flesh
discoloration you get in Hass. "How often do you see that in a
supermarket Hass?", he asked rhetorically. "Sometimes, but not
that often", I replied. "Damn right", he said.He has a point.
Reed also peels supremely easy, another plus. It does
sometimes have a tiny amount of rot at the point where the
stem attached (if it detaches naturally and falls from the
tree, rather than being picked), but it is trivial.
2013 - It has been almost 3 weeks without rain. The weather is
sunny, hot, and generally calm. Sometimes a gentle sea breeze
blows. Today it is 27oC at 1.30 pm. Over the last few days it
has hit 31oC. Water is a big issue. There is a little water in
our tiny fire dam, and I am planning to siphon what is there
out onto important trees, then mulch them. When the water runs
dry, well then, we will see who survives the drought.
2013 -The blueberries are pretty pathetic due to lack of
water. They have to be hand watered, but we can spare only
enough to just keep them alive.The blackberries are producing
quite well and seem relatively unaffected by the dry. They
don't get water. The raspberries are still producing some
fruit, but the leaves are starting to curl, and some berries
are now small.
2013 - The yellows and greens still look very good. Some
seedling plants near a feijoa hedge are now developing brown,
curled leaves. I am amazed the kiwifruit have shown only
minimal damage so far. They get no water.
2013 - The banana plants are doing relatively well, in spite
of the drought. I would have thought they would be like a limp
rag by now. Leaves are certainly yellowing off, but by and
large they are in good shape. There are now numerous bunches
of bananas formed, some quite recent. It looks like there will
be an extended ripening from autumn into winter.
2013 - the main crop haven't really started yet. There are a
few Malta fruit near ready, and the figologist is picking them
early to thwart the birds.
2013 - Damson plums are now acceptable. As sheep and
kaka ravaged our Black Prince plums, that is all we have left.
2013 - As one self-sown peach seedling ends, another starts.
Unfortunately kaka seem to have discovered how good peaches
are too. I expect the worst.
2013 - bigger trees are dropping leaves, but still look mostly
OK. The Hass fruit have held on very well, but there is a
recent uptick in commencement of ripening on the tree.
2013 - Sheep - looking good, and the mating season is coming
up. Feed is pretty much bamboo, kikuyu and mahoe. We are
fortunate that I haven't tidied up self-sown invasive natives
for years now.
2013 - Geese - a Pilgrim goose female has been found for
the gander. He accepted her as if she had been there all her
2012 - Odd month. Not as much sun as usual, some good rain,
its been grey and showery quite often. Today the cicadas are
going like crazy, but there are lots of black crickets about.
It feels a bit like autumn.
2013 - Dry.
2014 - The days are now cool, but the days are hot. It was
29oC yesterday. At least it was cloudy this afternoon. The
place is dry, and I am feeding lush green bamboo from the
shelterbelt to supplement the sheep's diet. That and proably
half a bucket of windfall and damaged peaches every day.
2012 -The blueberries are nearly over, the blackberries are
just past the peak.
2012 - The first nashi fruit are now ready, according to the
birds. We have had to start picking them, even although they
should be left a bit longer to sweeten up.
2014 - the nashi are very small indeed, due primarily to the
drought. The birds find them an excellent source of moisture,
and the the wasps then move in on the sweet juice...
2012 - The odd apple variety 'Lobo' has fallen, reminding us
this apple is ready in mid-late february. This is an early
apple with a crisp 'bite', sprightly, moderately sweet, and
not bad for the first apple of the season. They will be
sweeter a little later, but there is a fine line between they
are at their best and when the flesh starts to become
Lobo. The natural skin 'bloom' can be rubbed off to take
on a very shiny,
almost varnished-looking polish.
2012 - The avocados simply haven't stopped flushing, and the
new fruit are sizing up very well. The first Reed fruit has
fallen, and the remaining Hass on our oldest tree are showing
some signs of skin colour change.
2013 - What a difference water makes. Our youngest Reed tree
has been watered from time to time from water siphoned from
out little dam. The 'old' tree can't be watered from the
siphon because it is higher up the hill, and the siphon no
longer works at that level. The old tree has had a few buckets
of water thrown under it, but given the extreme dry, plus the
feijoa hedge planted hard up against it, and the water has not
done much other than keep the tree alive. As a result, the
fruit on the old tree are about golf ball size, whereas the
fruit on the young tree are at least double that.
I continue to be surprised at how well the fruit on the Hass
avocado trees is holding on. Leaves continue to drop. One
severely pruned avocado has some flowering branches - well and
truly out of season! It will be interesting to see if anything
A huge, vigorous avocado seedling that for many years has
flowered well without setting anything has set 6 fruit for the
first time ever. Few seedlings ever produce fruit, even if
they flower well, and of those that do, most are unproductive,
or poor quality, or the seed is too big, or the fruit is too
small, or some combination of these. I'm not expecting much.
2014 - the small Reed tree continues to drop fruit. Some fruit
are withering on the tree. They fall at a touch. Quite a
number of the new season small fruit are turning black. Some
have fallen off already. This tree is really suffering in the
dry. In the end I brought it several buckets of precious tank
water. The bigger tree can be watered with water siphoned from
the dam, and it gets a little water about once a week. It
seems to make all the difference. The last few fruit of this
seasons crop are holding well and are a fairly good size. The
young new season fruit are hanging on the tree and looking
good. The only Hass avocado with a current season crop is
heavily stressed by the drought. Its leaves are light green,
and some are yellowing and starting to fall. It still has a
good number of fruit on the tree, and most have turned
partially black. The surprising thing is that it has not
dropped a single fruit.
2012 - A couple of the hazels have dropped (literally) a few
nuts. Only 3 or 4 of the hazel trees here ever have more than
a handful of nuts at best, but this year there is almost
nothing. Hazels are a summer nut, unlike most of the others,
which are autumn and winter. (I never understood the nursery
rhyme "here we go gathering nuts in may on a cold and frosty
morning" because the equivalent of may in the Southern
hemisphere is November, and nuts aren't ready in spring.
Apparently the modern version is a corruption of "here we go
gathering knots of may on a cold and frosty morning". A
'knot', in this context is a bunch of flowers. 'May' are the
flowers of mayflower, Crataegus
sp. And mayflowers are the earliest of the deciduous trees in
the UK to start flowering after winter.)
drop in late February in Helensville
2012 - Same story with the pecan trees. They are growing as
well as normal, but this year there is not a nut in sight.
2012 - Most of the macadamias have a good crop, and the rats
have started on them with a vengeance. Time to do the autumn
2014 - The small Actinidia arguta fruit are now
mature. The odd one has fallen over the last few days, ripened
naturally on the vine. They are very nice. Usually they get
covered in sooty mold, as passionvine hoppers love them, and
the black mold grows on the sugary honeydew the hoppers
excrete. But there are very few passionvine hoppers on them
this year. Don't know why.