Weather in Summer
Hot, obviously, but we often get the tail end of cyclones
around December or early January. 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.
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
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 between.
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 breeding
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.
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 enough.
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 the berriologist.
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
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 property??!!!
Psa (Pseudomonas syringae
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
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
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 diseases...
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 shade.
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 22o
C. At the hottest point of the day it
C 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 30o
C in the
2018 - Warm, muggy, overcast, a high today of 33o
the shade. Thunderstorms predicted for tomorrow.
2013 - according to today's Herald, it was 27o
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.
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
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 25o
C. Today it was
C. Night temperatures have not fallen below 12o
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 full.
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 32.5o
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,
2013 - warm and windy today, with the briefest of showers in mid
afternoon. The high was 25.5oC.
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.
2017 - the seedling apricot is now ripening it's first fruit - 2
2011- Its been windy, showery and rainy for weeks. Mostly from a
warm quarter, but there has been one genuinely cold southerly
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 26o
The skies are alternately sunny and covered in dark clouds. The
forecast is for rain starting tomorrow and continuing for 3
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
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
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 it.
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 this year.
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
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
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 next year.
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
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 year.
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 'moreish'.
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 deck.
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
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 very nice.
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 year!
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 is needed...
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 smaller).
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
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 birds...
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
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
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 year.
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
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
'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
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 Vaccinium darrowi
with both Northern and Southern Highbush varietys (species and
hybrids of mainly Vaccinium
). 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
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
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
2012 - totally overcast and grey, humid, breezy. Temperatures
are moderate, 22oC. It hit 31oC in one of the last few days. It
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
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
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
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
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 lucky).
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 areas).
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 them.
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 sweat.
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 terms.
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
2012 - Another bright sunny day with a cool southerly, just
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
. (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.
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.
2012 - Sunny days at last.
2013 - windy, hot, dry. Hasn't rained since late December, and
even then it wasn't that much.
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
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 sure.
The 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
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 staring 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
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
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.
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.
2013 - nuts are now falling, but quite a number look
immature. Presumably this is a drought effect.
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.
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 sto 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
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
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.
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
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 captured.
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 shore skink,
. 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
). 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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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 'floury'.
Apple 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
mayflowers are the earliest of the deciduous trees in the UK to
start flowering after winter.)
Hazels drop in late February
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.