Great 'growth' time of year, but can be icy cold.

Tomatoes are traditionally planted after Labour Day, when the soil has warmed.
Rooted kumera 'slips' (cuttings) are also planted around Labour Day, for the same reason. You can grow your own 'slips' by putting a healthy tuber in moist sand and keeping it in a warm place. Kumera take roughly 5 months to mature good tubers, so are dug and 'cured' for storage about March.

Spring weather and avocado production.

September 01
2014 - Rainy southeasterlies, cold. It rained all night long, water everywhere. It rained throughout the day until mid afternoon, when it eased to totally overcast and drizzly conditions. The high was forecast to be 13oC today, and that would be about right.The weather is said to swing to a northerly influence over the next 4 days, with clearing skies and warmer temperatures. Typical spring.


2014 - a bunch of Ducasse bananas on a sucker put aside as a 'spare' ripened. The fruit are very small, the ripe ones have all split, and the green ones are very skinny. In spite of that, the ripe ones are sweet, with very good flavor. They do, however, has a residual astringency.

2014 - Nelmak nuts continue to fall in good numbers. The green husks are now almost all well and truly split open.

2014 - the grass is really skinned, and we have been feeding ever increasing amounts of sheep nuts - an expensive business. Bamboo has been an important adjunct feed, along with coprosma, mahoe, and olive foliage. I had hoped to kill at least one old ewe to reduce stock pressure on the grass, but the rain and mud have interfered with my plan. The lambs can start being weaned by mid october, when milk will supply only around 10% of their diet, if that. Temperatrures

September 02

2013 - sunny all day, still in the morning, and a breezy southerly in the afternoon. The lowest night time temperature in the last few days was 5oC. The temperature in the shade at both 9 am and 3 pm was 15oC. The highest temperature recorded in the last few days was 18.5oC.

2013 - Still flowering, there are lots of bumblebees and bees on the plums, and on the Pixie plumcot in particular.

September 4
2014 - rain.
The weather is turning to the east.
September 5

2014 - Easterly conditions continue. It rained briefly in the morning, then the sun came out until about 3 pm when thunder and some lightening  rolled in, with rain until 5 pm. Very warm. T shirt weather, according to a whanau member.
There was a relatively brief torrential ultra-heavy downpour in the city, almost

September 6

2013 - yesterday was very cold in the morning - bleak, really - but sunny in the afternoon. End of day reading was a high of 15oC. The low over the last few days was 5oC.

2014 - low cloud, totally overcast, warm, still. A brief heavy rain about 3 pm, then overcast again. The rain guage says we have had 125 mm of rain since


2013 - the small Carmen appears to have set some pin-head size fruit, It will be interesting to see if any hold on. The Dusa tree has a nice number of flowers open. There is an ant in every one, so clearly nectar is being produced.

2014 - Pinkerton fruit continue to hold well on the trees, although I did find one on the ground today. I sloshed around in the warm rain throwing urea under these trees.

2014 - the Kirby plumcots are only just beginning to open some flowers, while the Pixie plum has a good number of early flowers and lots of flower buds at the point of opening.

2014 - the plants look pretty battered and torn, and the foliage is rather yellow. There are two or three bunches of fruit, and one is nearly ready (the fruit are starting to split, anyway). These bunches that 'mature' over winter and early spring are not very good.

September 8th
2012 - The last few days have been mixed sunny and overcast, but relatively warm. The maximum air temperature over the last 4 days was 20oC, the minimum (overnight) was 10oC. At midday it was 18oC. Temperatures are expected to drop over the next few days.


2012 - Although it has been very warm all morning, it is very windy. In contrast to some of the days in late winter, the blossom has very few pollinating insects in it - just a few bees.


2012 - The plumcots still have a lot of blossom on  them, but they are past their peak. New leaves are pushing through the blossom.
The new plumcot 'Spring Satin' is now in full bloom. The flowers are small and pure white, rather attractive, really. Knowing it was going to rain, I hand pollenized a few flowers with the last remaining apricot flowers, hoping to maximise the set.


2012 - The early pollenizer varieties, Billington and Heard, have finished flowering, and the apricot trees have only a few flowers remaining. The plum 'Black Prince' is at about peak bloom. Santa Rosa is flowering well at this time, and I hope it is a good pollenizer for it - especially as the canopies now touch. 'Elephant heart' is on the other side of the "Black Prince' tree, and it is in early bloom. It hasn't set much fruit for us over the years, but with Santa Rosa now flowering well, we hope for better results.


2012 - Some peach blossom is now open, and more will follow.


2012 - Virtually all the avocado trees are are just starting to show growth flushes. I gave the trees a good sprinkle of NPK fertiliser when it was raining about a week or so ago, and this should help the trees cope with the demands of both flowering and producing new extension growth.
We have caught two or three young male possums over the last few weeks, but not before one had eaten a new season far-from-mature Reed fruit.


2012 - The figs are just tipping out some green leaves from their terminal buds, and several  trees are already showing an impressive number of incipient ultra-early 'breba' figs. The resident figologist was exited at the prospect of the best-ever crop of brebas, but I reminded her that this is 'hormone spray chemical trespass' season, and, going on past experience, we are likely to lose the lot.

2012 - The raspberry plants have leafed out (except for the black raspberries), and are in flower bud. In spite of the best of intentions, the boysenberry plants still haven't been reduced in number, and besides being overgrown with weeds, the paths in the berry cage are snared with escaped boysenberry runners. The berryoligist has a big job ahead of her...maybe I had better give a hand...when I'm not busy...

There are still a few orange tamarillos on our few scrappy trees, altho the reds are finished. We haven't yet been invaded by the potato/tomato psyillid, so I may grow a few fresh plants to replace the incumbents.

September 9th
2012 - It has been very windy, with rain (and a thunderstorm) overnight. Overnight temperatures haven't dropped below 10oC.


2012 - Several of the ewes were calling to their lambs "all bloody night" according to a member of the whanau. Not a good sleeper at the best of times, she was awake for the better part of the night. The lambs tend to hunker down in some cosy spot and ignore their mothers calls. Or they answer, and she answers back. It can go on and on. One ewe in particular has a particularly high pitched and loud call. She may be one of the first to go when I cut the numbers back next year...The upshot is that it has been 'agreed' that I will shift them to a more distant paddock overnight and bring them back up to the house paddocks during the day. I don't need another chore. Time to de-stock, and maybe move to a system of resting areas for a year so they can re-seed naturally - something I have been thinking about anyway.


2012 - We have started to 'size pick' the odd Hass avocado fruit while still dead green. It ripens in 4 or 5 days if it is put in a plastic bag with an apple or banana. The fruit are perfectly acceptable in flavor, but far from the rich flavored fruit of the natural season of early summer.

Decades ago we bought some unusual avocados from a local veg shop. They were round, the flesh was quite dry in comparison to Hass, and had easily noticeable fibres. However, when eaten, the flavour was good to very good, and the fibres not really noticeable. It was an avocado variety called Hashimoto. I had forgotten all about it until very recently when looking for a decent winter fruiting avocado. Hashimoto is said to mature its fruit from june on in New Zealand - or, at least, that is when they mature in the Bay of Plenty. They might start in may here, but if it has a fairly extended flowering season the late set fruit should be available in at least june. Maybe they will hold on the tree into july, or even august. I don't know.

Anyway, I was fired up and very keen to put a few plants in. The problem was that I didn't think it would be very readily available at the garden centres. So when I found some excellent plants at the Kumeu Garden Centre I was 'over the moon'.

The have gone in beside the 'former' alder shelter belt, and if the windy weather doesn't tear their leaves off, or snap them off at the graft, I am hoping for good growth this season.

planting holes for Hashimoto  healthy
                avocado roots in bark mix  Avocado Hashimoto freshly planted
The holes are dug...                               Excellent plants - healthy roots, in a pine based mix                In the ground

I don't know how big Hashimoto avocado trees grow - these will be size controlled from the start - but if they are as naturally small and easy to manage as Pinkerton avocado it would be a big bonus.

Pinkerton avocado treesSharwill avocado male flowers 
     Avocado Pinkerton - a small tree, flowering well              Avocado Sharwill with male flowers open - tub grown.

 Pinkerton is flowering heavily right now, but I doubt any more than one or two fruit will set - at best. It really does need a suitable pollenizer variety. Sharwill is looking promising, as the male flowers on may tree in a tub (unfortunately a long way distant) have been open and shedding pollen when Pinkerton has its female flowers open. Whether or not there are any insects around at this rather cool and changeable time of year is another matter. Still, there is the odd  bumblebee around, both species of paper wasp, and I have just seen my first drone fly of the season. These flies are good pollinators, and are a close mimic of honeybees. Presumably the mimicry dissuades predators from eating them.
Drone fly, a useful pollinating insect

Drone fly, Eristalis tenax, sunning itself on a Kawakawa leaf

September 13
2013 - The high over the last week was 18oC.  It rained or showered under a black sky all day yesterday, but was still 15oC at 11.00, and the overnight low was a warm 14oC. Most of the weather was from the northwest. Today dawns sunny and calm, and it was 19oC by 1100. Insects have suddenly appeared. The sun held until late in the day, when it clouded over. Rain started falling at 9.30 pm.

2013 - Spring Satin plumcot is in full bloom.

2013 - the fruit are pretty much full size. The wet conditions have been ideal for the spread of the black fungal disease that attacks the fruit. I suspect we will get very few fruit in the end. Most will end up rotting on the ground.

2013 - the young Hashimoto trees I planted on the 9th last year have done very well. They have put on several flushes of growth, and today, to my surprise, I see they are in flower bud.

2013 - another bunch has several ripe fruit on it, albeit the rest is dead green. The ripe fruit have split. I'd like to leave it longer for the green fruit to develop more. but it I can't leave it too long or the rats and birds will be attracted.

September 14
2014 - showers and sun, mostly overcast. Mild. Windy at first.

2014 - vast numbers of an 'ink cap ' Coprinellus micaceus (glistening inky cap, mica cap) have come up underneath the young Hashimoto avocado trees. They were planted hard up against a row of freshly felled alder stumps, and two years on, the dead roots are being consumed by this fungus. Apparently it one of the last fungi to colonise dead wood under the ground, preferring wood that has become spongy and soft from the action of the fungi that first spread into the wood. While it lives on dead wood, there is one reference to it inhabiting living tissue, but producing no disease symptoms(technically, it lives as an endophyte). Some endophytes help the tree survive drought by drawing up water through the fungal mycelium deep reaching within the soil. Some fungal endophytes even fight off parasitic fungi. Wouldn't it be nice if the glistening inky cap fought off phytopthora? Still, even if it doesn't, this species is edible, although the reference I have seen are underwhelming in describing its gastronomic worth 'mild flavor' is about as enthusiastic as they get. When cooked (or overcooked), it turns to something resembling snot, apparently...

2014 - Plumcots (except 'spring satin') are now in heavy flower, as is 'Pixie' plum.

September 17
2018 - It has been an astonishingly warm winter. Spring is shaping up warm, without the normal hail and icy cold days from the south. The cold southern air has been blocked all winter long by warm weather systems coming down from the north - quite unusual. Today is really hot, if breezy. At midday it is 24oC in the shade. The weather forecast is for 'frantic' weather systems from the subtropics coming down later in the week. Yet there is snow to low levels in the South Island...

2018 - There is a big mob of Californian Quail is using this place as part of its territory. Delightful birds, and a privelege to have them here. Something eats the possum carcases if we are a bit slow to bury them - I hope it is hawks rather than wild cat, for the quails sake. Kaka are using the adjacent forest remmnant as a base again, and they are typical Aucklanders - off 'somewhere' at early hours of the morning, and back in the late afternoon. Their raucous calls and penetrating whistles announce their movements. There are usually 4 birds, sometimes 5.

2018 - We are at the tail end of the crop. It has been a great season, in spite of a huge amount of possum damage. There are three self-sown seedling trees here that are top notch, very delicious indeed (if you like cherimoyas, that is).
Tt would be a shame to lose them, so I may propagate them.

September 18


2012 - Today, I heard the first shining cuckoo of spring. We have had strong northeasters and later northwesters, so maybe he got a fast ride across the Pacific from the Cook Islands winter feeding grounds!
2018 - How about that - first call of the shining cuckoo today, same as 2012.


2012 - We have had periods of 3 or 4 days of mixed sun, warmth, strong winds, rain, drizzle. But overall, temperatures have still been around 10oC overnight, and about 18oC maximum (air temperature) - except for one day when it was 2oC overnight! Plenty of frost in the valley that day!

2012 - A Misi Liki banana stem didn't survive the strong winds - pity, it would have fruited in late summer.

2012 - The little Hashimoto avocado plants have survived the winds The avocados continue to flower, and will for a good 6 weeks yet. The Pinkerton remains a mass of flowers, with big numbers open, but I must say the Hass flowering is not really that great yet. We are in the curious position of having one tree that started flowering in late autumn and has continued all winter (and is still flowering), one tree that started flowering in late winter, one tree that is probably going to start opening flowers in a week or so time, and one tree that is probably 3 weeks or more from any open flowers. I am hoping to reach a better understanding of the inter-relationship between temperatures and insect activity as it effects fruit set in Hass. I Have an impression that significant periods over a minimum temperature has a very large bearing on fruit set, and insect pollination is somewhat secondary (for Hass, in particular). We'll see.

2012 - The main Kirby plumcot flowering is over, as is the apricot flowering. Spring satin plumcot is still flowering heavily. I hope it is self fertile, because there is nothing else near it that could act as a pollenizer. Wrights Early plum is still flowering well, as is Elephant Heart. Santa Rosa is fading out, and Black Prince has finished flowering.

Macadamias continue to fall, and the first new leaves of the 'Grabohl' pecan are just emerging. I have neglected to pay enough attention to the right varieties to give cross pollenization in our short row of pecan trees. Looking at some info on the internet, admittedly from the very hot southern USA, it appears that I should have cultivars such as Shoshoni, Wichita, or Cherokee to act at pollen donors for Grabohl's female flowers. We did acquire Shoshoni in 2007, but it is a long way from Grabohl, and the tree has been significantly damaged by puriri moth larvae. Even thin branches have been ring-barked by this troublesome pest. So a little TLC is needed if is ever to grow big enough to take some bits off to graft into Grabohl.

September 20
2018 - Fine at first, then overcast, then breezy. Humid and warm. It was 19oC in the shade at 1130. Overnight low of 12oC. Yesterday was warmer, hitting 25oC.

2018 - a mother mallard duck and her ducklings appear on the little pond from time to time. Where they go in between times is a bit of a mystery. Blackbirds and thrushes seem to be marking their territory (singing!) all day long, which is quite delightful. Grey warblers are also suddenly evident, but only the odd fantail at this stage. Native pigeons continue to feast of plum flower and leaf buds, as well as the tender new leaves.
video on twitter: https://twitter.com/i/status/1037593262511411200

2018 - all the avocados are throwing the odd fruit overboard - nowhere near mature, but near full sized. Spring is leaf drop and flowering time, then a new leaf flush, so maybe hormones have something to do with it. One Pinkerton tree has a fair smattering of flowers open in one area of the tree, but
none of the other trees have any flowers open, apart from Fuerte and a few (only) on our little Sharwil tree.

September 21
2013  - A warm day (18oC at 3 pm), but breezy and totally overcast, and in the afternoon there were a few spots of splotty rain from time to time. Northerly. A few days ago we had some cold but clear sunny weather, and night temperatures dropped to about 5oC.

2013  - Wright's Early is still flowering very strongly, Black Prince is past its peak, Sultan is starting to crank up, the 'Kerby' plumcot is all but finished, and the Spring Satin plumcot is in full bloom.

2013 - all but finished flowering

2013 - new growth is under way. The flower buds appear at the base of new growth. This is very handy, because it means you can prune them back hard in winter, and not only will they form new buds on the bare wood, the new growth will generally flower straight away in spring. There are already a few 'out of season' flowers open here and there.

2013 - new leaves are expanding.

2013 - many of the yellow kiwifruit seedlings have lovely lime green newly developing leaves. A few plants have flower buds. The green kiwifruit remain totally dormant.

2013 - another clump has a bunch with half a dozen ripe fruit on it. The skin on some of the fruit has split. They taste OK, sweet enough, some flavor, but there is a touch of residual astringency. The green fruit really don't look sufficiently mature to me - they are very 'angular', not plump. These fruit will be from a late summer flowering. Late summer set flowers mature about early- mid spring. but as they are 'filling' over the cold winter season they often not that flash. Flowers that set in mid winter ripen in summer, and are far better as the bunch is filling at the warmest time of year.

September 26
2014 - warm and sunny. Very pleasant.

2014 - Spring is definitely sprung. Yesterday I heard the first shining cuckoo of the season. Best of all, two pairs of Californian quail have taken up residence, and the cock birds crow their territorial claim. These are wonderful and engaging birds to have around, and I hope they survive and breed.

2014 - Pixie plum has finished flowering, but just about all the others are in full bloom.

2014 - most peaches are now flowering, and the earliest are in full bloom.

2014 - the first few avocado flowers have appeared, but their numbers are passing smallat the moment. Pinkerton is flowering, as are Fuerte and Sharwill. Carmen Hass continues to flower, although the end of its flowering period is probably not far off.

2014 - bedraggled and tatty looking, and rather yellow. Sustained heat plus rain is needed for them to take off again.

September 27th
2013 - Several days ago we had a subtropical front pass over from the east, bringing very high winds, heavy rain, and a closed State Highway 16 (flooding). Today, it is dead calm at 0830, overcast, humid, warm, already 16.5oC. Breezy by 0930, some odd sun moments between low grey clouds. Overcast. By 1030 there were more sunny breaks, warmer, hitting 23oC in the shade! Humid. Dew on grass.  Breezy/windy, with calm periods, threatening showers. Lots of insects around. At 1245 temperatures are 21oC. Overcast, bit of wind, humid, warm. About 18oC at 1600, totally overcast.

2013  - the plants look pretty tatty and sparse. Blue Java dropped yet another stem. I am increasingly unimpressed with this cultivar.

2013 - most have started new leaf growth.

2013 - still dormant

2013  - early plum blossom is over, Elephant Heart and a few others are flowering on.

October 3rd
2018 - the lucuma fruit fell some time ago, and only their seedds and rotted remnants remain on the ground. One tree, however, has just matured and dropped its fruit - well out of synch with the rest. Dead ripe, perfect, but taste-wise, no, I'm still not impressed with these Ecuadorean types. They are far inferior to the Chilean 'seda' types.

October 5th
2012- I killed a sheep today as the first move in dropping numbers a bit. She was a small ewe - her mum was a very small ewe from the flock established on Arapawa Island in the 1800's.  We ended up with 14kgs of usable meat cuts and a wheelbarrow load of wool, skin, bones and guts to bury under an avocado tree. In the meantime, our only ewe not to have a lamb this season ended up dropping a late lamb, much to everyone's surprise. So 'de-stocking' is not making much progress yet.

2012 - Two macadamia trees continues to drop nuts while at the same time starting to open the new season flowers.

Peaches and Plums
2012  - Capuli cherry flowersPeaches are blooming well, several pears are in full bloom, and there seems to be a good set of fruit on the plumcots. The spring satin plumcot is just coming to the end of its bloom. It has a surprisingly long blossom period. Prunus capulin, the Capuli cherry, has started its bloom. It produces prodigious numbers of flowers that are extremely attractive to bees. When the tree is in full bloom the noise of humming bees is almost deafening.

2013 - the improbably pink blossoms of the peaches continue to intrude against the blue sky.

Pine Nuts

Pinus wallichiana male stobuli shedding pollen                 Pinus koraiensis
 Pinus wallichiana syn Griffithii male strobuli shedding pollen             Pinus koraiensis male strobuli, not yet shedding 

Pinus edulis male strobuli                            Pinus maximartinezii new growth                    
Immature male strobuli on Pinus edulis                               New spring growth on Pinus maximartinezii 

2012 - The male strobuli of several of the pine nut species here are now full size. Pinus koraiensis and Pinus pinea will start to release pollen soon. An adjacent ornamental species (Pinus wallichiana syn Griffithii) is shedding copious pollen. Pinus maximartinezii has spires of new growth, but has not flowered yet.

2013 - a small Pinus pinea ('Umbrella pine) in a tub on the deck is flowering for the first time. The male strobuli release clouds of pollen when the branch is shaken. Interestingly, it is early relative to the 2 trees planted out on the property, presumably because it is in a very sheltered and hot spot. Apparently this species remains as a male-only plant for a number of years before it ever has female 'flowers' (strobuli). The male strobuli appear on the lower half of the tree, and, in time, female strobuli appear on the upper third.

2012 - One of the raspberry varieties is flowering well, and I noticed the first bronze beetle of the season.

Cherimoya diseased fruit  male possum,
                cherimoya connoisseur
Diseased cherimoya fruit (foreground)          Possum and half eaten cherimoya. The 2 fruit and the leaf in the background are
                                                                 both affected with fungus.

2012 - We have 5 or 6 cherimoya trees here, but while they fruit quite well we don't usually end up with more than a few fruit as the fruit are always infected by some fungus that turns the fruit black and rotten. For some reason this year the infection has been much less, and we have harvested a decem (10) or so fruit, and likely at lest another decem will escape the plinge. The next biggest pest of cherimoya fruit is, as always, the possum. We still don't have a lot of luck catching them in the Timms traps, but we do get the odd one. The campaign of constant bait on offer in 4 or 5 bait stations has helped a lot, altho' a lot of bait is being eaten, and it is expensive stuff.

2013 - a very bad year for the black fungus on cherimoya, presumably in part because of the very wet winter and spring. We have pretty much decided to cut these back to almost 2 dimension trees so the air gets thru them, and to maybe spray with copper after flowering (which is soon).

2013 - this is clearly the peak blossom time for Pinkerton. The racemes are fully expanded, and today was warm (22oC in the shade) and humid. The trees are putting out their characteristic odour, and the racemes have attracted very good numbers of bees, as well as the usual wasps and flower flies. Pinkerton may need a male pollinizer cultivar (unlike Hass), and today both Edranol and Sharwill would have pollen available for the later part of Pinkerton's female bloom. Ettinger has pollen that overlaps fully, but the little tree only have 6 or 7 flowers open, so it is a little late. Dusa would be an exact match.

The younger Hass trees have some flowers open, but not a big number. Conditions are ideal for fruit set, I would say (warm nights, warm days, humid, often overcast, a little breeze).

A Hass seedling we have had for years is a solid wall of avocado blossom, and it is dripping with bees and other pollinating insects. Pity it only ever has ten or so fruit (at best).

Leaf drop is well under way in most cultivars. The bronzy-pink  new shoot tips are now pushing through the tips of the flower racemes. Hashimoto has bright lime green new growth. It's pleasing to see these newly planted trees growing well, but a bit disconcerting to see the healthy deep green mature leaves being shed. At least the other trees suck much of the goodness out of the tree first, so they are gratifyingly yellow when they hit the ground.

2013 - 2 more bunches have coloured. There is minimal splitting, so that at least is good. Pity they can't be left to mature a bit more in the warming weather.

8th october
2011 - By early october, insect activity on avocado flowers begins to pick up.

                wasp on avocado flowers

Polistes sp
. on Hass avocado flower racemes.

10th october
2013 - sunny, some cloud cover, warm

2013 - flowering is well under way. The conditions over the last 3 or 4 days have been very good for pollination and fruit set - night temperatures have been 10oC or above, day temperatures 16oC to 22oC, it has been relatively calm, often overcast, and quite a number of pollinating insects are around. Although it is a little early in the flowering season, I would not be surprised if some fruit set on Hass and Pinkerton.

2013 - warm weather has really brought the grass on, and at last grass growth seems to be getting slightly ahead of the growing lambs and their lactating mums. The lambs are at (or passed) weaning age. Time to kill one or two, and sell most of the rest.

Plums and apricots
2013 - I thought conditions for fruit set were quite good this year, but the apricots and earliest flowering plums appear to have had a poor set. Mid season and later varieties have flowered quite well, but the flowering seems protracted, some that have had flowers for several weeks, and still have flower buds yet to open.

12th october
2011 - It rained heavily last night, and again this morning. The sun has come out, and there is no wind, its warm and humid. Rain is forecast for this afternoon and the next few days.
2018 - It rained heavily last night, and continued on and off this morning. The morning was cold, but it warmed later, reaching 16oC (in the shade) at 1145 hours (standard time). The skies are overcast and there is a strong gusty westerly blowing.

2018 - Kaka continue to camp in the forest overnight. On one occassion there were 6 birds here. Usually it is 4 or 5. There are a lot of birds around this spring, more blackbirds than I have ever seen, goldfinches are making an appearance, the welcome swallows tried to start nest building the moment the garage door is left open for an hour or two, goldfinches are occassional vistors, there is always a fantail or two around, between 2 and 4 fat keruru continue to hammer the almond tree and several select plum trees, 10 to 15 Californian Quail are here most days, and tuis still lurk - although they have gone a bit quiet. The ducks have gone, and the grey warblers now have a very low profile. Cuckoos continue to call from time to time. The odd rosella diverts its 'fly-by' to tank up on the ripe loquats.

                Ladybird Harmonia axyridisWe spotted what is possibly the harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis), also known as the multicolored Asian ladybird, for the first time. It was first noticed in New Zealand in Auckland, in 2016, but has already spread widely. (If it isn't

H. axyridis,
then it is likely the large spotted ladybird, Harmonia conformis.)

Apparently these ladybirds are immune to internal parasites that affect other ladybird species. But it carries a microsporidian parasite that it sheds in its own eggs. Other ladybird species that eat the eggs (or larval Harlequin labybirds) become infected with the parasite. As they haven't evolved any immunity, they die. However, not all species of ladybird eat Harlequin ladybird eggs, so its effect on New Zealand ladybirds is uncertain.

Like all ladybirds, it eats aphids, as well as other insects, so it is beneficial in that regard - in fact it was deliberately introduced into North America for that reason.

This animal can overwinter in quite large groups. The cool, dry, conditions of the average home appently suits them very well, at least, in cold climates. Whether or not they behave like this in the warmer parts of New Zealand is yet to be seen.These ladybirds likely came into New Zealand as a hibernating group, possibly secreted in gaps in a wooden packing case, or a box of garage-stored books, home utensils or whatever in immigrant or returning New Zealander effects. This is the problem of insects that seek out cracks and crevices, crates, boxes, stored hobby gear, warehoused machinery, parts, etc for winter sleep. When these items travel, the hidden insects travel with them. There is no way of telling which of the hundreds of thousands of items of commerce that land in New Zealand every year might contain dormant insects.

In the end, we must remain alert and contact MPI (free phone 0800 80 99 66) if we see insects in our imported goods.

Subtropical fruit

2011 - Conditions are ideal for growth, and ideal for washing in fertiliser. So I quickly did 'did the rounds', chucking some pelletised general fertiliser under the avocados, citrus, figs, and feijoas. All are just starting out with new leaves and with flowers or flower/fruit buds,so I figure a boost now will really show results in two weeks or do time when leaves are expanding to full size and new growth extending.


2011 - Orders had been received to pick some cherimoya fruit, which are about ripe from here on. We have a constant battle with possums over these fruit. They love them. And, as always, they are taking a big toll on the unripe fruit.
2018 - Cherimoyas were exceptionally early this year - they were mature in July, and are coming to an end now. Usually, they don't start ripening until now! As usual, possums are hammering them - but we have had good success using a live trap and lashings of cherimoya, avocado, apple, and citrus fruit as bait.

                damage to cherimoya fruit

There are 2 Timms kill traps set under the tree at all times during the fruiting season...

Timms kill

as well as a bait station nailed to the base of the tree, with fresh cinnamon scented pellets constantly available...

possum bait

But all to no avail. The possums rarely feed on the bait in the bait station. They ignore the fresh apple in the kill traps.  We have tried sprinkling the apple with cinnamon, with curry powder, we have tried plum jam, marmalade, and even peanut butter. True, we did catch one hedgehog and one rat, but zero possums.I'll have to think of a new strategy, and have something in mind.

Rats are the number one problem for anyone with an avocado or macadamia nut tree. But at least they take bait pellets. We are right next to a patch of native forest, so we have an inexhaustible supply of rodents and possums. And rats love both avocados and macadamias. Indeed, for the first time, we have had a rat that not only ate the whole avocado fruit, but started to eat the seed as well!

                seed damaged by rats

One rat, in particular, lunched freely on the chook food at feeding time, and became so cocky he would come out in full view at the rattle of the feed tin. However, we have far more luck with the live traps for rats than we do with possums. These small spring-loaded traps are super reliable if you do two things - first, spray them with a zinc rust protective coating; second, always test the door can close cleanly when the trap is triggered, and the wire door lock is set properly. We have had far more success with these live traps than we have ever had with kill traps.

Live trap
                for rats

Debrief after a quick underwater swimming lesson. He received a 'fail' grade.


2011 - Sadly, one of the twin lambs received a 'fail' grade in the test of life...

dead lamb

As near as I can make out, he had slipped on steep ground in the 'back paddock', and managed to inextricably wedge himself under a fallen kanuka sapling. Well, as every farmer knows, if you have livestock, expect to also have deadstock. Pity, He was a big boy, and from his weight as I took him for recycling, was growing very well before his precipitate demise.


He has been buried near a newly planted banana. We will eat him yet, but not directly...give it a two years or so.

2018 - sods law - 3 bunches are all ripe at the same time. You can only eat, freeze, and give away so many...frozen overipe ultra sweet bananas whizzed up with frozen blueberries and a little milk are pretty good. Probably adding yoghurt would cut the sweetness. The Goldfinger variety remains the standout - its flavor is unique - slightly acidy, mildly sweet, fragrant. Very morish. A gourmet banana. Pity its a slow producer, and has far fewer bananas on a bunch than the others.

2018 - Leaf drop has been going on for some time now. This is the prelude to the spring flush of new growth. It is always accompanied by the odd full size new season fruit being thrown overboard before it is fully mature. These are usually rubbish - bland, a little sweet sometimes, perhaps slightly watery. But there is the odd suprise. We learned from an 'off-ed' Hashimoto fruit that it is actually quite nice in early October. Not as richly flavored, moister, but good.

Flowering is well under way for Pinkerton, Fuerte and Sharwill, but is barely beginning for Hass, Gwen, and Maluma. We picked a good sized Maluma, and it ripened as a delicious fruit. Thin skin avocado varieties tend to split their skin at the base (botanically the apex, actually - but we won't go into that...), and this damage may trigger some ethylene production, and thus early fruit fall. Certainly, a good smattering of thin skin fruit with splits have - literally - 'hit the deck'. Invariably they bruise when they fall. Worse, the split skin is an ideal entry point for flesh-eating birds like blackbirds. They are half eaten by late in the day, so you have to be quick. One such 'thin skin' variety is Sharwill. Our heavily pruned little tree had a magnificent crop of two fruit this year. Of course, one split, was ejected from the tree the other day, and half eaten by birds before I found it. So I picked the one remaining fruit and took both inside to ripen. The damaged fruit ripened quickly, and even although this is probably a bit early to be picking Sharwil, it upheld its reputation as the world's best tasting avocado. It really was a delight. Pity they fruit extremely poorly under our conditions.

16th october
2011 - The recent days have been a sunny with overcast periods,quite breezy, and varying from cool to mild. Some nights have been rather cold. Overnight minimums have been around the 10oC mark, so grass growth is strong.


2011 - The twin of the lamb that died has also died. Again, it is a big healthy lamb, and mum is bursting with milk, so it remains a bit of a mystery.


2011 - Blossom is trailing off now. New terminal growth is pushing through the avocado panicles, and the Hass trees are now flowering well. There are very few bees around, but a good number of german wasps, some bumblebees, the blowflies are multiplying, there are lots of little midgey-things around, and so pollinisation shouldn't be inhibited. We'll see.

17th october
2011 - Two of our banana plants flowered back in late febuary. This is really the wrong time of year to fill a bunch of bananas, because the weather becomes cool and the bananas stop swelling over winter. One bunch, in particular, was quite well formed by winter, so I pegged a piece of clear plastic around it to keep it clean and maybe raise the temperature on the bunch to aid ripening.

I checked it pretty regularly, but it showed no sign of ripening, even as late as a couple of weeks ago. When I checked today, I found that both bunches had suddenly started to ripen. About 50% of the fruit were yellow.

The ripe fruit in the covered bunch had virtually all split, albeit not badly in most cases.

The uncovered bunch had also split, and split badly.

Individual fruit are easily damaged when a banana bunch has this many ripe fruit. Even laying it on a table will cause some split ripe fruit to tear and fall out of the skin. It is difficult to remove individual ripe fruit from the bunch without them tearing.

The better bunch had over 80 fruit, the smaller one had 58 fruit. The worst went to the chooks, a good number were frozen for use in banana cakes and the like, and the least damaged were kept for fresh eating. The flavor of the bananas in the larger bunch was very good, while the smaller bunch had acceptable bananas, fairly sweet, but rather bland.

These late-summer set fruit took about 7˝ months to mature.

october 20 2012

wind battered banana leaves The weather has been typical spring for some time - sun, overcast, showers, cold, warm, and then, several days of howling wind. The tender  new growth on the avocados is cupped, distorted, and the leaf margins are pencil-edged with black wind-burn. Maybe some of this is spray drift from neighbouring farms. Don't know.
The leaves on the bananas are shredded, and some are bent and broken. I guess this is how they survive hurricanes in the tropics. New leaves will emerge as the weather warms and the wind drops. One of the effects of human-accelerated permanent global warming is modeled to be an increase in rain and wind in the upper and lower latitudes (which includes NZ). The other effect the models suggest is a warming and drying out of the continental middle latitudes. The current 50 year record dry in USA might be an indicator of this suggested (irreversible) trend.

There are lots and lots of marble sized plumcots on the ground, but even so, there is still a very good crop remaining on the trees. Interestingly, while plum flowering is all but finished here, the Spring Satin plumcot still has a few flowers open, and the odd few flower buds yet to open. It has a an extraordinarily long flowering season.

We continue to size-pick early set Hass fruit from last year. They are now very good. Not 'best', but 'very good'. We have a seedling which ripens fruit at this time, and while it is a very poor producer (and has a massive seed), the flesh is very oily, almost dry, and as good as the very best Hass in Hass's true season. I bought 3 avocados at random from one of the major supermarket chains, and while the taste was 'OK', they all lacked oil, tended to wateriness, and were barely 'good'. These fruit are clearly picked early to take advantage of higher prices early in the season. The green fruit are 'ripened' with ethylene gas, but really, the fruit is not mature (in the quality taste sense). Even so, at $1.00 each, they provide good nutrition at a relatively affordable price. At about 240 grams a fruit, say 200 grams without the seed, that is $5 a kilo (protein rich eggs at about 50 grams each and $3 a dozen, are also about $5 a kilo - a very good complement to each other). So a good meal of 1 egg and half an avocado would cost 25 cents for the egg and 50 cents for the avocado half = 75 cents. Half the cost of a hamburger.

Possums continue to be a problem. We are running through around 100 grams of bait per bait station every 4 or 5 days. This is expensive. The possums remain wary of the kill traps. I try various combinations of bait to try to hit the 'irresistible bait', but no luck so far. I have been trying peanut butter on carrot, which has sometimes worked in the past. No luck. Maybe I'll try vegemite...

October 26
2013 - Hot but breezy. The days high was 28oC. The overnight low last night was 10oC. It has been rather dry for the last week or so, apart from a very brief burst of showery rain yesterday.

2013 - the main season is under way, and damage from possums has been relatively limited - so far. Poison bait is out constantly.

2013 - set on the Elephant Heart is the poorest ever - only 2 fruit.

2013 - Pinkerton continues to bloom heavily, and today saw the biggest number of bees on them I have ever seen - around 10 bees per tree. The new growth flush is only just beginning to develop at the end of the flower panicle. Several Hass trees are flowering very well, several not so much. Reed is flowering very heavily, and also has a good number of bees on it.

2013 - Loquats are in full swing.We have a few seedlings here that are a reasonable size and quite nice, but personally I not that impressed with loquats as a fruit - in contrast to a whanau member who is a big fan.A kaka in a kanuka tree at the forest edge was giving me the evil eye the other day, and it wasn't until I moved a little further away that I found out why - it flew straight into an adjacent loquat tree. The ground underneath was soon littered with mangled fruit. Well, I guess that's one more fan of loquats in the 'hood...

2012 - The early flowering (and early fruiting) feijoa 'Kaiteri' has started flowering. So has 'Anatoki', but it has fewer flowers. Unique, the mainstream early fruit (usually ripe in late february here) is still in bud.

2013 - Strawberries are in full swing in the shops. Our struggling little patch in the vege garden are only just starting. The berryfruit aficionado put a net over them the other day.

2013 - the yellow kiwifruit are at the tail end of their flowering. I have had a number of seedlings growing here for aro und 5 or  6 years now, and I every year hope that a plant will flower for the first time ever, and it will be a female, not a male. There are only a few first time flowerings this year, and not one is a female. The plants look great with their lush new lime green leaves, and the air is filled with the spicy scent of their flowers.

27th October
2011 - Temperatures are well up over the last few days, 13oC minimum at night, and daytime temperatures up around 20oC. It looks to stay that way for the next 4 or 5 days.
2018 - Mild but windy day, hot in parts, then clouded over, turning to steady but light rain by evening.

Tapinella atrotomentosa gillsTapinella atrotomentosa cap
 I came across a most unusual fungus in the pasture, growing quite near the stumps of some trees I had cut down. This is Tapinella atrotomentosa, a robust fungus that lives on dead conifer wood - in this case the stumps of the Cupressus sempervirens. The thick stem ('stipe') of this mushroom is covered in dark, short, velvet-like hairs. Thus it's common name, the 'velvet-footed pax'. It isn't edible.


2011 - All the avocados are pushing new leaves through the terminal flower panicles. The avocado 'spring flush' is officially under way. Older leaves continue to be shed.
2018 -
Nearing the end of full leaf shed, and new growth is starting to push through the panicles. All the trees are in full flower. Hass and Maluma fruit are showing color change on the tree, Pinkerton is also mature.

2018 - there have been a lot of good fruit this year, and so many there is enough for the birds and us.

2 November


2011 - For days now, its been warm, often showery, hot sometimes, even.


2011 - The first tiny 'pinhead' fruit are just visible on some avocado flower panicles.Unless all of them are shed, we will likely get at least some fruit.


2011 - Plum set has been a disaster. Maybe it was too wet during flowering and the pollen was washed out, maybe it was oo cool and windy for bees, maybe there weren't enough of the more cool weather tolerant bumblebees around. Maybe there was a whiff of hormone spray drift from neighbouring farms trespassing on our property. Don't know.
2011 - In contrast, a small plumcot, variety 'Spring Satin', which we bought and planted in january of this year, has 6 very well developed fruit. This tree is a long way away from our 'plum area'. The nearest possible pollenizer is a well established 'Kerby' plumcot, which only has 26 fruit on it, when it is usually laden.


2011 - We have 2 cherry trees. One,variety 'lapin' about 2.5 metres high, we had had for 6 or 7 years. It has 14 fruit set. Another, 'compact Stella' is 3 years old and about head height. It has about 7 fruit set. If past experience is anything to go by, the fruit will ripen progressively, and just as the first one has some color, it will be eaten by birds. We will then say, "we should put a net over the trees". I'll think "hardly worth it", matters will drift, and we'll forget about it until I prune them in summer . We live in hope of a 'crop' worth investing some time in, but hold low expectations...

6th November
2019 - Very hot, reaching 29.5oC, no wind, humid. Enervating. The nights have also been warm.

7th November

2013- sunny and overcast, the odd shower (other parts of Auckland have had isolated thunderous torrential rain patches), basically warm, but with a cooling wind. Nice in the sun when its out. Overnight lows have been 10oC or above. The highest temperature in the last 2 days was 24oC.
2019 - hot, humid, almost no breeze. The high was 28.C. Overnight lows have been + 10oC.

2013 - Birds abound - blackbirds seem to be everywhere. Cuckoos call. A lonely cock quail was heard a few days ago, but has now fallen silent.

2019 - Heaps of blackbirds around, the native fruit pigeons continue to eat the plum tree new leaves, and Californian quail are back in residence.


small leafed feijoa seedling2013 - the early feijoas are flowering well. A whanau member drew my attention to a tiny mutant feijoa seedling that we have had for many, many years. The shrub has tiny little leaves, and has been incredibly slow growing, but has never flowered. Until this year. It has a good smattering of flowers on one side of the plant, and altho' the leaves are tiny, the flowers appear normal size to me.

Tharfield Nursery Ltd (Trading as 'Incredible Edibles') were granted Plant Variety Rights protection for another small feijoa, a variety called 'TharFiona'. This (confusingly) is sold in garden centres under the trade mark Bambina™. It is described as being "small in size, leaf, flower and fruit". It is further described as having "...delicate, wee fruit". From the photo on the website, I would say the leaves are larger than the stupidly small leaves on the seedling here. If the fruit on their plant are small, then I suppose the fruit on my plant will be microscopic!

These mutants are found in seedlings from time to time, and, for obvious reasons, they are not considered to be as desirable as, say, some of the smaller-sized and more compact 'conventional' feijoa cultivars. Writing in 'The National Horticultural Magazine' in july 1933, Knowles Ryerson, then working for the US Department of Agriculture involved in introducing new plants for the benefit of US horticultural industry, noted "In addition to the more common and desirable upright form, there are several other distinct types: a much less desirable one, open, sprawling and low, and another almost dwarf, compact and with small leaves being fairly common."


2013 - there have been several periods of humid, warm weather at the end of october and the beginning of this month. A good initial set on the younger Hass trees is encouraging. Hass flowering is in its end phase, and Pinkerton has all but finished. Reed is in mid flowering. Hass has only set at the very end of its season, as usual. Most of the Pinkertons look as if they will have only one or two fruit.

The first of the new seasons Hass avocados are just starting to turn color.

2019 - exceptional avocado set weather over the last few days - hot, humid, calm. Pollinating insect are everywhere. Bees even work into the fading light of dusk. For the first time ever the edranol tree has a full female flowering. Edranol always has huge numbers of male phase flowers, but under our cooler temperatures it 'skips' the female phase. If fruit set -and conditions are ideal - we will be able to taste an Edranol fruit for the first time. It is said to be as good as Hass. We shall see.

2013 - a few flowers now open.

2019 - the season is about over. It was early this year.

09 November
KeruruA native pigeon flew straight at the dining room window, hitting the glass with a thud that made the window pane bounce like a trampoline. It sat around, stunned, but with no apparent injuries for an hour or so, then got up and flew off.

November 10
2012 - Kaiteri, Anatokil and Unique feijoas are all flowering. All are early fruiting feijoas. Unique is self fertile, but Kaiteri and Anatoki aren't, so need each other (or Unique) for cross pollination. 'Gemini' is also starting to flower. It is about the fourth earliest feijoa for us.

2012 - Tons of grapefruit litter the ground, and this year they are exceptionally sweet and well colored. I am starting to eat them cut into quarters, like an orange. Not bad.

young avocado tree in the shade of eucalyptusflower fly on avocado flowersAvocado
2012 - As an experiment, I planted some avocado trees under the shade of some eucalyptus trees. I didn't expect them to thrive, but thought they might produce a little fruit, especially as these are a mixture of different varieties, and all planted within 3 metres of each other. This is the second year they have flowered well, and the second year when there is no fruit set (correction, 2 fruit set on a Pinkerton last year - the possums got both long before they were ripe).

Oh well, maybe next year...

Avocado under eucalyptus - bad idea
         flower fly on avocado flowers

The weather has been mostly sunny, but with a southerly for the last week. Temperatures briefly hit 25oC one day last week. Today it was 20oC at 10.00 am. Not bad. However, there have been some cold nights, and the temperature has fallen to 5oC overnight in the past few days.Even so, it looks like there has been quite a good set on the Hass avocados from the last week or so. Reed is really ramping up its flowering now, and there is a large 'apparent' set, straight off. Quite a contrast to Hass, which has only started to set right at the end of its flowering period. Our tiny 'Gwen' avocado continues to flower, albeit the amount of flower on the tree is minute. Interestingly, the avocado flowers in general are clearly very attractive to bees and other pollinating insects right now.

Cherry flowers and fruitCherry
2012 - One of our two small cherry trees has flowers, set fruit, and green fruit on it, all at the same time. I haven't netted it yet, because I want to give the bees access to pollinate the remaining flowers. The received wisdom is that cherries don't fruit in Auckland because it is not cold enough. It is true that the leaf buds don't burst very well, and there can be bare areas on the branches, but there are usually a fairish number of flowers.

I generally prune the tree once or twice in summer to keep the growth in check and to force little side branches. In my view it is this that is resulting in some reasonable (for Auckland) flowering. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it would have just as much flower if left to grow tall. But then I couldn't net it.

2012 - The Spring Satin plumcot, for which I had high hopes of a good crop this year, has dropped all its little 'set' fruit. Nothing remains on the tree at all. In contrast, another plumcot variety 18 metres away has a good crop

19 November
2011 - Warm and windy mostly sums it up.


2011 - The avocado spring flush it well advanced now, and the pinky bronze new leaves will soon be full size and turning green. The tender new growth on the avocados is highly attractive to foliage-eating insects, chief amongst which are the bronze beetles (Eucolaspis brunnea). This annoying native emerges from the soil in mid spring in large numbers. They chew holes in the new growth of our berryfruit, almonds, stone fruit, feijoas, and avocados, often cutting the soft developing stem tip, effectively killing the growing tip. Boysenberries get hit hard early, blackberries a bit later. Only wineberries are not hit too badly.


2011 - The chief 'berry fiend' in the whanau usually spends ridiculous amounts of time collecting them from the raspberries and brambles by hand and crushing them. Sprays are 'out' because the 'bronzies' hit hardest when the berries are in full flower - and we rely on bumblebees and bees to pollinate them. But spraying is the only practical option for the hardest hit, which are the berryfruit. So I have sprayed them twice now, with pyrethrum, as it has the shortest witholding period. To minimise death of pollinators, I have sprayed at dusk - albeit on last time there were still 2 worker bumblebees working the flowers.

Nov 25
2013 - this mornings paper says that 2 days ago the temperatures in Auckland reached 26oC, a new record high for november. We have had 27oC highs for the past few days, so I am not surprised. To be fair, the temperatures have been pretty even throughout the day, at around 24oC. The thing that struck me is that these temperatures have been reached by about 0930 in the morning.

We had one very heavy downpour, for almost an hour, but that was a few days ago. It has been hot and dry for over a week prior to that, and has been hot and dry since. We need rain. Some rain is promised in a few days, and I am gambling on that.

2013 - strawberries are producing well, and I was astonished to find that the berryologist had successfully rescued a form of the old 'Captain Cook' variety. We had plants of this variety from the late Ken Nobbs. It was a well liked variety about the 1930's -1940's or so. The fruit are pathetically small, but the flavor is sort of 'port winey' and delicious. The plant she has is probably a seedling (decades ago I grew a number of Captain Cook seedlings as a result of a failed experiment in crossing them with larger present day varieties), not the original cultivated variety. It is a misleadingly pale pinky red, looking not quite ripe yet even when ripe.

Raspberries are now producing about a punnet of fruit, in spite of the dry. Removing the bantams from the berry cage has helped, too, the berryologist cryptically notes. The aurora berry has also started. It doesn't produce much, it is a fairly weak plant under our conditions, but the berries are outstandingly delicious - sort of perfumey.

2013 - the season is all but over, and we have had a good number of fruit. They are quite variable, some soft and almost mushy, some firmer, some seedy, some not, some with a marked slight bitter 'wintergreen' flavor (which I like), some with none. The most productive trees are seedlings. The grafted trees, chiefly Bronceada, have been badly affected by looks like a fungal disease called 'black canker', Phomopsis anonacearum. It is at its worst in wet conditions, so the trees have been severely pruned to allow more light and air through.

2013 - the grass is down to the deck, but, thanks to the kikuyu and small-leafed clover, it is holding its own. The regrowth is high quality, and the sheep are getting fatter in spite of the very low sward. This is the grass seeding time of year. If we don't get rain, the matured seed heads will temporarily halt grass growth and the pastures will start to yellow off.

Stone fruit
2013 - Apricots are almost non existant (about 6 fruit), and plums have set very poorly (or not at all) except for Wrights Early, Black Prince, and the Damson. We pruned all the plumcots very heavily, so there is nothing. A whanau member in the valley has such heavy set on his plums that he describes them as 'wall to wall' fruit. Sigh...

2013 - Our tiny pond was visited for two days by a pair of paradise ducks and their 8 little duckling. This follows on from a mallard, also with a mob of duckling, also a two day visitor. Where they came from, I don't know. Maybe the near-dry 'streamlet' at the bottom of the heavily native-forested steep little valley adjacent. Where they went to, well, who know? I like the paradise duckling, in particular. They are very attractive in white with black stripes.

Fat native fruit pigeons crash around the 'weedling' kawakawa trees that come up everywhere here. They eat the new fleshy spadixes in the green stage, which surprised me. They don't pay much attention to me, and they look great as the bright sunlight reflects the iridescent green of their plumage.

Nov 28

2012 - Reed dropped a fruit

November 30
2012 - temps up now, 18 - 20 air temps, up to 24 sometimes.
2013 - it has regularly been 24oC all day for many days. Promised rain came a couple of days ago but was light, although in aggregate useful. It has been warm and humid for quite some time now. This morning was extremely windy, and a passing tui was caught in the gust and ended up flying backwards - I thought it was funny, even if the tui didn't.

The grass is seeding in our little plantation of newly grafted avocados. Several Californian quail have made it a feeding ground. I really appreciate these lovely birds, and am always pleased to see them. This sentiment is not appreciated by the female side (an extremely light sleeper), as the cock quail starts its monotonous single note call very early in the morning. Add in the tuis starting around 5 am, and there is a certain amount of anti-bird sentiment by breakfast time...
California Quail in avocados


2012 - Late fruit set high on Hass. Native bees now out, co-incide with the flowering of the Queen Ann's Lace. They like Hass flowers. The trees are all in mad growth flush  - peak - except Pinkerton, which did its thing earlier.

2013 - The avocados have finished flowering, bar some late flower on Reed, Fuerte and Hashimoto (and a rare 'tail end' flower or 3 on Hass and Pinkerton). We have had a fantastic initial fruit set on Hass and Reed. But over the last 4 days there has been massive fruit drop. Reed has held good numbers of fruitlets, but some Hass trees have dropped almost everything. Fruit set on these trees is both disappointing and patchy. Yet Reed seems to have retained good numbers of fruit (as has Fuerte), and some Pinkerton trees have ended up retaining more fruit than they ever have.I counted 10 pea sized fruitlets one one tree. But it is early days yet, and even these more promising larger fruit could yet fall. The earliest flowers have been the ones to set, the flowers and fruitlets from the last few weeks have all been tossed overboard. There are some very recently set pinhead fruit on Hass, and it will be interesting to see if any of these are retained.

The trees here are unirrigated, and perhaps that is the reason there has been such a large fruit drop in Hass. That said, Reed has held good numbers, and even a couple of very little new Maluma trees are still holding onto a couple of fruitlets.

2012 - First color blush on plumcots
2013 - first color blush on one of the 3 spring satin plumcot fruit. It is not just spring satin that has had a poor set. Apart from Wrights early, Black Prince, and the Damson plums, fruit set has been extremely poor on the stone fruit this year. The old seedling apricot tree, usually somewhat reliable, has about 8 fruit on it, and the Santa Rosa has zero, in spite of flowering well. Guess its a lack of pollinating insects earlier in spring.

2012 - Raspberries in full flow.
2012 - Blueberries - some are ripe
2012 - Bramble Aurora just starting. The fruit are very perfumed.
2013 - Raspberries are producing well, the berriologist is picking the few precious aurora berries, and some loganberries are also coming in.

2012 - Last cherimoya has now been picked. The cherimoya are flowering again
2013 - Cherimoya are coming to the end, There are still some fruit on the trees, but only a few. They are ripening very, very quickly once picked. One tree, a Burton's Favourite seedling, is germinating the seeds inside the fruit! This seedling is a particularly nice one, with no bitterness, and a good flesh to seed ratio. I must get around to propagating it sometime.

2012 - The fruit are fat on the trees.
2013 - There are 4 breba figs on the brown turkey "which is pathetic in the extreme" according to the figologist. There are no breba fruit on the Madeleine, and the Petrovicha, which always has breba fruit, did have some, but dropped the lot. Presumably the long dry is the cause.

2012 - Now flowering

2012 - starting to flower

2012 - cherries showing a little color.
2013 - a crop of 6 on one tree, and maybe 6 on another (the flowers are still setting).

2013 - the Hayward green kiwifruit are now flowering well. I haven' toticed any pollinating insects on them as yet. The gold kiwifruit plants are carrying a heavy crop this year, in spite of the extreme drought last year. Gold kiwifruit flowering is now finished.

PSa has been found recently on an orchard in Kumeu - luckily quite some distance from here. This disease pops up in commercial orchards at great distances from sources of infection. It seems to me that it must arrive on orchard machinery, particularly contractor machinery, or contract workers boots, or clothing, or industry advisor's footwear etc. Luckily, home gardeners such as myself have no such visitors or machinery traffic, and so (hopefully) little chance of infection.

Pine nuts
2012 - Pinus maximartinezii  new growth' candles' are starting to show needles P. koriensis candles are already in needle

2012 - the male flowers are not shedding pollen yet

2012 - walnut are shedding pollen and have female flower

2012 - the tams are flowering now