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
weather and avocado production.
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
2014 - a bunch of Ducasse bananas on a sucker put
aside as a 'spare' ripened. The fruit are very small, the
ripe ones have all split, and the green ones are very
skinny. In spite of that, the ripe ones are sweet, with
very good flavor. They do, however, has a residual
2014 - Nelmak nuts continue to fall in good numbers. The
green husks are now almost all well and truly split open.
2014 - the grass is really skinned, and we have been
feeding ever increasing amounts of sheep nuts - an
expensive business. Bamboo has been an important adjunct
feed, along with coprosma, mahoe, and olive foliage. I had
hoped to kill at least one old ewe to reduce stock
pressure on the grass, but the rain and mud have
interfered with my plan. The lambs can start being weaned
by mid october, when milk will supply only around 10% of
their diet, if that. Temperatrures
2013 - sunny all day, still in the morning, and a breezy
southerly in the afternoon. The lowest night time
temperature in the last few days was 5oC. The temperature
in the shade at both 9 am and 3 pm was 15oC. The highest
temperature recorded in the last few days was 18.5oC.
2013 - Still flowering, there are lots of bumblebees and
bees on the plums, and on the Pixie plumcot in particular.
2014 - rain. The weather is turning to the
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
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
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
2014 - the plants look pretty battered and torn, and the
foliage is rather yellow. There are two or three bunches
of fruit, and one is nearly ready (the fruit are starting
to split, anyway). These bunches that 'mature' over winter
and early spring are not very good.
2012 - The last few days have been mixed sunny and
overcast, but relatively warm. The maximum air temperature
over the last 4 days was 20oC, the minimum (overnight) was
10oC. At midday it was 18oC. Temperatures are expected to
drop over the next few days.
2012 - Although it has been very warm all morning, it is
very windy. In contrast to some of the days in late
winter, the blossom has very few pollinating insects in it
- just a few bees.
2012 - The plumcots still have a lot of blossom on
them, but they are past their peak. New leaves are pushing
through the blossom.
The new plumcot 'Spring Satin' is now in full
bloom. The flowers are small and pure white, rather
attractive, really. Knowing it was going to rain, I hand
pollenized a few flowers with the last remaining apricot
flowers, hoping to maximise the set.
2012 - The early pollenizer varieties, Billington and
Heard, have finished flowering, and the apricot trees have
only a few flowers remaining. The plum 'Black Prince' is
at about peak bloom. Santa Rosa is flowering well at this
time, and I hope it is a good pollenizer for it -
especially as the canopies now touch. 'Elephant heart' is
on the other side of the "Black Prince' tree, and it is in
early bloom. It hasn't set much fruit for us over the
years, but with Santa Rosa now flowering well, we hope for
2012 - Some peach blossom is now open, and more will
2012 - Virtually all the avocado trees are are just
starting to show growth flushes. I gave the trees a good
sprinkle of NPK fertiliser when it was raining about a
week or so ago, and this should help the trees cope with
the demands of both flowering and producing new extension
We have caught two or three young male possums over the
last few weeks, but not before one had eaten a new season
far-from-mature Reed fruit.
2012 - The figs are just tipping out some green leaves
from their terminal buds, and several trees are
already showing an impressive number of incipient
ultra-early 'breba' figs. The resident figologist was
exited at the prospect of the best-ever crop of brebas,
but I reminded her that this is 'hormone spray chemical
trespass' season, and, going on past experience, we are
likely to lose the lot.
2012 - The raspberry plants have leafed out (except for
the black raspberries), and are in flower bud. In spite of
the best of intentions, the boysenberry plants still
haven't been reduced in number, and besides being
overgrown with weeds, the paths in the berry cage are
snared with escaped boysenberry runners. The berryoligist
has a big job ahead of her...maybe I had better give a
hand...when I'm not 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.
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
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
The holes are
plants - healthy roots, in a pine based
I don't know how big Hashimoto avocado trees grow - these
will be size controlled from the start - but if they are
as naturally small and easy to manage as Pinkerton avocado
it would be a big bonus.
Avocado Pinkerton - a small tree,
Sharwill with male flowers open - tub grown.
Pinkerton is flowering heavily right now, but I
doubt any more than one or two fruit will set - at best.
It really does need a suitable pollenizer variety.
Sharwill is looking promising, as the male flowers on may
tree in a tub (unfortunately a long way distant) have been
open and shedding pollen when Pinkerton has its female
flowers open. Whether or not there are any insects around
at this rather cool and changeable time of year is another
matter. Still, there is the odd bumblebee around,
both species of paper wasp, and I have just seen my first
drone fly of the season. These flies are good pollinators,
and are a close mimic of honeybees. Presumably the mimicry
dissuades predators from eating them.
Drone fly, Eristalis tenax, sunning itself on a
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
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
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
2013 - another bunch has several ripe fruit on it, albeit
the rest is dead green. The ripe fruit have split. I'd
like to leave it longer for the green fruit to develop
more. but it I can't leave it too long or the rats and
birds will be attracted.
2014 - showers and sun, mostly overcast. Mild. Windy at
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.
2018 - It has been an astonishingly warm winter. Spring is
shaping up warm, without the normal hail and icy cold days
from the south. The cold southern air has been blocked all
winter long by warm weather systems coming down from the
north - quite unusual. Today is really hot, if breezy. At
midday it is 24oC in the shade. The weather forecast is
for 'frantic' weather systems from the subtropics coming
down later in the week. Yet there is snow to low levels in
the South Island...
2018 - There is a big mob of Californian Quail is using
this place as part of its territory. Delightful birds, and
a privelege to have them here. Something eats the possum
carcases if we are a bit slow to bury them - I hope it is
hawks rather than wild cat, for the quails sake. Kaka are
using the adjacent forest remmnant as a base again, and
they are typical Aucklanders - off 'somewhere' at early
hours of the morning, and back in the late afternoon.
Their raucous calls and penetrating whistles announce
their movements. There are usually 4 birds, sometimes 5.
2018 - We are at the tail end of the crop. It has been a
great season, in spite of a huge amount of possum damage.
There are three self-sown seedling trees here that are top
notch, very delicious indeed (if you like cherimoyas, that
is). Tt would be a shame to lose them,
so I may propagate them.
2012 - Today, I heard the first shining cuckoo of spring.
We have had strong northeasters and later northwesters, so
maybe he got a fast ride across the Pacific from the Cook
Islands winter feeding 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
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
Macadamias continue to fall, and the first new leaves of
the 'Grabohl' pecan are just emerging. I have neglected to
pay enough attention to the right varieties to give cross
pollenization in our short row of pecan trees. Looking at
some info on the internet, admittedly from the very hot
southern USA, it appears that I should have cultivars such
as Shoshoni, Wichita, or Cherokee to act at pollen donors
for Grabohl's female flowers. We did acquire Shoshoni in
2007, but it is a long way from Grabohl, and the tree has
been significantly damaged by puriri moth larvae. Even
thin branches have been ring-barked by this troublesome
pest. So a little TLC is needed if is ever to grow big
enough to take some bits off to graft into Grabohl.
2018 - Fine at first, then overcast, then breezy. Humid
and warm. It was 19oC in the shade at 1130. Overnight low
of 12oC. Yesterday was warmer, hitting 25oC.
2018 - a mother mallard duck and her ducklings appear on
the little pond from time to time. Where they go in
between times is a bit of a mystery. Blackbirds and
thrushes seem to be marking their territory (singing!) all
day long, which is quite delightful. Grey warblers are
also suddenly evident, but only the odd fantail at this
stage. Native pigeons continue to feast of plum flower and
leaf buds, as well as the tender new leaves.
video on twitter: https://twitter.com/i/status/1037593262511411200
2018 - all the avocados are throwing the odd fruit
overboard - nowhere near mature, but near full sized.
Spring is leaf drop and flowering time, then a new leaf
flush, so maybe hormones have something to do with it. One
Pinkerton tree has a fair smattering of flowers open in
one area of the tree, but none of the other
trees have any flowers open, apart from Fuerte and a few
(only) on our little Sharwil tree.
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.
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
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
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.
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
2012- I killed a sheep today as the first move in dropping
numbers a bit. She was a small ewe - her mum was a very
small ewe from the flock established on Arapawa Island in
the 1800's. We ended up with 14kgs of usable meat
cuts and a wheelbarrow load of wool, skin, bones and guts
to bury under an avocado tree. In the meantime, our only
ewe not to have a lamb this season ended up dropping a
late lamb, much to everyone's surprise. So 'de-stocking'
is not making much progress yet.
2012 - Two macadamia trees continues to drop nuts while at
the same time starting to open the new season flowers.
Peaches and Plums
2012 - Peaches are
blooming well, several pears are in full bloom, and there
seems to be a good set of fruit on the plumcots. The
spring satin plumcot is just coming to the end of its
bloom. It has a surprisingly long blossom period. Prunus
capulin, the Capuli cherry, has started its bloom.
It produces prodigious numbers of flowers that are
extremely attractive to bees. When the tree is in full
bloom the noise of humming bees is almost deafening.
2013 - the improbably pink blossoms of the peaches
continue to intrude against the blue sky.
Pinus wallichiana syn Griffithii male
male strobuli, not yet shedding
Immature male strobuli on Pinus edulis
growth on Pinus maximartinezii
2012 - The male strobuli of several of the pine nut
species here are now full size. Pinus koraiensis
and Pinus pinea will start to release pollen soon.
An adjacent ornamental species (Pinus wallichiana
syn Griffithii) is shedding copious pollen.
Pinus maximartinezii has spires of new growth, but
has not flowered yet.
2013 - a small Pinus pinea ('Umbrella pine) in a
tub on the deck is flowering for the first time. The male
strobuli release clouds of pollen when the branch is
shaken. Interestingly, it is early relative to the 2 trees
planted out on the property, presumably because it is in a
very sheltered and hot spot. Apparently this species
remains as a male-only plant for a number of years before
it ever has female 'flowers' (strobuli). The male strobuli
appear on the lower half of the tree, and, in time, female
strobuli appear on the upper third.
2012 - One of the raspberry varieties is flowering well,
and I noticed the first bronze beetle of the season.
Diseased cherimoya fruit
Possum and half eaten cherimoya. The 2 fruit and the leaf
in the background are
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
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
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
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
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
2013 - 2 more bunches have coloured. There is minimal
splitting, so that at least is good. Pity they can't be
left to mature a bit more in the warming weather.
2011 - By early october, insect activity on avocado
flowers begins to pick up.
Polistes sp. on Hass avocado flower racemes.
2013 - sunny, some cloud cover, warm
2013 - flowering is well under way. The conditions over
the last 3 or 4 days have been very good for pollination
and fruit set - night temperatures have been 10oC or
above, day temperatures 16oC to 22oC, it has been
relatively calm, often overcast, and quite a number of
pollinating insects are around. Although it is a little
early in the flowering season, I would not be surprised if
some fruit set on Hass 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.
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
We 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
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
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
In the end, we must remain alert and contact MPI (free
phone 0800 80 99 66) if we see insects in our imported
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
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.
There are 2 Timms kill traps set under the tree at all
times during the fruiting season...
as well as a bait station nailed to the base of the tree,
with fresh cinnamon scented pellets constantly
But all to no avail. The possums rarely feed on the bait
in the bait station. They ignore the fresh apple in the
kill traps. We have tried sprinkling the apple with
cinnamon, with curry powder, we have tried plum jam,
marmalade, and even peanut butter. True, we did catch one
hedgehog and one rat, but zero possums.I'll have to think
of a new strategy, and have something in mind.
Rats are the number one problem for anyone with an avocado
or macadamia nut tree. But at least they take bait
pellets. We are right next to a patch of native forest, so
we have an inexhaustible supply of rodents and possums.
And rats love both avocados and macadamias. Indeed, for
the first time, we have had a rat that not only ate the
whole avocado fruit, but started to eat the seed as well!
One rat, in particular, lunched freely on the chook food
at feeding time, and became so cocky he would come out in
full view at the rattle of the feed tin. However, we have
far more luck with the live traps for rats than we do with
possums. These small spring-loaded traps are super
reliable if you do two things - first, spray them with a
zinc rust protective coating; second, always test the door
can close cleanly when the trap is triggered, and the wire
door lock is set properly. We have had far more success
with these live traps than we have ever had with kill
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...
As near as I can make out, he had slipped on steep ground
in the 'back paddock', and managed to inextricably wedge
himself under a fallen kanuka sapling. Well, as every
farmer knows, if you have livestock, expect to also have
deadstock. Pity, He was a big boy, and from his weight as
I took him for recycling, was growing very well before his
He has been buried near a newly planted banana. We will
eat him yet, but not directly...give it a two years or so.
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.
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.
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
These late-summer set fruit took about 7˝ months to