Harvest Time – love, love, love it!

Harvest Time – love, love, love it!

Nature is so generous when there is space, water and nutrients available to plants. I find the joyous abundance of plums, cherry tomatoes, beans, silver-beet and zucchinis remind me of what a wonderful world this can be. There is enough for us and for birds and beasties too.

Here’s a quick overview from ‘top-of-mind’

 

Cherry tomatoes have grown wonderfully and are continuing to produce great crops.

So nice for salads! Not so good for preserving so we will wait for the larger main crop tomatoes to ripen for making sauces, pastes, spicy chutney etc

cherry tomatoes harvest!
cherry tomatoes harvest!

The bird netting went over the bed when the birds found the little fruits and decided they were tasty. We have a good crop underneath the net. Wonderful stuff bird netting – pulled tight and tied it down so birds don’t get caught in it. We appreciate their efforts in pest reduction so this gives the best of both worlds.

 

Cucumbers are giving us enough for salads and some extra for pickling.

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Zucchinis [courgettes] are a favorite staple now – picked very small – so sweet and tasty they can even be eaten raw.

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Zucchini plant growing strongly

I prefer them lightly sauteed in spices in the wok with whatever veg the garden gives now. In a few months their prolific abundance will be – meh – and other veg will take priority instead. For a little while, zucchinis are great.

 

Beans

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Dwarf beans have a short season [purple tee pee and yellow butter beans are favorites] and are feeding us well. They go well in our stir-fried veg. The pretty purple-colored beans turn green when cooked, and the yellow butter-beans add a lightness.

Climbing beans.  We planted climbing beans at the same time as the dwarf beans. They take longer to grow and begin to flower so as the dwarf beans are finishing, the climbers are starting to produce now.

‘Emu’ beans are our favorite climber – string-less, tasty, easy to pick, and prolific over a l-o-n-g season. Even when older beans are drying on the vine, they still make more flowers and new beans – great!

 

Plums are dripping off the trees.

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I find stewing a saucepan-full each day or so works best for me as a pleasant way of saving their wonderful-ness  to be enjoyed in winter. The hot stewed fruit goes into [hot, sterilized] jars and is sealed for future use. When heaps ripen at once and there is a big glut, I find our 2 big stock-pots and preserve lots at once – MUCH more effort needed.

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Nectarines – yellow ones are ripening and need daily checking as they get brown rot quickly. Pick, wash and eat fresh soon or preserve for winter use.

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The tree is a dwarf form – was here when we moved in. I think it is a very old tree and it has perked up with food and water. It’s ‘thank you’ has been a good crop of large, juicy nectarines.

These are a challenge for us in Auckland – brown rot takes over so fast in warm, humid weather. Often we find the bottom of the nectarine is ripe while the top near the stem is still very green, and by the time the top is ripe the bottom has rot. Hmm. So we are experimenting – pick when the bottom is luscious to eat raw and stew the unripe top part for winter stewed, bottled fruit.

Auckland is at the extreme of the productive zone for nectarines so we are glad to get any fruit. Some years when the weather is hot, dry and not humid we might get a great crop.

Silver-beet is still producing wonderfully well.

 

Strawberries have about finished, and the birds have been very focused on finding the few remaining.

Blackberries are changing color and we hope this thorn-less variety is tasty – third time lucky?

Our first persimmon!

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We planted a persimmon tree 18 months ago as an experiment – we had never grown them before. What would they be like? Could it grow here in a small suburban yard? On clay [all the top-soil went with the subdivision]? Would it like Auckland’s semi-tropical climate with warm, moist summers?

Persimmons are deciduous small trees and lose their leaves in winter so I thought it may just be a hopeful dream to grow our own organic ones.

Yet, here it is. Our small tree which we ‘sort-of’ espaliered on the fence in a narrow garden bed has lots of lovely green leaves and now has ripening fruit! Wonderful.

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What experiments do you wonder about? Do start, you never know what is possible anywhere until you try.

Food sources for bees in a winter garden

Food sources for bees in a winter garden

Bees find a great food source in this bush laden with flowers  full of nectar [smells like honey] and pollen. C flowers in winter when there are few other flowers in my garden providing food for bees.

Bee landing on a flower searching for pollen and nectar Bee finding pollen and nectar in flowers of Camellia microphylla

Bee finding pollen and nectar

 

Bee finding pollen and nectar – pollen bags on it’s leg is visible – for carrying pollen back to the hive.

Bee finding pollen and nectar

 

Food sources for bees in winter mean they are strong and healthy to pollinate fruit tree blossoms in early spring.

Check there are food sources available all year so bees are ready when needed for pollinating our crops.

Lunch from our garden

Lunch from our garden

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Winter and our lunch is still mostly from our garden: lettuce (3 varieties), rocket, Mizuna, capsicum, tomato (golden /orange ‘Moonglow’, mandarin, dark red cherry guava; with olives being the only addition purchased. Add a favourite protein (cheese) and dressing for a lunch with zing.