We have lost count of the jolly cucumbers

We have picked another 17 on one day and 4 or 5 or 8 or 1 on other days. Our plan to count all the cucumbers has gone awry as we have so much to deal with right now.

  • Buckets of tomatoes – to be frozen whole or made into sauces and soups
  • Courgettes
  • Blackboy peaches – they are not ripe yet but we (I) have been thinning them to make room for further growth and the the ones we have been picking are being stewed or are made into jam just because they are big enough
  • Aubergines
  • Beans – green and butter
  • We are also picking windfall apples, sorting pears to be stored and ripening others and checking our 6 fig trees daily to beat the birds.

    An after dinner fresh fig is such a delight.

    And we have just started a sourdough starter for making our own sourdough bread.

    So we have plenty to keep us busy right now.

    We think our cucumber count from one apple cucumber plant is well over 150.

    so much can be explained in a picture

    Gemma and new born kids

    Granddaughter and new born kids

    Our granddaughter meeting the babies of Chewy the most amazing goat mama ever. Chewy had one kid in first pregnancy, two in the second and three this time. You could wonder about the skill of nature to do this. Goats have two teats and Chewy has three kids.

    It will be a challenge.

    Meantime a wee girl love three wee kids. What could be better than this.

    Another 10 cucumbers

    yesterday and I have yet to check today.

    Who would have thought – 90 apple cucumbers so far in the summer of 2016 – and all from one apple cucumber plant.

    another bag of cucmbers

    Since the beginning of summer we have been eating strawberries, loquats, plums, peaches and nectarines as well as our own avocados.

    What are we looking forward too?

    Pears, that’s what

    This year, our fifth summer and our very first pear crop.

    our first pears

    The tree is quite laden, but not dripping with pears but plenty for us.

    This excitement about another fruit is what it is all about, being here on our wee plot of land and literally enjoying the fruits of our labour.

    This year we will also pick a little olive crop and our first grapes and some blueberries too and black boy peaches and more strawberries and figs galore.

    Everything is good at the Fuddy Farm.

    Apple Cucumbers

    We have always grown cucumbers in any garden we have had. And we have had many gardens over our 47 years together. We have created gardens in 3 addresses in Panmure, 1 each in Penrose, Titirangi, Stanmore Bay, Pt Chevalier and now in Miranda.

    And we have always managed to provide ourselves with cucumbers – long green ones and/or Apple cucumbers.

    But we have never had a success like this year.

    We have planted two apple cucumbers and one of those has sulked and produced two measly, wimpy and inedible cucumbers. The other one however is an Audrey. It is an Audrey named so after the plant in The Little Shop of Horrors – that ate and ate and grew and grew. Now we haven’t feed any bodies to our Audrey but she is well feed and watered by the fact she is in our asparagus bed.

    Our asparagus has been in this bed for 3 years and has done so very badly so we (I) decided that this well nourished raised bed should grow other things this year instead of us waiting anxiously at the bed side for our asparagus to appear.

    Don’t get me wrong, we have had a few miserly, miserable thin spears each year but the expected harvest just hasn’t arrived.

    cucumbers 2 feb 2016

    So I have replanted the bed with dwarf sunflowers, two tomatoes, six lettuce and six celery plants and one apple cucumber. We think we have gathered about eighty cucumbers so far and there looks like there could be in excess of 200 yet to develop and be gathered.

    So we are making raita, cucumber salad, picked cucumber salad and cucumber sandwiches and we have given some away (about 25 so far) and we have 18 in the fridge and I haven’t been out to gather today’s crop as yet.

    I will call the cucumber total 80 so far and add to the number as our cucumbers are gathered each day so we can see how many we get by the end of our Audrey’s natural life.

    rain rain rain in an El Niño year where we were to have serious drought

    At the end of November or early December weather people had predicted a serious drought this summer along the East Coast of New Zealand caused by the El Niño weather pattern.

    And here we are on the 1st day of February and we have received yet another 10mm of rain by this morning and 17 mm the last time I checked. So those scientists and meteorologists who said we are rushing into drought this year are soo wrong so far.

    This January we have had about 131 mm of rain and everything is growing well including the weeds and the grass.

    Really really growing.

    Which is of course what we want and need.

    And they are now saying the El Niño weather pattern could supply normal or a bit less rain here for the rest of summer.

    Yippee!!

    That is great for our garden but not so great for Best Beloved who is our lawn mower par excellence.

    We are slowly reducing the amount of grass to be mowed but are just not there yet. It is all part of the bigger picture – to grow our own fruit and vegetables, raise our own chickens for meat and eggs and helping our compost processes all the while setting up a permaculture environment so with a bit of luck and good planning our work load will reduce but our output will be same.

    Wouldn’t you want that when racing towards 70 years of age.

    El Niño:

    At irregular intervals (roughly every 3-6 years), the sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean along the equator become warmer or cooler than normal. These anomalies are the hallmark of El Niño and La Niña climate cycles, which can influence weather patterns across the globe.

    Sometimes it is so exciting we forget to take photographs

    Yesterday was once such day.

    What were we celebrating?

    GOOD FOOD

    Best Beloved bought a fresh whole mullet which he smoked for our dinner and I gathered from the garden.

    I dug the first of our potatoes, and picked lettuce and tomatoes and radishes and the very first beans. There were only 10 young beans and we divided these equally. Not by length but by number.

    So we had boiled new potatoes smothered in butter and crunchy salt, steamed beans, and a salad of lettuce, tomatoes and radishes with the freshly smoked mullet.

    Oh and a glass of wine each.

    or was that two.

    But no photo – sorry

    But I should tell you about the beans – These are the 4th attempt to grow beans for this summer and the first that have actually grown. I am wondering if the seed growers are stamping a use by date on each bean and that the bean knows it and simply doesn’t grow.

    The first packet of seeds were past their use by date – 2014 and I planted them in early October 2015.
    The next were seeds with use by date end 2015 – planted in early November – no bean plants.
    The third lot were a new packet of seeds and we planted about half of them – and some popped bravely through the soil but sat there looking sad and lonely. We think they did not have enough sun and the soil was not warm enough yet.

    The remaining seeds of that packet and another full packet of seeds were then sown and they said here we come and I now have beans growing in three different beds – growing crazy, wild, and dramatic.

    We will have beans to eat and beans to freeze.

    Which is what we want.

    What did we learn.

    1. Use seeds by their use by date
    2. They don’t like cold soil
    3. We did add more compost and lime before we had success
    4. They do like warm soil

    another 39 mm of water in the rain gauge

    and Yippee all our tanks are full again.

    We have 60,000 litres of rain water.

    One 10,000 litre tank is up the hill beside the driveway and Best Beloved is setting up a pipeline down to the garden so that I can water all my garden from that high tank. When it empties we will have to pump water up to it again.

    The idea is to save on our power bills because to water the garden now the pump has to start and that’s when the power usage jumps. When I water the garden, I turn the water on and off as I need it – and so the pump stops and starts and uses the power.

    When the line is in place we will only need to start the pump once when we are refilling the tank, instead of the stop start we do now. We will also be able to establish just how much water is needed to manage the garden and fruit trees.

    Brilliant don’t you think.

    I might just walk around the garden with the camera

    and photograph the gardens or maybe use the video option on it to show where we are at.

    I have been thinking a lot about the direction our garden is to go in and while we have not created it fully in the permaculture way we have done a great deal it seems.

    Our garden is not sprayed with anything with …cide in it. The only item sprayed is water. We do plant (well I do) and try to fill all the gaps, we do mulch a lot and we do make compost. Our chickens manage some of our compost, and they do lay delicious golden eggs and supply us with young chickens which we do eat when the time is right. We do buy chicken feed and it would appear that if we apply more fully the permaculture method we may well reduce the quantity of supplementary food that we purchase for the chickens.

    The big difference between us and the permaculture ideal is our many compost making methods which do require a fair amount of input from us. The chickens do some as I have said but building them into the garden scheme will assist us to streamline composting, mulching and gardening. The time and effort saved will be a bonus on top of more fresh food more of the time, I am gearing up to run and change all but I have realised that I need to plan the garden including when and how to compost and manage the chickens on paper first so that any incremental changes we make are effective. I have to remember I am racing to become a septuagenarian and I want the garden absolutely ready for that.

    And of course I want Best Beloved on side so must not add too much too soon or he might flag a bit seeing as he is already a septuagenarian.

    It is really quite exciting.

    where we are at

    To begin the process of change we do need to establish what we have and where and how it fits with the Permaculture strategy.

    We have 2 flat areas of garden with a bit of a slope between which was created by the previous owners of the property.

    The garden is fully fenced and the fence cover is windbreak cloth. It is about 2 metres high and is rabbit and chicken proof.

    Our chickens free range over the rest of the land except for two young ones aged about 11 weeks and they are contained in a fenced off area within the garden.

    Best Beloved has built 8 raised beds (about 30cm high).

    We also have 2 areas not raised but also in garden.

    Our worm farm is in a full sized bath with a door as the cover which hinged from the fence.

    We have 2 pallet compost bins, 2 other plastic bins, a 3 tier plastic compost bin and a tumble compost bin.

    Inside the garden we have 2 peach trees, 1 almond, 5 blueberries, cape gooseberries, 2 passionfruit vines, 1 grape vine, strawberries, an elderberry and 3 guavas and a kaffir lime tree.

    and lots of vegetables.

    The next step is to work out on paper what to do now.

    Maybe you have some ideas and of course I shall take photographs so it makes more sense

    we know not what we do

    In our garden we have been meandering along adding as need be, but recently I have been trying to work out the logic or the logistics of maintaining our garden into my 8th decade. I have about 18 months to go before I rush headlong into that 8th decade. Best Beloved is there already.

    I have been reviewing what we have done and how we can move forward with less physical labour but still harvest fruit and vegetables all year round.

    You would think that two people who have been gardening together for more than 47 years would now know something about gardening and I assure you we do.

    BUT

    We want to continue reaping the benefits of our garden but we do not want to continue working quite as hard at achieving it.

    I was lucky enough to find a book on the bookshelf of a friend a few weeks ago and I have now borrowed it, maybe indefinitely. The book is “The Permaculture Home Garden” by Linda Woodrow. The subtitle is “How to grow great-tasting fruit and vegetables the organic way – free of pesticides and chemicals”.

    I have not put the book down since it arrived at our house.

    My intention now is to convert what we have established into a thriving, easily manageable permaculture system designed to be sustainable and still easy for two oldies.

    I hope you come along for the ride.

    Best Beloved seems keen.