May Update

Harvesting the maize
Harvesting the maize

I haven’t written for a while, but items of note include the harvesting of the maize in the paddock next door, way back at the beginning of April.  The big machines came powering through, collecting the complete plants, discarding the husks and stalks, and feeding out golden maize kernels into the waiting truck.

field

Left behind is a flattish, spiky field, stretching into the distance.  We’ve had no strong winds from the North or West since then, but when they do come, we’ll miss the shelter that the maize provided for the plants and shrubs we are trying to establish along the fence-line.

a typical crack opening in our lawn
a typical crack opening in our lawn

The months of March and April were incredibly dry, after almost no rain since January.  Patches of bare soil were beginning to crack all across the garden.

There wasn’t much happening in the vege garden – only silver beet, pumpkins, a few lettuces, some jalapeno and habanero chili peppers, basil, beetroot and carrots.  We had switched to lake water to conserve the water in our tanks and were using the latter for drinking, only.

Cherry Guava, Yellow Guava, Pear, Feijoa
Cherry Guava, Yellow Guava, Pear, Feijoa

Surprisingly, our Autumn fruit has been more productive than at the same time in 2013.  We ate the last of the pears, and the feijoa are still dropping, even a month later.  They are very sweet and juicy.  There are also red cherry guava and yellow guava – which attract the Kereru.  Our macadamia nuts are also on the point of being ready.

Red shavers taking a dust bath
Red shavers taking a dust bath (prior to Lottie’s departure)

The hens still spend a great deal of time bathing in the dust, or lying under the shade of the trees.  They continue to make huge basin-shaped hollows all through my gardens.  But they are very cute and I’m still intrigued to watch them taking their dust baths.

The above photo was taken of the edge of the lawn where it comes up to the flower garden below the Feijoa trees.  I use the word ‘garden’ very loosely, thanks to the hens and the lack of rain.

Fatima
Fatima

The Orpingtons don’t tend to take their baths in the same place or at the same time as the Red Shavers.  They’ll often wait until the older girls are finished, then hop in after them.

The good news is that the Orpingtons are now laying, but the bad news is that Lottie (one of our red shavers) has gone.  She had a bad habit of disappearing across the road to  – goodness knows where – on a daily basis, and one day she just didn’t come back.  I fear the worst – run over by a milk truck or caught by a hawk or dog, but perhaps she has merely found a better place to live.

Freshly laid eggs
Freshly laid eggs

As far as the eggs are concerned, the small eggs weigh about 50 grams, whereas the eggs from Lulu and Leila weigh around 75 grams.  I have been very disappointed that the White Orpingtons don’t lay pure white eggs – I was so sure that they would.

Pine Nut (family Pinaceae, genus Pinus)
Pine Nut (family Pinaceae, genus Pinus)

Our small Pine Nut tree is finally producing some cones.  We’ve had this small tree since we lived in Titirangi.  It was purchased in a pot for a Christmas Tree, and fared very badly under all the kauri trees due to the paucity of sunlight.  Pine Nuts take about 8 years to produce cones – which would be about right.   Apparently the cones take two full seasons to mature.  It’s very exciting!

Lake Rototoa, May 2014
Lake Rototoa, May 2014

There has been scattered rain in May, and the days tend to start out sunny, before fat cumulus clouds build up in the afternoon.  The temperature in May has ranged from around 13 C overnight, to low 20s during the day.

We have swum in the lake as recently as a week ago – which is quite unexpected for this time of year.

Garden Diary

My current daily garden tasks involve tidying up all the vegetable garden beds in preparation for planting garlic and sowing more seeds.  I’ve recently sown lettuces, leeks, spinach, carrots, beetroot, rocket, radishes, parsnips and celery.  I raised seedlings of broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower and have since planted these out.  It was too hot and dry to sow the seeds directly during March / April.

I’ve also planted a dozen Egyptian Walking Onions.  I was delighted to see bulbs for sale recently as I used to grow them years ago in Dunedin.  Perhaps I’ll have more luck with these than I have with trying to grow regular onions from seed.

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