End of Summer
It’s definitely Autumn. As I sit at my computer I can hear the rumble and whirr of the combined maize harvester driving along the paddock adjacent to our property. As it moves down the rows, capturing everything in its path and discarding all but the individual maize kernels, great clouds of dust rise around it.
The wind has picked up this afternoon and is blowing in from the north… It was supposed to rain, and perhaps it still will, but right now it’s a mixture of bright sunlight and racing clouds.
Clean Up Tasks
It’s the time of year for clean-up and maintenance tasks in the garden. The squash and pumpkins are ready to be cut from their vines and stored in a dry and airy place.
The twisted brown tomato stalks need to be pulled out and burned, along with the remains of our former passion fruit vine.
I made the decision to remove the vine after it had finished cropping, due to it being afflicted with disease. It has been incredibly productive this year, and I’m sure we have eaten more than 200 individual passion fruit. So, it was with a heavy heart that I cut it away from the fence yesterday. All that is left is to dig the roots out of the soil.
Plump feijoa and red and yellow guava are strewn on the grass outside our kitchen window; an array of yellow, green and red baubles.
While the guava are quite definitely edible, now that the feijoa are ready they won’t get a look in with me. Back in Spring when the blackbirds were stripping the petals from the flowers, I could not have imagined that the trees would be so heavily-laden.
For several days we’ve had two plump kereru camped out in the fruit trees. At night they seem to seek refuge in the golden totara, but by day they stay in the yellow guava, gorging on the fruit (they can swallow the guava whole!) or just sitting still in the sun.
We’ve also had many pears. The only problem is getting to them before the blackbirds! But if we go out early in the day we can usually rescue most of them.
For the first time, we’ve had eggplants that have grown to maturity and we’ve had an amazing crop of capsicum. I’m hoping that these will keep cropping until May or June. We also have abundant habanero and one other (unidentified) chilli pepper. This latter plant came from a packet of chilli ‘Caribbean Blend’ so I’m not really sure what it is. We sampled it (with trepidation), and although it was hot, it didn’t seem as hot as a habanero, nor did it have the beautiful floral flavour that a habanero has.
As you can see from the photo above, I’m going to dry the chillies this year. We have such a huge chest freezer, that even with the baskets at the top, we tend to lose track of small things. It will be interesting to see if I’m successful or not. I thought it would be great to grind them up and use them with a pepper shaker.
This morning I took a bucket to the farm across the road and collected some field mushrooms. Yum!!! These are my favourite funghi. They have such a rich taste in comparison with button mushrooms purchased from the supermarket.
They’ll be great sauteed in butter and stirred through some freshly made pasta.
After the Harvest
The harvester has finished in the field. All that is left behind are the husks and a few dried leaves. It’ll be tough for the small shrubs we have on the fence-line, especially now that the wind is coming from the north. For a good six months they’ve been sheltered by the maize!