Friday 29 August 2014

No words but here are some pictures

Stag Beetle
Stag Beetle - there was a small explosion of these a couple of weeks ago.

Oak Eggar Moth
Oak Eggar Moth - these day flying moths confused us for a while as they just don't stop but finally Paul got a picture.

Rosy Footman
This little cutie is a Rosy Footman. Very distinctive colouring in flight.

Western Clubtail
Western Clubtail dragonfly - not very rare but new to us.

ceps and chanterelles
Mushrooms are  up.

Sunday 24 August 2014

The change of the season

carrot seed and garlic bulbils

There is a perceptible change of air this week. The swallows are nearly all gone, just a few late fledgers from the second broods gathering strength until their parents gauge them fit to travel, the nights are drawing in, there is mist on the grass in the mornings and the warmth is abated.

With a forecast of almost continuous rain for the next couple of days I've been taking some rapid harvests of things that will spoil in high humidity. Lots of raspberries, beans for drying, inevitable pickling cucumbers and courgettes and some carrot seed and garlic bulbils.

The carrot seed is of two colours, unremembered varieties except as yellow and orange. I'm really not that bothered with the purity aspect here. It's an experiment to see if I can save viable seed (seems easy enough so far) and carrots are something I don't find particularly nuanced in texture or flavour for most of the widely available sorts, so there seems little to preserve except to keep them separate from wild carrot back crosses which is unlikely to happen as we have no wild carrot here.

The garlic flower bulbil heads were 'forced' by stress on overwintered garlic that was so rusty I didn't even bother to harvest it. I'm hoping to grow on the little bulbils and produce a clean crop in a couple of years time but that's possibly a hope too far.

Other seed saving I'm intending to make is of this wild plant which I can only identify as a purple Heracleum sphondylium or Common Hogweed. Search engines are obsessed with the noxious Giant variety and I've had trouble tracking down any examples of the Common with colour variations but this is such a striking plant even from a distance I'd like to increase its incidence around the farm. Even if only a few seeds breed true it's a lovely thing.

purple hogweed

Tuesday 19 August 2014

And so it goes...


Having become so depressed by my own failures at variety segregation it should be comforting to discover that other producers are equally inept.

That very pretty water lily above was purchased from a reputable supplier at the Hampton Court Flower Show way back in 2007 and was labelled as Barbara Davies, an exotic looking creamy yellow peachy sort of flower. As can now be seen seven years later, it is nothing of the sort.

We've nurtured this plant, recovered it from a vicious water rodent attack (coypu or water rat, we're not sure) and waited patiently and without reward for it to flower in its allotted spot in the "sheep dip" pond. This year, when the pond was almost moribund with sludge and detritus we cleared the plants and used the tractor to scoop out the muck. The lily was popped in a big stock watering tub that I use as a water butt near the vegetable patch. The warm water and excellent sunshine of the early summer finally provoked it into flower but it's not Barbara...

If you're a water lily expert and can identify it for us, please leave a comment. :)

Sunday 3 August 2014

Depression is always having to say you're sorry

That cat is lucky, she rarely ponders her place in the universe and apart from a few moments when she's being bullied by the boys her life is full of joy and wonder. She bounces around like a piece of fluff and takes pleasure in just about everything including rolling in the dust.

This week for me, not so much joy.  The Whangaparaoa pumpkin plot came tumbling down when I found a huge rogue yellow fruit forming. I should have know something was up because the plant was so vigorous from the outset but hey, I'm growing for landrace selection so some variation seemed welcome. However, it seems that somehow my separation techniques last year were inadequate and that Pink Banana squash that wasn't somehow spread its evil influence all the way across to my Whanga patch. The other plants growing from the same saved seed batch look o.k. but who knows what horrors lurk within their genes. So that concludes this round of experiments, I don't know, five years? and now it's lost.  I'm sorry I don't have the energy to keep trying. Even getting more clean seed is a project, my originals came from New Zealand but I no longer have contacts there to send me more.

I'm sorry I've been so down that I let the raspberries decay on the canes, all the tomatoes that are turning red have blossom end rot,  the potatoes are blighted and that something has chewed through the last couple of plants of Painted Lady runners which I was growing out for seed just as pods were beginning to form. Even the courgettes make me feel bad by being prolific when I was determined not to let them bully me.

And I'm sorry this post is such a downer. It seems necessary somehow that the blog presents things in a positive or amusing way. Sometimes that requirement can silence me for days.