This year's feijoa harvest is finally over.
When we first moved back to Dunedin in October 2019, one of the first things I did in the garden was to plant two feijoa plants side by side in the backyard. I chose the varieties Unique and Wiki Tu from Waimea Nurseries, because the shrubs were smaller in final size, bore prolific fruit, and their staggered fruiting harvests would give us a long season lasting from early to late autumn. I positioned them in a sunny but sheltered position on the back fence line, so the surrounding trees and shrubs would protect the plants from winter frosts.
The first season I only got two fruit, the next, about twenty, and now in our latest season we got at least one hundred.
There was quite a big difference in the size of feijoa depending on the varieties. The Unique variety is on the left of the photo below, and the Wiki Tu variety is on the right. The Wiki Tu variety harvest started in March with huge fruit as big as my palm, and the smaller Unique variety wasn't ready to harvest until May. This is quite amusing considering the variety notes show that the Unique variety should be ready in March, and the Wiki Tu variety should be ready in May...
Overall it didn't matter too much, and pretty soon in March we were inundated with feijoa fruit. The first harvests of feijoa were frozen away for later use, with the skins set aside to make feijoa syrup (which I'm yet to do), and the pulp set aside to make one of our favorite recipe's, Feijoa and Coconut cake.
With our freezer stocked up, we began to give away feijoa to friends and family. Luckily since there aren't that many feijoa bushes in Dunedin (the plants don't like the cold, so there aren't feijoa bushes in every backyard like they are in the North Island), soon our bounty was soon carried off to other peoples homes. Even then the feijoa harvests kept on coming. And after hearing that my young nephew was unsuccessfully trying to make his own feijoa jam by mashing feijoa pulp with sugar in a bowl, I decided to make a batch for him, and the wider family too.
I used the feijoa jam recipe from the Chelsea sugar website, and I'm really happy with the result. The addition of lemon zest and juice really gave the jam a nice zing that my whole family liked when they tried it.
And even after all that, the feijoa still kept on coming...so once again we gave left over feijoa to family members. I don't really mind that we started giving away so many, as my feijoa loving family would otherwise be spending up to $10 a kg buying them, and with very hungry nephews and nieces, the expensive feijoa fruit wouldn't last very long. All I hope though, is that in the coming years, they will continue to help us out with the no doubt increasingly larger and larger feijoa harvests...
Have a wonderful day
It's now early June, but I'm still in the middle of bulb planting season thanks to being so ill earlier this autumn. But I'm trying to catch up now, and I'm taking a targeted approach to this task.
I'm weeding an area I need to put in bulbs in, and then planting the
bulbs. It's leading to the garden looking very patchy, with wild
unweeded areas, surrounded by neat and tidy weeded sections with
pretty, clearly labelled markers. I like to label all my bulbs when I
first put them in so over winter I can avoid them while doing any major
work in the garden. I'm
hoping once all my bulbs are planted I can then go back and weed the
areas that aren't quite so urgent.
My first job with bulb planting was to get my saffron bulbs in the ground. When I got the email from Bulbs Direct to say they were in stock, I was very excited, as I wanted some for years, but have always missed out. They arrived promptly, and I planted them the same day they arrived on my doorstep, I weeded an area of the herb garden and planted all 5 bulbs. My reason for sowing them in the herb garden, is that I already have other crocus in other areas of the garden, and didn't want to get them mixed up with the other bulbs.
And I have exciting news already, three saffron bulbs have already popped out of the ground. It's only been two weeks since I planted them, so I'm happy to see their needle like leaves.
Garlic bulbs were next to go in the ground. Even though most it's common to plant garlic bulbs on the Winter Solstice in New Zealand, I always like to get them in the ground in May. Down here in Dunedin, by the time we get to the Winter Solstice, the ground is very cold and wet, and it's hard to dig the holes to plant the garlic. So I like to get it done in mid-May while the ground is still warmish, and it gives the bulbs a chance to grow their roots while the temperatures are not freezing.
This year the only variety of garlic I could get hold of was New Zealand Printanor. It grows well for us, and we haven't had any garlic rust as yet. We don't tend to get garlic rust down here in Dunedin, as weather conditions in spring tend to be cool with low humidity.
After I gridded the garden bed and making holes with my handy bulb planter, it didn't take long to pop in all the garlic cloves.
This year I planted 60 cloves, and gave the rest of my garlic bulbs in the packet to my father to plant at his house. My plan is to store enough for us to use for the year, and the rest will be set aside for both ensuring seed garlic bulbs for the year after, sharing with family, and then any left over can be swapped in our local produce group for fruit and veges that I don't grow.
There's something about sowing bulbs in autumn and winter, it makes me hopeful that the cold weather will be over eventually, and that we'll have homegrown food in the spring and summer months.
Have a wonderful day
Recently it was hubby and my wedding anniversary. It was a big anniversary, the type of one that has precious metal connotations with it.
It's hard to believe it's been 25 years. Hubby and I met in university, back when I was a biochemistry honors student, and he was in 3rd year computer science. We met through a mutual friend, and then over time we became best friends, and then we started dating after falling in love. After a couple of years, we got married, and life has been busy ever since.
We decided for our 25th wedding anniversary we wanted to do something very special, and since I have developed a very large fear of flying (thanks to living in Wellington), we decided to stay somewhere within driving distance.
A number of months earlier I had spotted an Instagram ad for a place in the Mackenzie region called SkyScape. It's a luxury eco-accomodation nestled within tussocks and hillside of Omahau Hill Station. Once I showed hubby that we could have an opportunity to sleep under the stars within the dark sky reserve, similar to places like Finland and Iceland, we booked our stay.
day before our anniversary we drove from Dunedin to just outside of
Twizel, where SkyScape is based. The three SkyScape units are nestled in
the hills on a working farm just before the mountain called The
Pyramid. Each of the units are far away from each other, ensuring
privacy and peace. After settling in, enjoying the central heating on
the cool autumnal day, and cooking a delicious meal, we eagerly awaited
We were extra excited because my phone had been pinging me all day about there being a huge aurora. A KP8 aurora was happening, and we hoped and prayed it would last until I could photograph it. As a keen amateur astro-photographer I had brought all my gear, it was a great chance to do some photography. We prepped my camera gear, got out all our winter clothes and hiking boots, and waited... And oh wow, it was just wonderful, the aurora was huge and big and bright. While taking photos hubby and I witnessed arcs, bands, and rays, all visible to the naked eye.
The aurora was so beautiful and magnificent, it didn't really bother us that it was freezing outside. We stood outside taking photos for a couple of hours, and then once the aurora had begun to disappear, we retreated back to the cozy warmth of our SkyScape unit, and looked up at the milky way through the glass roof above us.
was very special to be going to bed and sleeping under the stars, I
actually found the whole experience very relaxing during the night
whenever I woke up. The
next morning, our wedding anniversary, the sun peeked out over the
horizon, and we were treated to the most amazing sunrise from the
comfiness of our warm bed.
The next few days were quiet and restful, since I was recovering from surgery, and then an infection afterward. We relaxed, read books, I did knitting and cross stitch, and we ate lots of good food. Hubby went for walks on the farm tracks, since I wasn't allowed to be doing that much exercise yet, and he also enjoyed SkyScape's outdoor tub as he soaked under the stars. I'd downloaded TV shows and movies on Netflix and Disney+ on my iPad before we left home, since I knew there was no TV available, and we ate popcorn and snuggled up as we watched shows on my small iPad. We also went into town for supplies, and to walk around, and we found the most amazing bookstore in Twizel called The Twizel Bookshop. The bookstore is tiny, but the owner has the most amazing taste in books. I walked away with a pile of books I'd been wanting for ages, but couldn't find them easily in our local bookstores. They had a great selection of science, gardening, fantasy, and science fiction books for both children and adults, and I'll definitely order from them online in the future.
While we were also in town, I found this amazing giftware store, and I just had to come home with a bee themed mug called "Bee Happy". It got added to my huge mug collection that hubby groans about at every time he opens the kitchen cupboard.
On our last night we went into Twizel for dinner, and came across the institution that is Twizel's Chippery. We waited for our order in the car since it was already getting cool, and drove to a scenic spot to eat dinner while the sun was going down behind the mountains. We headed back to SkyScape very soon after that, a frost was due, and we wanted to return while it was light enough to easily drive the long farm track to the unit.
The next day, we left SkyScape and Twizel, happy and relaxed, and we headed north for the next part of our adventure, visiting Aoraki, and then onto Lake Tekapo. I hope you've enjoyed hearing about our adventure, if you ever get the opportunity to go to somewhere like SkyScape, I thoroughly recommend it. Our hosts were friendly and knowledgeable, and their units are wonderful to stay in. The units were designed to keep warm in winter, and cool in summer, and are solar powered. Water is supplied by a local spring. I really enjoyed their continental breakfasts while we stayed there.
Have a wonderful day
It feels like I've been waiting for our first frost forever. After our long, hot summer, a brief cool snap at the beginning of March signaled the beginning of autumn for us. By that time our Japanese maple tree had already begun changing colour to a brilliant vermilion red, and began losing its leaves.
Our dahlias started to look very straggly, and looked even worse after being neglected while I recovered from surgery. I've been waiting impatiently for a frost to take them out, so that I could cut back all the growth in preparation for winter, and make the gardens a little tidier. But up until now even though we had some mornings that hovered around 2˚C, no frost had appeared.
After checking my garden diaries for the first frost date over the last five years, it looked like our first frost wouldn't be likely until early to mid-May.
2019 - 6th April
2020 - 17th May
2021 - 6th May
2022 - 27th May
April passed by, and then the beginning of May. Every morning I looked out our bedroom window, hoping for frosty roofs, and sparkly grass out on our street. But up until now I've been out of luck.
was chilly this morning, but when I checked our weather station's live
data we were sitting at 1.7˚C, so I thought we were out of luck. Hubby
went out for his daily run, and when he came back he reported seeing
frosty patches on the grass around the neighbourhood. So I checked our
weather station graphs, and we did have a frost overnight. The
temperature outside went below 0˚C at around 5 am, and dropped to a low
of -0.8˚C for over an hour. The wind got up at 6.30 am, and the frost
A quick inspection outside, and I found patches of frost in the vege garden and grass.
After waiting impatiently all day for frost damage to appear on all my dahlias, I was disappointed, my dahlia foliage are all still green and healthy. It looks like I'll have to wait longer for another frost to take them out.
I'm a patient person, but I'm also a perfectionist, and the sight of my dahlias looking so scruffy in my garden is beginning to get on my nerves...
Have a wonderful day
It's now deep autumn, and I last blogged in early April. Our Japanese maple tree is almost devoid of red leaves now.
I had hoped not to miss any blogging, but things got complicated in early April after I had sinus surgery in the middle of March. I had organized a bunch of blog posts to tide me over until I felt well enough to blog again, but I grossly underestimated how much time I would need.
I got a sinus infection after surgery, and after two rounds of antibiotics, I was feeling even more unwell than when I first got the surgery. The sinus infection gave me massive nosebleeds which required two trips in an ambulance to the ED. The first time, they sent me home, the Wednesday before Easter, and the second time the day after, they admitted me into hospital over Easter weekend. I was given IV antibiotics and fluids, and was on observation while they waited for culture lab tests to come through, and because it was Easter weekend, it took a while for them to come back. On Easter Sunday, the tests arrived and the infection I had been fighting for three weeks was resistant to the antibiotics I was taking. After starting new antibiotics, and being given time for them to start working, I was finally sent home.
I'm recovering slowly. The infection is gone thanks to the antibiotics, and I'm finally weaned off one of the medications given to me in hospital which has made me very tired over the last four weeks. While I was recovering from hospital, hubby and I traveled to the Mackenzie Country to have a break, and to also celebrate a big wedding anniversary, but that is a whole other story I wish to share with you.
I'm slowly catching back up with life. The garden is a complete mess, everywhere you look are weeds and plants needing attention. I'm working on getting things back under control, but it'll happen slowly over the coming month as I have the energy to do so. I'm also very behind with work at my small little online shop Hearth and Oak. But I did get heaps of crafting done while I was recuperating, I'll also share those too over the coming weeks.
I've also been working on a couple of exciting projects I hope to share with you soon, the first one being that this blog will hopefully very soon be getting it's own home, hubby depending (he's my IT specialist). The domain has been bought, and the website has designed by me. Very soon, I will transfer all my blog posts from this year to the website, and begin blogging in my very own space.
The coming week is busy with catching up on work, getting my new blog working, and finally getting my Covid 19 booster. I had the bivalent booster booked after my sinus surgery, but I had to cancel the appointment twice while I had the sinus infection. I'm finally looking forward to being more protected from Covid 19, after waiting 15 months since my last booster.
But in the mean time, things are looking interesting mid-week, with a cold southerly storm coming through, I know it's too early in the year to get snow, but I'm always hopeful...
Have a wonderful day