This summer is all confused, hot, cold, wet, dry, misty, cloudy & that’s just yesterday!! It’s been challenging for those vegetables that prefer a good hot summer, peppers, eggplants even the tomatoes are dragging their feet, & we’ve lost a few to the wet conditions. Also after a week of cool, rainy conditions, when the sun comes out at full strength, those plants that have made a lot of lush, leafy growth suffer from heat stroke. The rhubarb & zucchini etc looked very poorly for a while there.Always a challenge, each season brings it’s own unique qualities & it’s up to us to make the most of what we get. So on the plus side we’ve got fantastic carrots, the raspberries & wild blackberries are cropping well. We’ve put shadecloth over some of the salad patch,  & the lettuces & florence fennel are looking good.The orchard reflects the same issues, trees have grown like topsy, laden with  fruit, some of these fast growing  branches have been breaking off, leaving the trees looking like a tornado has been through. The apples have been afflicted with black spot & are looking decidedly ragged.It’s good having the sheep  come & go through the orchard, they clean up the windfalls, bird pecked fruit & damaged or thinned fruit we pick off. Talking of sheep, we had our neighbour, Kingi come over & crutch them all the other day. Several were daggy, & we were worried they would get fly strike, only one had a small patch. This humid, warm weather is perfect for the flies. We drenched the flock too, with a mix of cider vinegar, wormwood & garlic. We’ll leave them to it now, as it’s getting near time for our new Suffolk ram to do his stuff, (hopefully.) He looks well equipped in the ram tupping department!! No photo included!!Two weeks ago we were up in Hamilton, & took time out to visit the Botanic Gardens. If you’re ever up that way set aside a couple of hours to explore. We  were amazed by the Vegetable Gardens, & very jealous. We also checked out the Herb Gardens, Victorian Gardens, Maori Gardens & an exhibition of brilliant Dahlias.

Hamilton Vege Garden Feb 2010

Crop-wise we’re picking plums galore, & putting lots into the freezer to turn into jam, sauces etc later on. We have started a batch of Damson & Omega Plum Gin, as I have fond memories of Sloe Gin & Bitter Lemon in England, it’s smelling pretty good so far. The Hops are flowering now, I’ve picked a few to dry & make a tincture with, this is reputed to be a good remedy for Hot Flushes & to help one sleep, sounds perfect for me. We’ve picked a few kilos of  Blackberries, there are lots more coming on, these are in the freezer too, & will get turned into Blackberry & Elderberry Rob, pies & jam. The whiite flesh peaches are plumping up, & nicely coloured, but I think they’re a week or two away from being ripe. I hope the birds leave them alone.