We are feeling very pleased with ourselves! Yesterday we planted out seedlings of Broccoli & Italian Broccoli, Cabbage, Fennel & Leeks. In a clever bit of planning, & in tune with a correct forecast,(unusual I know) we ordered some bundles of seedlings from Awapuni Nurseries, & the weather conditions are perfect for planting, being cool & damp.

We have been experimenting with various ways to keep the Cabbage Whites off of the Brassicas, this year we have made a big, temporary frame, using short posts & twine, & have covered it over with bird netting. This is not 100% butterfly proof, but close to it, so we will use Derris Dust only if we need to. All the cabbage family are gross feeders, that doesn’t mean that they eat disgusting things, rather that they like a goodly amount of compost. We walk on the plot too, to firm the soil so that their roots stay firmly anchored. Later on we’ll scatter some wood ash around them.

This is early in the year for us to get winter veges planted, but after having a bumper early spud crop, the main crop succumbed to psyllid  or some other nasty & showed no sign of producing any potatoes at all, so we pulled them out. Next year we’ll grow just early spuds & have a break from main crop, hopefully that will break the cycle. The plus side is that we had a lovely clear space waiting to be filled.

We have a number of wooden frames around the place, the one we filled with compost & grew beetroot in, has been a great success, the old strawberry frame has Florence Fennel seedlings in it, covered with netting because the birds were pulling them out. I’ll sow some rows of carrot seeds in here to. According to our Moon calender, we are spot on for leafy plants, but will need to hold off on root crops until the 17th & 18th Feb.

We’ve planted 2 bundles of Leeks, probably about 100 plants, they are one of our favourite Winter vege, & we start eating them when they are quite small otherwise at the end of Winter they go to seed & are tough to eat.

Beans, Yams & Brassica cage Eggplants,  Calendula, Mullein & mad Scallopini

We are still harvesting vast amounts of scallopini, they seem to be much more prolific than Zucchini, having several stems that grow in different directions, the Bumpy Beans have slowed down & we have put up another frame & sown more seeds, so hope to continue picking for an extended time. The Melon plants grew in a rush then died, but have left us with maybe 20 small, ripe fruit which are delicious. We got seeds of a small fruiting variety that ripens quickly,called ‘Venice’ (King’s Seeds) & we’re delighted with the results.

We harvested a big basket of tomatoes which we have cooked up to make a basic tomato brew, which we use in casseroles & on Pizzas. The recipe we use came from Annabelle Langbeins book, ‘The Free Range Cook’ its particularly good, because the tomatoes get roasted in the oven with onion, garlic, red pepper, herbs, olive oil, tomato paste & brown sugar, which gives the brew a lovely rich, balanced flavour. www.annabellangbein.com/recipes/harvest-tomato-sauce/292 Once cooked they get whizzed up, then we freeze them in plastic cups. Once frozen they can be tipped out & stored in plastic bags. This batch we used Basil instead of Rosemary, the next lot we thought we’d add Indian curry spices to, ready to add to any curry we make.

Tomato Crop Frozen Tomato Sauce Young Tui

The bird in the above photo is a young Tui that has been living in our orchard for the past few weeks. It looks quite a lot larger than an adult Tui, being scruffy & largely fluff! This young bird is quite tame & lets us get close to it, also we can hear some odd noises from the orchard & think perhaps it is practising it’s songs. It feels very special to have such a visitor, & to know that the Tuis are obviously breeding somewhere close by.

When all the trees are in leaf & the wind blows, it feels & sounds a bit like being in a green sea, the trees sway like seaweed in the currents & our deck feels like the prow of a ship.

Wind Blown