Thursday, February 11, 2016

Tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes........!

Yes it is that time of the year again. We have loads of big juicy tasty tomatoes ripening daily. The varieties I grew this season are beefsteak, the red one is 'Brandywine Pink' and the green is 'Aunt Ruby's German Green'.

And they can grow pretty big, especially the Brandywines. Here we have a few heavy weights, the first weighs in at 444gs:

This one a little heavier 474gs.

But this is the winner (so far), 603gs! A record.

I should also note here that these tomatoes have done well pretty much all by themselves, they were planted with a good amount of compost in the hole, I haven't fed them much other than a slosh of liquid manure and they have pretty much relied upon rain to keep them alive (thankfully we had a fair amount in January while I was away). So these are winners!

So what do with all those tomatoes you might ask? Well we've been eating them almost at every meal, and are not sick of them yet! Last night they were made into sauce to go with meatballs and spaghetti (zoodles for me).

I've cooked up a few batches just simply with onion, salt and pepper, then processed preserving jars full of cooked tomatoes in my Fowlers Vacola. I now have several lovely jars of ready to use tomatoes lined up on the shelf for when needed.

Apart from preserving the tomatoes, I have also frozen quite a lot of them. I just chop them into big chunks, freeze them on trays then when frozen bag them into Ziplock bags. That way I can just take out however much I want for any particular use (i.e. making a pasta sauce or pizza sauce, or adding to mince for bolognese sauce).

Here are the Aunt Ruby's German Green variety:

These are quite big tomatoes also. They are ripe when slightly yellow. They are not quite so disease resistant however, but still a very nice tomato, and the green colour is pretty. This biggy weighs in at 456gs:

Tomatoes in the garden, early January 2016

Note to self: always stake tomatoes well! The sheep netting affair I have here is not adequate to keep them staked properly and with the weight of all those heavy tomatoes they are now flopping all over the ground :-(

Aunt Ruby's German Green

The garden late January 2016
This was the first season in the new garden space. It is flat, and fenced from the wind. Next time round however I will do things a little differently, like not having pumpkins and melons trailing everywhere! More photos and blog posts to come soon on these.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Hello and a very happy new year to all!

I have been away in England for a month and am slowly getting back into the swing of farm life again!

The main adjustment has been the weather. Coming from a UK winter (albeit a mild winter) to the peak of NZ summer with 100% humidity and temps up in the late 20s has not been easy! The morning I left England it was minus 4 degrees C! We are however enjoying some beautiful sunny days, mostly with a slight breeze and some lovely sunsets at the end of the long summer evenings.

In my absence, the garden has been growing like crazy. Hubby did a great job of watering my plants in the grow tunnels, and harvesting the produce as it ripened. The Brandywine Pink heirloom beefsteak tomatoes are doing really well, I have picked several kgs of these already with many more to come. We've had some nice homemade tomato soup and they are also getting used up at every meal, fried with bacon and egg for breakfast, sliced up with cheese inside a bread roll for lunch, and made into sauce for pasta for dinner.

We're also harvesting cucumbers (Indian variety - Poona), Italian zucchini, peppers, scallopini (patty pan) squash and potatoes.

The plums were very good this year, we had lots (most of these eaten while I was overseas!).

 A handful of blueberries from off our young bushes, not many at a time but they are very tasty!

The pumpkins are growing well, this variety is Musque du Provence a very large French heirloon variety, it will turn yellow/brown when ready. I also let some self-sown pumpkins grow where they sprouted so will be interesting to see what type they are. Can't have too many pumpkins as they also make good stock food for when we are raising pigs.

Scallopini or patty pan squash

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Thursday, December 10, 2015


As always time is whizzing along very quickly. My blog posts are now very few and far between. So sorry for that and for this longish update.

Next year I'm thinking I may be changing the way I present this blog, perhaps just a monthly round up (might be more achievable) and possibly more photos than text.
The first of the Early Red peaches

Anyhow at the moment in the garden we have growing:

Yard long Beans
Zucchini (harvesting now)
Strawberries (harvesting)
Raspberries (harvesting)

Jocky cap flower

In the polytunnels we've got:


Coffee plants
Curry leaf plant
Galangal cuttings

All doing well although I did have a few aphids attack my eggplants, the ladybirds took care of those though! The coffee plants are ones that were planted outside but had not thrived. They are now doing really well although still a long way off producing berries!

We also had our large heifer butchered in November, and now have plenty of delicious beef in the freezer. As she was part Jersey the fat is very yellow, the meat is still just as tasty however!

Our own beef fresh from the butcher.
 In November we also enjoyed a visit to the wonderful Hamilton gardens.

The Indian garden - very pretty

The rose garden was spectacular in full bloom

The Italian garden - fabulous pergola with grape vines
This was our second visit to the Hamilton Gardens and will not be the last. The first time we were there it was pouring with rain so we didn't stay all that long. However, the Japanese garden was especially lovely in the rain as it had a large pond. This time round we saw some of the other areas we'd missed previously. Still at lot to see though and I could have spent ages smelling the roses! Hoping to get back there again at the end of summer.

Meanwhile our excursions are closer to home, namely walking the dog! Not that walking the dog is a bind though as we get to enjoy the beautiful Kaipara harbour only a few minutes walk from home.

Roxy enjoying 'walkies'