This is a challenging year to grow cucumbers outdoors in Lyttelton. Not because of the shorter growing season (Lyttelton is inside an ancient volcanic crater and when the days get shorter we lose the sun before Christchurch does), but because we've had so little rain. I have planted Cuthbert in an area that I can soak with the hose. There is also a lot of mulch there. I prepared the ground by digging in masses of manure and compost well before I planted the cucumber. Last year, I got 15 cucumbers from Cecil. I've had one so far from Cuthbert, but he's got some time to catch up.
Canterbury is one of the driest areas in New Zealand but even by Canterbury standards this summer has been exceptionally dry and there is a worry that we may have forest fires of the like that the Nelson area has been experiencing. My folks are visiting in March, so I'm sure it will rain then, but I'm hoping that it rains tonight, as forecast, as we need it.
I am having to water the garden every day. Unlike other parts of the world and even other parts of the country, Christchurch doesn't charge for water being used, which means that people often let their sprinklers run for a long time, at all times of the day (when a water main broke under our house when we were away, it gushed for months without anyone noticing). I usually water early morning, or evening, but it has been scorching in the middle of the day.
It is noticeable in the garden which areas I'm able to reach with the sprinkler or hose. Most of the rest of the garden is looking very crispy. I have to hike up to the top with a can to water my precious Bramley (precious because most Kiwis think a good cooking apple is something like a Granny Smith or a Golden Delicious - tsk.), but it's worth it.
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I’m very concerned that the possums we see and hear around our house are going to lay into my fruit, veggies and young trees (they often ring bark them, which kills them).
But then I found out that the Summit Road Society lends out possum traps in the Lyttelton area. You can borrow one for 3 months and buy them at a subsidised rate.
So I installed one on Waitangi Day (see earlier post), which seemed appropriate, since possums are not native to New Zealand, having been introduced here from Australia for the fur trade. By the 1980s, they had spread the length and breadth of the country, devastating local flora and fauna in the process.
It should have been fairly easy to install the trap. I selected a pear tree at the top of our section, far away from the house (though they are not shy about coming right up to our front steps).
I grew this kale from seeds I planted out last autumn, once the last of the cabbage whites (which can make any leaves of the cabbage family look like lacework) had disappeared. It provides leaves for stir fries and stews and Diana Henry’s great pasta dish with hazelnuts. So I’m delighted it has kept growing and I’m wondering whether the new lot I’ve planted will grow by the time this bunch has gone to seed.
This feijoa is only one of the young trees I have growing in our steep back section. She has survived some brutal winds and I’m glad to see she is fruiting, but I do hope the possums don’t go for her.
Waitangi Day (6th February) celebrates the day when Māori and Pakeha signed the treaty of Waitangi. The agreement was flawed, but at least here there was motivation from white (mainly British) settlers to treat the local caretakers of the land more equitably than they had in other places of the world (notably our neighbour, Australia). Normally, like other public holidays, I work, but today I did something different.
I made a basket for potatoes from harakeke (flax). I met up with a great bunch of other women in Lyttelton and we learned from Jackie, Trixi and Catherine, who have been learning themselves. I’m inspired to try more, as we have whakariki (mountain flax) growing in the garden.
When I was a kid, I had a cat, Tac. I loved that cat and I was very upset when she died in my first year of university. But I grew up in England and having a cat in New Zealand is very different. The bird life has not evolved with this predator (or any mammalian predator) and cats kill native birds in countless numbers.
Yes , dogs can kill native birds too. But there are a lot more bylaws here regarding dogs than there are for cats. Dogs have to be registered and are expected to be kept in at night. In most places in New Zealand they are not allowed to roam free and have to be kept under the control of the owners. When we had a dog, he always walked close to us, But he used to be terrorised by a local cat was allowed to walk wherever she wanted.
That was pretty funny. It's not funny what cats do to the native birds when they're allowed to roam free and kill at will. So when I saw this book on a recent trip to the library, I felt I had to leave a note.
Passive aggressiveness at its best.