Newsly Weekletter #1

Hello and welcome to Stage One of our brand new website, which has been a labour of love for the last few weeks.

Many thanks to our lovely wwoofer, Marta, a veritable IT expert, who made it all possible! This is only the second website she has developed and we think she has done a fab job. She leaves next week so Gerald and I are about to have a crash course in website work. Getting out of your comfort zone is meant to keep you young, but give me a garden to plant any day!

We are hoping that the website will be a platform for letting our fellow islanders and holiday makers now back home, know what is going on on the farm, and for informing you about the wide range of products and services we offer. We’re thinking about integrating an online store in Stage Two, which we hope will take a lot of admin tasks out of our hands. We would like this off the ground by spring, touch wood! We’ll announce its launch here and on our new Facebook page:

News from the Farm…
As many of you will know, Gerald has recently had a bit of a rough run with his health and spent several weeks in and out of hospital. The good news is that his transplanted kidney seems oblivious to all this and is functioning perfectly. Caity had her hands full keeping things ticking along while all this was happening, with the result we are behind with many garden tasks. We’re crossing fingers that this rough patch is over and things will return a bit more to normal.

Summer was the usual mad rush. We had our biggest season ever with a record 74 boxes the week after Christmas. An amazing season of heat and lots of rain, which saw us harvest the largest crop of tomatoes ever, amazing eggplants, extraordinary rock melons. Plums, peaches and nectarines sulked as brown rot claimed the ripening fruit, and even the beans were unhappy. The kikuyu, however, joyfully sent out its long arms and raced over bare soil in the blink of an eye. The upside of the weed and grass growth is that Gerald has been able to make three large compost heaps since January.

Making compost

Early February saw Country Calendar come to Okiwi Passion for an intense 5 days of filming. It will be screening on June 25. Please watch!

The summer wine continued to gently flow from the gardens until a few weeks ago. Now the feijoas are steadily plopping off the trees, and we are slowly digging out the kumara crop, a job that takes careful work with the fork to avoid spiking and damaging the tubers, which are looking pretty good.

Gerald always likes to look at things from another angle and decided last November that we would plant the kumara tupu differently. Instead of mounding the soil and planting the tupu on the hills, he used the mould plough with the tractor to create narrow trenches and gently lift the soil, putting a shallow layer of compost in the trench and then planting the tupu at our usual 30 cm spacing. His reasoning was that we might get a lot less rat damage –usually as the tubers swell in the soil, they start to become exposed along the soil mounds and are more easily discovered by rats. He was right, we have record low levels of rat damage.

There have also been lots of tedious jobs like lifting irrigation, removing clips from the spent tomato and cucumber plants, etc. Until recently it has been too hot to start planting out winter brassicas and way too many white butterflies around for our liking! We’re now starting to direct sow beetroot into the ex-garlic and melon beds, more about this in another post.

Seedlings available now
We have a fair range of winter seedlings available which we will continue to grow til mid-May: various cabbages, caulis, broccoli, lettuce, leeks, rocket, escarole, chicory, beetroot, and mesclun punnets; curly and flat leaf parsley to add to your winter soups and stews. You can find these at our stand at the Saturday market at the Stonewall Village in Tryphena.

That’s all for now. Please do let us know what you think of the website and do visit (and like!) Okiwi Passion Facebook page. It would be much appreciated.

Enjoy the slowness of the season!

Best regards,
Gerald, Caity and the wwoof, wwoof, wwoofers, Pip and Speckles.