Sunday, November 16, 2008

luvin' the garden

The kiwi vines are bringing me so much joy at the moment! They are all blossoming like mad. I think this is their 4th year in the ground. Last year we had a few little blossoms on Mr Kiwi and Miss Kiwi-in-the-middle, and ended up with a whole two kiwi fruit. But THIS year, they are full of blossoms. I have been judiciously hand pollinating with a makeup brush. Everything I have read suggests they are not that attractive to bees and that if you don't have a bee hive handy, hand pollination is the way to go. But TODAY I was pleasantly surprised to hear some happy buzzing - a few bees working away at the blossoms. I checked to see that they were on the males AND the females....and then put my makeup brush down and came in the make a cup of tea. yippeee! yay for bees.

Here is a shot of a happy bee working one of the female vines. The kiwi variety I have is "Hayward". I have two females, and an appropriately late flowering male. They are the latest blooming of the kiwi family - good for our late frosts. The Haywards are not as vigorous as some vines, and not as sweet as say the "bruno" variety - but the extra added sweetness of home grown kiwis picked when they are fully developed leaves any other commercially grown kiwi variety for dead. They are like a completely different fruit to the hard, tart, bland woollies variety.

You can find more about kiwi fruit here: sunraysia nursery

Now, in terms of a shading pergola covering vine, I don't think you can do much better than a kiwi. They grow super quickly. They can handle the COLDEST winters. They get their leaves quite late - which means your house still gets the benefit of the spring sun coming in the windows or onto the deck. Their leaves are beautiful lush green. Their shade is cool. In winter you prune them back to a poofteenth of their former selves, which lets the light and sun stream in over the cooler months. They do however, like lots of water. We have the washing machine emptying out directly onto them and for this they reward us handsomely with their shade and this year, hopefully, with some fruit!

In other news, the garlic is almost ready for harvest. These little fellas were picked because their stalks had fallen over already. They are HUGE and smell DEVINE. A purple Italian variety. The other 40 or so can wait a little longer. They are starting to brown off, but their stems near the start of the bulbs are still quite firm and thick. I read somewhere that you want to pick them when there are three layers of skin covering the bulbs - too many and they are still a bit green, which will affect storage, and too few, and they may have already started to split apart and start thinking about growing again, which will also affect storage! I don't know if this is true, but luckily enough, my method of picking them when the storks fall over seems to have worked - as they also have three layers!

I hang my garlic from the beams in the carport. It is light, warm, dry and airy here. I hang my chillies and leek seed flower heads here as well.


Lucky-1 said...

Hey Duckie, I am wondering....does the home grown kiwi fruit taste better than the bought fruits. If so, in what way???

Your garlic looks wonderful:D
I too had a great garlic harvest.

The Duck Herder said...

Hello beautiful Lucky! Now if you have never tasted a home grown kiwi fruit then you have never tasted kiwi fruit. Its like the difference between eating a hard nasty sad tomato from wooolworths in winter and one of your little sweet tangy heirloom varieties in January.

Home grown kiwi fruit are SWEET and FRAGRANT and DELICIOUS and JUICY. They also don't make you make a "cats bum" shape with your mouth! There is no tartness at all.

Comercially grown kiwi are picked WAY too soon - so they are hard, tart and sour and YUCK.

I decree that Lucky's Duck Farm needs some kiwi vines!