May 2014

New Habitate website and fruit catalogue out now. Formerly known as Sutherland Nursery, http://www.habitate.co.nz is now the home of Habitate Heritage Fruits Nursery and Edible Landscape Design & Installation services of Jason Ross.

Here at George street orchard the season has been kind. Sap is subsiding and growth slows into remaining hardy greens. After finishing apples recently, only feijoas, Chilean guavas and poroporo remain for fruit. It’s a good time to take stock of the year’s yields and successes and to predict and plan for the next flush of opportunity. (click photos to expand)

Hayward kiwi behind feijoa and 'Tydeman's late orange' apple

Hayward kiwi behind feijoa and ‘Tydeman’s late orange’ apple

Spring’s light spaces we now fill with garlic cloves and broad beans, divisions of chives, perennial leeks and Egyptian walking onions. Late summer and early autumn sown parsley, miners’ lettuce, kale and more has left no reason for bare ground. A few Jerusalem artichokes are left in the ground to harvest as we need (they don’t store well out of the ground), and we are finishing the last potatoes. The importance to temperate climates of these storable carbohydrates comes sharply into focus at this time of season.

Chook with Japanese ginger (Zingiber mioga)

Chook with Japanese ginger (Zingiber mioga)

Impending winter means less photosynthesis for all. Our challenge with chickens is to rotate them onto new runs lush with mixed greens and grubs, whilst timing their movements to accommodate our need to establish new plants from seed and human need for greens. Shortly before we move them we broadcast seed mixes, most of which is scratched in, some is eaten and survives. With mixed grazing and plentiful protein from vermicompost piles, the need for bought feed diminishes significantly. Let chickens have as much access to fresh plants and space as possible. If you can, grow plants for them to forage in and use kitchen waste to grow protein instead.

Chickens as an agent of decomposition after zucchinis beneath espaliered peach, grape, mulberry and runner beans

Chickens as an agent of decomposition after zucchinis beneath espaliered peach, grape, mulberry and runner beans. This area shown represents about one sixth of the run at any given time for four chickens (about one fifth of our total garden).

Through winter we will move any perennials we need to and expand our berry patches. As late winter comes we will replant potatoes and get moving on sowing tender vegetables in trays. For existing species we ask: do these plant(s) have what they need to thrive and reproduce? For anything new we want to introduce we ask: how can these plant(s) be incorporated into the patchwork so as to form a self-replicating population? In a small garden where you want it all, these ideas are more like a guiding star than a realistic outcome. For example, we can manipulate space and succession to crop plenty of tomatoes but without our intervention and indoor starts we are unlikely to harvest any. We know this from trial and error – from this process we learn what hardly needs to be gardened (e.g. parsley) and what needs a favourable hand.

Grapes ripening early March

Grapes ripening early March

Grapes and runner beans making a run at the neighbours' communications.

Grapes and runner beans.

Two pears on the same roots. Conference on the left and unknown delicious right

Two pears on the same roots. Conference on the left and unknown delicious right

The last of autumn raspberries

The last of autumn raspberries

Vietnamese mint in soil on one half of double concrete basin. Water from the near side overflows into the mint

Vietnamese mint in soil on one half of a double concrete basin. Water from the near side overflows into the mint

This trellis (with young brambles at the base) helps dry clothes and helps the poroporo break up cooling winds

This trellis (with young brambles at the base) helps dry clothes and helps the poroporo break up cooling winds

Feijoa 'Tagan'

Feijoa ‘Tagan’

Spring greens sacrificed and mulched aroung new zucchini seedlings under grape

Spring greens sacrificed and mulched around new zucchini seedlings under grape

Summer kale

Summer kale

Spring valerian flowers beneath apple

Spring valerian flowers beneath apple

Cabbages, sorrel, lemon balm, apple

Cabbages, sorrel, lemon balm, apple

Hardy kiwi vines

Hardy kiwi vines with scarlet runner beans

Egyptian walking onion with strawberries

Egyptian walking onion with strawberries

Egremont russet apples

Egremont russet apples

Belle de Boskoop

Belle de Boskoop

Tydeman's late orange apples.

Tydeman’s late orange

Sage, oregano, Ugni molinae berries

Sage, oregano, Ugni molinae berries

Scarlet and white runners

Scarlet and white runners

Gaultheria mucronata. If you like slightly sweet foam, this one's for you

Gaultheria mucronata. If you like slightly sweet foam, this one’s for you

Raspberries, rose, feijoas, kiwi, beans

Raspberries, rose, feijoas, kiwi, beans

Chilean guavas under feijoa

Chilean guavas under feijoa

Mixed alliums replanted under two year old moorpark apricot seedling. Bare ground about to sprout broadbeans. All woody debris left on the surface for fungal food

Mixed alliums replanted under two year old Moorpark apricot seedling post chicken run. Bare ground about to sprout broad beans. All woody debris is left on the surface for cover and fungal food

Fan-trained peach and grapes in May

Fan-trained peach and grapes in May

Poroporo berries. Edible and delicious when fully orange. Poisonous when green

Poroporo berries. Edible and delicious when fully orange. Poisonous when green

The seasons' feijoas to date

The feijoa harvest so far this season