Monday, 19 December 2016

December: Summer In The Garden.

Well Summer is in mid-swing down here in New Zealand and the garden is in peak growth. It's actually been a great season so far as there has been fairly frequent rainfall so to not dry out the garden as in previous years. I think last year we needed to water almost every day as it didn't rain hardly at all for 4 months last Summer. There hasn't been a lot of fruit harvest at the moment but currently in season we are now harvesting:


Kale, Lettuce, Basil, Spring Onions, Chives, Dill, Zucchinis, Raspberries, Strawberries, Lemons, Limes, Rosemary, Swiss Chard, Tomatoes. 
Also available now is an interesting herb I've been growing called Epazote. Its used extensively in Mexican cooking for its unique flavour, but also because it has an interesting characteristic. It helps prevent gas (farts) from when you eat beans. It has a strong kerosene-like flavour fresh, but when cooked it has an appealing sort of earthy depth of flavour. Check it out & give it a go! 
I have just today harvested my first Tomato. I have a few varieties planted: Black Krim, Yellow Teardrop, Sweet 100, Red Roma, Beefsteaks plus a few other pop ups of unknown origin.


Roses have been flowering for over a month now and are now in peak bloom we have over 20 planted throughout the garden. Varieties include In Loving Memory, My Girl, Blackberry Nip, Amber Light, Metro, Freesia, Peace & Blue Moon.


The Lavender Farm has really taken off. And although it is in its first year it is looking great with loads of flower spikes. I will need to add some more bark mulch this week which is working out great to cover the weedmat but also conserve moisture. We should have a decent first harvest soon.

Gardenias have just this week started to pop. And i have to say they are THE best smelling flower I've sniffed. Just a couple in a room will scent the whole room with its luscious aroma.

In other flower news: Hydrangeas, Hibiscus, Gladioli & Aqualegias are all out and looking stunning.



As far as fruit coming along little Blackcurrants, Figs, Grapes, Oranges, Peaches, Nectarines, Apples, are all growing by the day for harvest within the coming months. 



In Citrus news: Limes are starting to become available now with a few coming to ripeness. But it isn't really until March that they will reach peak-Margarita. All the Citrus have now flowered and set little fruitlets ready for winter harvests. I do however have one Meiwa Kumquat just about ready to enjoy which will be my first home grown kumquat to eat!



New Citrus: Kiyomi Tangor & Okitsu Wase Mandarin


This week i have acquired two new Citrus buddies for the garden with both being able to be ready to eat straight off the tree. 
The first is the Kiyomi Tangor. I chose this guy as i've been FOMOing about the Sumo/Dekopon tree for a while now (check out my post here) and i discovered that Kiyomi is one of the parent varieties of the Dekopon so would be worth a try.
Kiyomi is a Tangor hybrid. It has a parentage of Miyagawa-wase (Satsuma mandarin) crossed with a Trovita orange at the Okitsu Branch, Fruit Research Station in Japan in 1949. It was named Kiyomi after the temple Seiken-ji (清見寺) and the lagoon Kiyomi-gata (清見潟) near its experiment station in Shizuoka city
Fruit are medium-large (150-200 g), flat, seedless, juicy, and orange scented.
The tree bears good crops of large, bright orange fruit with pebbly-textured skin that is fairly easy to peel. Rich and spicy in flavor, Kiyomi are sweet. Sugar content is normally 11–12°Bx and reaches even 13°Bx if conditions are met. Citric acid content is around 1%. It has no seeds. They will ripen about late September in NZ. The flavour is similar to that of a mikan Mandarin, while the aroma is similar to that of an Orange.


The second tree i chose this time is the Okitsu Wase Mandarin. I chose this tree as i had read promising things about them via the Fruit Mentor. In his taste test of over 60 varieties, Okitsu Wase was the overall winner:

"Okitsu Wase Satsuma was the overall winner. Tasters reported Okitsu Wase to be sweet with excellent flavor and very juicy. One taster also noted its fragrant skin. On a scale from 1 to 9, Okitsu Wase scored 7.3, a bit higher than “very good” (7)."

Another desirable quality is that Okitsu Wase is an early season Satsuma, in fact is the earliest ripening cultivar so is a good choice to help extend the season.

The fruit is Seedless, Easy Peel, good rich flavour with low acid and high sugar.  The skin has smooth pale yellow peel, and plump, juicy flesh. 

Okitsu is a variety from the Unshiu tangerine group Wase, second most popular and cultivated variety in Japan. It was discovered in 1940 as a Miyagawa' seedling in the Okitsu research station, Honshu. It was bred by crossing 'Miyagawa' with Poncirus. It is most commonly growing in the colder subtropical areas with harsh winters.

'Okitsu' is a big shrub or a small tree, it can grow up to 2,7m and has very wide, spherical crown made of curly branches with small spikes. The foliage is usually very scarce, but the large, pointed leaves resemble those of Unshiu tangerine 'Clausellina'. 'Okitsu' starts producing at very early age and is fairly resistant to cold but also dislikes hot and dry climates and can easily get sun-damaged during hot weather. It is also necessary to thin the fruit shortly after formation, because this variety usually produces much more than it can bring to full ripeness. Pollination is not required to produce high yields. Okitsu fruit is distinctively spherical or slightly flattened, average (5,5-8cm) weighs 120-190g and has a small navel with big neck. Its dark orange rind is soft, smooth, thin (2-4mm) and well attached to the refreshing, juicy (54%) orange pulp, which contains 19% sugars. It is usually divided into 11-12 segments and usually doesn't contain any seeds. 

The fruit is usually harvested in March-April in NZ and contains lots of acids in the pre-ripening phase; it usually ripens 15-20 days earlier than 'Owari'. Almost unripe fruit has to be carefully harvested and put into the storage to let it ripen. It is vital to be careful and not to damage the thin rind or otherwise the fruit dries out.