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Tropical Weather

Monsoon Conditions

The monsoon conditions of this week do not bode well for the poor strawberry growers. This type of persistent warm rain causes damage and mould to the riper berries and they must be picked and discarded before the rot spreads to the other berries. It could mean that strawberries will be in short supply for Christmas but fingers crossed, the growers will (literally) weather the storm and come through in time for the holidays so that no-one goes without the strawbs on the pavs and trifles. Being in the horticultural business is accepting that the weather is beyond one’s control and rolling with the punches rather than fighting against nature. A wet spring reduces the impact of a later drought.

Passionfruit Thriving

Meanwhile, the market passionfruit crop, which is grown undercover here in Hamilton, is thriving and although some holes in the plastic roof have meant wet feet for some of the plants, in general there is a heavy crop of green fruit (see above) which will turn purple and fall to the ground sometime in late February ready to be collected for sale at the market.

Clif's Melons!

Clif Fyers of Clif’s Gardens has his melons in. I know this for a fact as I pass one of his many horticultured acres once or twice a week and recently I have noticed long tidy lines of plastic with little plants poking through every so often. For any of you who have noticed a cheeky self seeded pumpkin in your compost, you will recognise the extraordinary speed at which such cucurbits (melons, cucumbers, pumpkins etc) grow at this time of year. Warm soil, plenty of food and moisture at start up and a long sunny summer equals vigorous plants which all but obscure your compost heap. And this is not a bad thing as not only will your compost be hidden from those revolting house flies looking for a place to lay eggs but it will also make the heap look pretty and you will end up with as many pumpkins as you could possibly need for the winter months!

Spring Garlic

Richard Cato is selling Spring Garlic at the moment. This is immature garlic which has a milder flavour than the dried cloves and is delicious is all dishes which call for garlic. It is very good value for money too because you can use the bulbous base and the stalk right up to the beginning of the leaves and even the leaves can go into stock pots for extra flavour so nothing is wasted.
If you have garlic of your own it will be ready for harvesting when approximately ¾ of the plant has gone brown.

United Nations in New Zealand

Johan van der Gaag The Tomato Man of Rivendel Gardens has some really tasty early tomatoes for sale right now as well as freshly harvested cucumbers and capsicums. His fellow Dutchman Henk and wife Pia Van Halemfrom Pirongia Harvest also have an abundance of beans, Lebanese cucumbers and tomatoes. Johann does the Cambridge Market while Henk sells at Te Awamutu. Both sell at Hamilton. Come to think of it, we have a number of Dutch growers at our market. Horticulture must be in the genes – Marco from Monovale came to NZ from Holland as a young teenager with his parents and 2 other siblings. Frans and wife Tinneke de Jong of Southern Bell Capsicums and Feijoas, also emigrated from Holland over 20 years ago, but apparently from a remote area where Fresian is still the language of choice.
As well as the Dutch contingent we have German man, Reiner Eschanbruck from Lane’s End Organic wines who arrived here in the 70s as an enthusiastic wine maker, to help set up the fledgling wine industry in Te Kauwhata. Lennart Prinz from Prinz’s Mushrooms is also of German Heritage. His parents came to NZ many years ago in search of a better life. (BTW Lennart is getting married this month so pass on your congrats the next time you see him!) We have another Marco and his wife Monica part owners of Cilantro Cheese who hail from Brazil but who, despite having lived all the over the world, have settled happily in good old Hamilton!

European Influence

For some more classy European influence we have Roberto di Denia of Roberto’s Kitchen from Italy and Meg Daly from Celtic Cuisine who hails from Ireland, Mike Alexander from Roto-o-rangi Eggs who hails from Scotland and for some South Pacific carrot growing flair, the Ah Tune family from Samoa. We mustn’t forget Jono Walker of Soggy Bottom Bacon Products, who, if you haven’t noticed, is a proud and loud pommie and his next door gazebo neighbour at the market Neil McArthur of Cornish Pasties who is a modest Cornwallian (if that is what they are called). Steven Low is Chinese Fijian and not of Japanese heritage as I mistakenly claimed in a previous blog – (apologies again Steven) and we have the Lee Family from Te Hodduk with the Korean style pancakes. and I may have overlooked a few other ‘blow ins’ to NZ (sorry in advance guys) so all in all, we have quite a cosmopolitan gathering of vendors, all of whom bring a little of their homeland to their market stalls so don’t bother buying the plane ticket for your OE – just come to the market!

Keep Your Gifts Local

Finally don’t forget the option of Farmers’ Market Vouchers as a gift this Christmas. They can be used at all stalls at all three markets - Hamilton, Cambridge and Te Awamutu and are available in denominations of $10, $20 and $50. And very finally, create your own Harrods-like Hamper of delectable treats by checking out all the lovely little things now on sale at the markets, which would delight any foodie. Christmas Cakes, Puddings and Christmas mince pies now available too.

See you at the markets! And please ask your friends to ‘like’ us on Facebook. We are so nearly at the 800 likes – only 10 to go as I write! Share the news about great locally produced food and wine. Good news is so rare these days…