Summer- What Summer?

The Cyclone Season Is Here

High winds, murky humidity, rain and claggy warmth – the cyclone season is here. We’ve had to batten down the hatches or at least the gazebos especially at the Te Awamutu Market last week. What a battle to keep the food covers and the signs and brown paper bags from skedaddling unbidden across the grass. 4 solidly hammered in tent pegs and several bungies or rope attached to vehicles were essential just to keep the tents from going flyabout. Several little old ladies were swept up into the air and were never heard from again.

Monster Pumpkin Plant

All the warmth and rain has turn this pumpkin plant into a monster. Presently measuring 7 metres by 8 metres and still growing. Everyone’s garden should be bursting with goodies now. I’ve got corn, beans. Beets, yakon, daikon, carrots, leeks and radishes and I am so proud!

Such weather is good for watermelons too although a bit more sun would be good to sweeten them up further. Clif has all the melons you could ever need as well as masses amount of courgettes, potatoes and lettuces. He is one amazing grower and we are sooo lucky to have him as a vendor at our market.

Black Tomatoes

Here is a photo of Mr and Mrs Tomato Man proudly showing off their spray free produce. They are currently growing a black tomato, which has a super intense flavour – enough to set your gastric juices flowing. They specialise in summer vegetables so you can pick up your sweet cherry tomatoes, Lebanese cucumbers, beans and courgettes here too

Lettuce Leaf Basil

And here is the basil that you too can have growing apace in the veggie patch which would be perfect with the above-mentioned black tomatoes. You can find several types of basil at HerbsPlus – Cinnamon basil has a spicy end note and makes a lovely pesto when combined with walnuts, garlic and olive oil and Parmesan.

The giant leaves of Lettuce Leaf Basil are for tossing in with your other salad leaves – sorrel, radicchio, beet and rocket to create a very posh side salad.

Genovese Basil loves the summer heat and will still be standing when all your other plants turn up their toes but remember it does like to be well watered and picked regularly to ensure that it doesn’t go to seed too quickly.

Harvest Time For Beekeepers

It’s honey harvest time for beekeepers Adrian and Lania of Natures Country Gold Honey at the moment and the signs are all good for a bumper year. This is an extremely busy time as all the hives, and we are talking hundreds of hives here, have to have most of their honeycombs uplifted by besuited and smoke belching beekeepers and then transported to a special honey extraction facility in Rotorua where the honey is literally spun out of the beeswax cells by centrifugal force. It flows into labeled drums and must then be further processed to sieve out any impurities. Finally the various kinds of honey are packed into jars, which is a very sticky business, and Lania usually gets some family help to painstakingly clean and label all the jars with the familiar Country Gold labels.

Lania tells me that most of her honey is now exported so we are very lucky to have access to this beautiful natural product at the Hamilton Market. It is not available in the shops. Lania is a fountain of knowledge about honey and all its wonderful properties and she herself is testament to the wonderful youth preserving power of honey.

Sunrise Apples Are Here

Some people believe that Royal Gala apples are the first of the new season’s crop – Not so. Jack’s Orchard manages to produce the earliest apples known as Sunrise Apples. Now this is an open fleshed apple which is not a good keeper so is best eaten soon after purchase. It is so nice to crunch into a freshly picked apple, which hasn’t sat in a chiller in a state of suspended animation for months and months. Talk to Cheryl and Jack who will give you a run down about these apples which are no longer commercially grown except by Jack and Cheryl and pick up some of their magnificent rhubarb too while you are at it. Perhaps rhubarb and apple tart might be on your menu sometime soon.

Corn- Sweet & Fresh

I was lucky enough to score a bag of 10 young fresh Sweetcorn before Teresa Linehan’s trailer emptied out last Sunday. She said that next week, there will be masses and masses of cobs available so you should be able to get enough to satisfy your craving this coming weekend. Teresa can be found at Te Awamutu, Cambridge and Hamilton markets. Bring on the butter and the napkins…..

Great Fun At The Markets

It’s great fun at the market at this time of year. Come on down and be part of a wonderful healthy real food movement. It’s a myth that the farmers’ market is more expensive than the supermarket. Bargains are to be had everywhere and of course the quality is exceptional and at the risk of repeating myself, by shopping locally you are supporting local businesses and keeping your money circulating in your own community. It’s a win win situation which you just have to be part of.

Don't forget to keep an eye on our Facebook page for updates from stallholders and market info.

Bring your canvas bags and we'll see you at the markets!