Markets:Cambridge 4th & Hamilton 5th May

And hello again from the magic land of the Farmers’ Markets Waikato. I’ve just been outside doing my Tai Chi this misty moisty morning. I was re-enthused, you see, by World Tai Chi Day which was last Saturday 27th April. It so happened that the Central North Island Chen Tai Chi Academy chapters gathered just behind the Cambridge Market and treated us all to 2 hours of magnificent Tai Chi. Seeing over 100 people swaying in sync ‘stroking the sparrow’s tail’ and ‘parting the wild horse’s mane’ was a sight for sore eyes. Maureen Leong is the grand master (mistress?) and at 80+ years of age she is a wonderful role model. Her combination of balance, suppleness and grace is joy to behold.

Anyway, I was outside doing my ‘fair lady spins with shuttles’ and ‘golden cock stands on one leg’ when I noticed that the ground underfoot was heaving with mushrooms. Yes it’s that time of year again when mushroom pop up all over the lawn. Sadly this autumn fare is no longer found in farm paddocks where artificial super phosphates and lime are spread as the land becomes too acidic for fungi to exist. If you want safe and gorgeous mushrooms however the Hamilton market has the handsome Raglan based Lennart Prinz with his famous Prinz Oyster Mushrooms. He also has a wicked range of sauces.

And so after my Tai Chi, I rustled up some of Lennart’s Oyster Mushrooms with celery and garlic along with some free range scrambled eggs which reminded me of that doughty Scotsman Mike Alexander - The Free Range Egg Man. I was chatting to him on Sunday asking if his egg supply would decrease during the winter months as mine does since my 50 chooks go in moult and have a well earned 2 month break from daily laying. ‘Not at all lassie’ says he in his almost unintelligible scots brogue. ‘I’ve just added 450 hand reared point of lay pullets to the flock and I’ve just bought 300 day old chicks to rear up to be ready to lay by October’. (Please overlay strong Scottish accent on previous sentence). Mike has 5 different sizes of eggs to please everybody – Pullets eggs; small starter eggs from point of lay birds. Standard eggs; around size 6. Jumbo eggs which are size 7. Super Jumbo; size 8 and eye watering for the chooks who lay them – Monsters or size 9. His Monster eggs don’t even fit in the regular egg boxes so he has to tie the bulging cartons up with string! Hilarious. You’ll find this kind of packaging only at the Farmer’s Market…
TIME TO PLANT ORGANIC WINTER VEGGIES The warm soil temperature at this time and the moist weather is perfect for popping in those winter veggies to see you through lean months. Ian and Denise at Organic Plants and Herbs offer service with a smile and a piece of good advice for everyone who asks. Their plants are grown in normal soil temperatures unlike the hot housed, mass produced Warehouse varieties. The organic soil in the plant pots contains Effective Microorganisms (EM)which stimulate growth and create the perfect medium when the plants are transferred into your own garden. You will notice that the plants you buy from Organic Plants and Herbs will always grow easily with very little transplant shock.
Try Miner’s Lettuce or Mustard lettuce for salads over the winter, Broad beans can go in right now as can fennel, beets of all kinds, onions, and garlic. Coriander which doesn’t like dry hot weather, simply thrives in the autumn as does thyme, parsley and sage. Brassicas such as Kales (the latest super food for raw juices), caulis, cabbage Pak Choi and Tat Soi can all go in. Denise and Ian are going in for Microgreens and wheat grass too and you can be assured that the nutrition level will be tip top.

The New Zealand gardening guru of the 70s and 80s Eoin Scarrow passed away last week. Eoin was a stallholder at the Hamilton Farmers’ Market for some years and more recently his wife Anne ran Scarrow’s plants and shrubs at the Hamilton Market. We offer our condolences to the family as I’m sure do all his faithful customers and fans over the years.

Chris from the Macadamia Nuts Stall is on holidays in Aussie for a fortnight but will be back in harness the second Sat and Sun of May.

Monovale Blueberries are now finished but the stall will return on the first weekend of the month to both Hamilton and Cambridge selling their wonderful waffles, blueberry icecreams and smoothies and blueberry products over the winter months. They may have frozen blueberries too.

Lusty’s Hot House Grapes have another 3 to 4 weeks of production to go. These are fabulous grapes and are a real treat once a year. Worth the premium price.

Avocados are finished too although Chris from Macadamia Nuts seems to keep producing some organic ones.

Our markets are settling into winter mode so there are fewer stalls as is to be expected with seasonal produce. Year round stalls such as the meat, salmon and now Raglan Fish will always be present. Also the bakery, honey and food stalls. Winter crops such as potatoes, carrots, cabbage, fennel, turnips, pumpkins, kale are available.  The Lettuce Man is with us all year around and chilled apples, pears continue until August. Plainsview are always there with hothouse tomatoes and Microgreens during winter. Of course coffee and treats like apple turnovers and chocolate croissants can be counted on and some interesting musical entertainment is usually on offer. So don’t let the weather discourage you! See you at the markets!

Meg Daly
Celtic Cuisine.