In 1988, Barbara and I were growing cut flowers in Levin for the Wellington markets with a collection of what we thought were sturdy plastic houses and some outdoor cropping areas. With Bola at full strength, it rolled over the Tararua Ranges and boomed like a cannon as it hit the ground devastating anything in its path, we felt extremely vulnerable and stayed indoors until it had passed. Needless to say, pretty much every greenhouse and structure we had was destroyed or was just not there anymore.
Moving forward to last week and Cyclone Dovi, in our district there are many kiwifruit and avocado growers who will be very disappointed with the damage done to their crops. Many avo trees were carrying full canopies of mature fruit while the kiwifruit growers won't know the extent of bruising done to their fruit until it's put across the grading table and x-rays show up the internal bruising from knocking against each other.
Who would want to be a primary producer?
In our home garden where we grow a number of crops for seed, overall I think we got off pretty lightly.
The Corn Country Gentleman got flattened but fortunately didn’t snap, and with a stack of bamboo canes, I’ve managed to stand most of it back up. They’re still at least a fortnight away from harvesting and I’d like to see the cobs plump up a bit more before then.
I had run out of space so grew a crop of Kiwano underneath the Corn, the foliage got shredded but the fruit are big enough to still fully ripen. If you ever do grow Kiwano, the stems and leaves have the finest prickles of all the Cucurbits so put on a pair of protective gloves when weeding round them or harvesting the fruit, learnt that one the hard way!
The Caigua got its leaves wind burnt and was looking very sad for itself but three days later has shed its damaged leaves and grown some fresh ones. The pods are still ripening and we’ll be harvesting the first ones next week. I can tell they’re ripe as the seed inside turns from white to brown and then finally to black.
Both patches of Zucchini Cocozelle and Costata Romanesco look like all their leaves were plucked off leaving these nude upright stalks in memory of what was a leafy canopy. Fortunately the fruit had reached maturity and can be left to ripen further on their own for another week or so.
I’d just finished securing the top leaders of one our new tomato varieties Orange Icicle, I shouldn’t have bothered as this all caught the wind and snapped most of them off. Luckily the bottom half of the plants are ok and are sending out fresh growth already. Look out for it in our next spring catalogue, it's got a wonderful taste and has a truly unique shape and colour.
The Tomatillo shed all their mature fruit and are looking a bit bedraggled but should recover for a second flush. They had grown well prior to the winds and were quite top heavy with ping pong ball sized fruit.
We’re trialling 3 new chilli peppers in a small triangular bed that’s fortunately in a sheltered position. They escaped the brunt of the winds and are looking better every day.
I’d put off harvesting our patch of Rhubarb for one of our daughters who has many uses for it, she’ll have to wait until it regrows as its not looking its finest at the moment. Being rhubarb though, its survival instincts will see it push through some new stems before too long.