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Gardening with Gael - Weather biggest challenge for growers and gardeners


Car door weed-612NIWA informs us this is the hottest it has been since 1934. I believe them. For my tea plantation, it has been perfect. The plants are growing faster than I ever imagined and require almost weekly pruning.

A weed growing out of the side of the door of my green car gets enough moisture every time it rains to flourish. Many a person has tried to wrench it from my door but I like it there and hope that it flowers. It’s the mark of a gardening car.

In the gravel, a medium I find most productive, an unidentified plant began to creep along the ground beside where we park our cars. Not a great spot to choose but this plant has grown faster than any others.

‘What’s that?’ everyone asks as they step out of their cars. As it grew I could more readily identify what it wasn’t. Not a courgette, or a cucumber. Then, as the swellings behind the small yellow flowers ballooned it was very obviously a watermelon. Apparently I need to slip something under them but I think the gravel will drain well enough. I just hope there is still sufficient heat for ripening. There are three languishing on the side of the drive and where the plant grew over the branch of a neighbouring kawakawa one dangles like a big green Hindenburg.

The grapes have provided a greater challenge. Intermittent rain just before the grapes are ready to be picked is a testing time.

Three of Box’s brothers arrived this week to help with the picking. They flew from Australia and Wellington with one brother driving from Motuopa. Most of the grapes were ready but sadly, even with the spray programme Box had implemented, there was a considerable amount of damage from the moisture and humidity. The pinot gris which was ready to be picked has quite thin skin which makes it more susceptible to rot during the wet weather. We have less than half the quantity this year compared to last year. Yesterday, however, the grapes we picked were in excellent condition.

IMG 6856-649One year, when Box was ordering his grape plants, his supplier was out of the pinot gris he had previously planted. Box searched the lists and decided to buy some Albarino. A Spanish white variety, known in Portugal as Alvarinho, the skin of the grapes is thicker and reportedly rain resistant. He thought they were worth a try and planted four rows. It appears they were. We were heartened to see the product after all the rain. The nearby chenin blanc will be left for the pheasants and the family of peacocks which have recently wandered on to the property and are making a great job of cleaning up around the vines once the nets have been removed.

Ross from Millar’s Wines reports that his viognier is doing well, and Gary from Lochiel says his chardonnay is holding up so far. Both are hoping for some hot dry weather. I am too, for my watermelons. 

Just so you know, I am fond of the weed growing from my car door.

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