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Just Add Worms Garden Blog - Part 15

Featured Posts

Attracting Techno Colour Tui To Your Garden

Our tui feeders can be viewed here ….. Much to the delight of local tui the Taiwanese Cherry tree in our garden is once again show casing the arrival of spring with a beautiful display of blossoms. During the last few weeks I’ve taken “a little” time out, can’t say how much as I’m supposed […]

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Are You Sure This Tui Feeder Will Attract Tui ?

Are You Sure This Tui Feeder Will Attract Tui ?

That’s the question I was asked one morning several years ago upon receiving a phone call off one of our adverts in the New Zealand Gardener. The caller introduced himself as Pat and then followed on from his opening question with this statement, “aren’t they a bit expensive!”. It was obvious that he wasn’t one […]

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How To Hang Your Tui Feeder in Four Simple Steps

Each week as I pack up our tui feeders for dispatch I wonder if those receiving them will have any difficulty setting them up in their gardens. Having worked in the furniture trade off and on for many years I can turn my hand to most things however I’m aware that some people can not. […]

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Sixteen Interesting Tui Facts

Sixteen Interesting Tui Facts

Tui ( prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) are endemic “native and unique” to New Zealand. They are found on the three main islands and belong to the honey eater family. Tui are a fully protected in New Zealand. The name Tui is derived from the Maori language with the plural being simply tui. Europeans who first colonised New […]

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“Cheep” Takeaways

Recently someone asked me what type of birds are likely to use this style of feeder?

Bird Feeder

Even though I’ve been making these bird feeders for some years now I’ve never given much thought as to what birds species frequented them.

When I designed the first prototype I was looking for an easy and environmentally friendly way to get rid of food scraps from the kitchen. The above question from a potential buyer was in the form of an email so I needed to draft a convincing yet factual reply.

The birds I’ve seen taking snacks are these:

I’m sure there are probably others.

Hopefully I can add more to this list as I will now pay closer attention.

When I get some spare time I will take some photos … great, another project.

Native birds don’t appear to use the feeders because they are more particular as far as diet is concerned. This winter I intend to start feeding them as well.

The most compelling  reason however for installing the bird feeders (there are 4 scattered around our lifestyle block) was to discourage the greedy and often bad mannered Pukeko from eating all the left overs.

Around here they are the school bullies and other birds just don’t get a look in. These notorious characters justify a blog post solely devoted to themselves so I’ll leave that for another day!

Before the feeders it was a free for all as we threw “the scraps” down the hill near our property’s back boundary. Feeding and attracting the native Pukeko can have catastrophic side effects for a passionate gardener like myself.

As far as I’m concerned “Pooks” as many people affectionately call them, are enemy number one. Not only do they eat almost anything and everything they can also raise a gardener’s blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Watch out for my post on “Pooks”, I assure you it will be interesting and amusing!

This season they have ravaged my sweetcorn, potatoes, beetroot, cucumbers, passion fruit, plums, feijoas, young ducklings and the list goes on …

Oddly they they haven’t tried the “tomatoes” yet, perhaps they are colour blind. Crazy me, I’m tempting fate by just mentioning the word, tomato.

Juicy Beefsteak Tomatoes

During my younger years on the family farm my brothers and I used to shoot them. I would have the armed offenders squad knocking on our door if I resorted to that here.

The Pukeko is a native of New Zealand and as such is protected however they can be shot during the duck shooting season which opens on the first Saturday in May.

Machining bird feeder components
Making bird feeder components

Click here if you would like to purchase a bird feeder or would just like to learn more about them.

Favourite Quotes:
A wise old owl sat on an oak. The more he saw the less he spoke. The less he spoke the more he heard. Why aren’t we like that wise old bird? – Edward Hersey Richards

These Aussie’s Are Just Mean And Ugly!

Australian Paper Wasp

Every spring and summer one of the most welcomed visitors to our garden is the Monarch butterfly. This past summer was no exception but all was not well for them in our normally tranquil paradise.

After some investigation on the net I discover the name of the culprits who were creating chaos amongst our much admired Monarchs.

Australian paper wasp is the name they go by and I can vouch that they have a real mean streak. The photo above was taken using a slow shutter speed with the camera on a tripod as it was early evening and the light was fading.

After an hour of shooting I had about 60 to 70 shots. Isn’t digital photography wonderful.

The wasps appeared ready for sleep but became agitated whenever I got near. The camera lens was no more than 8 inches away from their nest. Like a group of snarling tigers preparing to attack their appearance gave me a sense of impending “danger”.

I’ve never been stung by one of these wasps but I imagine it would be a painful experience.

Several days later with a torch and under the cover of darkness I terminated our unwanted Australian squatters and their home. I don’t like to destroy anything but felt that these guys warranted an exception.

I first noticed these wasps several years ago when they started to attack and kill the Monarch caterpillars. Prior to this we’ve always had a multitude of caterpillars. In fact most years I’ve had to feed them on pumpkin as they stripped all the swan plants bare.

This summer due to these wasps I’m aware of only three caterpillars surviving to the chrysalis and adult butterfly stage. One of those only escaped death due to me bringing it indoors.

Not sure what I will do next summer to combat these pests as there seems to be so many of them.

As we enjoy watching (and photographing) the Monarchs any advice or suggestions would be most welcome.

Monarch Caterpillar

Favourite Quotes:
Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.Thomas Fuller (1732)

Beetroot- It’s Sow Easy To Grow

Cutting Off Beetroot Tops

On Saturday afternoon I pulled a second harvest of beetroot and was pleasantly surprised how easy it is to prepare and cook. With a little input from “the boss” I cooked up a large saucepan full.

The most difficult part was making sure it didn’t boil over as I kept wandering back out to the garden with the camera.

Trying to do two jobs at once.

Should know by now that my wife and daughter are the only one’s in our household that can do that.

Peeling the beetroot after about a hour cooking was easy as the skins just peeled away with the smallest amount of pressure. Unlike the first time when I ended up with very crimson hands I solved the problem by keeping them under running water.

Next we sliced the beetroot into a mixture of white vinegar, water (liquid that beetroot was boiled in) and sugar. My old Mum always used malt vinegar but I don’t know if that’s available nowadays.

Lastly, the bowl was covered with Gladwrap and into the fridge … all done, easy and by one who possesses only the most basic of culinary skills.

Have read that roasting beetroot in the oven brings out all the flavour so will try that next time.

Washed Beetroot

Detroit Dark Reds ( Beta vulgaris – crassa )

As I write this I’m wondering why beetroot has never featured in any of my gardens. Weird really as that’s a period of almost 30 years.

The simple answer is and yes my lovely wife had to remind me “again” that my mother and grandmother always kept us supplied with bottled beetroot.

I knew there had to be a simple explanation to this mystery!

Sadly those days are gone as Super Gran as our children knew her passed away and my mother is now getting too old for sweating over a hot stove and Ajax preserving jars. I think that’s what they were called.

I can still picture her the old farm house working over the coal range stove surrounded by a mass of bottling jars. It was hot hard work considering it was done in the midst of summer. My Dad (also now passed on) loved gardening and always had a huge garden to keep us in vegetables. Back in those days if it could be preserved it normally was.

This year’s solitary row of beetroot has disappeared rather quickly so next spring (yes this one is now over) it may need to be at least two or more.

The garden is already fairly large (approx 45sq mtrs) but I can see it getting  much bigger next year.

Watch this space.

Bowl Of Beetroot

Needed to be quick to get a photo of this tempting treat before our 18 year son discovered it in the fridge.

Favourite Quotes:
If you would be happy your whole life long, Become a gardener. Old Chinese Proverb