By Hilary Rowley
Sunday March 17 saw another successful Blueskin Bay Harvest Market. The final one of the season will be part of the A&P Show at Bland Park on Saturday (not the usual Sunday) April 13. Bring your apples and pears to this one, it's your last chance of the season to get them turned into delicious juice. Bring your excess produce to sell or trade, too.
I have noticed lately that real estate agents have been using the tag "the local Harvest Market" in their advertising to make Waitati more enticing to house buyers. They fail to mention there are only three of these wonderful events a year. Should we have more? Or fewer?
The Rosella parrots have been tasting (and not liking) our apples. I suppose the more fruit trees everyone plants, the more fruit there will be to share with the birds. Or will there just be more birds?
My father, a retired beekeeper, told me the other day that bumble bees can do everything a honey bee can do except make honey and wax. Could it be that our obsession with honey bees is for selfish reasons because we want their honey? We still have plenty of bumble bees pollinating everything, if the huge numbers seen on our lavender this summer are anything to go by. It doesn't mean we should do less about the problems honey bees are having, but we can worry less about our future pollination problems. The question is, are the pesticides and diseases affecting the bumblers, too?
There was a lovely crop of elderberries this year so I picked a bucket full, sprigged the fruit off the stalks with a fork and started a batch of elderberry wine. My 5½ lb of cleaned fruit (excuse the mixed measurements, I was adapting an old recipe of my father's) was put in a sterilised barrel, and had 5¾ lb of sugar and 5½ litres of boiling water added along with ½ tsp yeast nutrient. When the temperature got down to 25ºC, I added the yeast, a packet of VR21 from the chemist. This fermented in our hot water cupboard for two days before being strained through a jelly bag into two big sterile glass bottles with air locks on top. The specific gravity at this point, measured with a hydrometer, was 1090, so it will be dry, and not too alcoholic. It is bubbling away in the hot water cupboard as I write. The thing to remember about homemade wine is that good wine takes time, so it will be maybe four years after its been bottled before we try drinking it. That is the theory anyway.