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Running the Farm : Crops

The articles below cover a number of topics growing crops. If you're looking for something in particular then use the search box above. If not, then browse the article titles and see what there is to help you.  If you can't find an answer here then why not ask in our discussion forums? One of the very friendly and helpful members is sure to be able to help you.

New articles are added all the time so don't forget to check back here regularly!

Apples have been eaten for thousands of years and the number of varieties is staggering.

New Zealanders spend significantly more on bananas than any other fruit. On average, each family consumes 18kg of imported bananas every year.


Persea americana

The avocado fruit has a completely unique taste and can take over 12 months to mature on the tree.

Prunus dulcis Test

The almond is a dry-fleshed cousin of a peach with a tasty kernel. It is one of the first trees to blossom in spring and is long-lived for a fruit tree, living up to 70 years old.

Codling moth is one of the most common pests in New Zealand orchards. It infests all pipfruit (apples, pears, quince, crabapples, nashi) and walnuts with its caterpillar which feeds for three weeks inside the fruit.

There is an old saying that you put a $1 tree in a $10 hole. Inflation may adjust the figures but it still holds true. Put tenfold the effort into planting and you set your tree up for life. A good root zone means it will grow a lot faster, fruit a lot earlier, be more productive and suffer from less pests and disease. The ramifications last for years.

Truffles are types of edible mushrooms (fungi) that grow on the roots of certain trees. They traditionally grew wild in forests in the northern hemisphere but can now be ‘farmed’ on specially-inoculated trees.

rosemaryRosemary is such an important medicinal and culinary herb it seems that there is a great opportunity for good quality locally grown product.  Throughout history Rosemary has been used to treat a wide variety of ailments - from indigestion, depression, muscle spasms, headaches and nightmares. Rosemary essential oil also has antioxidant properties.
fennelSome years ago I bought a punnet of fennel seedlings from my local garden centre. I was going through my "it's exotic - give it a go" phase in the veggie patch. The fennel prospered, leaving me wondering what to do with the plump white bulbs that appeared under the feathery foliage.
jerusalem artichokeJerusalem Artichokes are a strange plant, or you could say a wrongly named vegetable. They aren't from Jerusalem and they certainly aren't an artichoke. Instead they originate in North America and are part of the sunflower family, in Italy they're known as Girasola Artiocco (the sunflower artichoke) and in the States they're called a Sunchoke.
soap nut treeThe Soap Nut or Soap Berry is an extraordinary tree that produces a nut with high saponin content. Saponin is a natural antimicrobial detergent, which lathers when it is wet and rubbed. It is a great environmentally friendly alternative to commercial chemical laundry detergents.
walnutsEver wanted to make the ultimate statement of self sufficiency at Christmas time? What about sitting around the table cracking walnuts you've grown?  Whether you pickle them, cook with them, press them into oil or eat them raw, the versatile walnut is packed with energy and protein. They also have a high fat content but studies have shown that eating a few nuts every day can have great health benefits.
figsFigs are deciduous and grow to become very large trees - making them completely unsuitable for most suburban gardens - but an ideal niche crop on a lifestyle property looking to supply an urban market. Whilst there are some orchards in New Zealand it does seem they are few and far between, especially when there could be market potential in this versatile fruit.
growing chilliesChristopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to discover Chillies; wrongly calling them peppers because of their hot spicy flavour - which he thought was not unlike the black or white pepper he was accustomed to. Initially they were grown in Europe as an ornamental garden curiosity, but Spanish monks experimented with the brightly coloured fruit and discovered they were a great substitute for black peppercorns, which at the time were extremely expensive.
saffronSaffron - Crocus Sativus has been cultivated for its valuable stigma for over 3000 years. Growing saffron is a delicate balancing act. It requires cold winters, hot summers, low humidity, just the right amount of rainfall (or irrigation) and the right type of friable free-draining soil. The areas in New Zealand ticking all these boxes are probably only Central Otago, Marlborough and Nelson. However, with a harvest so valuable it could be worth planting out a few rows in areas that potentially have a suitable microclimate.
pine nutsPine Nuts not only taste fabulous and are rich in protein, oil and a great source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), but what would pesto be without pine nuts? These delicious nuts have been used in our diet for thousands of years - they were thought to have aphrodisiac powers back in Roman times. They were used in sausages, preserved in honey and even made into wine. Remnants of pine nuts were found in the ruins of Pompeii.
growing dayliliesNot only do Daylilies have an extraordinary variety of blooms to enjoy but they are also delicious to eat. They require little space, making them an ideal commercial crop for people with only a few acres.  The buds and flowers are great added to salads, stir fry, or as a garnish in casseroles and soups. The buds can be dropped into tempura batter and deep fried.

growing lavender for profitLavender seems to have it all. It looks fantastic when it's flowering - painting the countryside in a haze of purple. The oil is sought after in perfume and cosmetics. Craft people love its rubbings (dried flowers) for use in all kinds of products - potpourri, drawer sachets, added to wheat bags and so on… Growers propagate plants for others to enjoy and some even breed new cultivars.

growing garlicFor those people with a relatively small amount of land growing garlic may be worth considering.  Where I live, there are two stall holders at the local Farmers Markets selling garlic - both raw bulbs and smoked bulbs. It is popular with market goers - every year they sell out long before the next seasons crop has been harvested.

There are a number of matters that an owner should consider and record when planning the development of his or her land. This is of particular importance if it is proposed to move into a commercial phase at some time in the future.

walnuts1wA report following a Tree Crops Association field day.

Tony & Chris Wilson In March our Branch held a field day near Cambridge at the property of Tony and Chris Wilson.

When planning a lifestyle change in 1992 Mark and Caroline Eastmond purchased a house and 20 acre paddock just outside Waiau township in North Canterbury.

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