Farm update

Summer ends and Autumn begins '24

Summer ends and Autumn begins '24

Well, that was a great Summer! Just the right amount of rain so we didn't run out of water, hot enough for the tomatoes to ripen fast, and just the right amount of breeze for good airflow around the plants. And, quick as a flash the leaves are falling off the trees and turning crispy. We crunch through them in our boots and feed them in fist-fulls to the goats who adore them and sound like they're eating kettle fries.

The temperatures are dropping and the tomatoes and zucchini are ripening so slowly that it's not worth keeping them in the beds anymore. It's time to take them out and start seeding the winter crops. We cut the plants just below the soil surface, leaving the roots where they've grown in the beds and into the paths. The roots will become part of the soil, helping to transport water and nutrients to future plants. We won't loose soil like we would if we pulled the whole plant out, we won't disturb the worms and the infrastructure they've made and we won't encourage any weed seeds from below to germinate. The beds will be topped up with 2cm or so of compost before seed or seedlings go in.

We reflect on what we did well as gardeners and what we should improve for next Summer. As every season goes by we get better and better. Obviously next time we need to tie up the tomatoes better. We could sow the first beans two weeks earlier next Spring. We make notes in our book about what crop we had in each bed and how it did. This info helps with crop rotation. We write down varieties, and how many plants we planted ... was that enough?. We'll be thankful of the information next Spring.

Our rock-star of Summer, heat-loving Basil, is coming to an end. Customers will miss it, we will miss it too, we wizz up a big batch to pesto to freeze into portions so we can taste a bit of Summer in the Winter.

And now we look forward ... what will be seeded for the winter? We'll direct seed into the no-dig beds Miner's lettuce, Rocket and baby Chard. We might slip in a couple of beds of Snow Peas. Into seed trays go Brightlights Silverbeet, Curly Kale and Pak Choi, to be transplanted into the no-dig beds when they're big enough. In the hydroponics, we've started seeding Watercress and COS. Other crops of lettuce, dill, coriander, mint, edible flowers - just carry on. They'll have their ups and downs (which will mean a gap for customers of a couple of weeks here and there) but we grow them year-round.

Summer is a huge season for us and we're tired. Summer in-ground crops need to be picked every day - it's relentless. It feels wonderful as the Summer crops finish, for our work to slow down, and for us to find our feet again. We're going to take the market off during the month of April. April's a slow month at the market, our in-ground crops won't be ready to pick yet and lettuce growth slows down as they adjust to the temperature drop and less daylight hours. We'll keep our stockists stocked up while we're having a break. We hate disappointing our market customers but we've learned that if we don't take time off during April, we don't get a holiday at all.

Cheers to a good Summer, but we're ready for Autumn!

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Flat-tack-Summer '23-24

Flat-tack-Summer '23-24

We're full into Summer, we've been flat tack picking and packing and delivering and generally going hard since a couple of weeks before Christmas. This is our biggest revenue gathering time of the year, and we need to earn as much as we can to get us through the lean winter months. There is barely any time to do anything other than pick and pack ... except seeding the herbs and lettuce for the hydroponics. All other garden work comes to a halt at this time of the year, there's just no time. We get up early every morning so we can be outside at sunrise ... most summer crops have to be picked daily, and out of the front paddock into the packing room before 10.00 or 11.00 at the latest. After that, it's too hot for the produce and too hot for us to be outside. Once we have it all in, we then weigh, bundle, punnet or bag and into the chiller it goes. 

So what's in our in-ground beds and being picked right now?

Tomatoes - 100 metres, my goodness, we've got so many tomatoes, it's almost too many. We have 5 varieties planted, 20 metres of each. Our little baby tomatoes are going great guns, the plants are heaving full of handfuls of the little guys and they taste terrific. We grow Black Cherry, a red 'Cherry Berry' and yellow 'Honeybee'. Then we have Andiamo, which is a San Marzano style tomato. They're a curious shape, long and quirky, and their flesh is more meaty and is lower acid than other varieties. And the last variety is Tigerella, a stripy medium sized tomato, good for salads and sandwiches and has good flavour.

We had a customer ask during the week; 'how do you grow the tomatoes without having shield bug (stink bug) problems?'. And we had to say we haven't had a problem this year ... (yet). We squash a few a week, mainly on the beans. I looked up 'who eats the shield bug', and it turns out lots of other insects and even birds eat them. Out in the front paddock we grow a lot of edible flowers, and beds of 'wild' insect loving flowers. These flower beds are full of bees and other insects. We also have a massive amount of bird life here, which we often curse when they nibble on snow peas and lettuces. Are the birds redeeming themselves by helping us with the shield bugs?? Maybe.

Beans - 60 metres of beans, 3 beds planted 2 weeks apart - this helps to stagger the pick. One bed is nearly finished. The other two have a few more weeks in them. The beans are an awesome crop for us, customers appreciate being able to enjoy freshly picked beans and the tall rows provide an avenue of shade - which is appreciated while we're picking. We deliver our beans, zucchini and herbs to The Smoko Room at The Sawmill Brewery, a fantastic local Restaurant where the chef creates delicious dishes from truly locally sourced seasonal produce. We love that the chef changes the menu depending on what's being picked.

Zucchini - 140 metres of all kinds of zucchini and scallopini. 7 beds planted all throughout the season and I'm thinking of seeding more. Our first plants have been harvested for 3 months now, and have pretty much finished. Varieties this year are: an ordinary green variety, the yellow and green 'Zephur', the little yellow spaceship-shaped scallopini, and my favourite - stripy green 'Cocozille'. The Cocozille is an Italian variety with creamy nutty flesh. The plants grow upright ... which is a bit of relief for our backs when we're picking. 

Lebanese cucumbers - 40 metres of the little guys. We've trained them upright this year, which saves our backs a bit, although we've left some of the leaders to sprawl over the ground too, as it creates some shade for the roots. They've got such lovely sweet flavour, and are so refreshing to munch on ... we eat a lot of these. 

Jalapeno chilli - 20 metres ... the fruit are just appearing. These are the first chilli we've ever grown, so we're excited to see what we can do.  

Mint - this is the first year we've sold bunches of our mint. We grow it in big grow bags, so that we can stop it from spreading everywhere. Every once in a while we rotate the bags so the roots don't take hold of the ground under the bags. Rascals!

In the hydroponics, the big stars right now are basil and Thai basil. Market Customers say they smell the basil before they see it. Customers wander around the market with these massive basil plants, and other people ask where they got them from. We're a bit famous for our basil. Our Thai basil is amazing this year, the leaves are bigger than previous years we've grown it - not sure why. If you haven't tried Thai Basil Chicken yet, find the recipe on our website. It's easy and truly delicious. Our other hydroponic crops of lettuces and coriander carry on as usual.

That's about it, we're hoping for a bit of rain but all-in-all it's been a good growing season for us. So far so good, long may the summer crops carry on!

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Spring - where have you been all winter?

Spring - where have you been all winter?

Yay, it's spring ... and although the weather is still a bit crazy, we have a sense of excitement here on the farm because it's a time of change in the garden, with new crops to grow harvest and eat. We're big food lovers here, and this year we're growing all our favourites: baby coloured tomatoes, basil, thai basil, coloured and green zucchini, scallopini (my favourite), green beans, snow peas and lebanese cucumbers. Of course our year-round crops of lettuce, edible flowers, coriander and dill just keep rocking on.

The planning of in-ground summer crops is done, ordered seeds have arrived and most have been seeded, germinated and are now seedlings, tucked into the nursery cloche and pampered until they're big enough to go out into the no-dig garden beds. Because night air temperatures can still be cold, most of the summer seedlings are started out in our sunroom on a table. It feels funny to have gardening happening in the house, next to a couch, sleeping cat and drying washing ... but it's handy to be able to keep a close eye on the babies. Once they've germinated they go outside into the nursery cloche, under bird-net and plastic, which we open up each day if its warm and not raining. 

Most of the winter crops have finished in the garden, and the beds they occupied are covered with tarpaulins. Covering the beds kills off the old crops and any weed seeds. It protects our precious soil from the elements of drying wind and the rain which washes away nutrients in the soil. The worms in the soil love the darkness and do their magic. We leave the roots of the old crops in the beds, cutting the plants off just under the soil surface. The roots stay in the beds and become part of the soil web, creating underground networks, carrying food and nutrients for future plants.

The other night Daryn went outside to check something. When he came back he said that we had a bigger problem than the initial reason he went outside for. One of our animal troughs was leaking and water was flowing down the paddock and onto our driveway. On went the beanie and outside we went, phone torches lit, and we began rummaging through boxes of plumbing spare parts in the shed until Daryn found the part he needed. I held the lights while he got wet and made the fix. I stood and gazed up at all the stars up in the sky. The sky is so dark where we are, since we're away from any town or city. The trough was fixed, and it was a good reminder that even though our dam and water tanks are full from all the rain, it's going to be hot and possibly dry soon, so we'll have to keep an eye out for leaks.

We're working on a new salad garden mix and are growing a few new types of lettuce for it. Call us selfish but we usually decide to grow new things because it's what we feel like eating ourselves. It'll be a mix of sweet, buttery lettuce leaves of different shapes and textures and tender baby chard leaves. We're also trialling a new crop to put in the salad, Purslane. It's a wild plant (weed) that's delicious and highly nutritious. The leaves taste slightly citrusy and salty, with a peppery kick not unlike rocket, but with a juicier crunch to it. We're wanting to create a salad mix that tastes great and is quick to throw in a bowl for summer BBQ's. It'll be ready before Christmas.

During our first 2 years of in-ground gardening we had good success with most of our in-ground crops. But we've got to say the last 2 years have been a big challenge with too much rain at times, droughts and high wind events. Too much rain washes the food and nutrients out of the in-ground beds. It starts to feel like a wasteful way to grow when all of your good work in building up the soil is washed away. And when the soil is too dry, the plants can't access the nutrients in the soil. So we spend a lot of time and water to keep the soil moist. And some time despairing on the nutrients we've lost. 

It makes so much sense to extend our hydroponics. No nutrient or drop of water is wasted, the crops are protected from rain and wind. As our world weather systems change and more extreme weather events occur we'll be more resilient. And as we get older, the crops are up off the ground so our bodies are saved from all that bending and crouching that's need for the in-ground crops.

So we have begun building our 3rd hydroponic area. We're hoping the first couple of cloches of the new area will be finished by summer. Daryn is punching in the posts while the ground is soft enough, in summer it'll be too dry and hard. We slowly extend our infrastructure, materials are expensive, and sometimes there's not much extra time after routine gardening and harvesting jobs. Our hydroponic table design has evolved over time, and we've gotten smarter with ways to fit more plants in, and smarter with ways to keep out birds - who love our sweet lettuces and are very smart and adaptable little critters. 

Have you tried our Frilly lettuce? It's sweet and super crunchy, with a flavour like Cos and a crunch like iceburg - but has a frilly edge. It stays crunchy in hot situations (like in a burger) and will be the star of your sammie or sub. Our home-compostable bags keep it fresh for days, once you open the bag, secure the top with a rubber band or pop into a air tight container.

Harvesting now: Babyleaf with edible flowers, Frilly lettuce, Cos Lettuce, Dill, Coriander, Curly Kale, Brightlights Silverbeet, Radishes, Thyme, Sage, Oregano.

Coming up later in spring: Snow peas, new salad mix, green Zucchini, Basil.

Great news for North Shore and Hobsonville customers, The Artisan Hub (aka the cheese guy) at Catalina Bay Farmer's Market is setting up an online delivery service for Hobsonville. You'll be able to order a box of weekly staples from your favourite Catalina Bay Farmer's Market vendors (and us) for pick up or delivery in the Hobsonville area each Friday. The service will be live very soon so check it out ... it's called the Catalina Bay Farmer's Market Staple Box at

We're at Matakana Village Market on Saturdays. Pre-order by Thursday Midnight to pickup from our farm or from the Farmer's Market.

Our Stockists:
Matakana Smokehouse
The Superette, Omaha Beach
The Artisan Hub, Catalina Bay Farmer's Market
Homeland has our Babyleaf with edible flowers on it's menu




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Winter Solstice - shortest day, longest night

Winter Solstice - shortest day, longest night

 Great news, we're on the other side of Winter Solstice, which occurs late June in NZ. Winter Solstice is the day with the fewest hours of sunlight in the year, making it the 'shortest day'. After this moment, the earth begins its gradual roll back towards summer for the Southern Hemisphere. The Winter Solstice is considered a turning point in the year in many cultures and has been celebrated since the beginning of time.

Before we came to the farm, we never gave that much notice to daylight hours and Winter Solstice. Now we understand the feeling of celebration that our good friend the sun will be longer in the sky once again!

As growers, we know that our crops will enjoy the longer hours of sunlight and start to grow again.

Our winter in-ground crops have finally settled in and we're harvesting kale, silverbeet, pak-choi, miner's lettuce and rocket from our no-dig beds.

Our hydroponic crops are still slow but will pick up soon. The coriander has been almost dormant for a few weeks now, but looks like it will be back on track within the next couple of weeks. Do you know we pretty much have to grow twice the amount of hydroponic plants in the winter to make up for slower growth?

It's been a tricky start to winter with an army worm invasion attacking our young silverbeet, kale and pakchoi seedlings in particular. The army worm worked it's way through Northland, destroying many home and commercial grower's crops. It set our young winter crops back at least a month. I met a home grower who told me she was growing a new kind of silverbeet. I asked 'oh, what kind?' She said it had very lacy, almost non-existent leaves, just a stalk. It took a second to realise she had the army worm problem too! Now that temperatures have dropped, the bugs have died, and now the plants that survived are back on track.

We love growing (and eating) snow peas in the late Winter and Spring. So we're trialling growing pea feathers in our no-dig beds through the Winter. We're excited to see how they grow! They'll be a tasty crunchy addition to salads and sandwiches and hopefully another successful crop for us.

Trialling new crops is exciting for us, and a part of our business that we enjoy. Usually we try new crops because we want to eat them ourselves!


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Autumn 2023 - ready - seed - grow!

Autumn 2023 - ready - seed - grow!

It's been all go here on the farm ever since the flooding and cyclone storms. What does 'all go' look like?

READY ... our in-ground summer crops such as tomatoes, zucchini and beans were destroyed in the storm, so our first job was to remove the plant remains and cover over the beds with tarpaulins.

The tarpaulins cover the beds, creating a warm damp environment. The worms and tiny beneficial bugs that live in the soil love this kind of environment. The heat and darkness kills any weeds and weed seeds.

SEED ... we set to work seeding our in-ground winter crops of kale, silverbeet, mustard and pak choi, miner's lettuce and rocket. Some of the crops are seeded in trays, and some are direct seeded into the prepared beds.

For all our in-ground beds we use the no-dig method. To prepare the beds, we fork over and feed the soil with an organic food. Then we top up the beds with about 5cm of perfectly balanced new soil. The beds are then ready to be planted into.

GROW ... preparing the beds and planting out the seedlings is a big job. We've got 18 x 20 metre beds and paths, which seems like alot while we're topping them up! We've got most of the in-ground beds planted out now ... phew.

We lost many hydroponic crops due to the wind and the 6 day power cut produced by the storms. Worst hit were the more mature lettuces, coriander, basil and dill. Most of the younger plants survived luckily. We acknowledge that as a small grower, it's important not to have all our eggs in one basket (or crops in the paddock!). We were lucky to have at least some produce to sell after the storms.

Daryn is building more hydroponics - as demand is always growing for our bagged lettuce and herbs we need to increase our production!

Many of the 'old man' pines along our farm's roadsides tipped over in the storm. The tree guys delivered to us 4 big mountains of mulch ... so we haven't had to buy mulch to top up our in-ground bed paths. There was some good that came from the storms!

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What happened to summer? Feb '23 update

What happened to summer? Feb '23 update

What's with all this rain? What happened to summer?

The other day a customer asked "but how does rain affect your crops - I thought veges like to be watered? We thought that was a good question. Before we became market gardeners we would have wondered the same thing. In short, summer crops like growing in summer. They like many hours of sunlight, can handle getting a bit dry and don't like damp, humid conditions. We saw the met-service guy on tv say that NZ has been averaging 5 hours of sunlight a day! That's totally not enough for summer crops to grow, thrive and produce.

So what does our wet summer garden look like? Baby tomatoes are splitting in the wet and green fruit is slow to ripen due to lack of sunlight. Zucchini fruit flowers are rotting when the fruit is small so the fruit doesn't get any bigger and eventually rots. Less beans, beans need 7 hours of sunlight a day to produce pods and up to 10 hours to produce pods well. All lettuce and herb growth has slowed due to less daylight hours. Lebanese and apple cucumbers were so bad we pulled them out. They hate damp.

We are lucky in lots of ways. All of our growing is either in raised beds or hydroponic, which means it's all up and out of the wet.

Are there any crops that are actually happy about the wet and humidity? The edible flowers are going nuts whenever we have sunshine! If there is no sunshine they don't open. They have loved the extra big drink. The sage and thyme seem to be having a good time. The sage is very lush - time for fried sage and eggs! We have been trialling growing lemongrass - and it's gone nuts in the wet, humid conditions.

Will this kind of un-seasonal weather be more frequent in the future? Maybe. We have to carefully consider what we grow and how we grow it. We can't afford for crops to fail.

I'm writing this early on a Saturday. Early means it's still dark outside. We get up super-early on a Saturday, like, usually ... 4.00am! It's market day, our biggest selling day of the week, and Daryn and Joe need to get to the market and set up before their first customers arrive (often as soon as it's light!). We pick lettuces and herbs and wrap their roots in paper. Other produce we have picked and packed on Thursday and Friday and just needs to be loaded into the van.

I check the boys have their water bottles, remind them to eat and wave goodbye. As soon as it's light, I head outside to do the hydroponic jobs. I check the hoses are all clear and running. I throw out any plants that aren't thriving. Then I put out all the seedlings in the gaps where we've havested during the week. Next up, it's seeding to replace the seedlings I've just put out. We're seeding 600 hydroponic seedpots currently each week. As we build more we'll be able to grow more.

The boys get back from the market early afternoon. It's always exciting to see how they've done. We aim to sell-out every week, and it's unusual for them not to. We unpack the van, sit down and have a yarn about market-goings-on ... and then ... to be honest, we often nod off. It's been a big day!

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Welcome to Winter '22!

Welcome to Winter '22!

The cool season crops have taken over the no-dig beds, it's been raining, there aren't many leaves left on deciduous trees and we're eating kale, silverbeet and pak-choi ... this means IT'S WINTER!

Big excitement here on the farm with winning a gold medal for our Babyleaf lettuce with edible flowers in the Outstanding NZ food producer awards. We're so proud that a little family run market garden can achieve a gold medal up against bigger producers. It gives us a boost of confidence and reward for our hard work.

It feels good to have the no-dig bed winter seedlings in, and established. We forget every year what a big task it is to seed, transplant and look after all the seedlings it takes to fill the beds. We generally fit 170 plants per bed, and there are 33 beds. 12 of the beds are for the pak-choi, beetroot, rocket and miner's lettuce which get planted and sown all through Winter. Each season we top-up the soil in the beds to replenish and provide good food for our plants. We expect a lot from them, harvesting from them every week through winter for our online orders and farmers markets.

You can see new beds that we've added on to the bottom right of the no-dig bed garden photo. Each year we are growing more and more, as customer demand for our produce grows. Each year we are getting better and faster at our gardening tasks and can take on a bit more work. I guess at some stage we'll reach our limit.

Every season we try growing a new crop. Sometimes the crops are a success, sometimes not. It is a reminder that we just aren't good at growing everything. This season we're trying out Miner's Lettuce. It is looking great, very cute dainty leaves, crisp, succulent with a mild flavour. Perfect, we decided, to pair with peppery Rocket, and we're selling it bagged into our home-compostable, worm-farm friendly bags as Miner's Lettuce and Rocket salad. It's really yum and very pretty on the plate.

The hydroponic crops of lettuce and herbs just carry on as usual. The change of seasons always cause a bit of disruption to the lettuces, while they have a bit of a struggle to adjust to less daylight hours and lower temperatures. If the lettuces are a bit weak, often they will get attacked by bugs, which sets them back further. It's a bit of a frustration to us and our customers, but it's just mother nature and something we have to work with.

Now that there is so much water around from the rain, the paddocks are green and the soil dark and moist, it's seems like so long ago that it was hot and dry and we were so worried about keeping our plants watered. Thank goodness for seasons and change, they make life ... and growing ... interesting.


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Hay! With everything that's going on in the world it's nice to have a change of season to distract us ...

Hay! With everything that's going on in the world it's nice to have a change of season to distract us ...

It's autumn!

The leaves on the trees are slowing turning yellow then brown, it's dark in the morning when we get up and it's a bit cooler at night, yay! BUT ... it's still so hot during the day, and it's really dry in our part of the country. Any rain has passed us by, our tanks are very low and the soil very dry. We know the rain will come sometime, so we just have to carry on getting plants in the ground and ready for winter.

It’s the time of the season when we’re ripping out spent crops and getting new crops established in the no-dig garden beds. Pak choi, Chinese brocolli, Kale, Silverbeet, Mustards and Cabbages we seed into trays, and once they’re big enough plant the seedlings into their beds in the no-dig garden. While it's still so dry, we are mulching with pea straw. This helps the soil stay moist, and also gives the tiny seedlings shade and wind protection as they emerge. Straight into the ground go beetroot and snap pea seeds. They get watered twice a day so they stay moist until they germinate. Beetroot beds are mulched with shade cloth until they emerge. If the beetroot seeds dry out they won't germinate. 

Most years we get our flat riverside paddocks cut and baled into hay. It makes us feel good. The hay goes to farmers who need it, we get nice tidy paddocks and some tractor work done for us in return. We love the sweet smell of the hay, our boys love fooling around on the bales and the dog loves running on the once-a-year short grass. Everyone loves hay time!

On Saturdays we head off to Matakana Village Farmers Market and Catalina Bay Farmers Market. As the seasons change, our market stalls change too. Soon our stalls will be full of winter leafy greens, pakchoi and watercress. Our year-round crops of lettuces and coriander carry on... business as usual!

What’s coming up for harvest at Salty River Farm?

In full harvest mode: Cos lettuce, Baby leaf lettuce, Oakleaf lettuce, Buttercup squash, Coriander, Sage, Dill

Finishing soon: Thai Basil, Little tomatoes, Zucchini/Scallopini

Later in Autumn: Pakchoi, Kale, Mini cabbages, Chinese broccoli, Coloured Silverbeet, Babyleaf coloured silverbeet, Baby beetroot, Snap peas, Mustards, Watercress, Parsley

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Happy New Year! What's happening at Salty River Farm in January?

Happy New Year! What's happening at Salty River Farm in January?

Happy New Year! Hasn't it been hot. The heat effects everything on the farm, from plants to animals to us and our holiday plans!

Wow - 2022 has certainly turned on the heat. We were all set to take a couple of extra days on holiday up north when we realised that some of our plants were looking very stressed. With no rain on the horizon, we flew into action, setting up extra irrigation for the no-dig beds.

We have set up a drip irrigation system that slowly drips water at the base of each plant. We are totally self-sufficient for water, with rain water tanks for the gardens and household, and dams for the animal troughs. Collecting, storing, filtering and making sure we have enough water are super important tasks, nothing survives without water.

We know we made the right decision even though we would have loved to have had a couple more days at the beach.

The heat is no problem for the little tomatoes though, and all the sunshine is encouraging the little guys to pop into colour. Our little honeybee yellow tomatoes are leading the race so far, with the plants laden with bags of the little sweeties. It might sound crazy but it’s actually good for us to slightly water stress the tomatoes - this ensures they are full of good old fashioned out-door-grown tomato flavour. Keep an eye out in our online shop and at our farmers market stalls for for these little summer sweeties.

Great timing! Lucky nature has designed BASIL to be ready at the same time as TOMATOES! Our basil plants are HUGE right now, it’s a great time to grab one in your order or at one of our markets. They’ll stay alive for ages in a jar of water on your bench - lots of time for you to deal with a big batch of pesto! Actually all our summer herbs are crazy big right now. We are growing Thai basil for the first time this year, and we’re loving it. Licoricy, spicy and bit more bold than sweet basil, it’s amazing in a refreshing thai salad - perfect on a hot evening.

Have you ever eaten an apple cucumber? They’re a bit of an old fashioned thing, the kind of summer vege your grandma might have grown. They are ... a cucumber in a ball-shape. Our boys love them - and we have to be careful they don’t all disappear before they get to the packing room! Crispy, refreshing, quirky ... it’s understandable really.

What are we harvesting at Salty River Farm?
Just starting: Little tomatoes - yellow and red
In full harvest mode:
Thai Basil
Cos lettuce
Baby leaf lettuce
Oakleaf lettuce
Lebanese and apple cucumbers
Kumi Kumi
Later in summer: Watermelon

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Spring 2021 at Salty River Farm

Spring 2021 at Salty River Farm

Well, it's spring and with the warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours, everything is waking up from it's winter slumber. The lettuces in particular are growing big and fast, sometimes it seems like we can actually see things growing!

We have been super busy with our online orders for contactless home delivery due to the covid lockdown here in the Auckland region. We are very pleased we set up our online shop so our customers can still purchase our produce, and we still have an income. We're very grateful to our old and new customers for their support and that we took the opportunity to set up the shop, which makes us stronger going forward.

This winter we extended our hydroponic area so we can grow more lettuces and herbs and we're excited about having more to sell, particularly of our babyleaf and cos lettuce bags.

Checking for bugs and birds getting into our cloaches is an everyday job. We don't use chemical pesticides to control bugs, and keeping our plants healthy is our best defence. A weak plant will always get attacked. If we find bugs have attacked a plant, we throw that one plant out and often the bugs haven't got to the rest of the lettuces.

Sparrows are a real problem at this time of the year. They LOVE sweet green butterhead lettuces! They can completely wreck lots of lettuces very quickly. Bird netting and running tape between the gutters stops the sparrows from getting in. We have been so busy with home deliveries this spring we didn't have time to put tape in between the new hydroponic area gutters ... and the sparrows wrecked a whole lot of butterheads. We got the job ASAP once we realised!

The no-dig beds have been producing nicely over winter, with our kale and silverbeet doing the best. We experienced the warmest winter for many years, and our rocket didn't do well because of it. Preparations are now underway for spring planting, bean seeds are in the ground and zucchini, tomatoe, cucumber, watermelon, squash seeds are underway.

Last year's calves are growing bigger and really enjoy the vege offcuts. If they're in a paddock close-by they come running if they know we've got treats for them. We haven't raised any baby calves this year, we've been so busy. We'll look forward to raising more next winter.

We are excited about the summer crops, juicy flavour-some baby tomatoes, apple cucumbers, little cheerful sunbeam scallopini. Lots to look forward to!


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All ready for winter 2021 on the farm!

All ready for winter 2021 on the farm!

Well, it's been a busy time on the farm ... getting all our winter crop seedlings into their no-dig beds in the front paddock.

Silverbeet, kale, upright spinach and mustard plants will stay in the ground all winter and we'll pick leaves off each plant as we need it. We sow pak choi every week, transplant into the garden every week, and harvest the whole plants every week. They grow quick and we call them 'our little troopers'.

Radish and beetroot, spinach and rocket get sown every second week and we'll be sowing new beds all through winter as we need them.

And, of course, the hydroponic lettuces and herbs are year-round, and just carry on as usual. We sow these seeds every week, they go into the hydroponic nursery table until they germinate, then they go into the 'grown up' tables until harvest in 7-10 weeks time. 

Daryn has been working hard extending our hydroponic area, it's very exciting to imagine how many more lettuces and herbs we'll be able to grow when it's finished.

All growth slows down as the temperatures drop, and this can be very frustrating for us and our customers. Sometimes it means far less lettuces for market ... until they 'catch up' and get big enough!

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Summer 2020-21 on Salty River Farm

Summer 2020-21 on Salty River Farm

Summer-time is a busy time on our farm.

In-ground crops such as pumpkins and watermelons are growing and developing. The pumpkins are ready to harvest when the plant is completely dead - the pumpkin paddock ends up looking like a waste-land dotted with brightly coloured pumpkins!

Cucumbers and Zucchini grow so fast you can almost SEE them growing - and we plant succession crops to extend our season - especially if it's dry like it has been so far this season.

Our wardrobe of little tomatoes are slowly ripening - because we grow them outside and in the ground they are sweet and full flavoured. We are growing a few different kinds this year. We're really pleased with the Tigerella variety, it's a medium sized orange-red tomatoe with red tiger stripes on it and yellow cherry Honeybee, which is fruiting well so far.

The recent rain will help keep the plants fruiting. When it's hot we are thankful to previous owners of our little farm for planting all the trees, they provide shady spots for both us and our animals.

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