April 2014


Casimiroa

Casimiroa

I was approached one day in the library by an incredibly enthusiastic young Maori man living on a large block of land two kilometres south of Te Paki Stream. He had read my second book, Beyond the Search, and hence knew of my experiments with self-sufficiency and in particular with the planting and care of subtropical fruits in Golden Bay. He is extremely keen to plant subtropicals so that ‘my people can taste fruit they’ve never tasted before.’ There is already an abundantly fruiting white sapote (casimiroa edulis) on the land on which he care-takes. I’d like to dedicate the remainder of this column to a few suggestions for planting in our uniquely warm and subtropical Far North. If you are living on a sheltered property here are a few fruits to consider planting in frost-free areas.

Ugli Fruit

Ugli Fruit

First, obviously just about any citrus tree thrives in our area provided you supply it with enough magnesium. Epsom salts are a good source of magnesium. I have planted lemonades and ugli fruit while living in Peria precisely because these fruits aren’t often available at markets.

Cherimoyas have been grown successfully in the Far North for at least two decades. You’re probably best to buy grafted trees as they will begin fruiting earlier (especially if you summer prune the growing tips).

Cherimoya

Cherimoya

Cherimoyas provide delicious, slightly acidic white-fleshed fruit from July to December.

Bananas are an obvious choice in a warm location and do very well provided you ‘feed’ them with plenty of mulch. Grass and hedge clippings will give the necessary nitrogen to banana palms which grow rapidly in summer. And a sprinkling of wood ash in the spring won’t be remiss. Mulch will also eliminate or at least minimize the need for supplemental watering during a dry summer. Source banana pups from friends already growing successful varieties such as the Samoan Misi Luki or the Tongan Ladyfinger.

Lady Finger Bananas

Lady Finger Bananas

Most trees are happy to be transplanted in autumn but bananas probably do better when planted in
spring once soils warm.

I’ve mentioned in the past about black sapote being successfully grown in the North Hokianga. This delicious fruit has brown creamy flesh reminiscent of chocolate mousse. One large fruit is a rich meal. I met a man at a gathering ten years ago who told me he’d planted a block of black sapotes outside Mangonui. I’d like to find out how those trees have done.

Black Sapote

Black Sapote

Dave and George Austen coaxed mangoes to fruit at Exotic Nursery just outside Kaitaia in the late 1990s. These green-fingered brothers were successful with lychees, pawpaws and babacos as well. I’ve watched a mango tree struggle in the nine years we’ve been in Coopers Beach. I suspect we’ll need a little more global warming before mangoes really take off here.
An internet search will locate subtropical nurseries with the plants you desire. Happy planting!

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

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Thank God it’s Tuesday. I love my work in the library, but one of the reasons I find it so enjoyable is that I’m usually there only 3 ½ days a week. I work Monday, Tuesday, Friday and Saturday (that’s the half bit). Every Wednesday (weather permitting) I join a friendly group for a 3 ½ hour to 5 ½ hour hike. I can’t tell you just how much I enjoy this. Not only do we walk in the some of the most beautiful and pristine places in the Far North of New Zealand, this time spent in nature works as a perfect counter-point to my time at work and with writing that cannot be done without technology. So while I watch full-time workers get progressively more stressed and sluggish as each week wears on, I’m fresh and raring to go every time I arrive at work in the morning.

8 hour dayIn the past more than 100 years worthy individuals have laboured long and hard to improve the rights of workers, introducing such revolutionary (at the time) concepts as the 5-day week and the eight-hour day. We’ve inherited this hard-won paradigm and it has worked well. But now, as countries the world over have privatised state assets such as power, telephone and rail we’ve experienced dramatic spikes in unemployment. This in turn has led to increases in crime and family violence. People without worthy work tend towards harmful actions.

If every full-time worker dropped a full day of work, we’d instantly increase jobs by 20%. Yes, people would need to learn to live with less but they would then have the opportunity to discover what they could do with more spare time. They could have more quality time with their families, join a service organization, exercise more. The opportunities are endless. They might have to live with fewer expensive gadgets, but they just might find, as I have, that life can be extremely satisfying, complete and meaningful when work and leisure time are in balance.

If we all worked fewer hours perhaps we’d reach less for the short-term props of caffeine and sugar, the drugs that fuel our current over-full lifestyles.

When I started work with the telephone company in Canada in the early 1980s I watched colleagues with management positions similar to mine retire one year and die the next. Some people are so married to their jobs that they forget or choose not to experience the wealth of life outside the workplace. If retirement frightens you why not ease into it by dropping one work-day a week every few years as you approach the gold card plateau?

Why work too hard and spend your health trying to achieve wealth and then retire and spend your wealth trying to get back your health? Why not live now?

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com