Much to behold at tree sale

Bring Your Own wheelbarrow...
Bring Your Own wheelbarrow…

Brazilian tree grapes, slipper orchids, yakons and much more were at the recent Tree Crop sale at Hamilton Gardens. Kelly Dyer was also there.

The forecast had been for rain but – in true Hamilton style – the sun was out and it was unseasonably warm.

Sales started at 10am and when we (Hubby came along too, to stop me buying plants we had no room for) arrived at about quarter past, the day was well underway. The delicious smell of a sausage sizzle invited potential spenders up to the car park where laid out for everyone to look at was a rather large number of trees, shrubs, berries, herbs and gardening books.

We wandered around first, as I wanted to know what was on sale before committing to spend my small stash of cash. There were many tempting plants on sale, from peach trees to native totara, apple trees to strawberries. On the second pass around a book of recipes for using as many different kinds of fruit and nuts that you could reasonably access in Hamilton caught my eye, but a quick leaf (I see what you did there – Hubby) through showed that most of them involved evil in some form of sugar, and so it was put back regretfully.

The stall next door had some of the largest bulbs of garlic I had ever seen, correctly identified by yours truly as elephant garlic (Because nobody would grow whale garlic). Elephant garlic is milder than the smaller form and is good if you don’t want to have garlic breath, but I prefer the punch-you-in-the-face flavour of good garlic, so those bulbs were safe.

It was the other offering at this stall that really caught my eye: yacon. Now, I’ve heard of this plant, which above ground looks similar to a small sunflower, but underground grows sweet and crunchy tubers, full of good long-chain oligosaccharides that are sweet but can’t be digested by humans. I’d not had a chance to taste it, but luckily for me there was a taste test and I found that the tuber looked a little like sliced pear and tasted like a very sweet, juicy carrot. We bought some of the edible tubers for snacks later that day but were unable to make off with any plants: they had already sold out.

As we completed our second circuit we noticed that some people were going all out; a banana box full of plants looked like a grand haul until we saw someone leaving with a whole wheelbarrow full of trees. We missed out on buying a young lancewood to replace one at home that had died during the drought, but I did manage to talk my way into getting a grapefruit tree to add to the citrus lawn at the front of the house.

A small haul compared to the barrow-full we had seen, but perfect for the amount of space we had to spare. The sale was held in association with the Waikato branch of the Tree Crop Society.

...and  home he goes, with the new grapefruit tree.
…and home he goes, with the new grapefruit tree.

Ed’s note: John Riddell grows the biggest elephant garlic in Gordonton, available at the Farm Shop. And yacon, for the record, is a cinch to grow, it thrived in our garden. Was good in salads and got people talking. Well worth buying a plant – if you can find one!

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

2 thoughts on “Much to behold at tree sale

  • July 16, 2013 at 9:38 pm

    John and Audrey Stanley who live in Peach Road grow certified OrganicFarmNZ Yacon, the latest consignment is heading overseas. They regularly supply it to an organic outlet in Auckland. They have been growing it very successfully for a number of years and John is very knowledgeable about the plant and all its wonderful attributes.

    • July 17, 2013 at 9:31 am

      Thanks for that Judy – there you go, yacons by the wheelbarrow full, folks. Good on them.


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