Harvesting and Hail!

Last week I made some small vases on the potter's wheel. These range from about 4 to 6 inches in height, and it has been fun trying out different forms. It is amazing how many variations it is possible to come up with, and I have lots more in mind! 

At some point in the week the sun was out, and it almost felt like Spring... rather than late Autumn, and we spied a butterfly sitting on a flower that stayed there long enough for me to get the camera and take a few photos of it.

 On Saturday morning I got a strong "urge" to get up on the roof at the back of our house and clean out leaves and other debris from the gutter, and make sure the down pipes were clear and working. It is not a high roof, and there is an area with only a gentle slope to work from, but getting up a ladder is not as straightforward as it once might have been, because I injured my remaining "good" shoulder at the beginning of February (a small tendon tear), and the various pills and potions I consume daily for a blood disorder tend to make me a little giddy, but I got there, and found both outlets from the gutter almost clogged, so I was able to make myself useful! When it came to the moment of truth, the "dismount" from high places proved more problematic than my ascent and, fortunately, Laura was on hand to shift the ladder to a slightly easier position for me... otherwise the roof may have become my home for a bit longer. The view from up there is actually rather nice!


Laura with a potato, she was pleased that its red colour co-ordinated well with her jersey. It would seem that the potato is something of a fashion accessory!

Another job I had an "urge" to get done the same morning was to harvest the last of the potatoes from the vegetable garden, and pick the solitary pumpkin that I had managed to grow this year.... a rather small and lonely member of the genus Curcurbita, but one on whom the continuation of the line of pumpkins I have grown for the last 3 years, depends! 

For me, the day of harvesting pumpkins (or pumpkin) really marks the beginning of winter. It is a declaration that nothing further can be achieved by keeping the pumpkins in the garden, there will be no further ripening, nor increase of size, and the risk of a frosty night is now too great. 

So I gazed somewhat sadly at the pumpkin, before raising my knife and severing it from the vine, and reflected on the summer past, and the winter to come. 

It was not a good season for pumpkins or tomatoes. The tomatoes flowered well, but the days were rarely hot enough to allow pollination to take place easily, hand pollination did help, but from what I have read, tomatoes really need the mid temperatures in the mid 20s (Celsius) to complete the process. I think the lack of real summer heat affected the pumpkins too, male and female flowers rarely occurred at the same time, and the vines struggled to grow with any real enthusiasm. The solitary female pumpkin flower that bore fruit was fortunate to have had two male flowers arrive just in the nick of time, one on the same vine, and one on a rather pathetically unwell vine that all but expired with the effort of flowering! I feel quite a fatherly bond to the pumpkin as I assisted the pollination process with a nice sable water colour brush, carefully transferring what pollen I could find from the two flowers, and hoping that it would be enough... and it was!

As we reverently carried one small pumpkin, 4 tiny runner beans, 6 small half ripe tomatoes and about 2 kilograms of potatoes back to the house, a few flecks of rain fell from a sky that was the colour of a sheet of galvanised iron.


Shortly afterward, the heavens (as they say) "opened". I am not really sure how hail the size of large peas, and the colour of a pearl necklace, really equates to the idea of it having a heavenly origin... but dense pebbles of the stuff pelted with increasing enthusiasm, and the rattle and swish of it was accompanied by booming rolls of thunder, and a remarkable quantity of rain. 


The ice quickly filled the recently cleaned gutters and down pipes, and with that means of escape blocked, water cascaded from the roof to the ground by what ever means it could improvise. 


Out the front of the building, the storm water drain by the main road blocked and  the edge of the road, and the footpath, became awash with a mixture of ice and water. Most cars slowed, or pulled over to a complete stop as drivers feared for their windscreens, a few crazy fools continued driving at pace. 

The fall of hail was quite prolonged, and, as I write this Monday morning, we still have some shady areas in the garden that are adorned with white.


Whilst my morning's cleaning of gutters and down pipes did not prevent chaos when the hail was at its worse, the water could at least clear away faster when the deluge had abated. We had one leak into the building, a rather odd one in the gallery that must have been due to water getting up under the ridge of the roof, but other than that we escaped fairly lightly.


After the heavens had "closed"... well, I assume they must if they "open", I went for a tour of inspection with Mr Smaug. He was very brave about walking on ice with his bare feet, definitely not quite happy about the chilly sensation between the toes, but still curious to explore the oddly changed world that he found around him.

It was worth getting down to the level of Mr Smaug and looking closely at the ice. 

Whilst most of the ice was an opalescent white, there were some glassy crystals, and others that had joined their neighbours in the happy plunge from the lofty clouds to terra firma. I remember a brief time when the hail was falling when the pieces became noticeably larger and oddly shaped.


Hum, we may be able to salvage some of the green tomatoes that were packed in ice,

but it is just as well that I picked the pumpkin before the storm, what was left of the vine was completely shredded.



gz said…
Very timely clearing and harvesting!
It is disappointing getting a summer like that...ours was similar here, so now we are working on improving our garden...and yet night frosts are forecast yet again this weekend!!
The only cucurbits that I grew successfully last year were in our little polytunnel...and no pumpkins grew big enough to harvest for seed.

Small vases are fun! Often sell well and are good for glaze tests too. Good to see that you are still throwing despite your shoulder.

Laura's potato is a good colour match..and a good size too! Good to see her looking well .
Big hugs to you both xx (((0)))
Peter's Dad said…
Quite spectacular Peter! We had 5 hours of thundery rain here; Tryingto use the wireless keyboard on the Smart TV... Promising! Watched Buster Keaton on YouTube as a result before typing in your blog address. THANKS for the hint! Happy pottering! Mum& Daa
Peter said…
Hi Gwynneth,
Lovely to hear from you. I think our weather is often rather similar even though we are at opposite ends of the globe. The short and very varied growing season does make for some challenges when it comes to plants that need heat and sunshine for fruit to mature, however, I once met someone who had worked as a scientist in Antarctica, who laughed at my feeble excuses regarding growing vegetables as evidently they were growing greens hydroponically down that way!

The shoulder is improving, slowly but surely, and it was lovely to be back at the wheel again. I can't manage much clay at a time, but it is quite exciting to see what can be made with 600 grams or less, and with some thought and care I was able to throw small bowls "off the hump" from a larger amount of clay with just the top part centered.

We had some really good potatoes (such a wonderful comfort food is the humble spud!), and I put in enough to supply us for around 6 months (we harvested our first few in November and still have a couple of weeks worth to go).

Big hugs happily accepted and big NZ hugs from us two sent to you and the Pirate! xx

Hello Dad,
Glad that you found Buster Keaton, he was so much fun and very entertaining! Hope the keyboard does the trick, I find our one a vast improvement compared with the tedium of using the TV remote.
Hope to do some "pottering" tomorrow, it will be nice to get back to the wheel again.
Love to you both, Pxx
srgb said…
Hi Peter
There must be something about pumpkins this year as we too only have one, its self seeded and still in the garden, its about the only thing that survives when there is a chook about, she is a good girl and helps me to eat the feijoas and oranges.
Its good to see that your both still fully occupied,
Bob S
Peter said…
Hi Bob,

Feijoas and Oranges, Yum! A bit chilly for such things down here, unless in a very sheltered, sunny spot. It is strange about the pumpkins (our solo pumpkins should become pen friends or something!!), I have my harvested one sitting in my studio currently, where it can hopefully ripen up a bit more over the next month or two (they do seem to improve with storage).. and ultimately become mid winter soup!
gz said…
Good to hear from you again...I saw that Dunedin airport had -5.2 C yesterday!!!!
Looks like you are in for a serious winter this time.
Glad that you are back potting..small steps....
Pirate's PSA count is heading up unfortunately, so probably no more racing..but yes to enjoying his bike riding!! Back on the hormone therapy again...but he is still alive and kicking!!
Big hugs wending your way...one day we will get to see you all again.
Are the woodfired pizza people doing ok?
Peter said…
Hi Gwynneth,
Yes, winter has arrived today too..., grey, windy and cold this afternoon, but the cats do like the heaters being on all the time, and a fire lit in the kitchen!
The woodfired pizza people are heading to Germany for a few months (they generally do that in our winter season), but I the shop looks to be doing OK. We didn't have a pizza this year there, we intended to, but didn't quite manage it unfortunately.

Sorry that the Pirate has PSA counts misbehaving, I hope the hormone therapy works well and brings things back into remission... after all, that bike of his needs exercise!

It will be lovely to catch up again and definitely share a woodfired pizza together!
All the best from us,

Peter & Laura xx
gz said…
I wonder if the woodfired pizza people will be able to return again? Hopefully by next year travel to..and back to..New Zealand may be easier
Gz xx
Anna said…
Hi from a locked down Sydney.. I haven't looked at blogs for ages, hence my late comment.
I trust your shoulder is better by now. We are finding it much colder this year than last year. Hurrah for good heating. Off to post on my own blog. Oh and I found you on Instagram.
Take care, stay well.
Peter said…
Hi Anna,
Good to hear from you,and no worries about "late" comments, I see it was all the way back in April when I last posted here..so I am very late myself with doing anything with the blog.
Shoulder is much better, but it has been a difficult year health wise unfortunately, which has meant only a little time in the studio, and nothing much of interest to report on the blog. I'm hoping things will pick up again soon! Happy to report that the very first signs of Spring are here now and it is lovely to see snowdrops and some miniature iris flowers brightening the garden.

Sorry that Australia is having to battle with fresh outbreaks and lock downs, a worrying and frustrating time.
All the Best,

gz said…
No blogging for a year!!
Hope all is ok for you all.
Sending big hugs xx ((0))
Peter said…
Hi Gwynneth,
Good to hear from you, thanks for checking in! Sorry that the blog has been in a rather expired state for a long while, I do think of it from time to time and wonder about restarting. Last year was a difficult one from a health perspective and it did slow down potting and most other things so I did not feel there was much to report on this potting blog! I got some stock made in time for last Christmas and it took us through our "busy" time. Then we shut for a few months due to the worry about Covid and our own somewhat dodgy health. Things are going a bit better again now, and there probably are a few more "blog worthy" things happening in the studio again, so you never know, I might try to update this!
Big hugs to you too! :-)

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