Avocados & Kiwifruit

Mardis Gras - Avocados & Kiwifruit

At the market: Every Sunday in the Main Hall

Contact: Dave & Jocelyn French

Call/text: 027 437 5315

Email: famille@ps.gen.nz

During COVID closures: Not available

Avocado Ripening Tips

Hass avocados ripen quicker when it is warm, and slower when it is cooler.

Keep them on the bench and watch them carefully as they start to change colour. When they are brown, eat them. You can put them in the fridge once they are NEARLY ripe (not ripe). Do not let them go black, and dark brown might be too far. They ripen faster when it is warm.

Dave & Joc's Story

Dave French and Jocelyn Patterson grow gold kiwifruit and avocados.

How did you get into farming?

I’ve been doing it all my life. I grew up on a dairy farm but got into managing kiwifruit orchards, with a mate, when I came back to New Zealand after my OE. I’ve been doing that ever since.

Where did you meet Jocelyn?

I met her on my OE. We’d never met even though we lived close to each other in New Zealand. Now we have five children and the last of them has just left home.

Where do the avocados and kiwifruit come from?

We have a couple of orchards near Glenbrook Beach, near the Manukau – it is lovely volcanic soil. I was managing this kiwifruit orchard for a group of Auckland businessmen when they decided to sell it 22 years ago. We bought it and have been here ever since.

Green or gold kiwifruit?

We were one of the first to grow gold kiwifruit. I went to a conference and came home with some sample kiwifruit. Our toddlers devoured a big pile and asked for more. What could be better than a product kids love and Mums feel good about feeding them?

How has PSA affected you?

When our original gold got PSA, we had to cut it out and re-graft the vines to the more PSA tolerant variety, Sungold. This meant we got very little production for three years.

We brew and apply beneficial microbes to both soil and leaves – the aim is to flood the orchard with beneficial microbes to out-compete the nasties. We believe this is better for us, and our fruit, than spraying and killing everything and hoping that the beneficial microbes come back quicker than the nasties.

Do you use sprays?

We are growing large volumes of fruit and most of what we grow is exported, so we do need to spray a bit, but it is always specific and targeted to the problem that we dealing with. I mow weeds but don’t spray them. And I never use glyphosate (Round-up) because the weeds and grasses all have a part to play in our orchard ecosystem.

What about the avocados?

Like many kiwifruit orchards, there were a few avocado trees at the back of the orchard but not commercial quantities. When a block became available up the road, we set up a commercial avocado orchard.

Aren’t avocados a feast or famine crop?

That can be managed. I prune a lot more than many other growers. I’ve learnt from Kiwifruit practices that it is important to limit the density of flower/fruit on each tree, otherwise the tree is too drained to fruit properly the following year.

How does the Grey Lynn Farmers Market fit in?

We love it - it’s neat fun. There’s a nice energy as soon as we walk in the door. The stallholders enjoy each other’s company. We go to the market because we love being part of the community. It’s so satisfying when customers tell us that we have the best avocados.

As published in Ponsonby News : November 2018