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Both were very popular. Shane keeps records of all vegetable sales and based on these says next year he will be trimming his tomatoes back to two bays, giving the luffas a bay of their own, doubling the bitter melon area, tripling Fijian eggplants, and probably putting in four full rows of snake beans. His flatmates are helping him to develop a Facebook page so he can communicate with his customers.

He has stir-fried luffa. Shane caught his love of gardening off his grandad and followed it up with two years at polytech.

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His only regret is that his beloved, green-fingered grandfather did not get to see this property as he died a year before he started working there. The warmer autumns over the last few years have enabled Shane to carry crops a bit later. The springs have been cooler, but with fewer frosts, he has been encouraged enough to try marginal crops like okra. Over winter he rotary hoes sheep manure into the soil, covers it in black plastic and lays sawdust on top, which is later recycled. T-tape irrigation supplies water to all the plants.

Shane checking his luffas The lure of luffa plants proves too enticing. The bees love of luffa is resulting in amazing yields for Shane. There have been unexpected bonuses. His luffas brought customers and honeybees! But luffa or loofah brought in honeybees galore. No other crop has ever brought bees in like this. Even on an overcast day, the small curcubit-type flowers are abuzz with honey bees, darting around the long grooved luffas hanging from vines. When the ride-on mower died, that was it.

At night I lock up doors and just let them out to graze around the greenhouses. The doors had blown open in the night, the sheep had got in, then the doors had blown shut after them. When Shane found them, they had chewed out the beans — strings included — and were feasting on the parsley. They were enjoying it, they wanted to stay. At the end of the season Shane rips out the tomato plants to the delight of his well-fed sheep, who will munch on the unpicked fruit for days.

According to Shane, his sheep scoff everything, especially his orchard feijoas which rarely get to hit the ground. Beans are the favourite — beans are the ultimate. His journey into Asian vegetables was prompted by his increasing frustration battling the devastating psyllid Bactericera cockerelli on his main crop, tomatoes. Psyllid was first found in New Zealand in The adults look like miniature cicadas and the nymph are flat, scale-like insects. Damage is caused by the nymphs and adults, which feed on leaves and also transmit a bacterial disease, Liberobacter, which is believed to cause diseases such as psyllid yellows which drastically affect yields.

Angled luffa, Luffa acutangula.

Enthusiastic pickers Deepika left and Sona. Trinidad Scorpion chilli. Young cucumber plants, watered using T-tape irrigation. Curry leaf, Murraya koenigii. Shane discussing vegetables with a valued customer. Snake beans, Vigna unguiculata subsp sesquipedalis. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Print Email.