Waikato International Community Gardening Project Update February 4th 2013

Posted 4 years, 9 months ago    1 comment

Make the most of rain!

Rain is falling over the Waikato today (monday feb 4th). Make the most of this free watering by sowing seeds or planting out  vege plants and mulching them well. You can use woodchippings, lawn clippings or straw. The mulch acts like a sponge, soaking up rain water which would otherwise run off. When the hot dry weather returns, the mulch slowly releases water back into the soil around your plants' roots

In the photo : sowing pea seeds for an autumn harvest.

gardening through the dry weather

What makes these vegetable plants look so happy? A thick layer of woodchipping mulch holds the moisture in the soil around the roots.When this photo was taken,it had not rained for two weeks. The garden has only been watered  twice since New Year, but the plants are thriving.

raising  vege seedlings in the shade house

Gardeners at Grandview Community Garden have sowed their lettuce, silverbeet, choi sum and cabbage in the new shadehouse. Shade makes life much easier for baby plants in this hot weather. You can make a mini shadehouse at home, read more here

In the photo: Rara checks her lettuce and cabbage seedlings.

getting the family to eat home grown food

Sometimes there are veges ready in the garden but nobody is eating them. Does this happen at your place? Here are some ideas to encourage the family to eat  home grown fruit and vegetables:

  • PIck cucumbers, lettuce and tomatoes in the evening and put them in the fridge where the family will see when they go to make their lunches in the morning. . Lettuce keeps best in a loose plastic bag or plastic container. 
  • PIck and bring in beans, zuccini, kamo kamo and greens in the morning.Keep in the fridge.When its hot in the afternoon and everyone is tired it can be hard to head outside and pick vegetables for dinner, so have them ready to use in the fridge.
  • Children don't always know when fruit is ripe. Keep checking the fruit and pIck a few plums, apples or berries ready for them to eat after school.

Water use restrictions

The Waikato has had much less rain that usual for January. There are water resrictions in Hamilton, South Waikato District and Waikato District. The Summer Water conservation Alert is at level 2:

Water Alert Level 2

Sprinkler systems are permitted between 6-8am and 6-8pm on alternate days only. This means if your street address is an even number you may water between the restricted hours on even dates of the month only. For example: If you live at 8 Smith Street, you may use your sprinkleron the 12th, 14th, 16th etc).
How to water wisely: water each plant slowly around the roots. Give each plant a litre of water two or three times a week.You can use a plastic milk bottle to measure out the water. This way you know that each plant has enough water to keep it going for a few days. You do not fill your car with petol by sprinkling a bit into the tank - watering is like filling a tank in the soil.

In the photo: Garden  volunteer Yuri waters a fruit tree at Grandview Community Garden by slowing pouring the water around the roots.Each tree gets 20 litres  of water once a week

keep flowers blooming

Picking off the old dead flowers is called dead heading. Dead heading flowers every few days makes dahlias, cosmos and other flowers keep flowering for longer.

Flowers in the vegetable garden are important for feeding good insects like lacewings, hoverflies and bees. In the photo: picking dead heads off a dahla to encourage more flowers.

 

what's good about dry weather?

Have you heard the saying "Every cloud has a silver lining?" It means that nothing is all bad. The dry weather is stressful for plants, farmers and gardeners but there are two good things about the dry conditions:

There are fewer plant diseases (rots and moulds) because rain spreads diseases

Weeds are growing slowly, too so its a great time to pull out nasty weeds like convolvulus because they can't grow back as fast!

Unfortunately, when the rain comes, we will notice more diseases on our plants, and lots of weeds popping up!

This week at Grandview Community Garden

Thursday February 7th 5.30pm to 7.30pm

February is a good time to sow pak choi, lettuce, beetroot, silverbeet, spring onions, komatsuna, rocket, carrots and onions.Join us in the garden to sow and mulch. Are you thinking about starting a garden? There is space at Grandview Community Garden for new gardeners.

Wear boots or shoes and a sunhat. Bring your tools and seeds.

Please park on Grandview Road and walk in the gate opposite 183 Grandview Rd. (look for the banner) Bus route number 8 (Frankton)

Get in touch if you have any questions Clare and Tim ph 021 0387623 WIC Community Garden Mentors

 

 

Happy Gardening

 

 

 


Cancellation of Taro Planting Workshop

Posted 4 years, 11 months ago by WIC Coordinator    0 comments

Apologies but the taro planting workshop at Grandview Community Garden that was going to be held tomorrow night has been CANCELLED.

So you can enjoy your own garden instead!

Regards

Kathryn

WIC Project Manager 


WIC Gardening Update - 12 Dec 2012

Posted 4 years, 11 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hi and ayubowan

This will be the last WIC Update for the year and my last as WIC Project Manager - I finish up next week.  What an amazing 18 months we have had!  We are looking for a WIC Coordinator to start next year - there is more information about this at the bottom of the Update.   

I heard a cicada 'singing' for the first time this week - a sound I associate with summer!  I am looking forward to spending more time in the garden over the Christmas-New Year break.  I usually get some exercise by walking to work: spending more time in the garden over the holidays will make up for this - and it will be fun!

Christmas is celebrated with a public holiday on the 25 December.  While this is a Christian festival, many non-Christians also celebrate it as a time to be with family and friends, eat special foods and to give gifts.  ESL News NZ has more information about how Christmas is celebrated in NZ. 

Some home-made gardening-related gifts are: 

  • plants grown from cuttings (started in July/mid-winter to be ready for Christmas)
  • Christmas 'tree' pea tee-pee - in a pot (as demonstrated at the Low Cost Living Expo see photo below - ideally started in spring) or a child sized project in the garden 
  • Produce that you have used in baking or preserved, such as chutney, pickles, jams...
  • seed bombs - made with clay and compost, or with paper mache (also called papier-mâché)
  • rose water or rose oil
  • lavender bags (English lavender) to help sleep and to repel insects from stored clothing.
  • pomander ball
  • If you have more time than money, why not give them a voucher giving them two hour's help in their garden?

Grandview Community Garden

If you are not a signed up Grandview Community Garden member, please do not visit the garden outside of the advertised training session hours. If you want to drop off tools or plants, or visit the garden out side of these hours, contact Clare or Tim (WIC Community Garden Mentors) and make an appointment to visit.  

We have just had an extra section of land cleared of weeds etc, so it is a great time to start a new garden plot there if you have been thinking about it! It is free to join the Grandview Community Garden and have your own plot: you can keep what you grow there, but not sell it.  Individuals, families and groups are all welcome.  We have about 70 people gardening there at the moment, representing over 14 ethnicities and all ages!

For more information contact Clare, ph 021 0387623.

Reminder: WEAVE Twilight Market

The Christmas WEAVE Twilight Market is on this Friday 14 December, 5 pm - 9 pm at Claudelands Park, Boundary Road, Hamilton.  Come along to see and taste the diversity we have in Hamilton city!

Free Healthy Cooking Class

Stephanie will be running her popular hands-on class.  This week you can learn how to cook Christmas Cake and Crispy Salty-Peppery Chicken.  Saturday 15 December 2012, 10 am - 12 noon at the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre in Boundary Road.

Just turn up, no booking required - everyone is welcome! If you need more information contact Waikato Ethnic Family Services, ph 839-4688.

Reminder: Multicultural Christmas Party

Another chance to experience food from a variety of cultures at this free event - everyone is welcome!

When: Saturday 15 December 2012, 2 pm - 4 pm

Where: Waikato Migrant Resource Centre, Claudelands Park, Boundary Road.

More details and a flier are on the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre Community Events Calendar

Taro Planting Workshop

Taro is eaten daily by about 100 million people around the world! It is particularly important in Southeast Asia, the Pacific, some parts of Africa and Egypt, the West Indies, and some of South America. The whole plant is edible.  

Come along to Grandview Community Garden on Friday 21 December from 6 pm for a hands-on taro planting session.  Experienced taro growers from Samoa, Tonga and Taiwan will be showing us how.  We hope to have a mixture of varieties to look at. 

If you already grow taro, come along and share your knowledge, it would be great if you could bring any interesting varieties you grow.  Your taro recipes are welcome too! There is a sweet taro cake recipe on Ooooby from Taiwan, and a spicy savoury taro cake recipe here.

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.  

For your calendar

Our gardens do not take a holiday - this is a time where our gardens are growing fast!  So the following free sessions will be held at the Grandview Community Garden over the next few months - everyone is welcome to come along and learn! 

  • Thursday December 27, 9 am - 10.30 am, repeated Saturday December 29, 9 am - 11 am - Sow summer vegetables - plant a second crop of zucchini, cucumbers beans and tomatoes
  • Wednesday January 2, 9 am - 10.30 am, repeated  Saturday January 5, 9 am - 11 am Seed saving in the garden: new plants for free
  • Monday January 7 (To be confirmed - this date may change), 9 am - 10.30 am, repeated Saturday January 12, 9 am - 10.30 am - Growing healthy tomatoes
  • Tuesday January 15, 9 am - 10.30 am, repeated  Saturday January 19, 9 am - 11 am - Pest control - beetles and bugs
  • Monday January 21, 9 am - 10.30 am, repeated Saturday January 26, 9 am - 11 am - Water wise gardening
  • Tuesday January 29, repeated Saturday February 2 - Sowing autumn vegetables in the shade house- leeks, broccoli, onions, spinach.

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.

For more information contact Clare (ph 021 0387623), WIC Community Garden Mentor.

NZ Tree Crops Association (NZTCA) National Conference is in Hamilton next year!

The national NZTCA conference is being held at Hamilton Gardens on April 26-28, 2013.  A great Grow Your Own themed program is being offered, with top speakers from overseas and around New Zealand and some hands-on workshops.  The local branch of NZTCA is also looking for Waikato people to get involved as volunteers. There is more information on the website

Local Horticulture Courses 2013

If you would like to learn more about organic gardening, Agriculture New Zealand are running a combined Level 3 Organic Horticulture and Level 2 National Certificate Horticulture course next year.  The course will run one day a week (probably Tuesdays) during school hours for 32 weeks.  It will be held just out of Cambridge and the tutor is Burton Worth (Cook Islands) of Locavore.  The course fee is $250 for the full year. If you would like more information, contact Micky Cunningham on 0800 475 455 or 858 5322. 

If you combine the above certificate with the Plant Propagation course being offered by Agribusiness Training you can get the Level 3 National Certificate in Horticulture.  The Plant Propagation course is offered in both Te Awamutu and Hillcrest, and runs twice a month in the evening. It costs $300.  For more information contact Brent ph 0508-247-428 option 6. 

Other horticulture courses in Hamilton next year include the WINTEC program and the Hamilton Permaculture Trust's design certificate course.   

Free plants and seeds

Lance saves his own seed and has a glut.  Rather than composting them, he is offering free cauliflower seedlings as well as free bean and chilli seeds.  If you would like some, give him a call and arrange to pick some up: ph 027-487-1616.  He is based in Frankton.  (Thanks Lance!)

Harvesting Garlic

We planted garlic around the time of the shortest day in mid-winter.  Six months later on the longest day, 22 December, it is time to harvest it! 

Clare's garlic harvesting instructions are: Stop watering and feeding the garlic plants two weeks before harvest. Garlic is ready to harvest is when there are just two or three green leaves left and the rest are dead. To harvest, dig the bulbs up rather than pulling them up, being careful not to damage the outer skins.

Let them cure in a dry, shady, well ventilated location for three days eg on a table in carport. Once the  foliage is dry, clean the bulbs by wiping or peeling away the outer husk. To store your garlic bulbs, place them in mesh bags or braided strings in a dark, cool place. Garlic will keep up to three months if stored in a cool dry place.

And of course, save one bulb of garlic to plant in June 2013 for your next crop!

Sow over summer...

Clare says it often rains between Christmas day and New Year in the Waikato – bad for camping, but a good chance to sow a second crop of tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini and greens.

Watch the weather forecast and try to sow or plant just before it rains: watering is OK but rain is best!

During January/February sow trays of leeks, broccoli, cabbages, onions, lettuce in a shade house or cool shady area, for planting out in late summer/autumn.

 

Sweet Treats for the Holiday Season

Last week I talked about harvesting red currents: this week's Get Growing ezine has them as their 'crop of the week' with some growing tips and recipe for red current jelly.  The jelly often used to glaze (make shiny) sweet tarts, meats such as pork or the Christmas ham or turkey or chicken, or to serve along side roasted meats like lamb, or in a sandwich with cheese. 

Teresa asked for a frozen yogurt recipe: if you use strawberries and raspberries for Sanitarium's berry frozen yogurt  you will have a deep red Christmassy coloured yogurt icecream.

The simple Fruit Cake/Christmas Cake recipe published in the January 2012 newsletter is now up on Ooooby - use your foraged walnuts in it, if you have some.

Some Christmas recipes kids might enjoy helping you to decorate are:

Translations

It has been inspiring to hear how some people have been translating the WIC Gardening Update for their communities, whether it is within a family like Lucy translating it over breakfast for her husband, or the Colombian man who uses one of the online translation engines then forwards it to his Spanish speaking friends, or Fulitua who translates key information like what to plant and broadcasts it on her Crossover Kiribati radio show.  Awesome work, thank you for using your skills to help others garden too!

We have applied for some funding to get key written materials translated next year.

Expressions of Interest

Next year K’aute Pasifika Services will be looking for a WIC Coordinator to take WIC to the next stage. This will include developing a sustainable structure and funding base for WIC. Our ideal person will:

  • be passionate about organic food gardening
  • have an interest in health and fitness
  • have experience of working cross-culturally as WIC is pitched at the needs of new migrants, refugees and Pacific Islanders in the Waikato
  • have experience in the not-for-profit sector
  • have strong networking and partnership building skills
  • have strong organisational skills
  • be a funding whizz!

Initially this will be a part time position, 12 hours per week, until further funding is secured, with the potential to build up to full time.

If you are interested in this position please contact Talei at Talei@kautepasifika.org.nz or phone (07) 834-1482 and a job description will be sent to you in the New Year.

Summer Hours

Our offices here at K'aute Pasifika Services will be closed from 21 December, reopening on the 14 January 2013. The free K'aute Family Clinic will be closed from 25 December 2013 - 6 January 2013.  

We hope you have a safe, happy and delicious summer holiday season!

Kathryn

PS If you are going away over summer, have you arranged for someone to water your garden?

Photo: Stephanie demonstrating how to make pea tee-pees for Christmas at the Low Cost Living Expo


Free tomato plants

Posted 4 years, 11 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    2 comments

Hi

A late notice: Bunnings have just donated lots of tomato plants that need good homes!  If you would like some free tomato plants and can get them in the ground this week, pick them up from:

  • Waikato Migrant Resource Centre, Claudelands Park, Boundary Road (Ph 853 2192)
  • K'aute Pasifika Services (from late tomorrow morning) Level 1, 960 Victoria Street (entrance is from Liverpool St), City, (Ph 834-1482)
  • Grandview Community Garden when Clare or (ph 021 0387623) or Tim (ph 021 2243109) are on site.

Remember that we also have some free kumi kumi plants available at K'aute or through Tim and Clare.

Thanks very much to Bunnings, the Police constable who arranged the donation, and to Joy from HOGs.

Cheers

Kathryn


WIC Gardening Update 5 Dec 2012

Posted 4 years, 11 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hello and selamat sore

They made great progress building a shade house at Grandview Community Garden last weekend - just in time for summer.  December is the official start to summer here in NZ.  NIWA's climate outlook for summer (December 2012 - February 2013) for our region is: 

  • temperatures are likely to be about average (17.7 - 18.4 degrees C)
  • total rainfall is likely to be about normal or below (less rain), (150-250 mm rain)
  • summer soil moisture levels are projected to be below normal (drier soil).

Reminder: Get Your Garden Ready for Dry Weather: Being Water Wise

Given NIWA's prediction of drier soil this summer, learn to be Water Wise if you haven't come to one of our free demonstrations already.  Learn how to:

  • Collect and store rainwater for your garden
  • See a solar water pump being used
  • Minimise the amount of water you need to use
  • Water less often
  • Choose plants that don't need lots of water
  • Shape the landscape to make the most of your water.

When: Saturday 8 Dec 9 - 11am

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.   

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Reminder: Organic Pest Control

Come and see how to control garden pests the organic way at one of these free, hands-on WIC sessions at the Grandview Community Garden:

When: Monday 10 Dec 5:30 - 7 pm, repeated Wednesday 12 Dec 9-10:30 am.

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.   

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

WEAVE Twilight Market

The Christmas WEAVE Twilight Market is on Friday 14 December at Claudelands Park. Please contact Haidee Kalirai on Haidee.Kalirai@refugeeservices.org.nz if you would like to set up a food or craft stall.

I went last year and enjoyed seeing the wide variety of foods from different cultures.  I was impressed by the Burmese refugees who had only been in Hamilton a week who were already selling a traditional soup! 

The Twilight Market was also where I discovered the pleasure of red (adzuki) bean dumplings: it is very odd in European cooking to use beans in a sweet dish, but the taste of the dumplings definitely got me over that mental barrier! The red bean filling almost tastes like plums.  Why don't you go along and try something new?

Each season I like to try growing something new: this summer I am going to try growing adzuki beans.  Have any of you tried growing them before?  I would love to know if you were successful and whether you have any hints on how to get good results.

Multicultural Christmas Party

Another chance to experience food from a variety of cultures at this free event - everyone is welcome!

When: Saturday 15 December 2012, 2 pm - 4 pm

Where: Waikato Migrant Resource Centre, Claudelands Park, Boundary Road.

More details and a flier on the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre Community Events Calendar

Pick your own...

If you don't have room to grow all the fruit, nuts and vegetables you would like, or your shrubs or trees are not producing much fruit yet, think about visiting a grower that allows you to 'pick your own'.  Picking your own can work out cheaper than buying from a shop, particularly if you are buying in bulk and can share the petrol costs with a few friends.   Growers sometimes advertise in the local free newspapers or try these web sites:

These sites don't include everyone: for example Strawberry Fields on State Highway 1 just south of Tamahere has pick your own strawberries at the moment, but is not listed. 

I visit Monovale/Ohaupo area just out of Hamilton between late December and March, going early one morning when the temperatures are cooler to pick bulk blueberries: I freeze most of them to use over the coming months. The blueberries thrive in the peat soil in that area.  I use PYO as an opportunity to get some fresh air, exercise, catch up with a friend and get some yummy fruit!

So if you see a roadside 'PYO' sign when you are out, why not list it on Ooooby so others can pick their own too?  Alternatively, if you are looking for a particular fruit, nut or vegetable to pick, try advertising on Ooooby on the WIC group or the Hamilton NZ or South Waikato groups.

Free plants

Joy of Hamilton Organic Gardeners kindly donated some spare kumi kumi (also called kamo kamo) seeds.  Clare grew some up and we now have some free kumi kumi seedlings to give away: if you would like some I have a few available during office hours in the city (ph 834-1482) or contact Clare (021-038-7623).

Valeti was wondering how to eat kumi kumi. You can start eating them once they reach baseball size, or leave them to grow and develop a hard skin so they will keep over winter like a pumpkin. They are good cooked in a hangi or umu.  You can eat them just like pumpkin, or stuff them like you would a marrow, like this vegetarian recipe which can be eaten hot or cold. 

At Grandview Community Garden they have allowed silverbeet, lettuce and spring onions to set seed. Clare says that they will collect the seed by cutting the mature seed heads and drying them stored upside down in paper bags in the shed. The seeds will fall out into the bag.  They will also allow some seed to fall into the gardens and grow – "we just need to learn to recognise them from weed seedlings when they pop up – free veg, planted for free!"  Some people call these 'volunteer plants'.  There are photos of the seed heads here.

Prepare to Harvest Your Garlic

Garlic planted in June (usually on the shortest day/midwinter) will be ready to harvest on midsummer's day (22 December, the longest day). Stop watering and feeding the garlic plants two weeks before harvest - ie this weekend.

Sow now...

Diamond (China) has been planting his winter melon seeds.  The melons are huge, store well and are commonly used in a winter soup.   Make sure you keep all your melon and pumpkin plants well fed and mulched over summer! 

Clare says that you can keep sowing corn right up to Christmas: sow an early maturing cultivar (variety) like Yates ‘honey sweet’ last - corn needs 3 months to grow before the cold weather returns.

For a continuous supply of green vegetables Clare says to sow some lettuce, spinach or pak choi every week. Then you will always have one ready to pick, right through summer (see photo).  

Another green you can plant now is the native New Zealand spinach (called kokihi in Maori, Tetragonia tetragonioides and Tetragonia trigyna) which copes well with dry conditions and will sprawl over a 1 m patch of ground, shading the soil, acting as a living mulch.  It is quick to cook.

Do you have bees in your garden? Fruit like tomatoes, courgettes and melons need pollinators - mostly bees - to set (make) fruit.  Try to have a few flowers blooming (flowering) in your garden all the time to attract these beneficial (good) insects.  Bees particularly like blue flowers: borage is a good multipurpose plant with blue flowers that is easy to grow. 

Food Portion Sizes

Do you find it hard to understand what a healthy portion size is - ie how much of different types of foods we should enjoy to stay healthy? Sanitarium have published a good overview.

In season now...

The recipe from Stephanie's cooking class last Saturday for stir fried lettuce with garlic is up on Ooooby.  The Beef, Asparagus, & Cashew Stir Fry recipe they made is available here.

If you planted potatoes in October, Clare says they will be ready around now - many people like to have new (fresh) potatoes on Christmas day. If they are flowering or dying off it is time to dig a few and see if they look ready.  There is more information about growing and harvesting potatoes on Ooooby.

Waikato's Nourish magazine has a great Raw Energy Salad recipe using vegetables you may be harvesting from your garden at the moment - including broad beans, carrots, beetroot, spinach and/or rocket, sprouts or other baby greens.  It is a complete meal in itself, great for the lunch box or to take to a summer BBQ. 

Some people north of the Waikato and some locals using tunnel houses are already harvesting courgettes (also known as zucchini). This means that courgettes are now cheap to buy.  They are a very productive plant, well worth growing. They can be eaten raw or cooked.  Nourish has a recipe for a carrot and courgette salad, which they serve with Morroccan style lamb.   

The salad includes currants: in most English language cookbooks, when they say 'currants', they mean the sweet dried black currents (Ribes nigrum), as these are the most commonly available.  Otherwise the recipe will say 'fresh currents'.  Black currents are high in vitamin C - their juice is used in some drinks.  My currant bushes have almost finished fruiting: the black currants ripened first, then the white and red varieties: they look beautiful mixed together. 

Remember to keep your currants and berries covered with netting (old net curtains are good) - the birds think they are delicious too! Check them every day for ripe berries.

A number of us have started harvesting raspberries!  With the warmer summer weather, why not make some cooling fruit popsicles using your home grown strawberries, raspberries and other fruit to enjoy after a workout in your garden? (Wash and recycle the sticks as plant labels...)

Have a great week in your garden!

Cheers

Kathryn


WIC Gardening Update - 28 November 2012

Posted 4 years, 11 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hi and bonjour!

Many of you have been enjoying the warmer weather out in your gardens.  In Hamilton 2 weeks without rain is considered a drought! Heavy soils, like those at the Grandview Community Garden, hold lots of water and can cope for a week or two, especially if it is well mulched. The mulch looks dry but scrape it back and you will see the soil underneath is damp, where it matters.

This is a busy week for food and gardening related events:

Reminder: G4H Visit to Pakuranga College, Auckland

You are welcome to go along to the Gardens 4 Health meeting of community garden leaders in Auckland tomorrow, Thursday 29 November.  The meeting will include a presentation by Head Prefect Ben on the Pakuranga Organic Project (POP) vegetable garden and orchard, followed by a tour of the Pakuranga College.

Tim/Clare will be leaving Hamilton late morning and returning late afternoon.  Call them if you would like to travel with them (ph 021 0387623).  Free: All welcome.

Reminder: Indigo - A Gathering of Cultures Festival

The Indigo Festival 2012 starts tomorrow Thursday 29 November to Saturday 1 December in Garden Place. Click here to find out more.  Come along and learn about other food cultures!

Reminder: Join the Hamilton TimeBank

Time banking can be a great way to give or get gardening help using time rather than money.  If you are interested, learn more and join up on Friday 30 November 12:30 pm at Te Whare o Te Ata Fairfield Community House, 60a Sare Crescent, Fairfield, Hamilton.

For more information contact Cheryl or Ruth on ph 834 2249 or hamtimebank@gmail.com

Reminder: Cooking Class - stir fry vegetables

This Saturday Stephanie will be teaching you how to stir fry vegetables. 

Saturday 1 December, 10 am - 12 noon at the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre kitchen in Boundary Road, Hamilton.   These are hands-on classes, you get to help make the food and taste the results!

Free: Everyone is welcome!  Just turn up, no bookings required.  If you need more information contact Waikato Ethnic Family Services, ph 839 4688.

In the last class, they learned to make wontons - the recipe is on Ooooby along with photographs of wood ear fungus, one of the ingredients.

Dried wood ear fungus is black.  In Chinese cooking, the colour of the food is believed to predict health benefits: black food is thought to be good for the heart. 

Reminder: Building a Shade House

At this free WIC workshop learn hands-on how to build a shade house.  If there is time you can learn more by helping to finish tunnel house.  A shade house makes a cool, sheltered area that stays moist longer. It is a good place to grow:

  • seedlings in trays and pots when the weather is hot
  • plants that like cooler weather 
  • plants that like shade. 

When: Saturday 1 December 2012, 9 am - 5 pm (remember to be sun smart!)

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road - look for the WIC flag. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.    

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623), the WIC Community Garden Mentors. 

While you are there you might also like to attend:

Reminder: How to Bring God Insects to the Garden, Weed and Feed

Learn how to attract beneficial (helpful) insects into your garden.  See how to weed and feed your garden. 

When: Saturday 1 December 2012, 2:30 - 4 pm (remember to be sun smart!)

Where: Grandview Community Garden. See above for directions.

Free: all welcome!  Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

While you are there, have a chat to HOGs members:

HOGs meet at the Grandview Community Garden

Join the Hamilton Organic Gardeners for their last meeting of the year: a tour of the Grandview Community Garden this Saturday, 1 December from 3 – approximately 4:30pm.  Please bring a plate of food to share and BYO (bring your own) drinks. 

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.   

If you are learning English, this is a good chance to practice on some fellow-gardeners!

Get Your Garden Ready for Dry Weather: Being Water Wise

Learn how to:

  • Collect and store rainwater for your garden
  • See a solar water pump being used
  • Minimise the amount of water you need to use
  • Water less often
  • Choose plants that don't need lots of water
  • Shape the landscape to make the most of your water.

When: Tuesday 4 December 2012, 9 - 10:30 am, repeated Saturday 8 Dec 9 - 11am

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.   

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Organic Pest Control

Come and see how to control garden pests the organic way at one of these free, hands-on WIC sessions at the Grandview Community Garden:

When: Monday 10 Dec 5:30 - 7 pm, repeated Wednesday 12 Dec 9-10:30 am.

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.   

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Access to Grandview Community Garden

The Grandview Community Garden entrance is on Grandview Road, (opposite number 183). Always walk in through this gate.

The community garden is separate from the Salvation Army – please do not wander around the Salvation Army site or park in their car parks.

If the Community Garden Mentors are on site, the WIC flag will be flying at the gate (see photo).  Anyone is welcome to visit the garden when the flag is out: if you have not signed up for a garden plot, please say hello to Tim, Clare or one of the volunteers when you arrive.   

Plant Senses and Companion Planting

In the WIC Update for 10 October I talked about how plants can 'see' their neighbours, but this is not the only sense they have: they have also been shown to 'smell' other plants and they respond to the touch of the roots of other plants - they can even tell if it is a member of their own family!  They also make sounds (mostly too quiet and out of the range that we can hear), so some scientists are investigating whether they hear and even talk/communicate with each other this way. 

Some plants don't like living together, often because they compete for the same food, or space, or light.  Other plants do well together because their needs complement each other. 

Companion Planting is based on observations of which plants like to live together and which are happier apart.  There are whole books on the subject! You can download a free herb companion planting guide here.

Sow now...

Keep sowing the seed of silverbeet, lettuce, rocket and other greens. 

You can keep sowing sweet corn and potatoes for just a few more days.

It is not too late to plant cucurbits like cucumbers, kumi kumi (also called kamo kamo) and pumpkins. These plants are vines.  It is said that they must ‘run’ (grow along the ground) by Christmas (end of December). 

Courgettes (also called zucchini) are a cucurbit that grows like a bush, not a vine. You can keep planting their seed until the end of December.  They are very productive, so they are great for small gardens.  They have a mild flavour and can be used raw or cooked.  

Clare says just two kumara tubers they planted in winter produced 30 plants for just $5 - much cheaper than buying plants (eg $9 for 25). 

Weed now...

If you remove the main weeds now, they will slow down over summer eg dock, couch (pronounced coo-ch), convolvulus (bindweed) and buttercup. Put some time into digging every bit of them out: these weeds will re-grow if you leave some pieces of root behind.  Clare has put photos showing how to dig out dock up on Ooooby.

Bob (a gardener at Grandview and a soil scientist) said that dock, like comfrey, is rich in potassium and makes good liquid plant food.  Put it into a barrel or big bucket and it will be ready in about 4-6 weeks.

*Buckets wanted: If you have any spare buckets or big empty paint pails you are willing to donate, Grandview Community Garden are looking for some: they use them when they are gathering weeds.

In season... 

Some of you are harvesting taro leaves at the moment (see H here). Several weeks ago I mentioned using taro leaves as an edible wrapping.  Palusami is the classic Pacific dish that does this: There is a recipe for this on the Gardens 4 Health website a part of their 'Healthy Eating on a Budget'  series.

Many of us like sushi which is a great way to use sliced vegetables, such as asparagus which is in season at the moment. If you like sushi you may also enjoy eating asparagus with wasabi mayonnaise.  The mayonnaise would also go well with a tuna or salmon salad.  Or how about a spring vegetable risotto, another dish made with rice.

Have a great week in your garden!

Kathryn

 


WIC Gardening Update - 21 November 2012

Posted 4 years, 12 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hi and Konnichiwa

Lots of people went to the Diabetes Week walk around the lake last week, but we still have some kumara plants left.  So if you would like some free kumara seedlings for your garden give me a call (834-1482). 

Did you know: just 1 kumara tuber can make over 12 new kumara plants?!  Learn how here.  Peni tells me kumara leaves are also eaten in Fiji, either stir fried with other veges or cooked in coconut cream.

Free Basil Seedlings With Orders This Week

Growing plants from seeds is the cheapest way to grow your food, but some of you sometimes buy seedlings.  You can be sowing basil seed at the moment but if you prefer to buy seedlings, Awapuni Nurseries sell seedlings online through their web site and Trade Me. They are offering free basil seedlings with any online order this week (up to and including Sunday).    You could then grow your own pesto!

Sowing Dwarf Beans, Weeding, Feeding and Making Compost

This Friday 23 November 5:30 pm - 7 pm come along to Grandview Community Garden to learn about sowing beans, weeding and feeding your garden and making compost with our Community Garden Mentors.  Free: all welcome!

Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road - look for the WIC flag. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.    

Any questions? Contact Clare, WIC Community Garden Mentor (ph 021 0387623).

Reminder: Tree Crops Association Event

Visit a garden featuring walnut trees (I suspect they'll have walnuts for sale).  There will be an end of year pot-luck-lunch (bring a plate of food to share).  Bring your own eating utensils (cup, plate, knife, fork, etc) and a chair if you need one.    All welcome.

Where: 839 McClure St (can also park on Collinson Street), Pirongia.  Pirongia is about 32 km south west of Hamilton.  Look out for the 'Tree Crops Event' signs.

When: Saturday 24 November starting at 10 am, finishing early afternoon. 

Need more information? Contact Don ph (09) 843-9007.

Reminder: The Te Kuiti White Ribbon Art & Garden Ramble over the weekend of 24-25 November.   Some transport is available from Te Kuiti. Contact iSite for more information ph (07) 878-8077. You can buy the tickets from the Te Kuiti iSite on the day, or book over the phone. Tickets cost $25 - all the money will used to help prevent domestic violence. 

November is White Ribbon Monthif you see people wearing a white ribbon it means that they have promised to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence towards women.

In NZ it is illegal (against the law) to hit, or threaten to hit, another person, man or woman: this is called assault.  But NZ Law defines domestic violence as more than physical abuse; it includes sexual or psychological abuse. In the Huron language, the word we might translate as ‘to calm down’ means ‘to make the mind like a field for planting.’ One of our WIC gardeners said that when his wife is ‘pulling his ear’ (a great Tongan phrase for nagging!), he likes to escape into the garden to work.  Many of us have commented, and research has proved that gardening and being out in nature helps to calm us down. 

Managing anger is a skill we can learn.  Learn more on Ooooby.

Sowing Late Summer Vegetables, Weeding & Feeding the Garden

Come along and learn at the Grandview Community Garden on Wednesday 28 November 9 am - 10:30 am  where they will be sowing late summer vegetables, weeding and feeding the garden. As always, you can ask the Community Garden Mentors any of your gardening questions. Free: all welcome! Remember to be sun smart!

Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road - look for the WIC flag. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.    

Any questions? Contact Clare, WIC Community Garden Mentor (ph 021 0387623).

G4H Visit to Pakuranga College, Auckland

You are welcome to go along to the Gardens 4 Health meeting of community garden leaders in Auckland on Thursday 29 November.  The meeting will include a presentation by Head Prefect Ben on the Pakuranga Organic Project (POP) vegetable garden and orchard, followed by a tour of the Pakuranga College.

Tim/Clare will be leaving Hamilton late morning and returning late afternoon.  Call them if you would like to travel with them (ph 021 0387623).  Free: All welcome.

Indigo: A Gathering of Cultures Festival

The Indigo Festival 2012 is on from Thursday 29 November to Saturday 1 December in Garden Place. Click here to view the programme. 

If you are passionate about your food culture and would like to showcase it to the wider community, why not have a food stall at the Festival?  Contact Patricia on 853 0463 or Philip 838 6765 for more information.

Reminder: Join the Hamilton TimeBank

Time banking can be a great way to give or get gardening help using time rather than money.  If you are interested, learn more and join up on Friday 30 November 12:30 pm, Te Whare o Te Ata Fairfield Community House, 60a Sare Crescent, Fairfield, Hamilton.

For more information contact Cheryl or Ruth on 834 2249 or hamtimebank@gmail.com

Healthy Cooking Class: Stir Fried Vegetables 

Jin Jin tells me that Chinese people prefer to eat their vegetables cooked.  (This includes some vegetables which in my pakeha culture are only eaten raw, like lettuce and cucumber - something new to try!)  One of the popular ways of cooking vegetables in China is stir frying. 

Experienced cooking tutor and WIC member Stephanie (Taiwan) will be helping the class to make stir fried vegetables Saturday 1 December, 10 am - 12 noon at the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre kitchen in Boundary Road, Hamilton.   These are hands-on classes, you get to help make the food and taste the results!

Free: Everyone is welcome!  Just turn up, no bookings required.  If you need more information contact Waikato Ethnic Family Services, ph 839 4688.

Building a Shade House

At this free WIC workshop learn hands-on how to build a shade house.  If there is time you can learn more by helping to finish tunnel house.  A shade house makes a cool, sheltered area that stays moist longer. It is a good place to grow:

  • seedlings in trays and pots when the weather is hot
  • plants that like cooler weather 
  • plants that like shade. 

When: Saturday 1 December 2012, 9 am - 5 pm (remember to be sun smart!)

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road - look for the WIC flag. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.    

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623), the WIC Community Garden Mentors. 

While you are there you might also like to attend:

Bringing Good Insects to the Garden, Weed and Feed

Learn how to attract beneficial (helpful) insects into your garden.  See how to weed and feed your garden. 

When: Saturday 1 December 2012, 2:30 - 4 pm (remember to be sun smart!)

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road - look for the WIC flag. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.    

Free: all welcome!  Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Get Your Garden Ready for Dry Weather: Being Water Wise

Learn how to:

  • Collect and store rainwater for your garden
  • See a solar water pump being used
  • Minimise the amount of water you need to use
  • Water less often
  • Choose plants that don't need lots of water
  • Shape the landscape to make the most of your water.

When: Tuesday 4 December 2012, 9 - 10:30 am. 

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.   

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Green Ideas Magazine

The Healthy Food Guide has a new sister magazine called Green Ideas about how we can live more sustainably.  The related web site includes a gardening section where you can ask (and answer) questions.  They are running a number of competitions at the moment including a prize draw for bread

Digging New Gardens - Let Root Veges Do the Work

Some western gardeners use potatoes to dig new garden beds for them: the potato roots break up compacted (hard) soil and the leaves help to shade out weeds (learn more here).  In parts of Asia, the daikon radish is used for the same job.  Daikon can grow as long as your arm!

Did you know that the smaller varieties of radish can be ready to harvest just 3 weeks after planting the seed?  They are a quick and easy crop for kids (and impatient adults) to grow.

Vermiculture = Worm Farming

We farm worms to turn organic waste into fertiliser (worm castings and worm wee) - plants love it!  Jovi was asking where to get/how to make a vermiculture (worm farming) kit. 

If you want to buy a worm farm, the Waikato Environment Centre in Ward St usually stocks them. They have a working worm farm inside (yes, inside) the Centre and will be able to advise you. 

Most of the big hardware shops and garden centres stock the containers too, but not necessarily the worms.  The cheapest way is to build one with recycled containers - like the polystyrene fish bins you can usually get free from supermarkets.  Here’s photos of the one at Grandview made from a recycled hand basin and bucket below to collect the liquid fertiliser. 

You can download instructions on how to build and care for your own worm farm here (pdf) and a Bunnings DIY project sheet here (pdf).

The Waimarie Community House in Hamilton East have said they are happy to swap some compost ingredients or something else for their garden for some worms – take a container.   These worms are composting worms, as opposed to the earth worms that you will find in your garden soil.   

There is a Vermiculture group on Ooooby who can help if you have questions too: Vermiculture - Ooooby

Bamboo Update

Further to last week, you can get bamboo and bamboo shoots if you ask the Hamilton City Council where they are currently allowing harvesting.  They have recently restructured and the new contact is the Team Leader - Landscapes, Gina Hailwood (ph 838-6699).

Sow Now...

Now is a good time to sow: chillies, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, spring onions, carrots, silverbeet, parsley, beetroot, leeks, beans, peas... 

A few people have been asking about growing chokos - you can plant mature sprouted chokos now. Chokos grow on a vine, and are a member of the curcubit family (same as pumpkins).  They can be grown in pots. They need a trellis or fence to grow up.  http://www.tryit.sanitarium.co.nz/chokos/ I see on Ooooby that there are gardeners in South Waikato growing them.

Aside from feeding people, chokos are also eaten by chickens and stock, and the fibre can be used for weaving.  http://whiteglovestv.co.nz/Chokos.html

Eating Now...

Several of us have noticed that the feijoas are starting to flower.  The petals are edible, but leave a few petals for the birds - they seem to eat them and pollinate the flowers in the process.

Sofia tells me that NZ strawberries are bigger and sweeter than the ones they had in Indonesia. Her family planted some of the strawberry plants WIC distributed and tells me that, "the kids check it every morning since they don't want to miss the time when the fruit turns red. No wonder they're so excited, it's their first strawberry plants." 

My black currents are ripening.  Don't forget to cover your berries and currents - the birds love them too!  I am planning a Fresh fruit cake made from black currents, cranberries and blueberries cake - colourful and yummy!  The recipe is very useful as you can use any fresh fruit: it is on Ooooby.

We are looking forward to some of the Tokoroa SWPICS gardeners visiting the Grandview Community Garden this Thursday - we hope it inspires them! 

Have a great week in your garden!


WIC Gardening Update - 14 November 2012

Posted 5 years ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hi and As-Salaam-Alaikum

Today is World Diabetes Day. Over 208,000 New Zealanders have diabetes, with 50 more people diagnosed every day: it is an epidemic! A person has diabetes when they have too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. This happens because the body cannot make enough insulin, a chemical that helps the body turn glucose into energy. 

Your blood glucose levels are directly affected by the kind and amount of carbohydrate (starchy foods and sugar) you eat.  A healthy diet (with plenty of vegetables!) and physical activity like gardening are the key for both preventing Type 2 diabetes and managing Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes.

Please say hello if you are at the Diabetes Awareness Week Free Family Fun Walk and Picnic on Friday 16 November from 4:30 pm at Innes Common, Hamilton Lake - I know some of you are going! Walk around the lake and enjoy the free BBQ, information and entertainment.  There will be some information about WIC and the Grandview Community Garden in the information tent, if you want some fliers to pass onto your friends. 

The event is being organised by K'aute Pasifika Services and Diabetes NZ.  Find out about other local Diabetes Awareness Week events on the Diabetes NZ Waikato Branch web site.

Free Kumara Seedlings!

In August we held a WIC workshop on kumara propagation, planting tubers in a container in a warm place (eg tunnel house) to create sprouts with roots.  They are now ready to have the sprouts removed and planted out!

If you would like some seedlings, visit the Diabetes Family Fun Walk and Picnic (see above) information tent!  I will have copies of the kumara growing handout available too.   

Join Hamilton TimeBank

There were over 150 people at the Low Cost Living Expo last week, with quite a few interested in joining the Hamilton TimeBank including some of you.  Timebanking can be a great way to give or get gardening help.

If you would like to join, go to one of these orientation sessions:

Tonight, Wednesday 14 November, 6 pm - Waikato Environment Centre, 25 Ward Street, Hamilton City.

Tuesday 20 November 12:30 pm - Western Community Centre, 46 Hyde Ave, Nawton, Hamilton

Friday 30 November 12:30 pm, Te Whare o Te Ata Fairfield Community House, 60a Sare Crescent, Fairfield, Hamilton.

For more information contact Cheryl or Ruth on 834 2249 or hamtimebank@gmail.com

Reminder: Building a Shade House

At this free WIC workshop learn hands-on how to build a shade house.   If there is time you can learn more by helping to finish tunnel house.  A shade house makes a cool, sheltered area that stays moist longer. It is a good place to grow:

  • seedlings in trays and pots when the weather is hot
  • plants that like cooler weather 
  • plants that like shade. 

When: Saturday 17 November 2012, 9 am - 5 pm (remember to be sun smart!)

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road - look for the WIC flag. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.    

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Reminder: Sowing Beans and Bringing Good Insects to the Garden

Learn how to bring beneficial (helpful) insects into the garden, and sow dwarf beans.

When: Tuesday 20 Nov 2012, 9 am to10.30 am (remember to be sun smart!)

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road - look for the WIC flag. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.    

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623).

The Te Kuiti White Ribbon Art & Garden Ramble

Te Kuiti is Te Kuiti is a small Waikato town 80 km south of Hamilton.  Visit about 20 gardens in the Te Kuiti area on their White Ribbon Art & Garden Ramble and get inspired!  It is being held over the weekend of 24-25 November.  

Tickets cost $25 - all the money will go to charity.  You can buy the tickets from the Te Kuiti iSite on the day, or book over the phone. Some transport is available from Te Kuiti. Contact iSite for more information ph (07) 878-8077. 

Tree Crops Association Event

Visit a garden featuring not only veges but fruit and nut trees. The property hosts a walnut growing trial, to find a variety which does well despite walnut blight - a disease common in the Waikato.  Walnuts are very large trees.  Some are grown in public parks.

There will be an end of year pot-luck-lunch (bring a plate of food to share).  Bring your own eating utensils (cup, plate, knife, fork, etc) and a chair if you need one.    All welcome.

Where: 839 McClure St (can also park on Collinson Street), Pirongia.  Pirongia is about 32 km south west of Hamilton.  Look out for the 'Tree Crops Event' signs.

When: Saturday 24 November starting at 10 am, finishing early afternoon. 

Need more information? Contact Don ph (09) 843-9007.

Sow now...

Keep sowing lettuce, silverbeet, parsley, pak choi broccoli etc for a continuous supply.  In the warmer weather these greens grow fast. 

Harvest now...

Diamond (China) tells me that this is the season for cooking and eating bamboo shoots (sprouts).  They should always be eaten cookedRemember that you can ask the City Council  to tell you where you can harvest bamboo and bamboo sprouts (this may vary throughout the year): contact John Mills, Operations Manager, Parks & Open Spaces, ph 838 6625.  Bamboo grows like a weed here in NZ, many Councils have a problem with it.  

Mark Mortimer, from the NZ Bamboo Society tells me that the following varieties are sprouting now:

If you can, tell the Council the botanical name (Latin name) of the variety of bamboo you are looking for.  Do not take bamboo from Council land without getting permission from the City Council first! 

You are not allowed to take bamboo or any other plant material from Hamilton Gardens in Cobham Drive or the Taitua Arboretum.

There is a video here showing how they harvest and use bamboo shoots in Japan.  They are best eaten fresh.

Eating in a group

We all need to eat, but cultural traditions around eating vary a lot. For example, what are your 'cultural rules' (etiquette or manners) around sharing food when you are in a group?  According to Farida Sultana, before 'tucking in' (slang for eating) or drinking, "Iranians would say to everyone around them 'Be farmaie'", offering others what they were eating/drinking.  The usual response was "'Kheaile mamnoon, tarofe namikoneh', 'Thank you, please do not stick to formalities'; 'Shoma be farmied', 'Go ahead, take your food.'"  (Source: Purple Dandelion, 2011.) 

In my mostly-Pacific Island work place, it is very common to not just offer, but to actually share food. (Our staff plot at the community garden has been providing yummy fresh veg for shared lunches recently!)  Many of my colleagues will also apologise if they have to leave you eating by yourself. 

In many NZ workplaces, individuals eat their own food: there is no expectation of sharing or offering to share it.  The exception is pre-organised morning teas or lunches, usually for special occasions, where staff might be told to 'bring a plate,' (ie a plate of food to share).  Morning and afternoon teas in NZ tend to be mostly sugary food, which is hard for diabetics or people who have been told to lose weight.

Portion sizes have increased too, which is not helping our health. If everyone brings a plate, there is usually too much food and people end up eating more than is healthy, even if the eating is spread over the day.  (In NZ slang, eating too much is sometimes called 'being a guts' or 'pigging out'.)  Small portions mean that people can try several tasty treats without eating too much.

Some workplaces reduce amount of food, the annual costs of food and the cooking workload by having a rotating roster where only (say) two people bring food for any one event. 

Some workplaces have a group morning tea when it is a staff member's birthday.  Some will get the person who is having the birthday to bring a plate (eg a cake), again sharing the workload, reducing the costs and making for healthier portion sizes. 

Most NZ workplaces take a fairly informal and democratic approach to when and how food will be provided for the group. Many also forget to let new employees know what the norms are around food in that particular workplace - it is ok to ask!  If you have been an employee for a while, and would like to see a change in the way food is provided for special occasions, you could try talking about it at a staff meeting. 

Providing food or drink for a group is sometimes called 'a shout' (slang), eg 'Ahmid shouted morning tea for his team, to celebrate finishing the project'.  A 'roof shout' is provided for people involved in a building project when the roof goes on the building, usually provided by the building owner.

We had a yummy Diabetes Awareness Week morning tea this week, which had lots of different fruit cut up into small pieces as well as wholegrain crackers and humus based dips.  Vegetable 'sticks' of cut cucumber, carrots, celery or whole baby vegetables like radishes, turnips and carrots also go well with a dip.

Enjoy your garden!



Shim