WIC Gardening Update - 7 November 2012

Posted 4 years, 10 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    2 comments

Hi and Talofa lava

Fireworks, Fires and Fertilisers

You will have noticed lots of fireworks going off this week: we are celebrating Guy Fawkes (5 November), an event that has its roots in English history. This event has traditionally also been celebrated with bonfires: people sometimes bake potatoes or toast marshmallows (a type of sweet) in the fire.  The word 'bonfire' came from the words 'bone fire'. 

November in the northern hemisphere is autumn, and it was common to kill some of the animals that had been fattened up over the summer, preserving the meat for winter when there would be little for the animals to eat.  The bones would be burned with (untreated) wood and the ashes used as garden fertiliser.  Bones are a renewable source of the mineral phosphorous (P) and wood ash contains potassium (K).  Both minerals are essential in small amounts for healthy plants.  You can learn more about some renewable home-made fertilisers here.

Some NZ local Councils ban bonfires in towns and cities all year round.  Most (perhaps all) Councils ban bonfires over summer when plants are dry and the risk of them spreading is too great.  Fire bans are advertised on the radio, local newspapers, etc. During a 'restricted fire season', you will need a permit from the Council - this can take around a week to arrange, so plan ahead.  An 'open fire season' means you can have a bonfire and don't need a permit.

Remember: If you are on peat soil, do not have a fire where it can touch the ground - peat burns!  If you are not sure if your property is on peat soil, contact your local council and they can tell you - this service is free.    

You do not need a fire permit if you use an incinerator, pizza oven,  BBQ or cooking fire: you can use these all year around.  Even an incinerator made from a large metal drum with an air hole cut out of the bottom will help the fire burn with less smoke than a bonfire. Here's instructions for a DIY incinerator that can also be used as a patio heater.  It is made from recycled materials.

Warn your neighbours when you plan to have a fire (including smoking fish etc) - otherwise they may think your house is burning down and dial 111 to get the Fire Brigade to rescue you. You may also be able to arrange to have the fire when they are out.  Some councils will fine you if you create lots of smoke that annoys your neighbours - so don't burn green (fresh) garden waste.  Do not burn plastics, tyres, etc: these contain toxic chemicals.  The best time of day to have a fire is in the early morning when there is little wind: the smoke will go straight up without bothering your neighbours.  

Don't set up your fire under a tree.  Always make sure you have water or some other way of putting out the fire close by.  There are some good tips here.  If you have any questions about fires contact your local Council or the local Fire Service Safety Officer.

Reminder: Hot Composting, Sowing & Feeding the Garden

Hot composting turns organic waste into rich compost that you can use to improve your soil and feed your plants, while saving you money on rubbish dumping fees.  It is also great exercise! Hot composting kills seeds and most diseases.  Come along and learn hands-on how to do it.

Learn how to feed your garden and how to sow pumpkins and chillies.  You are welcome to pot up and take home some tomato and chilli seeds.  The kumara plants that we started propagating in August are now ready for planting out: people who attend can also take some kumara plants home for your back yard garden. 

When:  Thursday 8 Nov, 5.30pm to 7pm.

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) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Reminder: Low Cost Living Expo

Learn about living well on not very much money, including affordable gifts you can make on Friday 9 November 10 am -  12 noon at the Western Community Centre, 46 Hyde Ave, Nawton, Hamilton (ph 847 4873). This popular event is free - all welcome!

Clare and Stephanie will be there promoting the Grandview Community Garden and helping you to plant peas in a Christmas-tree shape to take home. 

Cheryl from the Hamilton Permaculture Trust will also be at the Expo with information on Time Banking. 

Pacific Rose Bowl Festival

You probably know that roses are beautiful and smell wonderful, but did you know they are edible too? Rose hips (the seed heads) are rich in vitamin C and are used in syrups, jams, etc, while the flower petals are used for the wonderful scent they bring, eg in rosewater.  The flavour is different for different varieties. 

The annual Pacific Rose Bowl Festival features roses from all around the world and attracts around 5000 people every year.  This free event runs from 8-11 November.  See what they other edibles they have growing in Productive Gardens while you are there.

Where: Hamilton Gardens, Cobham Drive, State Highway 1, Hamilton East. 

Bringing Good Insects to the Garden

At this free WIC workshop learn how to bring beneficial (helpful) insects into your garden.  Good insects help to pollinate flowers so that plants can make fruit, and/or help to keep the number of bad insects low. 

When: Wednesday 14 November 2012, 9 to10.30 (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.    

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.

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

November is 5+ a Day Fruit and Vegetable Month

We feel best when we eat at least 3 servings (a serving is about 1/2 cup) of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit each day.  When it comes to vegetables, more is better!  

If you take the 5+ a Day Challenge to add one more serving of fruit and veg to your diet, you could win prizes including an iPad through their Facebook page.  They have tips on how you can include more fruit and veg in your day on their web site, along with recipes.

People who eat a lot of fruit and vegetables are less likely to develop heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, certain cancers and obesity - and it gives us a greater variety of tastes to enjoy!   

Weather

We had more north-westerly winds than usual for September, we had a slow start to spring, ie the soil did not warm up as fast as usual.

In some Maori traditions, the return of the bird pïpïwharauroa = shining cuckoo from the tropics is a sign of the beginning of warmer weather, ie spring.  I have been hearing its call in my garden for a couple of weeks now.  Another tradition is that if tï kouka, the cabbage tree, has lots of flowers and flowers early, we can expect a long hot summer.  You can learn more Maori weather and climate traditions here

NIWA are predicting that November to January temperatures in the Waikato are likely to be average to warmer than usual - so an average temperature of between 16.5 - 18 degrees Celsius.  We are likely to get normal or drier than normal weather, (between 164-286 mm of rain) with less soil moisture than usual. 

A hotter, drier summer is good news if you like to grow vegetables that like lots of warmth, like melons, eggplants/aubergines, etc.  But it also means that there is a greater chance that the Councils will impose watering restrictions, so make sure you mulch your garden plots well to keep them moist!  Consider setting up a rain barrel or water tank if you haven't already. 

In some parts of town bare soil is already cracking open due to the fine weather we have been having: make sure your garden is getting enough water.  Young plants need watering more often, but established plants generally only need watering once the soil is dry down to about 3 cm deep.  Do not water your garden in the hottest part of the day (10 am - 4 pm). 

Remember to be sun smart when you are outside between 10 am - 4 pm: slip slop slap and wrap - slip on a shirt, slop on some sunscreen, slap on a hat and wrap on some sunglasses to protect yourself against sunburn!

Back Yard Chickens

If you missed the HOGs chicken garden trips last Saturday or want to learn more, Hamilton City Libraries holds the American book Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard by Jessi Bloom, an award winning landscape designer.  She even has tips on how to train your chickens!

Some people use feathers to line the bottom of their seed trays: it helps to stop the fine soil being washed out of the drainage holes.  They are also rich in nitrogen - important for growing leaves.

House plants

Here are a couple of space saving ideas for growing herbs and other small plants on your windowsill or in a sunny spot inside your house. 

Windowsill self-watering bottle garden: They use recycled glass bottles, but you could use plastic drink bottles too. I would make them bigger to give more soil for growing plants.

Tiered hanging pots: These would also be good hanging in a balcony.  If you are hanging them inside, be careful you don't over-water them - you don't want soggy carpet!

What's growing in your garden at the moment?

Tina's (Niue) potatoes are growing well in tyre stacks in her back yard garden this year.  She is harvesting lettuces, parsley, bok choy and silverbeet.  She is looking forward to eating beans, several types of tomatoes and garlic in the summer - they are growing well.  She is hoping to get out this weekend to plant kumara, melons and pumpkins. She will have no trouble eating at least 5+ a day!  

Now is a good time for sowing the following seeds: chillies, tomatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, lettuce, celery, spring onions, carrots, silverbeet, parsley, beetroot, leeks, beans and peas. 

If you live in Hamilton and want to try growing melons - plant them now! Like kumara, they don't like cold weather and need at least 120 days to mature (be ready for harvesting).

Fruit

If you planted or grafted a new fruit tree over winter and it has set fruit, carefully pinch the fruit off: for the first year you want the plant to put all its strength into developing good roots rather than on trying to reproduce.

Ruby told me this week that the two apple trees she grafted at the Tree Crops Association workshop a few months ago are growing well :-)

Grapes grow well in the Waikato.  If you have a grapevine, you will have bunches of flowers/fruit forming.  Prune (cut off) the tip of the branch one leaf above the 2nd or 3rd bunch of flowers.   (You may want to keep the leaves for dolmas - see recipes below!)    

Like tomatoes, it is usual to lateral a grapevine.  This means that you take out the bud (or branch, if you've left it to grow!) that forms between the leaf and stem (also called the auxillary bud).   This helps to keep the vine a manageable size, improves air flow (helps to prevent fungal diseases), makes sure the fruit will get enough sun and makes the plant focus on producing really good fruit. 

Edible wrappings

One of the most popular take away foods in NZ are pies.  Originally, the pastry was simply a way of holding the filling together, making it easy to carry and easy to eat.  The pastry acted like a paper bag: the filling was eaten and the pastry was thrown away.   This is like using banana leaves to protect but also flavour the food cooked in it.  They are great for picnics and lunches.

Some flour-based wrappings from around the world include pancakes, stuffed dumplings or buns eg pork buns, Cornish pasties, filled tortilla (quesadilla, burrito, etc), wontons ... 

Stephanie's wonton recipe is on Ooooby here.  At her next cooking class (on Saturday the 17th) she will be teaching you how to make spring rolls - another type of wrapped food!

Some food wrappings are made from edible leaves, for example cabbage, taro, grape leaves.  You could experiment with using other large edible leaves that hold their shape when cooked, eg lettuce, okra, mallow, rainbow chard or silverbeet leaves.

Dolma comes from a Turkish word that means "stuffed," and is a savoury dish made from grape leaves around a rice filling.  They are made in many countries with various names, eg dawali, yaprak, sarmale.  Grape leaves harvested in spring are best - ie now.  There are step by step instructions with photos on how to stuff and roll grape leaves here.  There are instructions for preserving grape leaves for later use here.  There is a recipe here and here.  They can be eaten hot or cold, and are often served with a yogurt dip.

Some traditional dolma recipes take several hours to cook.  I recently made a version of dolmas in less than 15 minutes, cooking the washed grape leaves in the microwave for about 2 minutes, then stuffing them with leftover barley risotto, pouring a jar of chopped tomatoes and herbs over the top and microwaving them until cooked through - it was delicious!

Mulch

If you have any doubts about the usefulness of a thick layer of mulch on your garden, look at the photo below, taken at Grandview Community Garden plot.  You cannot see the kale that was not mulched because it is smaller and covered in weeds.  The mulched kale grew better and did not have many weeds. 

Mulching slows down weeds, keeps the soil moist and feeds the soil. At the Grandview Community Garden the gardeners use well rotted woodchips as mulch.  Download a WIC information sheet (pdf) of where to get free and cheap mulch ingredients here


WIC Gardening Update - 31 October 2012

Posted 4 years, 10 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hi and kumusta

One of WIC's aims is to give you the skills and knowledge to be self reliant in your gardening. It is great to hear stories of people putting the thrifty skills for getting new plants for free into action, like Phil at the Grandview Community Garden sharing his spare lettuce seedlings with the other gardeners, Ismet saving seed and Ma'ara getting some free grape prunings from another gardener, which he cut up and is growing  into new plants.

Here's a reminder of some of the ways you can get very cheap or free plants:

  • Allow your best plant to go to seed and save seed to plant next season*
  • Get seed/plants through various web sites distributing free things, eg Ooooby – WIC or FreeCycle & Barter  or a regional gardening group: place a request (say what town you live in) or respond to an offer of plants/seeds
  • Friends (perhaps someone you met through WIC or a gardening club) and neighbours – ask if you can have a cutting or seed if the plant is flowering (they have the right to say 'no', but many are happy to share surplus)
  • Foraging seed from public parks - except from Hamilton Gardens in Cobham Drive
  • Seed swaps, such as at the HOGs monthly meeting, or virtual ones like the NZ Seed and Plant Exchange or Seed Savers NZ on Facebook
  • If you have to buy, buy seeds rather than vegetables or seedlings - seeds are much cheaper.  Put aside 50c per week from what you would have spent on vegetables at the supermarket and you will have $26 per year to spend on buying seeds - that's enough to buy at least 10 packets of seeds. Most seed packets contain much more seed than one family can use, so swap the excess seeds with other gardeners for greater diversity in your garden! For example, you can get a packet of lettuce seed for less than $2 at the Warehouse, some contain 500 seeds! Why not purchase your seeds with a group of friends: many seed specialists like Kings and Egmont Seeds offer have large packets of seeds that work out cheaper, and/or give you bonus seeds for bulk orders.

* Clare says that saving seeds from carrots, onions, brassicas and cucurbits needs isolation, netting and culling as they cross with wild types, so the new plants will not be like their parent plants.  A cucumber crossed with a pumpkin is not nice!  However, if you have plenty of space and enjoy experimenting, some of us do save seed from brassicas - for example I grew a very pretty pink-veined 'cabbage' for a few years that was a cross between my frilly kale and cabbage plants! 

When getting free things from Ooooby and neighbours/friends, it is good to offer something in exchange, like a jar of preserves, some surplus fruit/veg from your garden, or another kind of cutting or seeds.

Next year WIC will not be sending out free seeds - so keep putting the thrifty gardening skills you've learned into practice!  If people donate surplus seeds, plants, etc to WIC, we will continue to pass these on.  We will sometimes provide seeds, plants and cuttings as part of our workshops.  As always, you are welcome to bring spare plants to share or swap to any of our gardening or workshop sessions.

 
Now is a good time for sowing lettuce, celery, spinach, spring onions, carrots, silverbeet, parsley, beetroot, leeks, beans and peas directly in your garden.  Keep sowing seeds of the tender summer vegetables, like tomatoes, in pots and punnets to plant out when the nights are a bit warmer.  Plant seeds in punnets where you can see and protect them so they don't get eaten by snails or birds.
 
What are you are harvesting and sowing at the moment?  We would love to know!  Feel free to add photographs of your garden to Ooooby. 
The warmer, drier weather means you will need to water your pot plants and punnets more frequently - if they are in a sunny spot and are not mulched, they may need watering every day.   

Get rewarded for weeding your garden!

Weedbusters wants to hear what you've been doing to 'spring clean' your garden.  Everyone who registers here during October 2012 ie today, and tells Weedbusters (in 300 words or less) what you have done to make your place a weedfree space, will receive a copy of the ‘Plant Me Instead’ booklet for the Waikato, a copy of the ‘Weedbusting’ booklet, and is automatically entered into the draw for one of four Gardening New Zealand gift cards loaded with $250!

Reminder: Every Child a Gardener - Supporting Food Gardening in Schools

There will be a meeting on Friday 2 November at 12 noon at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Corner of River Road and Te Aroha Street, Hamilton to discuss how best to support school gardens to teach every child in the Hamilton how to grow vegetables. The meeting will be in the Mary Bryant room.

Anyone who might be interested in being part of this vision is welcome to go to the meeting.  Please bring a plate of food along for a shared lunch. Tea and coffee will be provided.  For more information contact Anne Overton, ph 027 520 8653.

Reminder: Hot Composting & Feeding the Soil with WIC

Hot composting turns organic waste into rich compost that you can use to improve your soil and feed your plants, while saving you money on rubbish dumping fees.  It is also great exercise! Hot composting kills seeds and most diseases.

When: Friday 2 November, 5:30 pm - 7 pm

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.

NB: A few people have got mixed up and thought the Grandview Community Garden was in Glenview: it is not - Grandview is next to Nawton.  (Hopefully it is closer than you'd thought!)  

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

Reminder: Newcomers Network movie night: Grow Your Own

The film Grow Your Own is about a British allotment (a type of community garden) which includes some garden plots looked after by refugee families.  There is a movie trailer here.

Bring a gold coin donation and a plate of food to share.

RSVP Contact admin.newcomers@wmrc.org.nz or ring the Migrant Centre (ph 853 2192) to let them know you are coming.

When: Friday, 2 October. Doors open at 6:45pm and the movie will begin at 7:00pm. (The DVD “The Lorax” will be showing in the next room for the kids.)

Reminder: HOGs Garden Visits with a back yard chicken theme

Hamilton Organic Gardeners have 2 garden visits planned for Saturday 3 November: you are welcome to go to one or both.  

The first, at 11:30 am, is at Joy and David's suburban garden in Claudelands.   They grow a wide range of interesting plants (including bananas), harvest rainwater, use a worm bin and make their own liquid fertilisers.  Their chickens help them in the garden.  People are welcome to bring their own lunch and if the weather permits they will light their home made pizza oven!

At 1:30 pm the second visit is to Wendee and Mitch’s lifestyle block garden, Whatawhata.  They have a diverse garden but are keen to learn more.

Free, but koha appreciated.

For more information see the HOGs blog and email hamiltonorganicgardeners “at” gmail.com to book and find out where to meet.

Reminder: Free Cooking Class - Wontons

Learn how to make healthy wontons with Stephanie (Taiwan) on Saturday 3rd November from 10 am to 12 pm at the Migrant Resource Centre, Boundary Road, Hamilton.

No bookings required.  This workshop is being organised by NZ Ethnic Social Services Waikato ph (07) 839 4688.

Reminder: A Gathering of Scarecrows

Scarecrows were a traditional method of keeping birds away from the crops.  At this free event you can:

  • bring a scarecrow and enter the competition 
  • vote for your favourite scarecrow!

While you are there, see what they have growing in the food gardens at this time of year.

When: Sunday 4 November, 11 am - 3 pm

Where: Kitchen Garden, Hamilton Gardens, Cobham Drive, Hamilton. 

Reminder: Sowing Summer Vegetables

On Tuesday November 6, 11 am - 12 noon, the WIC Community Garden Mentors will be demonstrating planting pumpkins and courgettes in the ground, and chillies, cucumbers, tomatoes in pots.  If you come to the demonstration you can also sow some tomatoes and chillis to take home. They will also be feeding the garlic and greens (leafy vegetables).  Everyone is welcome!

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

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

Hot Composting, Sowing & Feeding the Garden

This is a repeat of the hot composting workshop and the sowing summer vegetable workshop.  Learn how to feed your garden and how to plant pumpkins, courgettes, chillies, cucumbers, tomatoes.  Pot up and take home some tomato and chilli seeds if you like.

When:  Thursday 8 Nov,  5.30pm to 7pm.

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) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Low Cost Living Expo

Learn about living well on not very much, including affordable gifts you can make on Friday 9 November 10 am - 12 noon at the Western Community Centre, 46 Hyde Ave, Nawton, Hamilton (ph 847 4873). This popular event is free - all welcome!

Clare will be there promoting the Grandview Community Garden and helping you to plant peas in a Christmas-tree shape.  Would you be willing to help her on the WIC stand - we are looking for a volunteer?  Contact Clare on 021 0387623 or contact me if you would like to help.

Cheryl from the Hamilton Permaculture Trust will also be at the Expo with information on Time Banking. 

Kumara

Last Saturday at the kumara growing workshop we learned that kumara need warm conditions and a long time to grow - at least 120 days.  Our three experts all agreed: if you are going to grow kumara this summer, you need to get on with planting them now!  You can download Beatriz's notes on how to grow kumara from Ooooby (pdf file) or contact me for a copy.

The cheapest option is to grow your own kumara cuttings from a tuber, which takes about 6 weeks.  If you haven't done this and want to buy some plants, it pays to shop around: we have seen them for sale for 50c per plant, $9 for 25 plants (so 36c each) while some places don't sell them at all. 

Stephanie told us that in Taiwan they not only eat the tubers, but they also eat the kumara leaves, stirfried, steamed, boiled, etc.  I have two of her kumara leaf recipes on Ooooby.  Wiremu said that Maori people also eat the leaves in boil ups  - a kind of pork soup.   

Chives

Peni was asking how to use the herb chives (Allium schoenoprasum).  Chives are in the same family as onions and have a mild onion flavour. It is mostly their leaves that are used. The leaves are tubular (round and hollow like a drinking straw).  Chives die back in winter, but now (as you can see in the photo of his herb garden) the grass like leaves have come up and there are pink flowers.  Cut the flowers off regularly to keep the plant producing lots of leaves - but don't waste the pretty pink flowers, they have lots of flavour and can be used in salads (great garnish on potato salad, for example). 

There are some recipes that call for Chinese chives.  Most sources say that these are what are commonly called garlic chives here in NZ (Allium tuberosum).  Garlic chives can be easily grown from seed.  Their leaves are flat.  Both the leaves and the flower buds are used in cooking - they have a mild garlic flavour.  The flower buds are usually stir fried, but I've also used them in salads or as an edible garnish on hummus and other garlic flavoured dishes.  The leaves are often used in stir fries.

The leaves of both types of chives are  mostly chopped finely and used with potatoes (as a garnish, or mixed through mash),  blended into sour cream or cream cheese to use as a dip or baked potato topping or a soup garnish, in many egg dishes eg scrambled eggs and omelettes, added into mayonnaise and in salads. 

So they are very useful herbs to have growing in your garden! They do best in full sun and like to be kept moist. 

In Season 

The gardeners at Grandview Community Garden are now picking their own peas, lettuce, carrots, broad beans, broccoli and beetroot, etc.  Phil has been making yummy fresh salads with his lettuces.  Papa has harvested beetroot - beetroot are in the same family as silverbeet, so you can eat the leaves.  The small leaves are nice in salads, while the bigger leaves are usually cooked and eaten like silverbeet or spinach. The community garden looks awesome: the Mentor's provide advice as needed, but each plot is all the gardener's own work, including clearing the ground, sowing and ongoing weeding.  Keith has decided to pass his Grandview Community Garden plot onto someone else, as he now feels he has learned enough to be confident to garden at home. 

In Hillcrest, Peni has been harvesting spinach, herbs and nasturtiums from his back yard garden - all his veges have been grown from seed!  Maoi was about to harvest her first strawberry only to find a bird had got there first!  Lyn has been harvesting fat, juicy yacon tubers - we gave some of the surplus out on Saturday at the workshop.  Another lady at the workshop shared a beautiful cauliflower, eggs and some surplus citrus fruit from her garden.  Many of us are harvesting and sharing citrus fruits - lemons, oranges, tangelos, grapefruit, lemonades...  Some of my citrus trees are flowering again - the bees love their blossom, it has a beautiful smell. 

My feijoa tree has fat flower buds: I am looking forward to eating some of the petals around Christmas time.  You can clearly see the stone and pip fruit growing - plums, peaches, apples, etc. - lots of yummy things to look forward to!  I am still harvesting miners lettuce: it is flowering at the moment.  I will allow it to drop its seed so I will have another free crop next winter. 

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)

Many of you like the herb coriander: it prefers cooler weather, so plant it during spring (now) or in autumn. Sow it directly where you want it to grow: like root vegetables, coriander doesn't like being transplanted.  Sow a few seeds every 2-3 weeks if you want a continuous supply. You can plant in full sun at the moment, but as the season progresses, sow it in part shade to keep it cool. You can eat whole plant - root, stem, leaves and seeds - the seeds have a kind of orangey flavour. For more information about growing coriander, click here.

In American English and Spanish coriander is called cilantro.  Coriander is used in curries, salads, cakes and breads.  There is an easy corn fritter recipe here which includes both fresh coriander leaves and ground coriander seeds. You can eat the fritters hot or cold.  They are great for weekend lunches, 'bring a plate' events, or in the lunch box.  Many kiwis like them served with tomato sauce (!) or chutney.  There are many more coriander recipes on the Healthy Food Guide website.  

 

Enjoy the fresh produce from your garden!

 


WIC Gardening Update - 24 October 2012

Posted 4 years, 11 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    1 comment

Hi and Fakaalofa lahi atu

The Metservice have been predicting overnight temperatures down to 0 degrees Celsius last night, with another cold one predicted tonight.  If you have planted tender summer crops outside, you will need to cover them to protect them from the cold and possible frosts!

We have had strong support for the work that WIC has been doing, and many of you have asked for WIC to continue beyond the end of 2012.  We are working hard to get funding to keep WIC going.  Because of the time this takes, we will not be putting out a newsletter. 

Grandview Community Garden is currently looking for some garden volunteers, see Volunteering Waikato.  If you want to work in the horticulture industry, these voluntary positions can give you useful work experience.

Reminder: Time Banking Orientation

Become a member of Hamilton TimeBank: book your place for one of the sessions to get set up, phone: 834 2249 or email: hamtimebank@gmail.com  Everyone is welcome.

When & Where: Choose one:

  • Tonight - Wednesday 24 October, 6 - 7:30 pm, Waikato Environment Centre, 25 Ward Street, Hamilton City (upstairs)
  • Friday 26 October, 12:30 - 2 pm, Waimarie Community House, 53 Wellington Street, Hamilton East.

Please bring: finger food to share, 2 x names and phone numbers of referees, 2 x forms of identification (1 with photo; 1 with address).

Reminder: Planting at the Grandview Community Garden

Thursday 25 October, 11 am - 12 noon one of the Community Garden Mentor's will be doing seed sowing - everyone is welcome to come along and learn!

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: Growing Kumara

WIC is running a free kumara growing workshop on Saturday 27 October, 2-3:30 pm.   Three experienced growers who will share their knowledge of planting, growing and harvesting kumara:

  • Beatriz Hardy - South American information about camote and the Wintec Horticulture school's experience of growing kumara in the Kitchen Garden, Hamilton Gardens 
  • Wiremu Puke - a Maori perspective on kumara growing, experience of growing kumara in the Te Parapara Garden, Hamilton Gardens 
  • Lisiate Manuatu - a Tongan gardener who has been experimenting with growing kumara in NZ for over 40 years.  He grows enough to feed his family all year round - this year he plans to grow 1000 plants in his back yard - come and learn how to make the best of a your space!

Everyone is welcome to come and learn and share your experience!  If you need a translator, please let us know as soon as possible.   

Bring: hat/sunscreen, raincoat, any seeds or plants you'd like to swap or share.

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 Kathryn, ph 834-1482.

Reminder: Natural Health Expo & Sustainable Backyard Tour

The Hamilton Permaculture Trust will have a stall at the Natural Health Expo in the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion.  Talk to a Trust member, sign up for a course or for Time Banking.

Their book will be available: How to Grow Your Own Food (well worth the $25).  It has a list of what to plant when for Hamilton's climate.

When: Saturday 27 Oct, 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday 28 Oct, 10 am – 5 pm

Where: Hamilton Gardens, Cobham Dr, SH1, Hamilton

Cost: Kids: Free. Adult: $7.00

The same weekend the Hamilton Permaculture Trust will be offering a guided tour & talk on Permaculture in the Sustainable Backyard garden.  The garden is set up like a model back yard that produces lots of food, including eggs and honey.  See what they have growing at this time of year and get inspired! 

Meet in the garden on Saturday, 27 October, 11 am or Sunday 28 October at 1 pm.   Maximum of 15 people - first in first served!  Koha (eg gold coin donation) appreciated. 

Planting Perennials in Tokoroa

Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentor will be at South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services Inc (SWPICS), 1 Maraetai Rd, Tokoroa on Tuesday 30 October, from 10:30 am until at least midday.  He will be showing you how to plant perennials such as blueberries and herbs in the SWPICS garden.  Come along and learn about herbs, what to consider when deciding where to plant perennials, and to help with the planting.  He is also happy to show you hot composting if you missed that.

For more information call the mentors Tim or Clare, ph 0210387623 or 0212243109, or contact SWPICS, ph 07 8860010.

Every Child a Gardener - Supporting Food Gardening in Schools

There will be a meeting on Friday 2 November at 12 noon at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Corner of River Road and Te Aroha Street, Hamilton to discuss how best to support school gardens to teach every child in the Hamilton how to grow vegetables. The meeting will be in the Mary Bryant room.

Anyone who might be interested in being part of this vision is welcome to go to the meeting.  Please bring a plate of food along for a shared lunch. Tea and coffee will be provided.  For more information contact Anne Overton, ph 027 520 8653.

Hot Composting

Hot composting turns organic waste into rich compost that you can use to improve your soil and feed your plants, while saving you money on rubbish dumping fees.  It is also great exercise! Hot composting kills seeds and most diseases.

When: Friday 2 November, 5:30 pm - 7 pm

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) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Newcomers Network movie night: Grow Your Own

The film (drama/comedy), Grow Your Own is about a British allotment (a type of community garden) which has some garden plots looked after by refugee families as a form of therapy.  Some of the local people feel threatened by the influx of refugees (I must say the atmosphere at the Grandview Community Garden is much friendlier!)  There is a movie trailer here.

The Newcomers Network will provide some food, but if you can please bring a plate of food - share your cultural cooking traditions!  If possible email admin.newcomers@wmrc.org.nz or ring the Migrant Centre (ph 853 2192) so they know how many people to expect.

It is free, everyone is welcome!

When: Friday evening, 2 October.  (Time to be confirmed next week.) 

HOGs: Garden visits with a back yard chicken theme

Hamilton Organic Gardeners have 2 garden visits planned for Saturday 3 November: you are welcome to go to one or both.  

The first, at 11:30 am, is at Joy and David's suburban garden in Claudelands.   They grow a wide range of interesting plants (including bananas), harvest rainwater, use a worm bin and make their own liquid fertilisers.  Their chickens help them in the garden.  People are welcome to bring their own lunch and if the weather permits they will light their home made pizza oven!

At 1:30 pm the second visit is to Wendee and Mitch’s lifestyle block garden, Whatawhata.  They have a diverse garden but are keen to learn more.

Free, but koha appreciated.

For more information see the HOGs blog and email hamiltonorganicgardeners “at” gmail.com to book and find out where to meet.

Free Cooking Class - Wontons

Learn how to make healthy wontons with Stephanie (Taiwan) on Saturday 3rd November from 10 am to 12 pm at the Migrant Resource Centre, Boundary Road, Hamilton.

No bookings required.

Organised by NZ Ethnic Social Services Waikato ph (07) 839 4688.

A Gathering of Scarecrows

Scarecrows were a traditional method of keeping birds away from the crops.  At this free event:

  • bring a scarecrow and enter the competition 
  • vote for your favourite scarecrow!

While you are there, see what they have growing in the food gardens at this time of year.

When: Sunday 4 November, 11 am - 3 pm

Where: Kitchen Garden, Hamilton Gardens, Cobham Drive, Hamilton. 

For an English language map and guide (page 2) to Hamilton Gardens - the guide is in several languagesEnglish, traditional Chinese, German, Spanish, French, Japanese and Korean.

For more information click here or contact Pamela Hide phone 07 838 6782.

Sowing Summer Vegetables

On Tuesday November 6, 11 am - 12 noon, the WIC Community Garden Mentors will be demonstrating planting pumpkins, courgettes, chillies, cucumbers.  They will also be feeding the garlic and greens (leafy vegetables).  Everyone is welcome!

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

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

Hay fever

Hay fever is also known as Seasonal allergic rhinitis. Despite its name, it has nothing to do with hay or fever!  People with hay fever usually have:

  • an itchy nose, throat or eyes
  • sneezing
  • a runny nose or eyes
  • a blocked nose.

The people who suffer from it react to some types of pollen in the air released by flowering plants, so it is most common between October and February.  (If you have these symptoms all year round, you might be allergic to something else!)  

Different people will be allergic to different types of pollen: ryegrass pollen is a common problem - and a common plant in the Waikato!  Pine tree, privet, olive and hazel pollen will also make some people react with hay fever. 

If you suffer from hay fever, the best times to garden are in the afternoon or evening, on still, dry days.  There is less pollen in winter, so this is also a good time to garden.  Wearing sunglasses may help.  If you can, avoid mowing the lawn. 

The Metservice forecast includes a pollen count (level of risk) and the types of pollen likely to be in the air - so tomorrow's pollen levels in North Waikato are moderate and the main pollens in the air will be birch and early grasses.   

Learn more here or listen to a Radio NZ podcast.  People who suffer from asthma have a high chance of getting hay fever - learn more here

Transplanting

Transplanting is moving a plant, from one pot to another pot, or from a pot to the garden.  Many of us will be transplanting seedlings from seed trays to the garden as the weather warms up over the next few weeks.  

We showed you how to transplant seedlings in the WIC workshops on growing plants from seed.  If you missed learning how to do this or need a reminder, there is more information, photos and a video here

Learning the English names of veg

Do you have trouble learning the English names of vegetables?  Vegetables.co.nz has free posters you can download with the picture, name and information about brassicas, root vegetables, summer herbs and edible flowers here.  Why not print them out and put them on your fridge door to help you memorise the names?

In season - Tarragon

In my garden I have harvested the last of my leeks, and the French Tarragon (a herb with an aniseed flavour) has sent up some fresh growth after its winter sleep.  So I am thinking of making Chicken and potatoes in a white wine and tarragon sauce.  In summer, you can use basil in place of tarragon for this recipe.  If you don't like using wine, use some fruit juice instead - I know some of you made yummy grape juice last autumn! 

Enjoy the sunshine in your garden!


WIC Gardening Update 17 Oct 2012

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

Hi and mhoroi

Clare says October is a good month for sowing: lettuce, celery, spinach, spring onions, carrots, silverbeet, parsley, beetroot, leeks and peas.  These can all be sown directly outdoors - they will survive frosts. 

They also started sowing potatoes outside at the Grandview Community Garden: by the time they sprout above the soil we should be past the  frosts.  Peta, CEO of K'aute Pasifika Services, enjoyed getting out and planted a few rows of potatoes early last week with her family.  She wishes you good luck with your potatoes growing!

Reminder: Grow your own vegetables 

This short free hands-on practical session covers the basics of:

  • Vege growing - what can I plant now?
  • Getting the ground ready
  • Making compost
  • Sowing seeds – how and when to sow
  • How to feed your plants
  • Dealing with weeds
  • Pest control the organic way.

*If the weather is very wet, you will be under shelter learning how to sow seeds, which you can take home!

When: Thursday 18 October, 10 am - 12 pm, repeated 6 pm - 8 pm

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) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Reminder: Thriving on a Shoe String - Cooking classes

Topics include:

  • Shopping on a budget
  • Preserving fruits and vegetables
  • Menu planning
  • Time Savers – quick healthy snacks
  • One pot wonders

When: Thursdays, 18 October to 22 November, 9.30 am – 12 noon

Where: Methodist Centre, 62 London St, Hamilton

Cost: $2 per session

Limited spaces: book a place - contact Wendy, Methodist City Action, ph  8393917.  All welcome!

SHAMA Cooking/Healthy Living Course

The Hamilton Ethnic Women's Trust is running hands-on course where women can learn to cook low cost healthy dishes from around the world.  It costs just 50c per session and starts this Friday.  All women are welcome (no booking required). 

When: 10 am - 12 noon, Fridays from 19 October - 14 December.

Where:  27 Beatty Street, Melville.

SHAMA also runs free ESOL classes, sewing ($5 per term), craft classes, parent support and play group, and a basic computer course.   For more information contact SHAMA ph 843-3811. 

Reminder: Free Water Wise Workshop 

Join Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentor, to learn how to:

  • Collect and store rainwater for your garden
  • 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.

You will see the solar water pump being used.

When: Saturday 20 October 2012, 2:30- 4 pm. 

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.

Planting & Feeding the Grandview Community Garden

On Tuesday 23 October, 10 am - 12 noon, join a WIC Community Garden Mentor to do some planting and feeding of the garden.  This is also a chance to ask your gardening questions.

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.

On Thursday 25 October, 11 am - 12 noon one of the Community Garden Mentor's will be doing seed sowing - everyone is welcome to come along and learn!

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

Reminder: Time Banking Orientation

If you would like to become a member of Hamilton TimeBank, book your place for one of the sessions to get set up, phone: 834 2249 or email: hamtimebank@gmail.com  Everyone is welcome.

When & Where: Choose one:

  • Wednesday 24 October, 6 - 7:30 pm, Waikato Environment Centre, 25 Ward Street, Hamilton City (upstairs)
  • Friday 26 October, 12:30 - 2 pm, Waimarie Community House, 53 Wellington Street, Hamilton East.

Please bring: finger food to share, 2 x names and phone numbers of referees, 2 x forms of identification (1 with photo; 1 with address).

Natural Health Expo & Sustainable Backyard Tour

The Hamilton Permaculture Trust will have a stall at the Natural Health Expo in the Hamilton Gardens Pavilion.  Talk to a Trust member, sign up for a course or for Time Banking.

Their book will be available: How to Grow Your own Food (well worth the $25).  It has a list of what to plant when for Hamilton's climate.

When: Saturday 27 Oct, 10 am – 5 pm and Sunday 28 Oct, 10 am – 5 pm

Where: Hamilton Gardens, Cobham Dr, SH1, Hamilton

Cost: Kids: Free. Adult: $7.00

There will also be a guided tour & talk on Permaculture in the Sustainable Backyard garden: Meet in the garden on Saturday, 27 October, 11 am or Sunday 28 October at 1 pm.   See what they have growing at this time of year and get inspired!

Reminder: Growing Kumara

WIC is running a free kumara growing workshop on Saturday 27 October, 2-3:30 pm.   Kumara is a sweet potato (root vegetable) of South American origin that is widely grown here in NZ.  We have three experienced growers who will share their knowledge of planting, growing and harvesting kumara:

  • Beatriz Hardy - South American information about camote and the Wintec Horticulture school's experience of growing kumara in the Kitchen Garden, Hamilton Gardens 
  • Wiremu Puke - a Maori perspective on kumara growing, experience of growing kumara in the Te Parapara Garden, Hamilton Gardens 
  • Lisiate Manuatu - a Tongan gardener who has been experimenting with growing kumara in NZ for over 40 years.  He grows enough to feed his family all year round - this year he plans to grow 1000 plants in his back yard - come and learn how to make the best of a your space!

Everyone is welcome to come and learn and share your experience!  If you need a translator, please let us know as soon as possible.   

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 Kathryn, ph 834-1482.

Loy Kratong Thai Festival

Try some Thai food at the Loy Kratong Thai Festival!

When: Saturday 27 October 2012, 4 pm - 9 pm

Where: Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Waikato University. 

There is a charge.  More information here.

Where to get tools

Tool Banks

A tool bank or tool library is a place where you can borrow or rent tools.

As part of the Nawton Crawshaw Healthy Living Project, the Western Community Centre has opened a garden tool bank that has spades, shovels and hoes.  You can borrow $10 deposit (refundable) + a gold coin.   Ph 847 4873 if you need more information.  Everyone is welcome to use this service.   Where: 46 Hyde Ave, Nawton, Hamilton 3200.

At the Enderley Community Centre (66 Tennyson Rd) a tool library is open to residents on the eastern side of Hamilton.  It was started to help people take pride in their community.  They have lawn mowers, spades, shovels, garden forks, a wheelbarrow, a wood-chipper (a machine used to turn branches into mulch).  They are planning to get weed eaters in the future.  There is a $10 registration fee and a $5 day hire fee for the lawnmower.  It is open Tuesday's to Fridays, but they sometimes close during wet weather. Register and pickup between 9 am-11 am, return tools between 4-5 pm.  Ph 8557520 for more information: ask for Mere or Debbie or Harata.  They would love some extra volunteer helpers. 

If you know of any other tool banks in the Waikato, especially Hamilton and Tokoroa, please let us know about it so other members of WIC can benefit! 

If you are looking for other specialised, expensive tools that you will use only once or twice, you could ask at one of the commercial hire companies, listed under Hire-Building and Handyman Equipment in the Yellow Pages (a telephone book arranged by business type).     Alternatively, some groups or extended families buy these kinds of tools together, sharing both the cost and the use.

Buying secondhand

"Dollar for dollar, it is better to invest in good quality used equipment, rather than poor quality new" - Robin Humphreys. 

Many of our WIC members have bought tools through places like the Russell Recycling (sometimes called the Dump Shop) at the Waste Transfer Station where you can buy a second hand lawnmower for as little as $20, for example.   

You can now also buy second-hand gardening tools online through The Shed. They only stock motorised tools (lawn mowers, line trimmers, etc) and spare parts to repair them. They claim that most of their machines cost about half what you would pay for a new one.  You can enquire online or phone 0800 MOWERS (669377) - ask for Shane.  You can also visit their shops in Albany and Wairau in Auckland - see their web site for details.  They are new, I do not know of anyone who has used them before.

There is more information about where to get tools on Ooooby in the WIC Growing discussion.   

Plant Supports

If you missed the workshop on building garden structures, there are some inexpensive ideas here.

School Gardens

At the HOGs meeting on Monday night Avis Leeson, who works with 54 school gardens around the Waikato, said that she is looking for people to help, especially grandfathers. If you think that you could help to support one of your local school gardens, you can get in touch with Avis at 07 852 5783 or email avisleeson@gmail.com 

Uso Visit & Men's Health

It was good to see the Uso riders cycle into Hamilton last night!  If you missed it, or want to learn more about improving men's health, you might enjoy the All Black Buck Shelford's new book, Buck up: the real bloke's guide to getting healthy and living longer, available at the public library.  Local MP Tim Macindoe was at Shelford's book signing in Hamilton recently, and admitted that he'd discovered having a prostate cancer check was not as difficult as he thought it would be (it is a blood test), and appreciated finding out that he was actually fine. 

Hardening off plants

If you shifted to NZ from a hot country, you probably found the cold weather a shock! Shifting plants directly from a warm place to a cold place is a shock to them too, which is not good for their health.   

Many kiwis will be getting prepared for planting out the seedlings of their frost-tender summer crops over Labour Weekend.  The seedlings have been growing in a nice warm place: they need to acclimatise - ie to gradually get used to the conditions they'll be growing in outside before you plant them out - stronger sunlight, cooler nights and less-frequent watering.  This process of acclimatisation is called 'hardening off' - the leaves reduce the amount of water they hold and become harder.  Plants are usually hardened off over 5-10 days.

  • Reduce the amount you water them - just enough to stop them wilting (going floppy) 
  • If you have been fertilising them, stop fertilising
  • Gradually increase: the time the plants spend outside each day and the amount of light
  • Keep them warm at night (bring them inside, or close/cover the cloche), until the last 24 hrs before planting them out. 

You can learn more here

Free recipes and freezing  

Last Wednesday saw the launch of the free Healthy Food Guide 5pm panic weekly e-newsletter!  You can subscribe and get an email every Wednesday afternoon with an inspiring, simple and quick to make recipe for a week night dinner.

The week's recipe was for Asian style sesame pork with rice and steamed vegetables.  It takes about 20 minutes to make.  The recipe cost $22.80 to make to serve 4 people ($5.70 per person) - but this cost included buying frozen vegetables: you can reduce the cost if you use home grown vegetables grown from seed. 

Commercial frozen mixed vegetables contain between 4-8 types of vegetable: you could be including more variety than that from your garden - the more variety the better it is for our bodies!  

Another option is to use a mixture of frozen vegetables (especially in winter for the out of season vegetables like corn, capsiums and beans) and fresh home-grown vegetables like cabbage, silverbeet (chard), bok choi, kale/collard greens, finely sliced red cabbage, yacon, spring onions, violet leaves, carrots ...  

You can freeze your own home-grown summer surplus for use in winter stir fries.  If you don't grow your own mushrooms, buy them in bulk when they are at a good price and freeze them to add into stir fries, soups and stews.

Freezing Hint: With mushrooms, capsicums, blueberries and raspberries you can freeze them raw. Wipe the mushrooms, or gently wash and dry capsicums and berry fruit. Slice the mushrooms and capsicums, but the berries can be frozen whole.  Spread the produce out on a tray and put them in the freezer.  The next day, put them into a plastic bag or container and return them to the freezer.  By doing it this way they don't stick together (sometimes called the 'free flow method') making it easy to just take out what you need for a particular recipe.  

For more information on freezing fruit and vegetables, download the free Canadian manual on preserving food called Produce Preservation Program: canning, freezing, drying, harvesting, cold storage. 

Have a great week in your garden!


WIC Gardening Update 10 Oct 2012

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

Hello and ni hau

Some of you (Hindus, Jains and Sikhs) will be celebrating the Diwali festival this week, there are several events running in Hamilton that everyone is welcome to, some are free.  It is traditional to eat sweets during this festival - a real challenge for people with diabetes! The India Tribune has some tips for a healthy Diwali.

Diwali is known as the festival of lights.  There are many cultures that have celebrations around light or sunshine. 

Plants need light to grow, but the amount of light they need varies depending on where the plant developed: a plant that naturally occurred on the forest floor where it was shaded will need a less light than one that naturally grew in open desert.  Seed packets and plant catalogues usually tell you whether a plant does best in full sun, part shade or shade. 

Plants need light to photosynthesise: photosynthesis turns light + water + carbon dioxide into sugars (carbohydrates)  + oxygen.  Almost all animals, including us, cannot live without eating the sugars (or other animals that have eaten the sugars) and breathing the oxygen that plants make.  Learn more by listening or downloading a podcast from Radio NZ.

With NZ's high UV light, even plants that developed in a desert environment can sometimes get sunburnt.   We had a particularly sunny summer a few years ago here in the Waikato: some of us were finding hard green spots in our ripe tomatoes - it was sun burn!

Feeling Good

People have a set of genes in common with plants: in plants, this DNA helps them respond to light, turning towards it.  Scientists are not sure yet what the DNA does for us, but we do know that getting a little sunshine helps us to feel good - something you get as part of your gardening routine!

This is Mental Health Awareness Week. Worldwide it is estimated that about 1 in 5 people will experience a mental health problem in their lifetime. Depression is expected to be the 2nd largest disease burden in the world (after heart disease) by 2020.

Many of you have spoken to us about the way gardening helps to calm you, to cheer you up, to make you feel connected to your new country, to give you a place of refuge and the way that the WIC project helps to connect you to other people, helping you to feel less isolated. 

Gardening helps you feel good mentally. In addition to getting some sunshine, you can have better mental health through gardening in these ways:

  • Be active – exercise makes us feel good
  • Sleep well - all that exercise helps us to sleep
  • Connect - gardening is a way of meeting other people with a common interest
  • Give - gardening gives us a way to share resources with others
  • Keep learning - even experienced gardeners are still learners! Try new things, see opportunities, be surprised
  • Being in nature - helps to put our own problems in perspective
  • Animals in the garden - wild or pets - can make us laugh, give us affection and make us curious
  • Growing our own food gives us a sense of achievement and empowerment - even if we are not earning money we can help to feed our families
  • Eat well – healthy food helps with a healthy mind
  • Take notice - the garden is full of simple things that can bring you joy - smell the roses, enjoy the sweetness of fresh fruit...

If you feel sad and hopeless most of the time, ask your health professional for help.  There are a number of free clinics around the Waikato including K'aute Pasifika Services and the clinic by the Link Centre in Tokoroa.  

HOGs meeting – Supporting School Gardens

This month at the Hamilton Organic Gardeners meeting Avis Leeson will talk about her experiences gardening with schools and children. Andrea Soanes from Enviroschools will also be talking about their school Kai project and how this might link to HOGs and other community members. If you want to involve children in gardening, come along and learn! Everyone is welcome. 

Monday 15th October, 7:30pm, at Te Whare o te Ata, 60a Sare Crescent Fairfield, Hamilton. Limited parking in the carpark. You may like to opt to park on Clarkin Road and walk across the park.

Reminder: Making Garden Structures

Get ready for beans, tomatoes and other climbing summer veges by making stakes, ties and frames. Join us in the Grandview Community Garden.  Free. All Welcome!

When: Monday 15 Oct, 10 am - 12.00 noon.

Where: Enter through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Rd (look for the WIC banner). Bus route number 8 (Frankton), cycle parking by the shed or park cars on Grandview Road.

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

Get Growing - now a free weekly e-zine

Talking about garden structures, there are some great ideas for free or low cost bean supports on pages 5-6 and 9-10 in the latest Get Growing e-zine (online magazine).

The free Get Growing weekly email put out by NZ Gardener magazine has just become an e-zine (online magazine).  If you haven't used an e-zine before, there is help here.  You can always view the latest issue here, or subscribe for a weekly email reminder.    

Among other things you can:

  • see the top 5 tasks to do in your garden each week
  • ask questions of their experts
  • find and swap plants and seeds
  • enter competitions
  • learn about NZ garden insects.

Reminder: USO Bike Tour - cancer awareness

Rates of cancer for Pacific Island People (especially men) are high, unfortunately many don't see their doctor until it is too late, when the cancer has had a chance to spread and is more difficult to treat.

Cancer is the most common cause of death amongst Pacific Island people, whereas it has been declining in most other New Zealanders. Lung and prostate cancers are the most common for men, with an increase in bowel cancers that is worrying. Over 2/3 of cancers are caused by lifestyle and therefore can be prevented. This means eating a healthy, balanced diet, high in vegetables with some fruits, lean dairy, lean meats and fish, and getting exercise - for example 30 minutes walking a day is all that is needed for health and wellbeing.

Come and welcome the USO Bike Tour Riders and learn more about how you can get checked for cancer.  Thursday 16 October, 6:30 pm at the Waikato Migrant Centre, Boundary Road, Claudelands, Hamilton. Food will be available.  All welcome! 

Reminder: Grow your own vegetables 

Disappointed you missed out on some of our workshopsor need a reminder? This short free hands-on practical session covers the basics of:

  • Vege growing - what can I plant now?
  • Getting the ground ready
  • Making compost
  • Sowing seeds – how and when to sow
  • How to feed your plants
  • Dealing with weeds
  • Pest control the organic way.

When: Thursday 18 October, 10am - 12pm, repeated 6.00pm - 8pm

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.

This workshop is being run in conjunction with the Western Community Centre.

Reminder: Thriving on a Shoe String - Cooking classes

  • Do more than just “get by”
  • Grow a healthy family
  • Learn new practical skills in the kitchen

Topics include:

  • Shopping on a budget
  • Preserving fruits and vegetables
  • Menu planning
  • Time Savers – quick healthy snacks
  • One pot wonders

When: Thursdays, 18th October to 22nd November 2012, 9.30am – 12.00 noon

Where: Methodist Centre, 62 London St, Hamilton

Cost: $2 per session

Limited spaces: book a place - contact Wendy,  Methodist City Action, ph  8393917.  All welcome!

Reminder: Free Water Wise Workshop 

Join Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentor, to learn how to:

  • Collect and store rainwater for your garden
  • 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.

You will see the solar water pump being used.

When: Saturday 20 October 2012, 2:30- 4pm.  (This workshop will also be repeated in November.)

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.   

Timebanking

Hamilton now has a Time Bank!  One hour helping another person earns one Time Credit, that you can then use to get help from someone else - no money required!  People use the TimeBank to trade skills, knowledge and experience.   

For example, you could spend an hour mowing someone's lawn, then use the Time Credit to get another experienced person to weed with you - helping you to learn which pretty plants your landlord or neighbours think you should pull out, and what their English names are!

If you would like to become a member of Hamilton TimeBank, book your place for one of the orientation sessions, phone: 834 2249 or email: hamtimebank@gmail.com  Everyone is welcome.

When & Where: Choose one of these:

  • Tuesday 16 October, 12:30 - 2pm, Te Whare O Te Ata 60a Sare Crescent, Fairfield
  • Wednesday 24 October, 6 - 7:30 pm, Waikato Environment Centre, 25 Ward Street, Hamilton City (upstairs)
  • Friday 26 October, 12:30 - 2pm, Waimarie Community House, 53 Wellington Street, Hamilton East.

Please bring: finger food to share, 2 x names and phone numbers of referees, 2 x forms of identification (1 with photo; 1 with address).

Growing Kumara

A number of you have been asking about growing kumara. If you are not growing your own plants from the tubers (the part we eat), you will be able to buy some plants from garden centres. However, most growers consider it too soon to plant kumara outside yet - frost will kill your plants. 

WIC is running a free kumara growing workshop on Saturday 27 October, 2-3:30 pm.   There will be three experienced growers from giving us tips on how to get a good crop, even when you are gardening in a small space!  Everyone is welcome.

Peat soil

The Waikato has about half of all the peat lands in NZ.  Peat forms in wetlands (also called bogs or swamps) and is made from partly decomposed plants.  

Peat is very slow to form so it is treated as a non-renewable resource. Peat was a traditional ingredient in store-bought potting mixes, but it is increasingly being replaced with (renewable) coconut fibre (coir). 

Peat is naturally anaerobic (has no oxygen present) and is very acid (soil pH <4.5).  Learn more about peat soil on Ooooby

Plants for Peat: Blueberries, Cranberries and tea

Blueberriescranberries and Camellia sinensis (the plant used to make tea) like acidic (sometimes called sour) soils - so peat soils are perfect.  If you want to grow these acid-loving plants but don't have peat soil, Clare suggests using rotted woodchip mulch instead.

Plant away from where there has been lime used, or concrete paths etc.- these tend to raise the pH level.

Blueberries and tea can be grown as a hedge.  Cranberries make a good groundcover - I am planning a blueberry hedge under-planted with cranberries.

The birds love blueberries, so think about putting in some posts to support netting that covers the plants during fruiting season. 

Berry fruit tip:  Clare says that birds are attracted by the red colour of ripe strawberries, so cover them with an old net curtain that makes it hard to see the fruit.  The curtain will also make a nice warm microclimate that will help the fruit ripen!

Organic Pest Control

At the Organic Pest Control workshops last week people enjoyed finding cabbage (white) butterfly eggs and caterpillars, slugs and snails, which we squashed! Clare said, "it was nice to be able to tell these gardeners that they have taken the first  big slug and snail control steps", taking away concrete and timber takes away their homes. "Big smiles all round."

On the positive side, we also found a little brown skink - a small lizard that eats insects.   Some of the wild turnip has been left to flower, because like all brassica flowers, they attract beneficial insects like tiny wasps.  (The wild turnip flowers are also good to eat - they have a mustard flavour, with a burst of sweetness if the nectar (honey) hasn't already been drunk by an insect! Great in salads.)

In Season - Asparagus & Rhubarb

Asparagus is a spring vegetable being harvested now.  It is grown commercially in the Waikato.  It much cheaper to grow your own.  However, it is a perennial (needs a permanent bed) and takes at least one year before you can start harvesting it.  You can grow it from seed or from crowns.  There is more information about growing it on the Kings Seed BlogThere are lots of asparagus recipes on the Healthy Food Guide website.

If you have another perennial plant, rhubarb in your garden, you have probably noticed that it is growing much faster now that spring is here.  Rhubarb is a quirky plant: botanically it is a vegetable, but we usually eat it like a fruit.  You eat the stalks, not the leaves (the leaves are toxic). It is usually eaten cooked, but some people juice it raw. It has a sour taste, so it is often combined with sweeter fruit, like sultanas or apples.  

Rhubarb and apple crumble is a classic - there is a crumble recipe in the Heart Foundation Cheap Eats cookbook on page 24 (contact me if you would like a copy - it is free), or look at the Nourish version online - it includes walnuts, a chance to use some of the ones you foraged in autumn!  You could replace the butter with 1/4 cup vegetable oil for an even healthier recipe.  (Nourish is a Waikato magazine, so any garden tips will fit with our seasons.)  Rhubarb and strawberries are sometimes combined in desserts. Rhubarb & Strawberry Bars would be great in a lunchbox!

Have a great week enjoying your garden!


WIC Gardening Update 3 Oct 2012

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

Hello & kam na mauri 

Are you busy trying to keep children busy over the school holidays? Why not get them involved in making plant markers for your pots and garden?

Kings Seeds had a blog on plant markers from made from recycled silver spoons.  People who read the blog gave lots of other creative ideas for making plant labels, some suitable for children to make.

Another label option is to write on wooden pegs, clipping them to punnets and pots.   Write the plant name and the date it was planted - it is easy to forget.  Use this information with seed packets, plant catalogues etc, that tell you how long it is likely to take for the seed to germinate (sprout) and how long it will take to mature (be ready to eat). 

Labelling your plants helps to stop your plants being accidentally pulled out as weeds - especially if you are sharing your garden with other people!

Writing done in soft pencil will last much longer under our strong NZ sun than writing done in pen.

Reminder: Insects in your garden

Which insects are good and which are bad? How do you control garden pests the organic way? Come and see at one of these hands-on WIC sessions on spring garden pest control at the Grandview Community Garden:

  • Friday 5 October 6-7 pm
  • Wednesday 10 October 10-11 am.

Enter through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Rd (look for the WIC banner). Bus route number 8 (Frankton), cycle parking by the shed or park cars on Grandview Road.

Get in touch if you have any questions Clare ph 021 0387623 and Tim ph 021 2243109, the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

All welcome!

As always, if you need a translator, we are happy to try and arrange one  but please let us know at least two days before the event.

Bees are important for growing many fruits and vegetables.  John was telling me he has hardly any bees in his garden.   Like many of us, bees do not like going out in wet, cold or very windy weather.  

Try to have something flowering in your garden all year round so that bees have food.  I have a native hebe in my garden which is flowering at the moment - you can hear it humming due to all the bees visiting it! 

FREE Healthy Cooking Classes 

Experienced cooking tutors and WIC members Stephanie (Taiwan) and Soti (Iran/Cyprus) will be taking turns teaching healthy cooking every Saturday, 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!

This Saturday, Stephanie will be showing you how to make a vegetable curry and an easy banana cake - yum!

Everyone is welcome!  Just turn up, no bookings required.

If you need more information contact Waikato Ethnic Family Services, ph 839 4688.

Making Garden Structures

Get ready for beans, tomatoes and other climbing summer veges by making stakes, ties and frames. Join us in the Grandview Community Garden.

All Welcome!

When: Monday 15 Oct, 10 am - 12.00 noon.

Where: Enter through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Rd (look for the WIC banner). Bus route number 8 (Frankton), cycle parking by the shed or park cars on Grandview Road.

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

USO Bike Tour - cancer awareness

Staying fit, eating healthy food including plenty of vegetables, avoiding getting sunburnt and not smoking can help to prevent many cancers, but it is still important to get checked.  Having cancer is not an automatic death sentence: most cancers can be treated, especially if they are caught early.

Whatever the type of cancer, including testicular, prostate or bowel cancer, Pacific Island and Maori men feature poorly in NZ health statistics.  

Sometimes our cultural traditions make it hard for us to seek medical help about the parts of our body we think of as private: in the case of cancer, this can mean death.  

Health professionals such as doctors are required to keep what you tell them confidential (private).  Translation can be done for free using the telephone, just ask: the translator is also required to forget (keep private) what you say once the conversation is over. 

After losing his father to cancer, Chris Te'o was inspired to cycle the length of NZ to encourage men to get checked for cancer - see the web site for a video about the journey.  This year he is travelling with ten Pacific and Maori men and the support of the Cancer Society of NZ.  The aim is not to raise money, but to encourage people, particularly Pacific Island and Maori men, to get themselves checked for cancer. 

"Uso" is a Samoan word meaning "brother".  You can hear Chris speak when they visit Hamilton on Thursday 16 October, 6:30 pm at the Waikato Migrant Centre, Boundary Road, Claudelands, Hamilton.  All welcome! 

The Cancer Society has a list of important warning signs you should get checked with a health professionalLast week I mentioned skin cancer (melanoma). Maoi, one of the nurses here, has said that many people don't realise that you can still get skin cancer on parts of the body you don't show to the sun. 

K'aute Pasifika Services will have some nurses at the USO Bike Tour visit, so you can  get any moles checked (some turn into skin cancer) or ask about other cancer checks - this service is free.

Grow your own vegetables 

This free hands on practical session covers the basics of:

  • Vege growing - what can I plant now?
  • Getting the ground ready
  • Making compost
  • Sowing seeds – how and when to sow
  • How to feed your plants
  • Dealing with weeds
  • Pest control the organic way

If you struggle to make it to our workshops, this workshop will give you a good overview of how to garden!

When: Thursday 18 October, 10am - 12pm, repeated 6.00pm - 8pm

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.

This workshop is being run in conjunction with the Western Community Centre.

Thriving on a Shoe String - Cooking classes

  • Do more than just “get by”
  • Grow a healthy family
  • Learn new practical skills in the kitchen

These classes will be led by Jenny Hobson who has cooked and taught professional cookery for 26 years.  She is also keen organic gardener and includes this knowledge in her teaching.

Topics include:

  • Shopping on a budget
  • Preserving fruits and vegetables
  • Menu planning
  • Time Savers – quick healthy snacks
  • One pot wonders

When: Thursdays, 18th October to 22nd November 2012, 9.30am – 12.00 noon

Where: Methodist Centre, 62 London St, Hamilton

Cost: $2 per session

Limited spaces: book a place - contact Wendy,  Methodist City Action, ph  8393917.  All welcome!

Water Wise Workshop 

This workshop has been postponed to the 20 October.

All plants need some water to grow.  Summer is our driest season in NZ, with many gardeners spending time watering their gardens.

Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentor, will be using the Grandview Community Garden to show you how to save time and water! Join him to learn how to:

  • Collect and store rainwater for your garden
  • 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.

You will see the solar water pump being used.

When: Saturday 20 October 2012, 2:30- 4pm.  (This workshop will also be repeated in November.)

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.   

Global warming means we need to be prepared for more extreme weather, such as droughts.  The USA is going through one of its worst droughts in history.  Having a lawn there is seen as a big water-sucking expense.

Some see simple gardens that make the most of rainwater as a much better alternative to lawn. These gardens can be made with very little money. Some of these gardens are on road sides (berms), providing food for their communities in financially tough times. See examples here and here

In Auckland, the suburb of Grey Lynn is also actively planting their berms - learn more here and see photos of a 'berm bombing' in Grey Lynn on Ooooby.  

Hamilton City is now Smokefree!

Hamilton City Council has set up a Smoke-Free Environment Policy for the city, including some parks, starting last week.  This is because smoking can make you sick and even kill you, as well as the people around you who breathe in the smoke.  Smoking is prohibited in the following places:

  • Garden Place, Civic Square, Hamilton Transport Centre and Hamilton Gardens
  • Within 10 metres of all City Council playgrounds and all Council owned or operated buildings and facilities
  • Around Waikato Hospital on Pembroke St (from the corner of Selwyn St to Ohaupo Rd) and Selwyn St

It was also agreed that all events run or sponsored by Council will be required to be smoke-free. 

Grandview Community Garden, K'aute Pasifika Services and the Waikato Migrant Centre are already smoke-free.

If you or someone you know is struggling to quit smoking, contact K’aute Pasifika’s FREE Smoke Free services, including consultation, free nicotine patches, gum and lozenges to people of any ethnicity. For more information call Peni or Luisa - 07 834 1482 or Txt your name to 021 2880 503. 

Jars Please! 

Do you have any small plastic screw top jars with their lids (the kind nails, marmite, herbs or breadmaking yeast come in) that you would be willing to donate?  They are looking for some to use for seed storage at Grandview Community Garden, so that rats and mice don't eat the seeds.

Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors, if you can help, or drop the plastic jars into me at  K'aute Pasifika Services, 960 Victoria St (entry off Liverpool St), Level 1.

Want to organise your own seed/plant/produce swap?

Room 3 at Richmond Park School, Bader Street, Melville is available free to any community groups that have no political affiliation (MOE rules). It can be booked through Mareta Ford or Trish Cree, South Hamilton Community Advisor with HCC, ph 838 6699.   

While you're there, visit the Te Whare Kokonga/Melville Community House's community garden to see what they have growing.  They have a range of fruit trees and vegetables.  They are on the corner of Bader and Pine Avenues.

Maize and Corn 

The staff at Kings Seeds over towards Tauranga have been growing their sweet corn in a tunnel house, and have started planting the seedlings outside.  They will need to cover it if we get a frost.  They have some tips on growing corn on their blog

Maize is a type of corn that is not sweet and is often white rather than yellow.  It is eaten in many cultures including its home in America, around Africa and in the Pacific in Tonga.  It is not just eaten on the cob (whole kernels or seeds) but ground coarsely or into flour. Many cultures eat a maize/corn porridge as their main form of carbohydrate.

You can buy maize seed from farming supply shops like RD1 or Farmlands (in NZ maize is mostly fed to stock).  This is likely to be hybrid seed: if you save seed from the maize you grow, you are only likely to get between 35% - 85% of the seeds germinating (growing).  You can buy 'proper' seed maize, eg from Newton's Seed in Onehunga, Auckland but it is fairly expensive - around $32.00/kg minimum.

Some of you will have received a rare NZ variety of corn called Kaanga Ma (or horse teeth corn, as Rangi from the East Coast of NZ sometimes calls it, because of it's shape!), it is similar to maize.   I still have a couple of packets left: contact me if you would like some free seeds.

I also have some other varieties of corn seed available: Rainbow Inca, Sweet/Flour Black Navajo and Strawberry (shape not flavour!) popping corn.

In Season - strawberries

Speaking of strawberries, many of you got free strawberry plants from WIC.  I wonder how they are doing?  I noticed my first ripe strawberry this week, complete with holes pecked by the birds! It is time to cover your strawberries.   It is also good to mulch them (if you haven't already!), to keep the berries off the soil: this reduces the chance of fungal diseases on the fruit.  The traditional mulch was straw - some people think this is how the plant got its name.

Strawberries are a fruit, there are very few savoury dishes that use them, they are mostly used in sweet dishes. My favourite ways of eating strawberries is raw by themselves, or with my breakfast cereal or in a fruit salad.  The Healthy Food Guide has lots of strawberry recipes and even some strawberry gardening tips.

Have a great week in your garden! 

 

 


WIC Gardening Update - 26 September 2012

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

Hi and jom reab soor

Some of the carrots grown at Grandview are being harvested this week!  I on the program River Cottage Veg that the carrot tops (the green leafy part) are eaten in Japan!  The tops smell beautiful.  The Japanese recipe is here.  It is garnished (decorated) with the yellow flowers of shungiku, (Chrysanthemum coronarium) which grows wild here in the Waikato, and is eaten by many Asian cultures.

There are more carrot top recipes and photos here.

Some gardeners are finding it hard learning to tell the difference between plants, such as carrot seedlings and seedlings of the wild plant fumitory (Fumaria).  It takes a bit of practice to 'get your eye in' (ie get good at it, or in the case of foraging or telling plants apart, your brain seeing the pattern.)  Even plants of the same variety have some differences, you need to look at a few.

It helps to have a book with clear photographs or a friend who already knows the plant to help.  (You are welcome to visit the community garden when Tim or Clare are there so they can help you work on this.)

When seeds germinate (sprout, start to grow), the first set of leaves look much like any other plant, it is the second set of leaves, called the true leaves, that show the shape of the plant to come.

Look closely at the two plants:

  • what colour are they? Sounds funny, but fumitory leaves are a bluer-shade of green than carrot leaves.  (Some people, especially men, are colour blind and can find it harder to see the difference.)
  • what shape are the leaves? 
  • what shape is the stem - round, flat..?
  • are the leaves hairy, smooth, shiny...?  Both sides?
  • what does the plant smell like (you may need to crush a leaf)?

This is usually enough to identify your plant. Be patient with yourself and keep practicing!   

One clever grandfather would tell his grandson the name a plant before they set off on their walk each week.  If the child could still name the plant when he got home, he got a small treat.  The child learned a large number of plants this way, and went on to be a great gardener. 

Reminder: Auckland Community Gardens Meeting

The Gardens 4 Health (G4H) meeting is mostly for people involved in running community gardens in the Auckland area, to update each other on progress and opportunities.  The quarterly meeting is held at a different community garden each time. If you are interested in community gardens, you are welcome to go.

Tomorrow's meeting is at the Birkdale / BeachHaven Anglican Church Cedar Centre. It will include spending 1 hour helping to build a children’s garden.  Contact me if you would like a copy of the agenda. 

Contact Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, (ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109), as soon as possible if you would like to travel to the meeting with them.   Free.

When: Tomorrow - Thursday 27 September, 1-3pm plus travel time.

Learn English for Free

If you or your friends struggle to read the WIC updates or feel shy about coming to workshops because of your English, the free English language class starting this Friday 8am - 5pm at WINTEC may help you.  Contact: Elmarie Karg ph (07) 838 2450 www.wie.ac.nz

Reminder: Weed Control Workshop

At this free WIC workshop learn:

  • how to beat the weeds using healthy organic methods such as mulch
  • which weeds are the worst
  • which weeds are useful
  • what tools to use.

When: Friday 28 September: 10 am and 2 pm - the afternoon session is a repeat of the morning session. 

Where: Grandview Community Garden, bus route 8 (Frankton) Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. 

All welcome!  If you need help with transport, let us know.  For more information, call Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

Reminder: Grandview Community Garden Work Day

When: Friday 28 September. 

Everyone is welcome to come and help at the garden - why not do one of the weed control workshops and stay on to help for an hour or two?

There are all sorts of ways you can help, from planting trees to digging paths to making signs.

Bring boots, wet weather gear (there might be a shower), your own tools if you have them, gloves (we have some), lunch and thermos if you like a hot drink. There are toilets and hand washing facilities on site. Clare & Tim plan to start the day at 8.30 with a quick tour and briefing. They can repeat it for you if you’re coming later.

Enter the garden through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Rd, Grandview - look for the WIC banner. Bus route number 8 (Frankton). If driving, please park on Grandview Road.

If you need more info, contact Clare or Tim WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

School Lunchbox Day

Having healthy food to eat during the day helps children learn.  The TV show Campbell Live has been doing a series on children going to school without having had breakfast or bringing a lunch.  One of the Healthy Food Guide nutritionists showed how to make affordable children’s lunches – a healthy lunch cost just $1.70 (cheaper than buying a pie!) Part of the cost was for carrots and apples: you can make school lunches even cheaper when you grow your own fruit and veg!

You can watch the video clip about how to make cheap and healthy school lunches here

Last night they did a story about two women on a benefit who despite being short on money themselves were donating their time, cooking skills plus the surplus from their gardens to help provide school lunches.  Awesome!

This Friday 28 September Campbell Live is holding Lunchbox Day where people can text an automatic $3 donation to shout a child lunch through the Kids Can charity. If you are involved in a school, business, or other group that wants to host a fundraiser as part of this event, send photos of your event to campbelllive@tv3.co.nz and you may get your efforts on the TV! 

If you want to learn more about the need for food in schools, Poverty Action Waikato have just published a report Food and Waikato School Communities.  Contact me if you would like a copy of the report - it's free.

POSTPONED: The Organic Horticulture in the Waikato & Seedsaving Film is not on this Friday. 

Reminder: Garden Pest Control

Are you wondering like Lucy how to stop your brassicas getting eaten by green caterpillars? Do you wonder where the slugs and snails hide out during the day? Are there insects sucking the life out of your plants? Then the free WIC Garden Pest Control workshop is for you! 

The WIC Community Garden Mentors will be teaching you how to control pests using organic methods.

When: We will be running the hands-on workshop at least 3 times: 

  • Wednesday 3 October 10-11 am
  • Friday 5 October 6-7 pm
  • Wednesday 10 October 10-11 am.

Where: Grandview Community Garden.  Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Bus route 8 (Frankton).  If driving, please park on Grandview Road.

Everyone is welcome! If you need help with transport, let us know.  For more information, call Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

WIC Evaluation

The first WIC evaluation report is now finished, if you would like a copy contact me (it is free).  Tania Wolfgramm will soon be starting the final series of interviews with some of the people involved in WIC. This is to help us find out how well the project has worked.  You are also welcome to contact her directly with any feedback you'd like to give.  Her email address is: tania.wolfgramm@gmail.com

Free Damson Plum Seedlings!

Clare has got about 10 damson plum trees to give away.  If you would like one call her on 021 0387623.

Damson plums usually have a dark purple-blue skinned fruit that are yellow inside with a sweet-sour flavour.  They can be eaten fresh but are also popular for making jam and other preserves. 

And if you didn't like the fruit, you could always graft a different type of plum onto the tree!

Root Crop Recipe Competition

Root vegetables grow the parts that we eat under the ground.  If you've joined the Get Growing NZ gardening free weekly email, you may have seen their recipe competition.  Get Growing are working on their next recipe book, Homegrown Potatoes + Root Crops.  They are inviting people to enter your favourite root vegetable recipe. 

They're particularly looking for recipes that use: potatoes, radishes, kumara (sweet potatoes), swedes, parsnips, garlic, onions, ginger, galangal, carrots, beetroot and any other interesting root crops you grow here in NZ - like taro, yacon, Jerusalem artichokes ...  

Send your recipes in to getgrowing@nzgardener.co.nz  and you might win a copy of  the new cook book! 

Preparing for planting summer crops - Calcium

At Grandview they have started preparing the soil for planting heat loving crops late next month.  You can prevent plant problems like 'blossom end rot' by preparing the soil well now by making sure that the areas of the garden where you plan to plant tomatoes, peppers (chilli, capsicum), curcubits  (pumpkins, courgettes, squashes, melons), eggplants and carrots will have enough calcium

One way of adding calcium to your soil or compost is by drying and grinding up egg shells. There is more information about calcium here.  NB potatoes do not like lime (one form of calcium).

Healthy Bones & Skin

Plants are not the only ones who need plenty of calcium. We need it for healthy muscles and bones. 

We make strong healthy bones through a combination of calcium  + weight bearing exercise + vitamin D.

The best source of calcium is dairy products, like milk, cheese, etc or canned fish where you eat the bones eg sardines, salmon, anchovies, etc.  But some fruit, vegetables and nuts are also rich in calcium, including: kale, oranges, broccoli, soybeans and soy bean products like soy milk and tofu made with calcium sulphate (also known as gypsum), white beans, figs, turnip leaves, rocket (also known as arugula), almonds and sunflower seeds. These all grow here. There are photographs of some of these good sources of calcium here.

Weight bearing exercise is anything you do while on your feet that works your muscles and bones against gravity.  The simplest form of weight bearing exercise is standing (eg while admiring your garden, or waiting for the bus).  Carrying bags of potting mix and lifting pots are other forms of gardening-related weight bearing exercise. Running around the garden chasing the dog, or dancing around when your first seedling comes up is great for your bones too!

You can get Vitamin D through eating eggs and oily fish, but here in NZ we get most of our Vitamin D through sunshine.  However,  NZ has very high UV (ultra violet light) levels compared with most of the world, which has been linked with skin cancer (sometimes called melanoma).

So between September and April, avoid your skin being in the sun between 10 am - 4 pm each day: get your 'dose' of sunshine outside of these ours.  People with pale skin only need a minute or two of sunshine a day to get enough Vitamin D, while people with darker skin need more.  If you cover up most of your body for cultural reasons, you may need to get your Vitamin D levels checked - talk to your health professional.   

The good news is that Daylight Saving starts this Sunday: the clocks get put forward 1 hour, so it gets dark later - which makes it easier to garden in the evening (and get some sunshine, weight bearing exercise and calcium rich veg)!

Annabell Langbein - NZ Cook & Gardener

Speaking of calcium rich broccoli, Annabelle Langbein has a recipe on her web site for a Grilled Broccoli Salad with a Garlic Chilli Dressing.  All of the vegetables in the recipe can be grown right here in the Waikato!

Her television show The Free Range Cook: Simple Pleasures has started showing on TV1 on Saturdays at 7 pm.  It is filmed in the beautiful Central Otago in the South Island of NZ.  She is often shown gathering her home grown fruit and veg to use in her recipes.  You can watch the show online.  I recommend her Busy Persons Bread: a couple of friends who are learning to bake have successfully made this delicious, healthy bread. It does not need kneading or rising, which means it is quicker to make than many bread recipes - and it makes great sandwiches for those lunch boxes!  

One of my red cabbages is almost ready to harvest and I am looking forward to making her sweet and sour Braised  Red Cabbage recipe again. Hamilton City Libraries and South Waikato District Libraries hold several of Annabelle Langbein's cook books that you can borrow for free, as well as the DVD of her first TV series.  I think her recipes are delicious, so remember to watch your portion sizes!

On her web site there is a small gardening section, some cooking tips such as how to store potatoes and how to sterilise jars, and some useful conversions eg weights (kg/oz), temperatures (Celsius/Fahrenheit), volume to weight (1 cup of desicated coconut = 100g), etc. 

Recipe: Maxine's Backyard Salad

At the Tree Crops Association shared lunch last Sunday Maxine brought a fresh salad made entirely from out of fresh local food, all from back yards.  I've listed the ingredients on Ooooby - see if you can identify them in the photo.

Have a great week in your garden!


WIC Gardening Update - 19 September 2012

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

Hi and malo e lelei

Ismet (Bangladesh) saved some bitter melon seeds last summer and was wondering when to plant them.  You can start sowing all of your summer seeds under cover in a warm place now.  If you are not sure how to do this, go along to one of the workshops at Grandview Community Garden, like the one this Saturday:
 
Reminder: Learn about growing your own potatoes, carrots, lettuce, spring onions, peas, silverbeet, tomatoes, beans and chillies.  As with any of our workshops you are welcome to ask Tim or Clare your gardening questions.
When: Saturday 22 September 2012, 2:30 - 4pm.
Where: Grandview Community Garden, bus route 8 (Frankton) Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road.

Everyone is welcome! If you need help with transport, let us know.  For more information, call Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

Cooking Class

Stephanie (Taiwan) will be teaching affordable healthy cooking starting this Saturday 22 September from 10 am at the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre in Boundary Road, Hamilton.  Stephanie is an experienced cooking tutor.  She will be showing you how to make Garden Vegetable Soup and Fancy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.  Everyone is welcome.  For more information contact Waikato Ethnic Family Services, ph 839 4688.

Reminder: Festival de la Primavera = Hispanic Spring Festival

If you are going to the Hispanic Spring Festival on Saturday 22 September, 1:30pm - 4 pm, take a walk down to the sustainable back yard garden, herb garden and walled kitchen garden to see what food crops they are growing at this time of year. 

Where : Hamilton Gardens. The Festival is in the Pavilion Hall.  All welcome!

Reminder:  NZ Tree Crops Association (NZTCA) Waikato Branch Social

Meet some of the members and learn about the NZTCA.  Tree Crops members include new gardeners to plant scientists, farmers to back yard gardeners.  There is a big pool of knowledge available!

Alf Harris will be speaking about the past and future possibilities of the Tree Crops Association, and about his research into fungi (especially the kiwifruit disease PSA) and biocarbon/charcoal. I will be speaking about tree crops in public places.  

All welcome! Bring a plate of food for a shared lunch and whatever eating utensils you need (eg plate, cup, cutlery/chopsticks).  Free.

When: Sunday 23 September, 12 noon 

Where: Hillcrest Scout Hall (sometimes called the Scout Den), behind the shops halfway down Masters Avenue.  There is plenty of parking behind the shops. Take the path through the trees to the hall (the hall is surrounded by bush).

Learn to Scythe

The Jolly Scythers in Raglan are running a fun hands-on workshop on how to scythe in the morning of Sunday 23 September.  Replace your noisy, smelly lawn mower and get more exercise. Enjoy hearing birdsong and the smell of the grass while cutting your lawn. There is more information about the workshop on Ooooby.

Weed Control Workshops

At this free WIC workshop Learn:

  • how to beat the weeds using healthy organic methods such as mulch
  • which weeds are the worst
  • which weeds are useful
  • what tools to use.

When: Wednesday 26 September 10 am -12 and Friday 28 September: 10 am and 2 pm - the afternoon session is a repeat of the morning session. 

Where: Grandview Community Garden, bus route 8 (Frankton) Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. 

All welcome!  If you need help with transport, let us know.  For more information, call Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

Auckland Community Gardens Meeting

The Gardens 4 Health (G4H) stakeholder meeting is attended by people involved in running community gardens in the Auckland area, to update each other on progress and opportunities.  The quarterly meeting is held at a different community garden each time. 

This time the meeting is at the Birkdale / BeachHaven Anglican Church Cedar Centre. It will include spending 1 hour helping to build a children’s garden.  Contact me if you would like a copy of the agenda. 

Contact the WIC Community Garden Mentors if you would like to travel to the meeting with them.   There is no charge.

When: Thursday 27 September, 1-3pm plus travel time.

Grandview Community Garden Work Day

When: Friday 28 September. 

Everyone welcome to come and help at the garden - why not do one of the weed control workshops and stay on to help for an hour or two?

More information next week. If you would like to have your own garden plot (individual, family or group) at Grandview Community Garden, talk to Clare or Tim WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.: having a plot is free and is a great opportunity both to learn and to share your knowledge

Organic Horticulture in the Waikato & Seedsaving Film

Two Cook Island men, Ma'ara and John (a WINTEC Horticulture student), were sponsored by WIC to go on a tour of organic horticulture businesses and to visit the Mystery Creek Fieldays with a group of visiting Cook Island farmers.  They will be showing photos and reporting on what they learned. 

This will be followed by a documentary film about seed saving around the world called Our Seeds: Seeds blong yumiIt talks about why seed saving is important, and also shows some interesting gardening techniques, such as sweet potato planting in the Pacific.  It was filmed in 11 countries in Europe, Asia and Oceania.

When: Friday 28 September, 6 pm -7:45 pm. 

Where: Waikato Environment Centre, Level One (ie upstairs), 25 Ward St, Hamilton (in the same block as Moneygram and Starbucks).   

Everyone is welcome to this free WIC event!  A light meal will be provided, so bookings are required by 9 am Thursday 27 September - book by replying to this email/blog or phone me on (07) 834-1482 if you would like to go. 

Garden Pest Control

Are you wondering like Lucy how to prevent your brassicas getting eaten by green caterpillars? Do you wonder where the slugs and snails hide out during the day? Are there insects sucking the life out of your plants? Then the free WIC Garden Pest Control workshop is for you! 

The WIC Community Garden Mentors will be teaching you how to control pests using approved organic methods.

When: We will be running the hands-on workshop at lest 3 times: 

  • Wednesday 3 October 10-11 am
  • Friday 5 October 6-7 pm (To be confirmed)
  • Wednesday 10 October 10-11 am.

Where: Grandview Community Garden, bus route 8 (Frankton) Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road.

Everyone is welcome! If you need help with transport, let us know.  For more information, call Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

Edible Hedges

Hedges act can act as a windbreak, slowing the wind and directing wind up and over your garden.  Most plants don't like wind much: it can make them cold, make them thirsty and strong winds can break their branches and blow away blossom and fruit. 

At last week's edible hedge workshop at the Grandview Community Garden they planted an edible hedge that will protect the garden from the cold southerly winds, making the garden even warmer.

 

The hedge is made up of guava bushes: Guavas are best planted in spring because they are frost tender when young. Guavas can be grown easily from seed.

At Grandview they have planted the red and yellow cherry varieties (Psidium Littorale) that originate from Brazil.  Both of these plants will grow easily from seed.  They produce cherry-size fruit in winter.   

The Chilean Guava (Ugni molinae - Mrytus ugni) makes a good low hedge for a shady area.  The fruit are much smaller but their flowers smell beautiful, especially at night, so they are good to plant near to a window, door or path where you can enjoy it.

Some of you mistook feijoas for tropical guavas (Psidium guajava) when you first arrived in NZ: they are distantly related. The tropical guava is egg sized with a green skin but is pink inside.  There is a tropical guava growing at Berkley School in Hamilton, against the North (warm) wall of the dental clinic.  You can buy tropical guava plants in Hamilton. There is more information about how to grow them and where to get plants on Ooooby.

There are many other edible plants that can be grown as hedges, including feijoas, blueberries, feijoas, citrus, roses (thorns can help keep dogs etc out), sweet bay, rosemary, hazel...  You can also train fruit trees such as apples, pears and plums into edible hedges using a technique called espaliering.

Free myoga ginger (Zingiber mioga, Zingiberaceae, 茗荷) plants

Mioga ginger grows well in the Waikato and is in flower now.  The flower buds and shoots are eaten in South Korea and Japan where it is traditionally grown under plum trees.  The buds and shoots have a mild ginger flavour.

They are sliced finely and eaten raw in salads and miso soup, or are pickled in vinegar, or fried in a tempura batter. It can be used in stirfries, goes well with seafood, or used in Thai-style soups like Tom Yum goong.  Unlike many fruit and vegetable plants, the mioga prefers to grow in shade.  It is a perennial that dies back in winter.  The flowers are eaten as they just start to come out of the soil.  

There are photographs and recipes here - just remember that the article is written for the northern hemisphere: the seasons are backwards! 

This is the time of year in NZ to divide your myoga ginger plants. 

Contact Maxine if you would like a free plant, ph 855-1968.  (There are several places in NZ where you can buy myoga plants, they often cost around $15.)

Pest Prevention

There is a proverb that says 'a stitch in time saves nine' - so doing a little bit of work now can prevent lots of work in the future. 

In the garden at this time of year: 

  • weeds are germinating and growing fast
  • snails and slugs are breeding (growing in numbers) rapidly.

Try to pull out your weeds before they set seed and do regular slug/snail patrols now to save yourself more work later in the season!

Starting to prepare for planting summer crops

At Grandview they have started preparing the soil for planting heat loving crops late next month.  In your garden this soil preparation may include digging a green manure crop like mustard or lupins into the soil.  This adds nitrogen to the soil.  Nitrogen is important to help plants make leaves.

Spicy Hot

There are many different plants that in English we describe as tasting hot where we mean they are spicy, as opposed to hot because it has been heated through cooking - English can be confusing like that! 

Perhaps the best known spicy hot plant is chilli.  Here are some other spicy hot plants:   **include botanical name & link*

Most of these are members of the brassica family.

Are there other spicy hot plants that you are growing here?

As I said earlier, mustard (a brassica) is often grown as a green manure crop over winter. Mustard leaves were traditional in ham sandwiches, and/or with cress.  I also use them in stir fries and salads.   I will leave some of my mustard crop to go to seed.  The seeds are used in making pickles, added to casseroles and used to make a paste also called 'mustard' which is usually served with ham or beef.   Here's the recipe:

Grainy Mustard Recipe

Note: Home made mustard can be spicier (hotter) than bought mustard.

Makes about 1 cup.

½ cup mustard seeds – brown or yellow or a mixture (homegrown, of course!)

¼ cup vinegar

½ cup of water or alcohol eg wine, beer (not stout), sherry...

1 Tbsp of something aromatic, eg finely chopped onion, garlic, shallots

1 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (optional) eg thyme, dill...

1 Tbsp sweetener (optional) eg honey, maple syrup, sugar, stevia

Pinch of salt

 

Put everything except the salt in a non-reactive bowl (use ceramic, pottery or glass) and let it soak overnight in the refrigerator.

In a blender, food processor or mortar & pestle, blend/grind the mustard to the consistency you like - 'wholegrain' mustards are very grainy. This may take up to 5 minutes in a food processor. You are unlikely to get it perfectly smooth.dd the salt as you blend (chunky rock salt is good if you are using a mortar and pestle). 

Put into jars and put the lids on.

Mustard will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months, but the flavour will mellow (become less spicy) over time.

The recipe book DIY Delicious by Vanessa Barrington has several mustard recipes, eg Beer Mustard With Thyme, Sherry-Dill Mustard, Honey Mustard as well as recipes that use the mustard such as glazed pork, caramelised root vegetables, mixed into vinaigrette or spread on the bread for ham sandwiches. (Hamilton City Libraries holds this book.) 

Black mustard seeds are often used in Indian cooking - they are fried until they pop (they leap out of the hot pan!) as part of a mix of spices used with potatoes and other vegetables, for example.  I don't know of anyone growing black mustard in NZ - do you?

Happy gardening!



Shim