WIC Gardening Update - 12 Sept 2012

Posted 11 years, 5 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hi and konnichiwa

Spring does not mean the end of frosts: frosts are predicted for the next night or two.  So if you have frost tender plants, cover them up over night.

Back Yard Creatures - Conservation Week

This is Conservation Week and the Department of Conservation (DoC) is encouraging us to leave a little wild area in our garden to allow native species such as weta and skinks to survive.

Hamilton Zoo is running a series of talks Uncovering Back Yard Treasures which will show off some of the native creatures you might see in your back yard, including geckos, skinks and moths.  One of the stars of the show is a giant weta taken from near Otorohanga.  The weta you will meet in your back yard are much smaller.   You can also see some native birds that may visit your garden like morepork (a native owl) in the zoo.

When: September 9 - 16, talks are at 11 am and 2 pm daily.  The Zoo is open every day from 9am to 5pm, last entry 3:30 pm.

Where: Hamilton Zoo, Brymer Road, north western Hamilton, ph 838 6720.

Cost: Normal Zoo admission - $8 for a child, $16 for an adult, or join for a year at $24 for a child and $48 for an adult.  You can look around the rest of the zoo while you are there!

You can also learn about NZ back yard creatures on Ooooby.

Reminder: Waikato Community Gardens Network Meeting

Hear what is happening in community gardens at the next Waikato Community Gardens Network Meeting on Thursday 13 September, 12 noon - 2 pm.  There is food available at the cafe next door or bring your own lunch.  Coffee and tea will be provided.

Where: Anglican Action conference room, Te Ara Hou Village, 100 Morrinsville Road, Hillcrest, Hamilton 3251.

For more information contact Anna Cox or Robert Moore, (07) 974-4659.

Anyone interested in community gardening is welcome to attend.

Reminder: FREE Healthy Living Cooking Sessions

When: Fridays, 10am to 12pm. Starting this Friday 14 Sept to 2 Nov Where: Crawshaw School in Multi Purpose Room, Crawshaw Drive, Nawton. 

Each week covers a different topic:

  1. recipes using basic cooking methods
  2. meal starter ideas from basic ingredients
  3. stretching your budget
  4. 'Fast Food' to make at home
  5. healthy mince, sausages and boil ups
  6. what to do with seasonal vegetables and fruit
  7. healthy lunches
  8. healthy snacks and desserts.

To register contact Ioana on 849 5170 or 021 359878 or leave your name and number at the Crawshaw School reception.

Reminder:  Planting an Edible Hedge

On Saturday 15 September 2:30 - 4 pm WIC will be having a hands on practical session planting a hedge of edible plants. We will talk about:

  • The benefits of an edible hedge
  • Which edible plants make a good hedge
  • When to plant
  • Caring for your hedge.

Everyone is welcome! For more information, call Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

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

HOGs meeting: Crop rotation & seed/plant swap

Some plants don't do well when they are planted in the same place year after year.  What crops are okay to plant in the same beds and which ones are better moved to another bed?

Learn about rotational planting with Clare and/or Tim. People use different rotations for crops - hear what crop rotations people have tried and share your experience.

You are welcome to bring along your seeds, plants and produce to swap.  There will also be plants for sale.

When: Monday 17 September, 7:30 pm

Where: Te Whare o te Ata, 60a Sare Crescent Fairfield. Limited parking in the carpark. You may like to park on Clarkin Road and walk across the park.

All welcome! Gold coin entry to cover costs.

Potatoes – get ready to plant!

The soil is starting to warm up, so at Grandview Community Garden they are starting to prepare the soil for growing potatoes.  They are chitting (sprouting) several varieties of potatoes so they will be ready to plant. Potatoes are a good crop for a new piece of garden - they help to break up the soil.  

Learn more about growing potatoes:

When:  Wednesday 19 September, 10 am -12 noon and Saturday 22 September 2:30 - 4pm.

Where: Grandview Community Garden.  

Clare has been telling the Grandview gardeners that now is the time to sow carrots, celery, spring onions, lettuce, beetroot and peas outdoors - and all the tender summer vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, chillies and zucchini indoors. 

You are welcome to join the Grandview Community Garden! Start your own vegetable plot or get a group together. There are already people from over 10 different ethnicities gardening there and learning from each other! Contact Clare ph 021-0387-623.

Tip for sowing corn: Cross-pollination between two different varieties of corn can lead to unpleasant tasting corn.  So if you want to grow more than one variety of corn and/or maize, sow the seed at different times so that pollination (and maturity) of each variety happens at a different time.  Allow at least two weeks between planting the different varieties.

Festival de la Primavera = Hispanic Spring Festival

If you are going to the Hispanic Spring Festival on Saturday 22 September 2012, 1:30pm - 4 pm, why not 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, festival is in the Pavilion Hall.  All welcome!

NZ Tree Crops Association (NZTCA) Waikato Branch Social

Shared lunch and two speakers - Alf Harris and myself.  Sunday 23 September, 12 noon at the Hillcrest Scout Hall. More information next week.

Weather: Gales

Metservice is the government agency that puts out weather forecasts.  Last weekend the Metservice put out a Severe Weather Warning predicting severe gale gusts.

Gales are strong winds (62 km per hour/34 knots or more) that make walking difficult, can push over tall plants and break twigs off trees.

'Wind rock' happens when the wind keeps moving a young tree or plant so that the roots keep getting torn rather than growing. The plant can't take in enough food and water.  Wind rock will eventually kill the plant.  

We recommend securely staking tall plants and young fruit trees when they are planted in a windy place.  Putting rocks around the base can also help.  The SWPICS gardeners in Tokoroa recently did this.

Tip: if you look on the Metservice forecast web page for Hamilton, Severe Weather Warnings are on the top right in the orange box.

Free Pots

Want to grow plants in containers? There are some free pots (containers to put plants in) at the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre in Boundary Road (just pop in or ph 853 2192) and at the Grandview Community Garden (ph Clare 021-0387-623). 

Fatter, Heavier, Longer: Big Vegetables

In England they've been running a kind of vegetable Olympics, with a new world record parsnip length of 5.6 meters (18.5ft) - enough to make 25 bowls of parsnip soup!  Read more and see photographs of other entries to inspire your veggie growing.

Do you have a nutrition question?

The Ministry Of Health has several booklets on nutrition for different age groups which are free: contact me if you would like them sent to you. 

At least three NZ companies invite you to ask questions of their qualified nutritionists – and the service is free!

Sanitarium, best known for making marmite and breakfast cereals, also has a dictionary of nutrition words.  They have recipes and Health and Wellbeing Information. You may also like to subscribe to their Good Food News which is a free quarterly email magazine. It includes tasty recipes, nutrition and health information. They have a free Recipe of the Week email service that you can subscribe to.

Healtheries sells vitamin supplements, herb teas, etc.  They have answers to some common questions on their site.  If you don't find what you need, you can ask questions of their nutritionists and naturopaths through their web site or call them toll free on 0800 848 254 from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.  They also have some healthy recipes on their site.

What do you eat for breakfast?

I was wondering what sorts of things you'd normally eat for breakfast, then found Victoria Philpott's site that shows breakfasts from 50 different countries around the world.  It seems that in many countries, especially in Asia, you eat the same sorts of foods for every meal. 

New Zealand's breakfasts weren't listed, but there is a wide range.  Cereals (grain based sweet breakfast foods, usually served with milk) like Weet-Bix are popular - New Zealanders eat 312 million Weet-Bix every year; laid end to end they would stretch from Kaitaia to Bluff and then back to Wellington!  Fresh and preserved fruit from your garden go really well with cereal, helping you get the recommended minimum two portions (a total of about 1 cup) of fruit per day.

Another favourite breakfast food is toasted bread.  Last week I gave you a recipe for a yeast based bread.  You can also make a kind of sour dough bread that uses fermented potatoes (perhaps homegrown!) to make it rise.  In NZ it has become known as rewena bread or Maori bread.  In Maori, the rising agent is called rewena or kōtero. There is a recipe here.  Some of you top your toast with yummy home made plum jam from the preserving course WIC ran.

Breakfast Eaters are asking you to vote for your favourite toast topping and be in to win a $100 grocery voucher. They've got 5 vouchers to give away over the next 5 weeks!

To enter simply 'Like' their Facebook page, vote for your favourite toast topping, and be in to win! 

On both their Facebook page and web site, they have recipes and tips on healthy, low-cost food.

Foraging: Gorse flowers, Onion Grass

A bright yellow flower that is out at the moment is gorse (Ulex europaeus), a plant that has been described as NZ's worst weed because it grows too well. They have been pulling some out at Grandview Community Garden this week. It is a prickly shrub. (See the Environment Waikato Pest Guide that WIC posted out, p.32.)

If you look at the flowers, they look like those of beans and peas: like them, it fixes (makes) nitrogen in the soil.  The flowers are edible, smelling of coconut, with a mild, sweet flavour.  Sprinkle them in salads, over pizza, in stir fries, in baking, or made into drinks

Onionweed (Allium triquetrum) is a wild onion that is flowering at the moment in many parks and waste land areas around NZ.  It is also called three cornered garlic, because the stalks of the leaves and flowers when cut look like a triangle (three sides).  Like many of our weeds, it was brought to NZ as a garden plant, before escaping to the wild. 

Onionweed has white bell shaped flowers and its crushed leaves smell like onions/garlic.  You can use the whole plant in cooking.  It makes a good substitute for spring onions.  There is a photo, more information and recipes on Johanna Knox's Wild Picnic foraging blog. Or listen online/download her podcast on onionweed which includes recipes from NZ National Radio's This Way Up show.


Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentor, enjoyed meeting some of you at the Adult Learners Day last weekend. 

The people who attended the NZTCA grafting class last Monday went home with a new skill and at least two free apple trees!  There were over 30 people there from at least 6 different ethnic groups.  Some people had driven 2 1/2  hrs to attend: it is one of the Tree Crops Association's most popular workshops: look out for it about this time next year if you missed out. 

Happy gardening!

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