WIC Gardening update 15 Aug 2012

Posted 11 years, 6 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hello and talofa ni

Some of you are fasting during daylight at the moment - in the Moslem calendar, it is Ramadan.  It could be said that one advantage of living in NZ is that being winter, the daylight hours are shorter here than in most places around the world that observe the fast!  

Some research suggests that people who fast tend to live longer. Perhaps this is related to the annual 'hungry gap' experienced in many countries: in cold climates it is the time between finishing off stored crops near the end of winter and beginning to harvest spring crops.  We are very fortunate here in the Waikato: our climate is mild enough that with good planning you can harvest food all year round.  It also helps to be willing to eat a wide variety of foods.

Creating Warmth

Everyone is welcome to join the WIC Community Garden Mentors, Tim & Clare, to continue building the Grandview Community Garden tunnel house

When: Thursday 16 August, 10am to 12pm.

Where: Through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Rd, walk across the grass.   It is on the Frankton No. 8 Bus route.  Park cars on the road.

The number of people taking up the garden plots is growing, but new gardeners (groups or individuals) are still welcome - Tim and Clare will be there to help you get started on your plot, or call them to arrange a time to meet.  (ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109)

If you can't make it to our Grandview to learn about creating warm microclimates for your plants, there are photographs to inspire you on Ooooby. Most of the methods we've shown use the sun to create warmth.  Tim and Clare have also been putting up photographs Grandview Community Garden tunnel house being built.  It will also use the heat from the water tank to keep the tunnel house warm after the sun has set. 

Some gardeners combine the warmth of the sun with the warmth generated by microbes (bugs) breaking down compost.  (Tim measured the temperature of a tyre compost heap at Grandview two days after it was made: it had reached at least 50 degrees Celsius!) For example, planting strawberries or potatoes on a bed of layered straw (carbon rich) and manure (nitrogen rich) under the cover of a tunnel house or cloche will give you an early crop. 

Do you have any garden tips like this?  We'd love to share them with other gardeners! 

Reminder: Free WIC demonstrations at Grandview Community Garden on Saturday 18 August, both 10 am - 12 noon: all welcome!

Seed Sowing & Kumara Propagation

Knowing how to grow new plants from seed is one of the most important gardening skills.  It is much cheaper to grow from seed than to buy plants.

  • See what resources you need to grow plants from seed
  • Try sowing large seeds and small seeds
  • Learn about keeping seeds warm
  • Bring along your seeds and we will help you get your own spring plants started!

Tool use demonstration

  • Learn the English names for a wide range of garden tools
  • Learn what the tools are used for and how to use them safely.  

Free WIC Fruit Tree Mulching Demonstration 

Some of our Tongan members are starting gardens at Te Ara Hou Village, 100 Morrinsville Rd, Hillcrest, Hamilton. The site has some fruit trees. 

This Saturday 18 August in the afternoon Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentor, will be demonstrating how and why to mulch fruit trees. Everyone welcome! You are also welcome to stay on and get some great aerobic exercise helping to spread the mulch :-) 

For more information contact Tim,

Thank you HCC for providing the free mulch!

Reminder: Free WIC Seed Sowing & Kumara Propagation workshop (repeat) on Thursday 23 August in the evening. More information next week.

Grandview Community Garden Trust

Saturday 25 August 3-4 pm the Grandview Community Garden Trust Board will have its first meeting.  Everyone is welcome to attend. Where: Salvation Army Centre, 180 Grandview Road, Grandview (Frankton No. 8 Bus route).

The agenda and more details are on the WMRC Community Calendar. The Grandview Community Garden Trust Board meets at least 3 times per year.

The Trust is looking for a Secretary and a Treasurer. These roles are voluntary. We are prepared to train the right person. If you are interested, please contact Kathryn, preferably with a CV. 

Soils - Pumice

NZ is sometimes called the shaky isles because of our earthquakes and volcanoes.  The volcanoes have had a big impact on our soils, both through layers of ash (like that created by last week's Tongariro eruption) and pumice

Pumice is hardened volcanic froth: it contains lots of holes from the bubbles - it is porous. Soils that have pumice in them are fairly common throughout the Waikato, such as around Tokoroa and along rivers where it has been carried by the water - it floats.  Pumice comes in large lumps (stones) down to fine pumice sand. 

Because of the holes, pumice soils tend to be well drained - water will not pool top of the soil for long.  It is often used in potting mixes to improve aeration (plant roots need some air and space for roots) and drainage.  The downside of the good drainage is that you need to water more frequently and many nutriments are also leached (washed) away so you also need to feed your plants frequently. 

Ash usually contains many different minerals that make soil fertile. Pumice and most sands are mostly made of silica (so is glass). It has a neutral pH (about 7 - not acid or alkaline).  Pumice and sandy soils feel gritty/rough - gardening in these soils will make your hands rough unless you wear gloves. Some people use pumice stones to scrub pots or to scrub their body to remove dead skin.

Sandy soils are fast to warm up in spring.

The University of Waikato is more information about NZ soils including a map of soils around Hamilton here.

Whatever your soil type, you can improve it by adding compost and mulch!

Fibre in our food

Someone was asking me what foods to eat to prevent constipation. Constipation is when you find it hard to have a bowel motion (poo).  Healthy people usually have 1-3 bowel motions a day.  High fibre foods combined with drinking plenty of water help to keep you regular (exercise helps too!)

High fibre diets can help with people with diabetes manage their blood sugars better, can help with weight loss, and may prevent some types of cancer, help reduce heart disease and help prevent hemorrhoids (piles). High fibre foods help you to feel full.   

High fibre foods include:

  • fruit - especially apples, pears, citrus, stone (including prunes) and berry fruit
  • vegetables - especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, potato, kumara
  • legumes - beans, peas and lentils
  • cereals - especially wholegrain such as brown rice, oats, barley, bran, corn, wholemeal pasta. 

There is a lot of fibre in the skin of fruit and vegetables, so try to eat apples, etc with the skin on. 

High fibre diets are usually not good for pre-school children

If you are not used to a high fibre diet, increase the fibre gradually -otherwise you may have problems with wind (farting) and bloating!

Breakfast foods vary a lot between cultures, but often give the opportunity to use wholegrains.  The favourite breakfast of a kiwi-born friend of mine who had lived in India for a little while was leftover dahl (also spelt daal or dal) - a lentil or split pea porridge - on wholemeal toast - now that is high fibre cultural fusion! (There are lots of recipes for dahl, here's a spicy one with carrot.

Oatmeal porridge is a warming winter breakfast that is quick to make and can be served with fruit. At this time of year apples are still cheap (or if you have a good storing apple, like Granny Smith, you may still be eating fruit stored from your tree like I am): you could use them in the HFG apple and spice microwave porridge recipe. 

Muesli combines many high fibre ingredients such as wholegrains, dried fruits, oatbran or wheatgerm, nuts, seeds - and it is easy to make. (Some of us even enjoy muesli as an afterschool/work snack, or for dessert!)  Bircher muesli uses grated apple and yogurt. It is made the night before for a fast breakfast.

If you can, make a smoothie or fruit lasi rather than juice - a smoothie (like a milk shake) keeps the fruit or vegetable fibre and you can also add oatbran, wheatgerm or breakfast cereals like Weet-Bix to the blender.

Bran muffins are great in the lunch box.  Sanitarium's recipe of the week is for vegetable and pearl barley soup, eat it with a slice or two of wholegrain/high fibre toast for a hot lunch or as part of dinner. If you don't like wholemeal bread, there are high-fibre white breads available. Peanut butter and hummus are spreads that include fibre and can be used instead of butter. 

If you love instant noodles, Maggi's 'Extra Delicious' range includes fibre and has lower salt and fat than their other types they make. 

If you are making flour based foods like flat breads, dumplings, or cakes, try using half-wholemeal flour.

Learn more about high fibre food here.

Happy gardening!

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