WIC Gardening Update - 19 July 2012

Posted 11 years, 7 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hello & Hola

Aren’t the frosts and fog beautiful?!  (Cold, but beautiful).

Our WIC workshops are hands-on (learn by doing) – or demonstrations, so even if your English is very limited, you can still learn.


Reminder: in Tokoroa on 19 July 11-1pm, Tim will be demonstrating planting fruit trees and making hot compost at the SWPICS garden.  For more information contact Tim ph 021 2243109 or SWPICS ph (07) 8860010.


Talking about cooking classes, Stephanie (Taiwan), one of our keen WIC gardeners, is also an experienced cooking tutor.  She will be running fortnightly cooking classes at the Migrant Centre in Boundary Road on Saturday mornings in association with Waikato Ethnic Social Services.  The first class is tentatively on the Saturday 28th July, 10-12 am.  (More information next week!)

The Indian cooking class I mentioned last week has been postponed.  I will let you know when it starts up again.


Reminder: WIC Workshop: Creating warmth: building a tunnel house. On this Saturday 21 July 2012  Community Garden Mentor Tim is leading a free hands-on workshop at Grandview Community Garden, 9-3 pm.  Not only will we be building the garden’s tunnel house  from recycled materials, we will have pictures and ideas for other forms of shelter you can build for your plants, such as green houses, cold frames and cloches.  Join us to lend a hand, ask questions and share ideas.  

Bring: hand tools (if you have them), ideas and enthusiasm. Wear shoes or boots and warm clothing, We will be working outside.

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Park on the road opposite 183 Grandview Rd and walk across the grass.  All welcome!

Clare and Tim WIC Community Garden Mentors ph 021 0387623   021 2243109

Some locals who plant by the moon will already be starting to get ready for spring by sowing tomato, capsicum and eggplant seeds on Sunday the 22 July in a tunnel house or similar (but if you don’t have a tunnel house, don’t plant your spring seeds yet!)  If your glass house/tunnel house/cold frame is not insulated, throw a piece of carpet over it on frosty nights.  If you have room, fill some old milk bottles with water and put them inside the green house/cold frame as well – they will absorb heat during the day and slowly release the warmth during the night, ie act as a heat sink. 

The rain water tanks for Grandview are arrived yesterday!  We will be using one of the water tanks as a heat sink in the tunnel house.  The tanks were paid for out of an HCC Envirofund grant and should make the garden self sufficient for water.  We will be running a workshop on being water-wise in the garden later in the year.


Reminder: Marcia Meehan’s is running a Natural Beekeeping/Topbar Bee Hive workshop on Saturday 21 July 2012 – there will be a course fee.  Check out her webpage for more information.


Free WIC workshop: Pruning and productive back yard garden visit, Saturday 28 July 2-4 pm, rain or shine.  This workshop will be led by Peter McNaughton, who writes a column for the Weekend Gardener magazine.  Peter was an orchardist before moving to the suburban garden we will visit.  Come along and see:

  • a slide show showing how he designed and developed the garden
  • a pruning demonstration
  • tour the garden. 

They produce most of their own fruit and vegetables.  They use composting, liquid fertilisers and herbal ley under the fruit trees.  They built a green house from mostly recycled materials and collect the rain water from it to water their garden.  They also used to keep bees.  Come along and ask lots of questions!

Peter’s private garden is in Hamilton East - contact me to find out where to meet. 

If you can’t go to Peter’s demonstration, here are some other ways to learn about Pruning:

  • Locavore’s Pruning your own Fruit Trees– a fully hands on, practical workshop When: Saturday July 28th near Cambridge or Saturday 4th August, 9am to 1pm. $48 per person. Download a flier with more detail from WIC’s Ooooby Comment Wall.  To book contact Alison or Burton, ph (07) 823 4154 or email info@locavore.co.nz 
  • The Tree Crops Association Waikato Branch will also run its annual pruning day next month out towards Otorohanga. 
  • If none of these dates suit you, Dennis at the Kitchen Garden at Hamilton Gardens is very happy to answer your pruning (and other gardening) questions. You can usually catch him in the morning on a Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday, or email him and set up a time to meet: Dennis.Travaglia@wintec.ac.nz
  • The Ooooby Pruning group has some good tips. If you join Ooooby and the group you can ask questions or share what you know.
  • Your local public library has many books on pruning that you can borrow - ask a librarian if you need help to find them - Hamilton City Libraries, South Waikato District Libraries
  • You can download a free pruning information sheet (pdf) from the NZ Gardener magazine web site. 


Can you help? Grandview Community Garden is looking for:

  • some paint for a couple of shelves: do you have any left over you could spare?
  • someone who is good with a hammer, there are a few more nails that need hammering into the shed at the community garden. 

If you can help, contact Tim or Clare WIC Community Garden Mentors ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.


If you are very busy and struggle to find time to garden, you may find it more practical to grow perennials – plants that grow for many years. They require less time to take care of them than annuals and still provide you with yummy, healthy, fresh food.  Trees and shrubs are perennials, as are many herbs.  If you don’t have much room, look out for Ballerina (or pole) apple varieties for narrow spaces – they grow less than 5 m tall and only about 30 cm wide. 

If you move house a lot, or don’t have much room, there are many perennial plants that you can grow in pots.  For example strawberries (will last 2 yrs), blueberries, guavas, some types of dwarf fruit trees (including the Ballerina types), bay trees, olives, lemon grass ... Ask at your garden centre if you are not sure.

To make a low cost large pots recycle free drums from dairy farms (like we use for making tumbling compost bins), cut in half – top to bottom for shallow rooted plants like strawberries, cut the other way for a large deep pot for a tree like a lemon.


We could not have asked for better weather for the orchard planting last Saturday: fine but cool and overcast, with the promise of rain the next day.  The Grandview Community Gardeners had made suggestions about what to fruit trees plant. We planted out a persimmon, two apples (one early and one mid-season), two varieties of mandarins and two Apollo feijoas (a self-fertile variety).  In spring we will also plant a lime tree and a hedge of red and yellow guavas (another workshop to look forward to!) The edible-hedge will act as a shelter belt for the garden, protecting it from the worst of the southerly winds.

With this selection of trees, the orchard should provide fruit all year round for the gardeners in years to come – most of the trees that were planted should outlive us!

One of the trees we planted was an apple variety called Monty’s Surprise.  It is a heritage variety which has particularly high levels of cancer preventing substances. The Monty’s Surprise fruit are huge – one apple has weighed in at 1 kg!  The fruit ripen about April is crisp and tart and can be used as an eating or cooking apple.


Preparation for the GCG fruit tree planting started by cutting down the long grass etc using a scythe.  This is an alternative to a weedeater or line trimmer or lawnmower. Using it has a gentle side-to-side rhythm which can be quite soothing/meditative.

Our bodies are made to move!  One of the downsides of labour saving devices like line trimmers and motorised lawnmowers is not only do they reduce the amount of exercise we get - leading to sickness or spending money and time on a gym(what was that about being labour saving?!) - they also take fuel or electricity to run (ongoing costs to you and the environment), and they’re noisy. 

There are a number of countries where the tradition of singing in the garden while we work, especially as a group, has died out.  Some of us think this is to do with the introduction of labour saving devices like tractors, motorised lawnmowers, weedeaters, etc, which create lots of noise.  Sad really: singing is good for our mental health and can be a wonderful expression of culture.  I’d rather listen to my neighbour sing than hear their lawnmower – well, if their voice isn’t too bad! J


At the Grandview Community Garden, gardeners are already producing so much organic matter for composting that they have started a cold heap in addition to the hot composting they’ve been doing in tyre stacks. Gardeners heap up weeds which are then covered in thick black plastic – this makes it hot, dark and moist. The weeds will rot down fairly fast.

Alison Worth featured compost in her Friday gardening column in the Waikato Times last week (July 15, p.14) – if you missed it, you can read it at the public library – the central library in Garden Place is open 7 days a week and until 8 pm most week nights. Newspapers are kept on the top floor.

This is a great time of year to be spreading your compost followed by a layer of mulch on your gardens and around your fruit trees.  A total layer of 20 cm deep will feed your garden and keep weeds down.  Keep the mulch a little back from the base of your trees – the heat of the mulch can cook through the bark, causing ring-barking: this will kill the tree.


Do you have prickles in your lawn in summer?  This is the time of year to control the plant that is most likely to cause them: it is called Onehunga weed (see photos on the Massey University weed database - use the 'click here' link).  Controlling Onehunga weed requires no chemicals and no action! Clare recommends not mowing your lawn in July and August (the time when growth slowest).  The grass grows up and shades out the weed, killing it.   Now that’s the kind of weeding I like!


I took a home-grown leek to the WIC display at the Aere Ki Mua Sports Day – it was a new vegetable to some of you.  Leeks are a mild-flavoured member of the onion family and grow well in our winter gardens.  Nourish’s Meatless Monday recipe this week is for a leek and Jerusalem artichoke soup – one of many variations on the traditional leek and potato soup. Make a big pot – it often tastes even better reheated the next day.  Jerusalem artichokes are ready to harvest as you need them over winter, and if you are like me you may have some potatoes in storage that you grew over the summer.  As one of my work mates said today, it is so satisfying to see something grow from a tiny seed you have planted into something you can enjoy eating.

I hope you are enjoying eating some winter garden bounty too!



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