WIC Gardening update 22 Aug 2012

Posted 11 years, 6 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    2 comments

Hi and ni sa bula!

At this time of year, many of us wonder why we have chosen to live in such a cold rainy place.  A walk around a garden in a sunny moment between showers may cheer you up: the stonefruit trees (plum, peach, almond, etc) are either blooming (flowering) or about to flower. Some of the deciduous plants (the one that dropped their leaves over winter) are starting to show new leaves.  The raindrops hanging from the branches sparkle in the sunlight.  The bright yellow flowers on my bok choy are feeding insects and promise seed for next season's crop. I have more tui (a native bird) visiting - they look and sound beautiful. 

So while we are likely to continue to get frosts until late October or even sometimes November, spring is nearly here - it starts officially on 1 September.  And with spring on the way, there are lots of gardening events...

Reminder: WIC Seed Sowing and Kumara Propagation demonstrations

  • Thursday 23 August, 10 am. Grandview Community Garden. All welcome, no booking required.  Enter through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Rd.  Frankton No. 8 bus route.
  • Saturday 25 August, 3 - 4 pm. Grandview Community Garden. All welcome, no booking required.

(Thursday night's demonstration is CANCELLED due to lack of bookings.)

Bring some seeds and seed trays (or flats) if you have them.

This workshop is also useful for people who garden mostly in containers (pots) as it shows you how to make your own seed raising mix and potting mix.

At the workshops you will:

  • Identify what is needed (mix, pots, seeds) to start growing from seed
  • Help to make a seed raising mix from pumice and compost and  potting mix
  • Note which seeds are appropriate to sow now (late august)
  • Sow fine and/or large seed in punnets to take home (cabbage and peas)
  • Look at a home made cold frame and how to make and use one
  • See a demonstration of kumara propagation using easy to source materials
  • Watch a demonstration of sowing seed in trays.

Reminder: Grandview Community Garden Trust Board Meeting 

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 (what we plan to talk about) and more details are on the WMRC Community Calendar. The Trust is still 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 me, preferably with a CV. 

'You Are What you Eat' - Free public talk

When: Wednesday 29 August, 6-7pm

Where: Playhouse Theatre, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato. Parking in Gate 2B, Knighton Rd, Hillcrest, Hamilton.

  • The University of Waikato’s Professor of Agribusiness, Jacqueline Rowarth, will be talking about the agricultural contribution to food in the Waikato region
  • local chef and restaurant owner David Kerr on the rise of good food in the Waikato over the years
  • Waikato Psychology Professor Darrin Hodgetts about poverty and food choices.

They claim  that if the people of the Waikato were to become locavores (people who eat food produced locally and nothing else) then we’d quickly become bored.  Given the variety of food I’ve seen grown in back yards here, that need not be the case!

Fruit Tree Planting & the Nawton/Crawshaw Fruit Tree Project

Learn how to plant fruit trees! Tim will be doing a free planting demonstration Thursday 30 August at Grandview Community Garden, 183 Grandview Road.  Choose your session: 9 am - 12 pm, OR 1 pm - 4 pm.

Learn about:

  • Fruit for different times of the year
  • Choosing the right place to plant - sun, spacing, etc
  • Planting techniques for different types of soils
  • Using compost and mulch and why it is important (demonstration)
  • Staking - why you would stake (support) a tree, which trees need it, where and how to place the stakes (demonstration)
  • Making sure trees are easy to care for and mow around. 

This training is being organised by WIC, Green Footprint and the Western Community Centre with support from HEHA (Waikato District Health Board).

The training is open to anyone, including volunteers for the Crawshaw and Nawton Back Yard Fruit Tree Planting Project. 

If you would like to get some exercise as a volunteer planting fruit trees for 2 or more hours on 4th-6th September (Tuesday-Thursday) in Western Hamilton, contact the Western Community Centre manager@wccham.org.nz ph 847 4873.

Feed the Soil: Why, When & How

Our WIC Community Garden Mentors will show you how to feed the soil and your vegetables with organic fertilisers. Come and see how to use worm castings/ worm wee, compost, seaweed, rock phosphate, liquid comfrey and dolomite.

We will look at hot and cold compost systems and learn how they work.

Join in and help us make a simple worm-farm (for worm-compost - no, we don't eat the worms!) from free recycled materials.

Saturday 1 September, 2.30 to 4pm at Grandview Community Garden. Look for the WIC flag and enter through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Rd.  It is on the Frankton No. 8 bus route.  If driving, please park on the road.

Everyone is welcome!

Interfaith Planting Day at Waiwhakareke

Learn about NZ wetlands and help the environment through planting.  Meet people from different ethnicities and faiths.

When: Saturday 1 September, 2:00 - 4:00pm - meeting at 2pm sharp for a brief orientation

Where: Meet in the car park across from the main entrance to the Hamilton Zoo, Brymer Rd.

Bring: gumboots, a spade, a sunhat and a smile!

It will be the first day of spring and will go ahead RAIN OR SHINE.

Download a map and more information from the Waikato Interfaith Council.  The Waiwhakareke site is: http://waiwhakareke.co.nz

This event supports the Waikato Muslim Association in their celebration of Islam Awareness Week: their theme this year is "the environment: our rights and responsibilities".

Random Acts of Kindness Day

International research across many cultures has found that money doesn't make you happy, but giving usually does! And no, I am not encouraging you to go into debt: you don't have to have money to have the pleasure of giving. With a garden it is usually possible to pick some flowers or vegetables as a gift all year round at little or no cost. Or you could offer to dig someone's garden, or prune their tree, or surprise them by mowing their lawn while they’re out, or...

When I was searching for work after finishing a training course and money (and food) was very tight, someone left a pumpkin on my doorstep. I cried!  I never found out who gave it to me. I still remember that act of kindness with thankfulness over 20 years later. The kindness of strangers is very powerful. 

Our culture is made up of the tiny individual actions we all take: if we want to live in a kind society then it is up to each of us to be kind!

Random Acts of Kindness Day on September 1st is an excuse to be kind to someone, whether a friend or a complete stranger!  Start planning now: will you put a lettuce in someone's letterbox?   

Reminder: Nominations for the NZ Gardener Magazine NZ Gardener of the Year competition close 31 August 2012.

Hamilton Organic Gardeners - HOGs 

No HOGs meeting this month but their blog has information on gardening by the moon and how to make a cheap codling moth trap. 

Codling moths are the main insect pest for apples and sometimes stonefruit in NZ.  The caterpillars eat into the fruit.  There is an old NZ joke about them:

Question: what is worse than finding a caterpillar in your apple?

Answer: finding half a caterpillar!

The moths will lay their eggs in late spring.  See pictures and learn more about them on Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

The Benefits of Compost

Composting is not just good for your garden and your budget (reduced rubbish bag costs), but the planet as well! 

Organic waste is a problem in landfill (rubbish tips) as it produces methane, which is a greenhouse gas.  Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and rising sealevels.  Transporting organics to landfill also increases carbon use, and landfills reach their capacity sooner.  

Hamilton City Council has started an Organic Feasibility Study to see how the city can reduce the amount of organic waste going into landfill, particularly from businesses.

Composting helps to put carbon into the soil, rather than into the air.  So if you are composting: well done!

Where to buy herb plants

Anita was asking where to get lemongrass plants as she could not get them from the supermarket. To buy less common herb plants, you are best to go to a garden specialist - a garden centre or nursery. Many of the hardware shops include a plant section - eg Bunnings, Mitre10.  The best selection is from specialist garden centres.  They are listed in the Yellow Pages of the telephone book under 'Garden Centres & Nurseries'.  A couple in Hamilton include:

  • The Plant Place, 78 Alison St - near Hamilton Lake
  • Palmers Gardenworld 60 Lincoln St, Frankton - next to the Waste Transfer Station and Russell Recycling (who also sometimes have a few plants). 
  • Plants with a Purpose is a specialist herb nursery 10km West of Hamilton on the Raglan route 23 bus route: 1 Rothwell Lane, Whatawhata, ph (07) 829-8803). 

Remember that herbs are often grown from cuttings (part of a branch) or by division, so if you know a friend with a herb you are interested in, see if you can swap something... 

Lemongrass can be propagated by division.  It is native to India and Sri Lanka - both hot countries.  Some people in the Waikato say that lemongrass grows like a weed in their gardens, while others would only grow it in a warm place in a pot. It can tolerate down to -2 degrees Celsius and likes full sun, high humidity and well drained soil. It can go dormant (look dead) in winter - the dead leaves will help protect the roots from frost, so wait to trim the plant back until early spring. Trim to about 15 cm high to encourage new fresh growth.

Lemongrass Recipes

Lemongrass is a lemon scented grass.  You can dry the leaves for use in winter. 

Anita uses lemongrass leaves to make tea - soak the leaves in boiling water for about 5 minutes. 

I sometimes tie some of the leaves in a knot and add them to rice while it is cooking, especially if I am making a meat dish that only uses the white part at the bottom of the lemongrass leaves - I hate to waste that yummy flavour!

The Healthy Food Guide has lots of recipes that use lemongrass, such as Kumara coriander and lemongrass soup, spring chicken, Thai curry paste, steamed ginger salmon, gado-gado, yogurt berry rice pudding, fresh lime cordial...   

Happy gardening!



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10 years, 8 months ago
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