WIC Gardening update 8 Aug 2012

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

Hello and Mingalaba

Access to fresh water is one of the biggest issues we have on the planet.   Even though we live in a region with many rivers and lots of rain, we still often have restrictions on water use over the drier summer months.  These usually start with restrictions on watering the garden.  Most Councils around NZ are working towards measuring and charging people for the water we use. 

It is not difficult to put a barrel or tank in place to capture some of the free rainwater from your roof for use over summer.  Some gardeners  believe that rain water is better for your plants than tap water.

Reminder: Thursday 9 August, 10 am – 12 noon, at Grandview Community Garden we will be setting up the water harvesting system. This includes installing a solar powered water pump.  Anyone is welcome to join in, to learn and help.  More information? Ask Clare and Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 021 2243109.

Reminder: NZ Tree Crops Association Waikato Branch - Pruning Workshop and Field Day

Where: Robb Fraser’s, 24 Innes Rd, RD3, Honikiwi (near Otorohanga)

When: Saturday 11 August 10 am  - All welcome!

This is also a chance to see a working organic farm of 374 acres. The Frasers have lived there since the 1960’s, planting most of the trees. They have run the farm organically for more than 20 years. About 250 acres are in pasture, 50 acres in timber plantation and the rest in bush.

There are lots of types of trees of different ages so it is an ideal place for us to learn more about the theory and practice of tree maintenance. Peter is an experienced plantsman and, at previous events, has shown his ability to inform and entertain – it will be a good day out!

  • 10 am            Get together for a cuppa (drink) and chat. Tea/coffee is provided.
  • 10.30 am      Pruning demonstration by Peter Cave. BYO (bring your own) gumboots
  • 12 noon        BYO lunch, then a farm tour afterwards.

The cheapest way to get fresh vegetables for your family is to grow your own from seed - especially if it is seed you've saved from your best plants in the previous season!    

Some of you missed out on last year's WIC growing plants from seed workshops, and some of you want to repeat them!  We will be running three more this year on Saturday 18 Aug, Thursday 23 Aug in the evening, and Saturday 25 Aug.   

There will be two WIC workshops at Grandview Community Garden on Saturday 18 August:

Seed Sowing & Kumara Propagation – 

  • See what resources you need to grow from seed
  • Have a go at 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!

WIC 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.  

Thank you to Waikato Ethnic Family Services for providing the tools! 

There will be more information about these two workshops in next week's update...

Reminder: NZ Gardener Magazine is running its annual NZ Gardener of the Year competition at the moment. Nominations close 31 August 2012.

Wholefoods vs Processed Foods

One reason for making your own meals from whole foods or basic ingredients (ie cooking from scratch) is that you know exactly what is in it and (usually) where those ingredients came from.  For example, did you know commercial (pre-mixed) mayonnaise often contains sugar -even some of the mayonnaises that promote themselves as 97% fat free!

Mayonnaise also often contains processed corn - unlike homemade. In the book The Omnivore's Dilemma Michael Pollan gives a two page list of processed foods (and other products like plastic bags, toothpaste, bio fuel and wallboard!) that include processed corn. For example, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is often used in place of sugar in most soft drinks and many other foods.  Chicken nuggets are likely to be made from corn fed chickens and contain codified corn starch, corn flour, then possibly fried in corn oil. 

Why does this matter? 

A large portion of the world's corn is produced in the United States, along with soy beans (they rotate the crops with soy).  At the moment about 75% of the US is experiencing some kind of drought. In the main growing area, this is the worst drought since the 1950s.  It is threatening to push up the international price of corn. This may in turn push up the price of the products that use corn, either in its whole form or as corn derivatives - similar to the price rises we saw in flour and products that use flour when Russia had a wheat shortage a few years ago. 

Another reason this matters is that processed foods (two minute noodles, TV dinners, white bread, cakes, biscuits...) are often energy dense (high calorie) but are not usually nutrient dense: they are often low in vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein.  Wholefoods (fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, wholemeal flours...) tend to fill you up for longer (have a low glycaemic index or GI) and are more nutrient dense. 


  • as much as you can, cook from scratch using whole foods for better health
  • if your family like corn or maize, save money by growing plenty this summer, freezing or drying the surplus to use next winter.  

In season

While the local limes have largely finished and tangelos are yet to fully ripen, there is lots of other citrus fruit available at the moment: my grapefruit, orange and lemon trees are all producing.

To get more juice out of your citrus fruit, roll it on the bench or cook it in the microwave for 10 seconds before cutting it. 

The juice of 1 lemon = roughly ½ cup or 100 ml.  

Lemons and limes are great flavour enhancers and tenderisers – they start to break down the fibres in meat and fish.  Insert a lemon into the cavity of a whole chicken for a tender and juicy roast.

On WIC's Ooooby Eating! forum we have several lemon recipes, including gremolata (used to give a burst of flavour to steamed vegetables, or as a fresh topping on stews) and several versions of citrus leaf tea.

Lemons and lemon leaves are also used in many sweet recipes.  In the Pacific they make cocoa rice, a kind of chocolate rice pudding made with coconut milk and a lemon leaf.  If you don't have a lemon leaf, use grated lemon zest - zest means the coloured part of the skin - don't use the pith, or white part just under the skin. 

An easy recipe for Lemon yogurt cake is thought to have originated in Greek, Turkish and Armenian kitchens – the recipe came via Tokoroa.  The recipe is from a NZ recipe book called Ladies, A Plate, which was an old NZ way of asking families to bring a plate of food to an event (these days, the 'plate' may have been cooked by a man).   

I would love for you to share some of your favourite citrus recipes - use the comment link below or put them up on Ooooby!

Happy gardening and healthy eating!  


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