WIC gardening update for 26 July 2012

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

Kia ora (it is Maori language week = Te Wiki o te Reo Māori) and kia orana (a Cook Island Maori greeting – you can tell the languages are related!)

If you want to go to our WIC workshops but:

  • need transport
  • need a translator

please contact me and we will do our best to fix this. (The sooner you let us know, the more likely it is that we can help.)

Learn about Lawn mower and wheelbarrow maintenance at Grandview Community Garden,  Thursday 26th July  10am to 12 pm. Join us to lend a hand fixing the lawnmower and wheelbarrow. We will also be available to help you with the next stage of your garden plot. New garden members welcome.

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.

More information? Ask Clare and Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109


Reminder: free cooking class at the Migrant Centre in Boundary Road on Saturday 28th July, 10-12 am.  Contact Waikato Ethnic Family Services for more information – ph 839 4688.


Reminder: Contact me if you would like to go to the free WIC Pruning and productive backyard garden visit, Saturday 28 July 2-4 pm.  Come along and see:

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

They produce most of their own fruit and vegetables.  Come along and ask lots of questions!  Peter’s private garden is in Hamilton East - contact me to find out where to meet. 


Reminder: Locavore’s Pruning your own Fruit Trees workshop Saturday July 28th near Cambridge or Saturday 4th August, 9am to 1pm. $48 per person. To book contact Alison or Burton, ph (07) 823 4154 or email info@locavore.co.nz.


Thursday 2 August 10 am – 12 noon, Tim will be continuing to work on the tunnel house at Grandview Community Garden, you are welcome to go and look or lend a hand.  More information? Ask Clare and Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 021 2243109.


WWOOF = Willing Workers On Organic Farms.  WWOOFing is about an educational and cultural exchange.  It gives volunteers the opportunity live with families and get hands-on experience with organic practices including cooking and preserving, wine, cheese and bread making, companion planting, worm farming, composting and more.  WWOOFers help out the hosts for 4-5 hours per day in exchange for 3 meals and accommodation.  A few places will take families.  So if you want to learn more around organic gardening, consider WWOOFing on your next holiday…

Chicken’s are like WWOOFers that cluck: they can turn your compost, do pest control, pull and eat weeds, make fertiliser and eggs. Even if you have a dog or cat, you can still keep hens.  Some of you have asked WIC to run a workshop on keeping chickens, so...

Get started with backyard chickens:

Join Clare on a free WIC workshop/ field trip to two established backyard food gardens that involve egg-laying hens:

  • Learn what hens need
  • Learn legal and health aspects of chicken keeping
  • Discuss hen breeds suitable for backyards
  • Where to get hens
  • Discuss hens' nutrition and housing needs
  • Look at two different chicken enclosures and note the pros and cons of each type
  • See how hens can be useful in a food garden.

When: Saturday 4 August 2:30 pm - 4 pm

Contact me to book your place and find out where to meet!

Last week I got to look after my neighbour's hens.  I found it gave me extra motivation to get out in the garden with my headlamp after work, harvesting slugs, snails and weeds for the chickens to eat.  The chickens turned them into manure for our compost heap and into eggs. We were getting 3-4 very fresh eggs per day – yum!   


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


If you live in the Nawton and Crawshaw area, sign up to be one of the 100 homes getting free fruit trees on the Western Community Centre website! People with Community Services Cards will be given first preference, but it is surprising how few people apply for this kind of thing – so even if you don’t have a card but want some trees, I encourage you to go ahead and apply. You don’t have to own your own home.  Housing New Zealand encourages people to plant gardens on their properties.  If you have a private landlord, it is good to ask permission first. For more information visit or ring the Western Community Centre – 46 Hyde Ave, Nawton, ph 847 4873. 


South Waikato Pacific Islands Community Services are planning a similar fruit tree planting project in a Tokoroa neighbourhood – awesome!


Can you help? Grandview Community Garden is looking for a window for the shed, to fit a gap of around 1100 mm square (can be smaller).  Contact Tim or Clare if you can help, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.


Paul from Te Aroha has given WIC some yacon corms (the part used to grow new plants) to give away: there are some at the Migrant Centre and some here at K’aute Pasifika Services.  If you can’t get to either place and would like some to plant, contact me 834-1482 and I will try and get some delivered. Yacon (Polymnia sonchifolia) is also called yakon, Peruvian ground apple, Bolivian sunroot and sweet root.  Yacon contains inulin which tastes sweet but cannot be digested, it is a very low calorie food, great for diabetics and people who like sweet things but who are trying to lose weight!


I love the way WIC gives us the chance to learn about new foods from other cultural traditions!  I visited the container garden of Evo, from Niue.  She pointed out what they call polo fua (Solanum nigrum), which is called black nightshade in English or raupeti in Maori.  In Niuean tradition nightshade leaves are cooked and eaten: she particularly likes them baked with chicken.  In NZ we also have a native small-flowered nightshade (Solanum nodiflorum previously called Solanum americanum) which is eaten by Maori like spinach.  Like most Pakeha I had been taught that these two plants are poisonous weeds!

Robin Slaughter from the NZ National Poisons Centre says that many people get confused between deadly nightshade (which is poisonous, as the name says) and black nightshade (Atropa belladonna).  To tell the two plants apart, look at the flowers: black nightshade has star-shaped, white flowers while deadly nightshade has purple, bell-shaped flowers. Deadly nightshade is very rare in New Zealand.  As with many plants, the unripe fruit (ie green) of the black and small-flowered nightshade is toxic.  The ripe fruit (black-coloured) are edible.

Andrew Crowe in his Field Guide to the Native Edible Plants of New Zealand has more information on how black and small-flowered nightshade is traditionally eaten (page 72-73) – both Hamilton City Libraries and South Waikato District Libraries hold this book. He reports that black nightshade is eaten in many countries such as parts of Africa, China, Greece, West Indies and El Salvador.  The Maori Women’s Welfare League published recipes for raupeti jam.  Nightshade is in the same family (Solanum) as tomatoes, eggplant/aubergine/brinjal and potato. 

Other native members of the Solanum plant family also traditionally eaten by Maori are Solanum laciniatum and Solanum aviculare, which look very similar and called by the same Maori name: poroporo. The ripe berries of poroporo are eaten – if you can get to them before the birds! Ripe berries are yellowish-orange and look like mini-tamarillos (and yes, tamarillos are also in the Solanum family). Poroporo fruit can be eaten raw or cooked.  The unripe berries are toxic, some say the leaves are too.  It is an attractive shrub with pale violet flowers. 


I overheard some people talking about the high price of broccoli at the moment ($3 per head), so I am pleased to have some growing well in my garden.  Broccoli is a brassica.  Cut off the head of broccoli (broccoli flower buds) but leave the plant growing: it will produce more heads as it tries to produce seed. 

Soti made us some beautiful broccoli soup for lunch at our last workshop.  Broccoli can be eaten raw in salads, blanched (= put in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, then drain it and rinse under cold water), steamed, micro-waved, boiled or stir-fried.  Even when cooked, it should still be a bit crisp.  Eat the stems too – if they are fat, peel the outer skin off as it can be stringy. (Put the peelings in your compost or feed them to the chickens!)  

Sprouted broccoli seeds are very healthy and give a nice crunch to salads. Make sure the seed has not been treated with chemicals like fungicide - use seeds from the food (rather than gardening) section of the shop, or labelled 'for sprouting' or better yet use seeds that you have saved from your own plants. 

Many seeds can be sprouted and eaten in salads and stir fries.  You can sprout seeds in your kitchen all year round – so a good way to grow veggies if you are too much of a wuss to garden outside in winter ;-)  There is a video showing you how to sprout seeds here

The only equipment you need is a jar with either: a mesh lid, a strainer or piece of clean loose-weave cloth (eg net curtain fabric).

  1. Put ½ cup of seeds in the jar and cover with at least 2 cups of water (4 x as much as the seeds).
  2. Cover with the lid/strainer/cloth and leave the seeds to soak overnight.
  3. Pour the water off - drain well.
  4. Keep on the kitchen bench (room temperature).
  5. Rinse the seeds once a day.
  6. Eat after 3-5 days - the sprout should be at least as long as the seed.

You can keep the sprouts in the fridge for up to 2 weeks, but the fresher the better.


As usual you can get reminded about gardening events next Monday 7:30 pm on K’aute Pasifika Services’ Community Radio program, or listen on demand (download a podcast) through the Community Radio web site.

Ka kite anō


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