WIC Gardening Update - 19 September 2012

Posted 11 years, 9 months ago by Kathryn Mercer - WIC Project Manager    0 comments

Hi and malo e lelei

Ismet (Bangladesh) saved some bitter melon seeds last summer and was wondering when to plant them.  You can start sowing all of your summer seeds under cover in a warm place now.  If you are not sure how to do this, go along to one of the workshops at Grandview Community Garden, like the one this Saturday:
Reminder: Learn about growing your own potatoes, carrots, lettuce, spring onions, peas, silverbeet, tomatoes, beans and chillies.  As with any of our workshops you are welcome to ask Tim or Clare your gardening questions.
When: Saturday 22 September 2012, 2:30 - 4pm.
Where: Grandview Community Garden, bus route 8 (Frankton) Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road.

Everyone is welcome! If you need help with transport, let us know.  For more information, call Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

Cooking Class

Stephanie (Taiwan) will be teaching affordable healthy cooking starting this Saturday 22 September from 10 am at the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre in Boundary Road, Hamilton.  Stephanie is an experienced cooking tutor.  She will be showing you how to make Garden Vegetable Soup and Fancy Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.  Everyone is welcome.  For more information contact Waikato Ethnic Family Services, ph 839 4688.

Reminder: Festival de la Primavera = Hispanic Spring Festival

If you are going to the Hispanic Spring Festival on Saturday 22 September, 1:30pm - 4 pm, take a walk down to the sustainable back yard garden, herb garden and walled kitchen garden to see what food crops they are growing at this time of year. 

Where : Hamilton Gardens. The Festival is in the Pavilion Hall.  All welcome!

Reminder:  NZ Tree Crops Association (NZTCA) Waikato Branch Social

Meet some of the members and learn about the NZTCA.  Tree Crops members include new gardeners to plant scientists, farmers to back yard gardeners.  There is a big pool of knowledge available!

Alf Harris will be speaking about the past and future possibilities of the Tree Crops Association, and about his research into fungi (especially the kiwifruit disease PSA) and biocarbon/charcoal. I will be speaking about tree crops in public places.  

All welcome! Bring a plate of food for a shared lunch and whatever eating utensils you need (eg plate, cup, cutlery/chopsticks).  Free.

When: Sunday 23 September, 12 noon 

Where: Hillcrest Scout Hall (sometimes called the Scout Den), behind the shops halfway down Masters Avenue.  There is plenty of parking behind the shops. Take the path through the trees to the hall (the hall is surrounded by bush).

Learn to Scythe

The Jolly Scythers in Raglan are running a fun hands-on workshop on how to scythe in the morning of Sunday 23 September.  Replace your noisy, smelly lawn mower and get more exercise. Enjoy hearing birdsong and the smell of the grass while cutting your lawn. There is more information about the workshop on Ooooby.

Weed Control Workshops

At this free WIC workshop Learn:

  • how to beat the weeds using healthy organic methods such as mulch
  • which weeds are the worst
  • which weeds are useful
  • what tools to use.

When: Wednesday 26 September 10 am -12 and Friday 28 September: 10 am and 2 pm - the afternoon session is a repeat of the morning session. 

Where: Grandview Community Garden, bus route 8 (Frankton) Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. 

All welcome!  If you need help with transport, let us know.  For more information, call Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

Auckland Community Gardens Meeting

The Gardens 4 Health (G4H) stakeholder meeting is attended by people involved in running community gardens in the Auckland area, to update each other on progress and opportunities.  The quarterly meeting is held at a different community garden each time. 

This time the meeting is at the Birkdale / BeachHaven Anglican Church Cedar Centre. It will include spending 1 hour helping to build a children’s garden.  Contact me if you would like a copy of the agenda. 

Contact the WIC Community Garden Mentors if you would like to travel to the meeting with them.   There is no charge.

When: Thursday 27 September, 1-3pm plus travel time.

Grandview Community Garden Work Day

When: Friday 28 September. 

Everyone welcome to come and help at the garden - why not do one of the weed control workshops and stay on to help for an hour or two?

More information next week. If you would like to have your own garden plot (individual, family or group) at Grandview Community Garden, talk to Clare or Tim WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.: having a plot is free and is a great opportunity both to learn and to share your knowledge

Organic Horticulture in the Waikato & Seedsaving Film

Two Cook Island men, Ma'ara and John (a WINTEC Horticulture student), were sponsored by WIC to go on a tour of organic horticulture businesses and to visit the Mystery Creek Fieldays with a group of visiting Cook Island farmers.  They will be showing photos and reporting on what they learned. 

This will be followed by a documentary film about seed saving around the world called Our Seeds: Seeds blong yumiIt talks about why seed saving is important, and also shows some interesting gardening techniques, such as sweet potato planting in the Pacific.  It was filmed in 11 countries in Europe, Asia and Oceania.

When: Friday 28 September, 6 pm -7:45 pm. 

Where: Waikato Environment Centre, Level One (ie upstairs), 25 Ward St, Hamilton (in the same block as Moneygram and Starbucks).   

Everyone is welcome to this free WIC event!  A light meal will be provided, so bookings are required by 9 am Thursday 27 September - book by replying to this email/blog or phone me on (07) 834-1482 if you would like to go. 

Garden Pest Control

Are you wondering like Lucy how to prevent your brassicas getting eaten by green caterpillars? Do you wonder where the slugs and snails hide out during the day? Are there insects sucking the life out of your plants? Then the free WIC Garden Pest Control workshop is for you! 

The WIC Community Garden Mentors will be teaching you how to control pests using approved organic methods.

When: We will be running the hands-on workshop at lest 3 times: 

  • Wednesday 3 October 10-11 am
  • Friday 5 October 6-7 pm (To be confirmed)
  • Wednesday 10 October 10-11 am.

Where: Grandview Community Garden, bus route 8 (Frankton) Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road.

Everyone is welcome! If you need help with transport, let us know.  For more information, call Clare or Tim, WIC Community Garden Mentors, ph 021 0387623 or 021 2243109.

Edible Hedges

Hedges act can act as a windbreak, slowing the wind and directing wind up and over your garden.  Most plants don't like wind much: it can make them cold, make them thirsty and strong winds can break their branches and blow away blossom and fruit. 

At last week's edible hedge workshop at the Grandview Community Garden they planted an edible hedge that will protect the garden from the cold southerly winds, making the garden even warmer.


The hedge is made up of guava bushes: Guavas are best planted in spring because they are frost tender when young. Guavas can be grown easily from seed.

At Grandview they have planted the red and yellow cherry varieties (Psidium Littorale) that originate from Brazil.  Both of these plants will grow easily from seed.  They produce cherry-size fruit in winter.   

The Chilean Guava (Ugni molinae - Mrytus ugni) makes a good low hedge for a shady area.  The fruit are much smaller but their flowers smell beautiful, especially at night, so they are good to plant near to a window, door or path where you can enjoy it.

Some of you mistook feijoas for tropical guavas (Psidium guajava) when you first arrived in NZ: they are distantly related. The tropical guava is egg sized with a green skin but is pink inside.  There is a tropical guava growing at Berkley School in Hamilton, against the North (warm) wall of the dental clinic.  You can buy tropical guava plants in Hamilton. There is more information about how to grow them and where to get plants on Ooooby.

There are many other edible plants that can be grown as hedges, including feijoas, blueberries, feijoas, citrus, roses (thorns can help keep dogs etc out), sweet bay, rosemary, hazel...  You can also train fruit trees such as apples, pears and plums into edible hedges using a technique called espaliering.

Free myoga ginger (Zingiber mioga, Zingiberaceae, èŒ—荷) plants

Mioga ginger grows well in the Waikato and is in flower now.  The flower buds and shoots are eaten in South Korea and Japan where it is traditionally grown under plum trees.  The buds and shoots have a mild ginger flavour.

They are sliced finely and eaten raw in salads and miso soup, or are pickled in vinegar, or fried in a tempura batter. It can be used in stirfries, goes well with seafood, or used in Thai-style soups like Tom Yum goong.  Unlike many fruit and vegetable plants, the mioga prefers to grow in shade.  It is a perennial that dies back in winter.  The flowers are eaten as they just start to come out of the soil.  

There are photographs and recipes here - just remember that the article is written for the northern hemisphere: the seasons are backwards! 

This is the time of year in NZ to divide your myoga ginger plants. 

Contact Maxine if you would like a free plant, ph 855-1968.  (There are several places in NZ where you can buy myoga plants, they often cost around $15.)

Pest Prevention

There is a proverb that says 'a stitch in time saves nine' - so doing a little bit of work now can prevent lots of work in the future. 

In the garden at this time of year: 

  • weeds are germinating and growing fast
  • snails and slugs are breeding (growing in numbers) rapidly.

Try to pull out your weeds before they set seed and do regular slug/snail patrols now to save yourself more work later in the season!

Starting to prepare for planting summer crops

At Grandview they have started preparing the soil for planting heat loving crops late next month.  In your garden this soil preparation may include digging a green manure crop like mustard or lupins into the soil.  This adds nitrogen to the soil.  Nitrogen is important to help plants make leaves.

Spicy Hot

There are many different plants that in English we describe as tasting hot where we mean they are spicy, as opposed to hot because it has been heated through cooking - English can be confusing like that! 

Perhaps the best known spicy hot plant is chilli.  Here are some other spicy hot plants:   **include botanical name & link*

Most of these are members of the brassica family.

Are there other spicy hot plants that you are growing here?

As I said earlier, mustard (a brassica) is often grown as a green manure crop over winter. Mustard leaves were traditional in ham sandwiches, and/or with cress.  I also use them in stir fries and salads.   I will leave some of my mustard crop to go to seed.  The seeds are used in making pickles, added to casseroles and used to make a paste also called 'mustard' which is usually served with ham or beef.   Here's the recipe:

Grainy Mustard Recipe

Note: Home made mustard can be spicier (hotter) than bought mustard.

Makes about 1 cup.

½ cup mustard seeds – brown or yellow or a mixture (homegrown, of course!)

¼ cup vinegar

½ cup of water or alcohol eg wine, beer (not stout), sherry...

1 Tbsp of something aromatic, eg finely chopped onion, garlic, shallots

1 Tbsp chopped fresh herbs (optional) eg thyme, dill...

1 Tbsp sweetener (optional) eg honey, maple syrup, sugar, stevia

Pinch of salt


Put everything except the salt in a non-reactive bowl (use ceramic, pottery or glass) and let it soak overnight in the refrigerator.

In a blender, food processor or mortar & pestle, blend/grind the mustard to the consistency you like - 'wholegrain' mustards are very grainy. This may take up to 5 minutes in a food processor. You are unlikely to get it perfectly smooth.dd the salt as you blend (chunky rock salt is good if you are using a mortar and pestle). 

Put into jars and put the lids on.

Mustard will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months, but the flavour will mellow (become less spicy) over time.

The recipe book DIY Delicious by Vanessa Barrington has several mustard recipes, eg Beer Mustard With Thyme, Sherry-Dill Mustard, Honey Mustard as well as recipes that use the mustard such as glazed pork, caramelised root vegetables, mixed into vinaigrette or spread on the bread for ham sandwiches. (Hamilton City Libraries holds this book.) 

Black mustard seeds are often used in Indian cooking - they are fried until they pop (they leap out of the hot pan!) as part of a mix of spices used with potatoes and other vegetables, for example.  I don't know of anyone growing black mustard in NZ - do you?

Happy gardening!

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