WIC Gardening Update 5 Dec 2012

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

Hello and selamat sore

They made great progress building a shade house at Grandview Community Garden last weekend - just in time for summer.  December is the official start to summer here in NZ.  NIWA's climate outlook for summer (December 2012 - February 2013) for our region is: 

  • temperatures are likely to be about average (17.7 - 18.4 degrees C)
  • total rainfall is likely to be about normal or below (less rain), (150-250 mm rain)
  • summer soil moisture levels are projected to be below normal (drier soil).

Reminder: Get Your Garden Ready for Dry Weather: Being Water Wise

Given NIWA's prediction of drier soil this summer, learn to be Water Wise if you haven't come to one of our free demonstrations already.  Learn how to:

  • Collect and store rainwater for your garden
  • See a solar water pump being used
  • Minimise the amount of water you need to use
  • Water less often
  • Choose plants that don't need lots of water
  • Shape the landscape to make the most of your water.

When: Saturday 8 Dec 9 - 11am

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.   

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

Reminder: Organic Pest Control

Come and see how to control garden pests the organic way at one of these free, hands-on WIC sessions at the Grandview Community Garden:

When: Monday 10 Dec 5:30 - 7 pm, repeated Wednesday 12 Dec 9-10:30 am.

Where: Grandview Community Garden. Entrance to the garden is through the gate opposite 183 Grandview Road. Park your bike by the shed, or take bus route 8 (Frankton), or park on Grandview Road.   

Any questions? Contact Clare (ph 021 0387623) or Tim (ph 021 2243109), the WIC Community Garden Mentors.

WEAVE Twilight Market

The Christmas WEAVE Twilight Market is on Friday 14 December at Claudelands Park. Please contact Haidee Kalirai on Haidee.Kalirai@refugeeservices.org.nz if you would like to set up a food or craft stall.

I went last year and enjoyed seeing the wide variety of foods from different cultures.  I was impressed by the Burmese refugees who had only been in Hamilton a week who were already selling a traditional soup! 

The Twilight Market was also where I discovered the pleasure of red (adzuki) bean dumplings: it is very odd in European cooking to use beans in a sweet dish, but the taste of the dumplings definitely got me over that mental barrier! The red bean filling almost tastes like plums.  Why don't you go along and try something new?

Each season I like to try growing something new: this summer I am going to try growing adzuki beans.  Have any of you tried growing them before?  I would love to know if you were successful and whether you have any hints on how to get good results.

Multicultural Christmas Party

Another chance to experience food from a variety of cultures at this free event - everyone is welcome!

When: Saturday 15 December 2012, 2 pm - 4 pm

Where: Waikato Migrant Resource Centre, Claudelands Park, Boundary Road.

More details and a flier on the Waikato Migrant Resource Centre Community Events Calendar

Pick your own...

If you don't have room to grow all the fruit, nuts and vegetables you would like, or your shrubs or trees are not producing much fruit yet, think about visiting a grower that allows you to 'pick your own'.  Picking your own can work out cheaper than buying from a shop, particularly if you are buying in bulk and can share the petrol costs with a few friends.   Growers sometimes advertise in the local free newspapers or try these web sites:

These sites don't include everyone: for example Strawberry Fields on State Highway 1 just south of Tamahere has pick your own strawberries at the moment, but is not listed. 

I visit Monovale/Ohaupo area just out of Hamilton between late December and March, going early one morning when the temperatures are cooler to pick bulk blueberries: I freeze most of them to use over the coming months. The blueberries thrive in the peat soil in that area.  I use PYO as an opportunity to get some fresh air, exercise, catch up with a friend and get some yummy fruit!

So if you see a roadside 'PYO' sign when you are out, why not list it on Ooooby so others can pick their own too?  Alternatively, if you are looking for a particular fruit, nut or vegetable to pick, try advertising on Ooooby on the WIC group or the Hamilton NZ or South Waikato groups.

Free plants

Joy of Hamilton Organic Gardeners kindly donated some spare kumi kumi (also called kamo kamo) seeds.  Clare grew some up and we now have some free kumi kumi seedlings to give away: if you would like some I have a few available during office hours in the city (ph 834-1482) or contact Clare (021-038-7623).

Valeti was wondering how to eat kumi kumi. You can start eating them once they reach baseball size, or leave them to grow and develop a hard skin so they will keep over winter like a pumpkin. They are good cooked in a hangi or umu.  You can eat them just like pumpkin, or stuff them like you would a marrow, like this vegetarian recipe which can be eaten hot or cold. 

At Grandview Community Garden they have allowed silverbeet, lettuce and spring onions to set seed. Clare says that they will collect the seed by cutting the mature seed heads and drying them stored upside down in paper bags in the shed. The seeds will fall out into the bag.  They will also allow some seed to fall into the gardens and grow – "we just need to learn to recognise them from weed seedlings when they pop up – free veg, planted for free!"  Some people call these 'volunteer plants'.  There are photos of the seed heads here.

Prepare to Harvest Your Garlic

Garlic planted in June (usually on the shortest day/midwinter) will be ready to harvest on midsummer's day (22 December, the longest day). Stop watering and feeding the garlic plants two weeks before harvest - ie this weekend.

Sow now...

Diamond (China) has been planting his winter melon seeds.  The melons are huge, store well and are commonly used in a winter soup.   Make sure you keep all your melon and pumpkin plants well fed and mulched over summer! 

Clare says that you can keep sowing corn right up to Christmas: sow an early maturing cultivar (variety) like Yates ‘honey sweet’ last - corn needs 3 months to grow before the cold weather returns.

For a continuous supply of green vegetables Clare says to sow some lettuce, spinach or pak choi every week. Then you will always have one ready to pick, right through summer (see photo).  

Another green you can plant now is the native New Zealand spinach (called kokihi in Maori, Tetragonia tetragonioides and Tetragonia trigyna) which copes well with dry conditions and will sprawl over a 1 m patch of ground, shading the soil, acting as a living mulch.  It is quick to cook.

Do you have bees in your garden? Fruit like tomatoes, courgettes and melons need pollinators - mostly bees - to set (make) fruit.  Try to have a few flowers blooming (flowering) in your garden all the time to attract these beneficial (good) insects.  Bees particularly like blue flowers: borage is a good multipurpose plant with blue flowers that is easy to grow. 

Food Portion Sizes

Do you find it hard to understand what a healthy portion size is - ie how much of different types of foods we should enjoy to stay healthy? Sanitarium have published a good overview.

In season now...

The recipe from Stephanie's cooking class last Saturday for stir fried lettuce with garlic is up on Ooooby.  The Beef, Asparagus, & Cashew Stir Fry recipe they made is available here.

If you planted potatoes in October, Clare says they will be ready around now - many people like to have new (fresh) potatoes on Christmas day. If they are flowering or dying off it is time to dig a few and see if they look ready.  There is more information about growing and harvesting potatoes on Ooooby.

Waikato's Nourish magazine has a great Raw Energy Salad recipe using vegetables you may be harvesting from your garden at the moment - including broad beans, carrots, beetroot, spinach and/or rocket, sprouts or other baby greens.  It is a complete meal in itself, great for the lunch box or to take to a summer BBQ. 

Some people north of the Waikato and some locals using tunnel houses are already harvesting courgettes (also known as zucchini). This means that courgettes are now cheap to buy.  They are a very productive plant, well worth growing. They can be eaten raw or cooked.  Nourish has a recipe for a carrot and courgette salad, which they serve with Morroccan style lamb.   

The salad includes currants: in most English language cookbooks, when they say 'currants', they mean the sweet dried black currents (Ribes nigrum), as these are the most commonly available.  Otherwise the recipe will say 'fresh currents'.  Black currents are high in vitamin C - their juice is used in some drinks.  My currant bushes have almost finished fruiting: the black currants ripened first, then the white and red varieties: they look beautiful mixed together. 

Remember to keep your currants and berries covered with netting (old net curtains are good) - the birds think they are delicious too! Check them every day for ripe berries.

A number of us have started harvesting raspberries!  With the warmer summer weather, why not make some cooling fruit popsicles using your home grown strawberries, raspberries and other fruit to enjoy after a workout in your garden? (Wash and recycle the sticks as plant labels...)

Have a great week in your garden!



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