Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Almost Spring Workshop by John

At our regular monthly working bee on Sunday 9th August, we were pleased to have a workshop by John on how to plant seeds and seedlings.

August is the beginning of Spring, with the Grey Warblers singing being a good sign.
September is a better time to plant seeds that need more warmth.

Now (August) plant;
Brassicas - Chinese cabbage, Bok Choy, spring onions, spring onions, radish, turnips, peas, parsley, etc.
Pumpkin, beans - scarlet runners then climbers and dwarf. 
Always kale and silverbeet.
Later eggplant, capsicums, etc that need more heat.
Refer to the seed catalogues for planting seasonal ideas - there is lots of information there.

If seedlings growing time is more than 2-3 weeks then you will need to add additional nutrients to the potting mix - Biofert, lime and, pumice sand.
If soil is too acid or alkaline it locks up nutrients.
Acid - add lime but very cautiously!

Hygienic, rigid and strong 

Bigger individual seeds eg - peas or beans, can be planted into the round singles trays.

Fill the tray and level the potting medium

Next compress 

Divide the tray with sticks and plant each variety of seed in their own 'lane'.
Label seeds - what, when, and your name. 
NB Please use a pencil to label your seeds.

Then sift a top layer of potting mix over the seeds until they are 'just covered'. Lettuce needs light to germinate so don’t cover too deeply. Now is a good time for lettuce as it likes cool temperatures to germinate.

Then give a good soak of water... gently.

Greenhouse irrigation has been upgraded and is available to grow seedlings for your plot - please ensure you have enough space in your plot for your seedlings!
Cover with a board/corflute or card to keep moist for a day or two until you see some germination (1-2 days) and then remove the cover to allow the light onto the seedlings.
Sow things from the same family or small seeds so they’re compatible.

For peas or beans use individual cell trays. Peas and beans are good to plant now.
Root vegetables do not like root disturbance so plant these in cell trays to minimise root disturbance. Individual pots are better than cells.

Pricking out is done to grow plants on to a bigger size before planting out if this is needed.
Also replanting into cells refreshes the soil thereby making more nutrients available to the seedlings.

Fill and level cells

(Dimple with your fingers to centre seeds - if you are planting seeds).

Otherwise, uplift seedlings with some soil left on the root. Lift with leaves NOT the stem as this may crush them.
Firm in the roots.
If roots are too big - make a bigger hole.
Use bamboo tweezers to lift from the leaves.
Water in.

To remove seedlings when ready to plant - use a pegboard to pop them out or use an individual stick and push the seedlings out from underneath. 
Minimise roots disturbance.

Spring - September is big push time for seedlings
Prepare beds.
Dig in green crops.
Dig over beds and add compost.
Beds need feeding with compost, organic matter- lupins, etc. 
also, add Biofert (also has trace elements) to the beds - also possibly lime after test pH.

'Blood and Bone' is useful but also add potash. 
However, whatever you do use MUST be organic, so look for a certified badge - below

Do not use Horse manure as it is often full of weed seeds. Commercial sheep pellets are okay.
Liquid fertiliser is difficult as it's hard to know if it is organic or not. 

Compost - 2 buckets per season per plot - Summer and winter. It takes a lot of vegetation and communal work to produce these bucketfuls.
Compost must be dug in and not used as mulch. Spread the compost on to the surface and then dig into the first few inches before planting out seedlings.

Plant root veg directly into the soil and protect from the birds.
Seagrass mulch will deter the birds - as will netting. Then thin out as the young plants come up.

Psyllid insect has now invaded NZ. It affects potatoes and tomatoes. Psyllid transmit a bacterium and ruin the crop. So cover the crop with fine white mesh/netting cloth. Plant early to help avoid Psyllid.

Liseta potatoes for Xmas. Maori potatoes do not seem to be so affected by Psyllid.

Please return and clean your trays and used labels so they are recycled for other members to reuse. It's also a good idea to keep a notebook of what and when you sowed and keep growing notes.

Recommended reading;
Prof Walker booklet 



Happy Gardening everyone. 

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Te Māra Whakamaharatanga - Garden of Memories, 8th March 2020

Today, before our regular monthly working bee, we formally celebrated the opening of our Te Māra Whakamaharatanga - our Garden of Memories. This garden is an area to remember those who came before us and those we have lost.

The preparations with seating, shade, and refreshments were set-up early. 
Jenni carries out the trestle tables.

Mort helps with the setting up.

Just after 10am, Sarah called everyone in to assemble on the lawn...

and then handed over to Uenuku (Sarah's grandson) to lead the ceremony. 
He began with a karakia before...

we were led to the Te Māra Whakamaharatanga - Garden of Memories area within the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua gardens.

After a waiata, Uenuku spoke in te reo, acknowledging all those who had gone before us. He spoke of the discovery of the artifacts at the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua gardens and their return to the local wharenui (meeting house) Ngākau Māhaki on Te Noho Kotahitanga marae. He acknowledged; Jeanette Fitzsimons* CNZM, the current carers of the Sanctuary gardens, Trevor, Bev, and Sarah our Sanctuary committee who plan and schedule the care of the gardens, and Max a member of their whanau who passed away some years earlier. 
Rosie then translated his words into te pakeha.

Richard Main then spoke of finding the artifacts. As he was prepared a bed for his Unitec student's workshop, in what is now the Te Māra Whakamaharatanga - Garden of Memories area, he said, "they came out of the soil", with one piece clearly being a digging tool. He said he vividly remembered seeing an image of a Maori woman, with moko on her chin and forehead who smiled and seemed to acknowledge him. 
A volcanic rock shelf runs along the Southern edge of the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua gardens and this is where he discovered the artifacts. Unitec had gardened on the site since 1999 and in 2007, planning for the marae was underway. This is also when the artifacts were discovered. Richard said it was a pleasure to be here today to acknowledge this important archaeological site.

Sarah then unveiled the plaque naming Te Māra Whakamaharatanga - Garden of Memories as well as having the Archaeological registration number recorded on it. The pounamu artifact pictured on the plaque is now inlaid into the floor of the Te Noho Kotahitanga marae. 

Native Aotearoa / New Zealand plants have been established in the Te Māra Whakamaharatanga - Garden of Memories amongst the rocks that are sited there for seating and contemplation.

Te Māra Whakamaharatanga - Garden of Memories

The opening ceremony concluded with the singing of Te Aroha by everyone and a final karakia by Uenuku, before we all walked back to the lawn area for refreshments and morning tea.

Trevor talks with MP Melissa Lee (wearing her blue hat), with her PA Jenny Collins. Melissa has visited the gardens several times over the past two years.

After refreshments, a shortened working bee ensued with a delicious shared lunch to follow. Happy gardening everyone and enjoy the beautiful Te Māra Whakamaharatanga - Garden of Memories.

Our thanks to Uenuku, Rosie, Sarah and their whanau for the ceremony today.

* Jeanette Fitzsimons planted the feijoa tree by the entranceway of the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua, on 8 November 2002 to mark the launch of the 'Organic Farm New Zealand' organisation. (On the same day the Hon. Jim Sutton, then Minister of Agriculture planted the olive tree at the front by the road).

Friday, 14 February 2020

2020 Working Bee dates - please diarise

Working Bee

Working Bees are held on the second Sunday of a month - with occasional exceptions.  

They start at 10 am and finish around noon followed by a shared lunch. 

At the Working Bees, communal produce is distributed to participants.

The Working Bees count towards your 2 hours of community hours per month.  

If you are unable to come to a working bee, please let Trevor and Bev or Sarah know.  Then tasks can be arranged for you to fulfill your community hours at another time.


Working bee dates for 2020

9 February
8 March
19 April NB this is the 3rd Sunday of the month, as 12 April is Easter Sunday
10 May
14 June
12 July
9 August
13 September
11 October
8 November
13 December

There are sometimes additional working bees during the year, especially when there are many tasks to be done.

We look forward to seeing you there.

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Where is the loo (wharepaku)?

Since Unitec sold the land that the Sanctuary Mahi Whenua is part of, the loos (toilets) or in Maori - Wharepaku, that we used to access are no longer available. The new loos are in building 150, and here's how to find them!

Head out of the Sanctuary, cross the road and head up the hill, diagonally towards your right.

It's a beautiful walk up the slope, under the trees - Jacaranda, Magnolia, etc. Alternatively, follow the road.

This beautiful Building 048, is part of the Unitec School of Architecture. Walk along the front (or around the back of it if you prefer) and keep heading towards your right. You'll come to a line of pre-fab classrooms.

The pre-fab classrooms form a spine that runs down the gentle slope. 
Head uphill - towards the left in this photo.

Where the rows of pre-fabs join together, you'll see the sign for the 'Multi-Faith Chaplaincy Centre - Building 159.

To your left, there is a covered walkway...

Head down it...

Keep going... 

You'll see the number 150 on the wall.

Just beyond are the loos - both men's and women's.

Now that's a relief.

Happy New Year 2020 - Our first working Bee Sunday 19th January

Our first working bee day for 2020 was bright, clear and sunny. The list of tasks needing to be done was ready for everyone to choose from... 

Watering featured prominently on the list. So far this month there has only been 6 mm of rain, and the evapotranspiration rate has been 3 to 5 mm per day, meaning a water deficit of around 50 to 80 mm.

We had received a load of sea-grass that needed to be washed and then put out onto the gardens as mulch. Janet and Bill were washers and barrow loaders...

Along with Mort.

Bev was busy organising the working bee day - even taking calls too. 
Multi-tasker extraordinaire and part of our invaluable 'brains trust' - along with Sarah and Trevor

If you've ever wondered where all the seedlings come from for the working bee plantings - they're planned, planted and propagated by our fabulous 'brains-trust' in the greenhouse.

John processed the privet tree that was had been cut down by former plot holder Richard Main, on the South-eastern boundary of the gardens.

Jenny Gibbs spreads some of the sea-grass mulch onto the young 
fennel plants in the beautiful Rainbow garden.

Angela (in her smart new sunhat) spreads compost.

A busy day with many hands making light (and enjoyable) work.

Rebekah - doing more sea-grass mulching

Fiona weeding out the dreaded Oxalis

Jenni weeding and digging...

with Anne and


Sarah and Bev working in the Rainbow garden.

Kathryn ready to begin weeding.

David turns over the compost in our recently recommissioned Eastern bins.

And Kerry gave a hand too...

Sinead with her whanau - her brother Paul in the background and her-sister-in-law Becca (hiding from the sun in her hoodie)  - who came along to help at today's working bee. Thank you! (Jenni watering with her back to us).

Sinead and Becca hard at work.

The Marigolds that are being grown again for the Sandringham flower mandala again this year, are well established and growing nicely.

The Dahlias are in full bloom in the gardens.

Look at this beauty!

Meanwhile, in the mara kumara garden - our traditional Maori Kumara garden - Keni is at work.

Below is a te mara atahu. 
This demonstrates a South Island agricultural technique used by Maori. The rocks are piled above the ground and also extend (by the same amount and to a similar depth) into and below the ground. This provides 'passive heating' of the earth nearby.

As the rocks give off their heat, they create a blanket of warm air, about as high as Keni is indicating. This is enough to protect the leaves of the Kumara from the cold night-time temperatures. Maori technology used 'thermal mass' to create a warm growing environment for the kumara.

Below is a Parara. This is a seedbed where the kumara seed stock would traditionally have been stored, as seen at Ihaumatao. This is another colder climate technique used by Maori. The rocks again provide 'passive heating' and there is enough aeration in the pile to avoid spores growing and affecting the stored seed stock. On the wooden lattice, within the rock pile, thick layers of dried ferns would be laid onto which the tubers would be stored. The ferns allow for side airflow through the layers and also provide insulation. 

Below the two Kumara planting beds are evident. The established beds are near where Keni is standing and in front of these are the new beds, that will stay in the ground until Matariki.

The Hue (gourds) are also growing well with plenty of flowers and fruit setting.

Respect is shown to the growing Kumara by the pathways within the Mara Kumara garden being maintained. This stops people from stepping OVER the growing Kumara beds - the respected mounds. The mounds are treated as living beings - as a mauri.

Katya and Angela head off to harvest flax to strengthen the fences of the 
Mara Kumara garden

Trevor, back from a successful morning selling our Sanctuary Mahi Whenua organic produce at the Grey Lynn farmers market. This raises funds that help to keep our community garden financially stable.

Trevor sorted out the produce that was available for workers attending today's working bee at the gardens. Two types of plums, some beetroot, and a few Liseta potatoes.

Happy New Year to all Sanctuary Mahi Whenua members and thanks to everyone who made it along to contribute their community hours today. Apologies to those who came early (to avoid the heat of the day) and who weren't photographed on the day - it's so hard to get good Paparazzi!
Happy gardening in 2020.