Spring Garden Stars

Spring has sprung at Garden to Table school Te Huruhi School on Waiheke Island and their gardens are bursting with harvests from their winter planting. The children have been busy harvesting lots of delicious vegetables and they're excited to use these in their kitchen. They're also preparing for the upcoming Waiheke Garden Safari in which they will be showcasing their carefully tended garden!

We’ve been harvesting lots of delicious veges lately – leafy greens, pumpkin, herbs, salad, broccoli and cauliflower – which means of course that we’ve been enjoying some delicious meals. A recent favourite was vegetable strudels, mouth watering parcels filled with colour. They are so easy to make and lots of children were inspired to make them at home with their families. We all had full tummies that day!

We were donated an exciting variety of seed potatoes so our potato bins have been replanted with a new crop. They’re unfamiliar European varieties so some great learning for us all and they should be ready in time for some meals at the end of the year.

The warmer weather means the vege crops that have been gently ticking along during the colder months have suddenly taken off and we’ve some lovely crops of broad beans and leeks to harvest. Our red cabbages have lovely big hearts that will make for some colourful dishes in the kitchen – maybe coleslaw, fresh spring rolls, stir-fry...Salads are almost compulsory at the moment as we have so many ingredients and the children love them!

We recently made bamboo tee pees to grow some snow peas BUT we forgot to put down some Tui Quash so when we came back the following week there were only a few gnawed stems left! Occupational hazard for gardeners but lesson learnt – use the Quash – we know it works!

Lettuces are also keeping our salad of the imagination well stocked, and the bees are loving the borage, calendula and alyssum flowers – and of course they make the garden look and smell lovely. We’ve already been seeing some beautiful monarch butterflies but sadly some other critters are finding their way to our vege patches too – mostly slugs and snails, but also a few rabbits, and aphids. We’re trying a spray made from soaked lemon rinds and a little dish-wash soap to keep them under control. Persistence seems to be paying off, and the flowers coming into bloom should help too.

Our school gardens are part of the Waiheke Island Garden Safari weekend this year (November 12 & 13) so we’re looking forward to show casing our hard work. To help keep things keep growing we’ve been creative and made a scarecrow which has been a lot of fun – it’s amazing how our volunteers have hidden talents that the children take delight sharing.

We’ve been working through all the steps of sowing seeds in punnets, keeping them moist while they germinate. We’ve struggled to find a way of gently watering seeds without flooding them: we make our own watering system using empty milk bottles. Using a hot pin (adults only) we carefully make a series of tiny holes in the lid, fill the bottle with water (1L size is good) pu t the lid on and when you tip it up a gentle shower of water lightly sprays the punnets to keep them moist without exposing all the seeds! We love to recycle and repurpose.

Waiheke Garden Safari 2016 - 12 & 13 November

Waiheke Island Garden Safari has been delighting Island residents and visitors alike since 2001. It is a must-see, self-drive event for gardeners and island visitors. Waiheke Garden Safari takes place over two days 12 & 13 November 2016 and our gardens are open 10am to 4pm both days.

Ticket buyers get exclusive access to 12 of Waiheke Island's most interesting and private gardens while supporting the Jassy Dean Trust, a children's charity. Garden Safari has been delighting visitors and raising funds for the Jassy Dean Trust for the last 16 years. We hope you'll join us in this worthwhile cause and fun Waiheke weekend. Tickets are on sale now. For information visit their website here.

Tui & Garden to Table

We are excited to be supporting Garden To Table as our school programme again this year. Garden to Table is a trust, which runs a gardening and cooking programme in schools across New Zealand. As participants in the Garden to Table programme, seven to 10 year-old children spend time in a productive vege garden and home-style kitchen each week. There they learn skills that will last them a lifetime, and discover just how much fun it is to grow and cook their own seasonal vegetables and fruits.

Tui is providing starter packs to each of the new schools, and seasonal packs during the year.

Click here for Te Huruhi's delicious Vegetable Strudel recipe >

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