Winter Gardening on Waiheke Island

We're halfway through winter and there's still plenty of magic happening in the Garden to Table gardens at Te Huruhi Primary School on Waiheke Island. Read their latest update below and see what the children have been busy doing in the garden and kitchen.

WHAT’S ON THE MENU?

Well here we are more than half way through the year! The Te Huruhi gardens have been drinking up all the rain and the mild winter so far has meant that whilst our crops are growing more slowing, they’re still thriving – our last batch of potatoes are nearly ready to harvest and we’ve been enjoying lots of leafy greens – spinach, silverbeet, cavolo nero, lots of herbs including parsley, mint, rosemary, coriander and we’ve just finished the last of the basil. Radishes have been growing well too. They’re a great crop to keep planting as they’re not that fussy and are ready to harvest in a few weeks, they’re especially handy at growing in the same area as carrots (which take much longer) and will naturally thin out the carrot crop and be out by the time the carrot need the space. The kitchen crew have been turning all these crops into delicious meals for us all to share including risotto, soups, salads, fritters…yum!

We also found a self seeded pumpkin growing in the lavender hedge a while ago, that has now been harvested as the vegetation and ‘stump’ have dried off. We’ll leave that to mature a bit longer then hand it over to the kitchen crew to work their magic! We love treasure hunting and discovering self seeded crops, things that have taken their time that we’d forgotten about – the children love to be the one to uncover a gem!

COMPOSTING

While the ground has been very wet and boggy we thought it would be a good time to get stuck into our compost bins and give then a good work over. One of our regular garden volunteers is a keen composter so he guided us all in seeking out all the ingredients for our ‘lasagna’ layers and we now have an amazing pile of goodies quietly sitting their slowly sinking as all the goodness breaks down. Lovely.

The results of the previous pile were put to good use in our new kitchen garden project where we dug it all in, worms and all! Amazingly we’ve noticed a prolific amount of radish seedlings emerging from some plants that went to seed over summer that had been part of the compost heap. There wasn’t enough compost to go round so we’re grateful to the ongoing support of Tui and their fabulous products. We were able to use the Tui Compost and Lime as well as some Tui Blood & Bone to cover the remaining area. The year 5’s are great fans of digging and turning this new patch so it’s looking great and we expect it to be an abundance of herbs, flowers and veges by the time spring is underway.

ODD JOBS TO KEEP THE WHEELS TURNING:

There’s always plenty to do in the garden and now is no exception – we’re continuing weeding, mulching and making paths in our gardens to help define our garden beds to make it easier for crop rotation, and allow us all to wander through the gardens without accidentally damaging the soil or seedlings trying to take hold in the ground. We’ve been continually planting seeds to keeps our stocks up including carrots, broccoli, snow peas, broad beans, salad greens. Each week a few punnets are sown as others leave the potting shed and head for the garden and thus the cycle goes on. Soon we’ll be looking at spring crops and will be able to think about tomato varieties, basil, capsicums, cucumbers, not to mention a good assortment of flowers to eat and encourage the bees to pay our gardens a visit!

GARDEN DIARY

Another good project that’s worth some time and effort is keeping up our garden diary. This is where the children record what we’ve been doing, what’s been harvested, planted, sown, chores done, ideas and a place to record any issues, things that have worked well or that we might do differently next time. We love the rewards of watching the children use their wider skills in science, math and literacy - learning and practicing without realising and having a great time!

A THOUSAND THANKS OF GRATITUDE!

We're thankful to the wonderful team of volunteers who turn up rain or shine ready to get stuck in, all to help our children and share in the experience and learning that we all do - children and adults alike - from being out in the open, discussing what we see, marveling at the world around us and taking the time to enjoy all the challenges and rewards of creating something together and then coming together with our kitchen team mates to share in a feast of our our making. What could be better?!

Click here for Te Huruhi's tasty vegetable risotto recipe

Tui & Garden to Table

We are excited to be supporting Garden To Table as our school programme 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.

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