Visitors took a wander @ Woodside!


On Saturday 30 March (our regular March working bee date), we held an Open Day as part of the EcoWest Festival. Selina had provided us with an itinerary and list of tasks and all volunteers available on the day were happy to help out. Ben Cheah was using our fruit trees as demonstration for his pruning workshop so we were happy to welcome those participants to the garden as well. Ben has twice run workshops for us before and we have noticed the improvement in the health of the orchard. The citrus trees are overloaded with fruit at the moment so Ben promised not to let anyone prune those! We had lots of visitors, most of whom had a genuine interest in gardening or the benefits of community gardens. Some also had ideas to share with us and that was also appreciated. Although the weather was fine and we had put up our gazebo to protect people from the sun, it wasn’t needed as most people were happy to just “take a wander”.

Tours were provided by our guides Monique, Selina and Nicole. Refreshments were kindly provided by our volunteers, Olga, Gilles, Verena and Karyn – thanks everyone. Gilles and Karyn used materials from the garden to create their teas with Gilles making mint tea from mint and lemon balm and Karyn making rhubarb iced tea with addition of herbs such as mint, lemon balm, etc. Mark and Gilles were able to show off their efforts to date with constructing the support for the water tank, which is almost complete. Mark was in charge of getting our new Masport mulcher/shredder going and Karyn followed up by mulching some of the prunings from the workshop. Jayden also made it down to the garden with a friend and Jacqui acted as photographer for the day.

To prove that we were also working on the day, Jacqui planted some Perpetual Spinach seedlings and Selina planted the German chamomile and English chamomile lawn seedlings. We’d also like to thank those visitors who contributed to our water tank support fund (total $21.50) and Myrthe from EcoMatters for helping us to be part of EcoWest Festival 2019!

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March 2019 – composting


We continue to employ 4 methods of composting. The first is our hot compost heap, where we add weeds and kikuya grass, cover with plastic and leave it to bake in the sun to kill off the seeds, etc. The second method is using a 3 bay compost system. Material is transferred from the hot compost heap in smaller amounts into the first of the compost bays and this is then allowed to break down further before being moved twice more. Fresh material also goes into first of the compost bays but has to be cut up or mulched first. The third method is a traditional 3 stage compost bin system. Vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and egg shells are added into the first of the 3 stage compost bins along with comfrey, untreated sawdust, lawn clippings and leaves as well as manure when we have it available. Once the material has broken down enough in the first compost bin, it moves to the second one for further breakdown but no new material is added. Finally, it moves to the third bin when it is ready to be used in the garden. Our fourth method is the Earthmaker. This was donated to us by an Auckland Council staff member. It is a vertical composting system with 3 levels or tiers. New material is added to the top where it is left to break down. It is then pushed to the centre and finally to the bottom. Once it reaches the bottom, it should be ready to use in the garden but we sometimes transfer it over to the compost bins if it doesn’t look like it is ready. It does take a long time to produce usable compost but we are persevering with it although we really need more vegetable scraps and coffee grounds to make the most of this and the 3 stage compost bins. We are listed on the ShareWaste site set up by the Compost Collective and are hoping to get more contributions from neighbours through this. We have had a few people contact us but we haven’t been getting contributions regularly.

The aubergines/eggplants are producing large numbers of fruit on very small plants. The last surviving Fordhook Giant silver beet plant is living up to its name with the largest leaves we have ever seen. It seems to be thriving in its plot surrounded by herbs and flowers and hasn’t gone to seeds as its companions did. More lettuce and perpetual spinach seedlings have been planted with the white alyssum with some plastic trellis installed to try to repel the pukekos while the seedlings are small. The beans are finally starting to climb and the marigolds are outstandingly beautiful. It’s been a while since we had so many marigolds in the garden.

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Our beans are finally climbing up their support. We had to plant the seeds three times before we had any success so we’re hoping we will still manage to get some beans to eat before it gets too cold. The last cucumber plant, which is growing in the orchard, is a different variety with a prickly skin. It seems to be enjoying its vertical support and producing well.

The citrus trees in the orchard have so much fruit on them that their leaves are all yellowing. We’ve given them some citrus food and hope that will help with the yellow leaves but we’re still worried that the branches might break due to all of the weight even though we’re looking forward to a bountiful harvest!

Woodside Garden volunteers on air…


Two of our regular volunteers, Selina and Karyn, are now on the airwaves with their radio show Garden Planet on Planet FM. Selina is also a member of Riverpark Action Group and has plenty of experience from her previous radio show “Book Chooks”. The poster below shows Karyn and Selina hard at work at Woodside Community Garden along with Nicole and Maximus.  If you miss the show on Wednesday afternoons, you can still listen to Garden Planet Podcasts. Send them your questions!Garden3

Hooray for the “Humming Gardens” grant!


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We noticed at the end of last year that the support for our water tank had seriously deteriorated so a plan was made to build a new one. However, the costs for the materials were much higher than we expected as we need to make sure that the support is strong enough and well structured for the load. Having already spent $370, a further $$600 approximately is needed in order to purchase all of the necessary items. So, we put in an application for an EcoMatters Humming Gardens grant of $500 and to our delight, it was successsful. This is wonderful news and we are very grateful for this support. We still need to raise further funds and are looking into options but in the meantime our volunteers are covering the costs.

Volunteers Gilles and Mark have already made a great start on building the support (see below) and we will be uploading more photos as things progess…

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Herb of the month – Lamb’s quarters


Lamb’s quarters, also known as pigweed and wild spinach, is an ancient green.  It is an annual wild edible that is a member of the Amaranthaceae family; in the genus Chenopodium.

It was once thought that lamb’s quarters was native to Europe.  However, recent archaeological studies show that the seeds were stored and used by the American Blackfoot Indians during the sixteenth century.  It is a purifying plant and helps to restore healthy nutrients to poor quality soil.  This unique plant tends to spread quickly no matter the soil condition and do tend to crowd out gardens if left unattended.  One lamb’s quarter plant can produce up to 75,000 seeds!

This wild edible can be cooked at any stage of growth and, no surprise, tastes similar to spinach, so makes a great substitute.  Just use as you would use spinach.  The plant is a very nutritious green being second only to dandelion leaves as a source of the vegetable precursor to Vitamin A, beta carotene.   The leaves, shoots, seeds and flowers of Lamb’s quarters can be eaten.

Word of Warning:  Saponins in the seeds are potentially toxic and should not be consumed in excess and the plant does contain some oxalic acid therefore when eating this raw, small quantities are recommended.  Cooking however removes this acid.  Drying lamb’s quarters is one way to add this nutritious plant to your meals throughout the winter or you can blanch and freeze the leaves.

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EcoWest Festival – Sat 30 March 10am-12pm


Take a wander @ Woodside! – EcoMatters

Rhubarb gets a boost


In October last year, we decided to try creating a lasagne garden for our rhubarb as it wasn’t doing well in the plot inside the garden. It seemed to be going quite well in November but the very hot weather over summer has been too much for the plants and has also meant that the materials used to make the bed have not composted down as we expected. Although the bed was being watered by volunteers, the water was basically running off the beds and the rhubarb plants were sitting up on the top of the bed without surrounding soil.

So, Jacqui decided to move some plants into tyres to replace the pumpkin and expired courgette plants and put the others into the large pots donated by her parents as they had successfully grown rhubarb in these pots. The pots were placed into the second of the lasagne gardens and avocado leaves and horse manure was added into each pot before planting the rhubarb. The idea is to keep the pots embedded in the plot to retain moisture and also to make it easier for feeding and watering. Comfrey was planted around the edges of the plot in an attempt to create a border and natural retaining wall. The photo below shows the plants one week after their transfer and they are already looking much better.

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The first of the two lasagne beds will be reconstructed. Initially, a border has been created using a plastic border edging secured with wooden pegs and the plastic clips that come with the edging. The bed now extends to the tyres so that mowing is not required in between. It’s  now much larger so we will need to add additional materials but just as with the second plot, very little has broken down so the rhubarb was unable to grow properly. Wool packing from My Food Bag, has been used as the base for the area directly beside the tyres. We may add newspaper as well to suppress the grass.

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Comfrey leaves and banana palm leaves were added as additional materials and the plot will be built up further with more materials next week. We may plant a green crop into the plot to add nutrition.

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