Thursday, 24 September 2015

IN good Company


Bringing back our native birds

Working away behind the scenes, there has been an invisible "Garden Gnome Guardian" who has given our Westport North Garden Gnomes a lot of support over these last years. Little packets of seeds and cuttings would be sent through the post, all the way from the North Island to be shared with our Garden Warriors.
Our "Garden Gnome Guardian" is actually none other than our own Head Garden Gnomes Inspirational Mum, who has just been nominated as 1 of 5 finalists in the:
 2015 Gardenia NZ Gardener of the Year Awards!
We would really love you to have a look at what our "Garden Gnome Guardian" has achieved in 10 years, to bring back bird life to the Harbour peninsula where she lives. Please show your support and vote, so that this inspirational group of volunteers have a chance of winning some wonderful tools to put to use on their project.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Waitangi Day Potatoes


HOT potato, hot potato!

This week we have sunshine forecast for the entire week!
So it was time to get back into our school garden and plant out potatoes to have ready for Christmas.
Our Head Garden Gnome rushed out the door so eager to get out into the sunshine and garden... that she forgot her camera so this is us with our Waitangi Day harvest of potatoes in February earlier this year...

Just before term ended last year, with the help of our Whanau Group, we planted up all the potatoes that had gone to seed in the bottom of our Head Garden Gnomes potato bin!
We hoped to have potatoes ready for harvesting for the Waitangi Day Hangi!

First we needed to clear the rainbow silver beet that had gone to seed...

 WE were surprised to find a lot of birds nests in the silver beet, it seems that after the BIG Easter storm that demolished over 50% of our mature trees...that the birds were really struggling to find any where suitable to nest.
Looks like we REALLY Need to plant some more trees for our birds!
 We all got down to work sorting out seed potatoes to plant out...
 WE were very careful to bury the potatoes as deep as possible...
 ...and space them nice and evenly!
 Then in the New Year we were all delighted to find our potatoes ready to harvest!
 Much fun and delight was had digging for these "golden nuggets" !
 There were even a few beans to be found growing up our sweet corn...yum, yum, they didn't last long!
 Time to wash our massive harvest!
...then sort into 3 different sizes ready for cooking in the Whanau Group's Waitangi Day Hangi!
This was only half of our harvest, we dug the remainder to sell at our Twilight Gala at the end of March.
A very successful and Harvest that managed to earn the Whanau Group funds to put toward Kapa Haka costumes.
Once again, nice work Garden Warriors!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Sunshine, rhubarb, parsley and worm farms...

 It has been a VERY wet few weeks here on the coast but today the sun made up for her absence and really turned it on for our Garden Warriors...
 Always looking for something tasty to take home and share with their whanau our Garden Warriors made light work of harvesting rhubarb and parsley...
 Leafy tops were trimmed off for the compost with rhubarb stems clasped in eager hands destined for home with much talk of rhubarb and apple crumble and stewed rhubarb on weet-bix...
 Just as much parsley was being consumed in the garden today as was heading home protruding from school bags ...destined to enhance scrambled eggs, mashed potato and pesto...
 After being completely stripped bare of every single leaf in last years HGUE Easter storm, our Tamarillo tree came back with a vengeance this season with a very heavy crop that has proved most popular with our Garden Warriors...
 This modest Tamarillo has feed 3 different lunch time garden sessions but is now completely bare of all vibrant magenta fruit! The last of the treasured fruit exiting the garden today to be taken home and proudly displayed and eaten with whanau.
 Two matching new entrants enchanted by our worm farms!
 It was time to refresh our worm farms and set up some new trays for the worms to migrate into... it was literally worm spaghetti in one of our trays...
 ...great work everyone on collecting worm food in your classes. Our worms are thriving!
It was nice to be reacquainted with you today sunshine...there were certainly Garden Warriors out in force at lunch time enjoying our garden space!
See you again next week!

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Tasting Tuesday

Autumn has arrived on the coast...if it weren't for tamarillos and fejoas, you wouldn't really notice the change of season as our climate is pretty mild and we are surrounded by beautiful native evergreen forrest!
 It was time to shake the tree and see what was ready...these glowing orbs have been the focus of much attention these last few weeks and patience was wearing it was time to harvest a few!
 There was another special tree in our garden that was hung this time with beautiful green ornaments on a Christmas tree...
 Tasty treats ready for the chop!
just how HUGE are our fejoas!
 What do you think Mr Fantail?
 Tasting time...
 Well that didn't last very long!
 Our Tamarillos proved VERY popular and we had to reload with a 2nd lot!
So popular were our Tamarillos that everyone requested one to take home for their parents to try...

Monday, 8 September 2014

See a Need...Fill a Need!

A major plumbing disaster last term required our main entrance garden to be sacrificed in order to access drainage pipes. Now that spring was upon us it was time to plant it up into something more welcoming...

Luckily we had an enthusiastic team of 6, Year eights who had been itching to tidy up our front gardens since Term 1. We also had our fantastic Tui products from our award winning School Challenge prize...and all the native seedlings we had planted up late last year with Natasha from DOC...sourced from the front Gardens!
We were also fortunate enough to have just picked up 6 more native shrubs courtesy of the National "Paper 4 Trees" initiative, we also had the 6 scleranthus ground covers we qualified for last year on hand.
A HUGE thank you to Holcim who have kindly sponsored the "paper 4 Trees" in the Buller region.
We're not just a coal town, we also have very pure limestone deposits that Holcim make into cement for use around our great country.
Every year we look forward to exchanging our waste paper for trees
 So it was with much enthusiasm that our team of 6 got stuck into preparing and planting up our main entrance...
Once the soil had been enriched with a trailer load of compost, it was time to lay out our native plant selection:
Magenta tea trees & Lancewoods for the back row
Assorted flaxes in magenta and soft green for the middle ground
Ringaringa lilies toward the front
Mounding ground cover in the form of scleranthus for a nice velvety tactile front row (these are going to receive a lot of friendly exploratory  pats from our students)
Much was learnt about composition, grouping our selection in 3's, and tallest to the back and shortest to the front!

Holes were dug, prepared with our great Tui products, planted and  watered well.
I wonder how many holes were dug in total?
Starting to look really good team...

Time for some weed matting and the application of you like our cunning method of protecting the plants while we barrowed the mulch?
Thanks to the major regional storm at Easter we have an abundant supply of mulch on site here at school and quite a bit more natural light coming in along our Northern boundary.All the beautiful phohutukawa we lost have just moved form the back field to the front garden in a different form!
A final tidy up of our work site and it was time to revel...

...all our great work to our class mates and School Principal.

Looking stunning Team...
...nice use of the school colours in your plantings...
 ...a bit of active growth over the summer and this garden will be really flying the magenta North School flag, to welcome all into our great school!
 Great work Team, its amazing what 6 students can achieve in just 2 and a half hours!
Well Done!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Pottering around with DOC

 Just before School finished for the year we were very fortunate to have the lovely Natasha our Local DOC (Department of Conservation) Community Ranger spend the afternoon with us in our school gardens.
 Our Garden Warrior mission was to rescue all the self sown native seedlings in our front gardens, and learn about identifying our native trees in the process...
 Books were consulted for confirmation and advice on growing habitats...
 Pesky wilding Cherry trees were given the heave ho!
Our beautiful Kereru Native Pigeons absolutely adore the berries and new shoots in the spring...thus in the process spreading their favourite spring time food source all around our district!
 We all became rather expert at spotting native seedlings, and were amazed at how many different species had decided to sprout in our gardens...
 Seed sizes, shapes, textures and methods of dispersal were discussed, and seeds were collected for growing!
Remember the easy rule: sow your seeds no more than twice the depth of the size of the seeds (i.e. tiny poppy seeds stay on the surface, bean seeds need to be pushed in to the seed raising mix at least their length in depth!
Our seedling foraging complete, it was back to the garden area with our bucket loads of treasure for potting up to grow on!

 Our Tui products, part of our prize package for winning the National Tui School Garden Challenge were put to good use. Natasha showed us the very important tip of drowning our collected seedlings in a buckets of water while they awaited their turn to be potted...keeping those roots saturated and out of the sun and wind is critical to the seedlings on going survival!
 Re-cycled pots form our Garden Gnomes own home gardening efforts were pretty much completely used up...
 Everything got a good soaking as we were going against the grain potting up with the onset of summer ahead of us, we had to keep our potted efforts watered twice a week over the summer break...
 Now that we had potted up over 60 individual seedlings...we needed somewhere out of the heat of summer sun for them to reside...
A HUGE effort Garden Warriors!
THANK YOU Natasha for spending a VERY informative afternoon with us, we all learnt a lot. Some of the native seedlings we found included:
Assorted small flax
Ringaringa lilies
Totara trees
Rimu or Kahikatea trees
Cabbage trees
As it turns out we really needed these seedlings after the Easter storm, and we plan to collect and pot up another batch this month for on growing...