Here's the place to discuss how to grow fruit and vegetables, including how to improve the soil and the requirements of particular plants.

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Growing Sunflowers

The Kings Seeds blog this week has tips on growing sunflowers, including how to prepare the seeds for eating. 

Sunflower seeds are high in fibre and a good source of protein, vitamin Eand vitamin B5

(Photo courtesy

Where to get… TOOLS


1. Before you go buying something, can you RECYCLE something?  eg containers such as plastic milk bottles cut down to make a useful potting mix/compost scoop.


2. SECOND HAND garden tools are much cheaper and often better quality that some of the cheap tools that you can buy new.  WIC members’ favourite places for second hand bargains are:

  • Russell Recycling (sometimes called the Dump Shop) at the Waste Transfer Station, Lincoln St, Frankton, Hamilton
  • Opportunity shops (opp shops) – run by charities to raise funds, eg Red Cross, Salvation Army, Hospice…
  • Garage Sales – usually held at the weekend, people sell from their home.  Garage sales are often advertised in the local newspaper as well as from the street. 

Second hand tools can cost as little as $2, one WIC member got a lawnmower for just $20 from the dump shop! 


3. You can BUY NEW garden tools from:

  • Garden Centres
  • Hardware stores such as Bunnings, Mitre 10, Farmlands, etc
  • The Warehouse
  • Dave’s Emporium, Hood St, Hamilton City – good for replacement handles, etc

If you are buying new tools aim to spend at least $15 for a small hand tool, and $30 for larger tools: cheap tools tend to be poor quality and break/bend easily.  

If you are looking for traditional tools and can’t find them at any of these places, try some of the Asian trading shops. 


4. There are also some NZ INTERNET TOOL RETAILERS:


5. You can BORROW garden tools from:

  • The Western Community Centre Tool Bank: 46 Hyde Ave, Nawton, Hamilton. Everyone welcome!   Has spades, shovels and hoes.  You can borrow for a $10 deposit (refundable when you return the tool) + a gold coin.   Ph 847 4873.
  • The Enderley Community Centre Tool Library: 66 Tennyson Rd, Enderley, Hamilton. Open to residents on the eastern side of Hamilton.  Has lawn mowers, spades, shovels, garden forks, a wheelbarrow and a wood-chipper (a machine used to turn branches into mulch).  They are planning to get weed eaters in the future.  There is a $10 registration fee and a $5 hire fee for the lawnmower.  Open Tuesday - Fridays, sometimes closed during wet weather. Register and pickup between 9 am-11 am, return tools between 4-5 pm.  Ph 8557520 for more information: ask for Mere or Debbie or Harata. 


6. You can RENT garden tools:

If you are looking for specialised, expensive tools that you will use only once or twice, you could rent the tool through a commercial hire company, listed under Hire-Building and Handyman Equipment in the Yellow Pages (a telephone book arranged by business type).


7. You can pool your resources and BUY AS A GROUP.  Some groups or extended families buy tools together, particularly the expensive ones that you don’t use so often, sharing both the cost and the use.


Help with maintaining and repairing tools…

1. You can ask for advice at your local community garden.


2. HAMILTON COMMUNITY MEN’S SHED:  Use the workshop equipment to maintain your garden tools, do woodworking, etc.  They have experienced members (including our Community Garden Mentor Tim) who can give you advice and teach you how to use the equipment.  There is a membership fee of about $15 for 6 months.  The shed is open Wednesdays at 10am and 7pm and Saturdays at 10am, for 2 hour sessions.  

Where:  alongside the ArtMakers Community Arts Trust, corner of Seddon Road and Ward Street (at the bottom of Tainui Street), Central Hamilton. The public parking entrance is opposite Marama Street along Seddon Road.

For more information email   

Note: The Men's Shed is an international group, so even if you don't live in Hamilton, there may be one in your area.

Back Yard Garden in Hamiton - growing now

Peni (Fiji) has been harvesting his spinach and herbs: his herb garden has chives (you can eat the pink flowers too), sage, thyme and marjoram.  His strawberries are flowering and his brassicas (cabbages etc) are growing well.  You can also see his silverbeet, red chard and nasturtiums (a trailing vine with edible flowers, leaves and seeds). 

Thank you for sharing your photos, Peni!  Your garden looks like a beautiful place to spend time. 

How to grow kumara (sweet potato)

Beatriz (from the Wintec Horticulture school) kindly put together a handout on growing kumara for our workshop last Saturday.  You can download a copy below.




We gave out some strawberry plants a few months ago that had been donated. 

Sofia sent me this photo of one her family had planted and tells me that, "the kids check it every morning since they don't want to miss the time when the fruit turns red. No wonder they're so excited, it's their first strawberry plants."  They have learned that they need to cover them.

She said that NZ strawberries are bigger and sweeter than the ones they had in Indonesia.

My address is 33 Hibiscus avenue   mobile 027 4961212





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