by Charmin Dahl

Wainuioru School & Community Nursery hosted a workshop on the 25th of July. The Wairarapa Pūkaha to Kawakawa Alliance invited regional expert Harvey Phillips to provide a training session on pricking out and give a demonstration of his seed preparation techniques. Attendees included Nursery volunteers and others (such as members of Pae tū Mōkai o Tauira, Kohunui Marae Nursery, and the Alliance Forum) who have expressed interest in the Alliance’s workstream to connect people interested in native plant propagation and planting.

The sunny weather showcased the beautiful Wainuioru School & Community Nursery. They provided seed trays of Kōwhai and Flax for pricking out to root trainers. After a demonstration, participants were able to try it out for themselves.

In general, Harvey recommended the following:

  • Pre-wash root trainers to eliminate harmful bacteria or fungus.
  • Fill the pots fully before planting (smacking the rack of pots on the ground or table, in our case, helps settle the soil).
  • Use a simple tool to lift a seedling out from under the soil (holding by the leaves, not the stem), then use the same tool to make a hole for planting in the new pot. He also suggested making a tool with dowels to make multiple holes at once.
  • After planting, seedlings should be kept free from wind and frost (using covers if necessary) and lightly watered until they are standing upright.

For the seed preparation demonstration, Harvey highlighted various contraptions that he uses to separate seeds from other plant material. One such tool was made from an electric drill, using a paint-stirring drill bit. This was put into a bucket along with seed-covered branches. As the drill broke up the plant material, holes in the bucket allowed seeds to fall through. Another tool was generally thought to look like a Plinko Board. The board is attached to a home vacuum cleaner, and is used to suck non-seed material away from seeds as they bounce down the board.

To kick off this workshop, Wainuioru School & Community Nursery provided tea and pastries (with others contributing) and introductions were made. A variety of topics were discussed; including sourcing “native mix” soil and developing a Health & Safety Plan. The Alliance plans to offer more opportunities for those working with native plants in our region to network and share knowledge. If you are interested in planning or participating in these types of events, please contact WaiP2K at

Fun Fact: Harvey uses Jif to remove the sticky coating from seeds of Pittosporums, such as Kōhūhū, but says back in the day, people used petrol!

Plants1 (1) People6

Photos by Charmin Dahl