Feed Me Right
Find us on Facebook
Dee's Place
A place to find Dee's Articles, Information and Opinion.

Dispersing the myths of Methane

Most people have heard of the water cycle, in which water evaporates into the air, returns to Earth, and then evaporates again. Many other substances, including methane, cycle this way too. Methane is the main component of natural gas – a highly explosive fossil fuel – and was first identified in 1776 by Alessandro Volta. In fact, properly labelled, it should be called natural methane gas. When burned, it becomes carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane (CH4), which is composed of carbon and hydrogen, comes from two main sources: biological and geological. Biological methane can be released from decomposition of organic matter (including burping cows), whereas geological sources include natural seeps from fossil fuels and leaks from natural gas and coal mining operations.
While many people only associate negative connotations with methane, it’s important to recognise that it’s a valuable source of energy. As the principal component of natural gas, methane can be captured and harvested as a fuel.. ... Read more

The reality of Fake Meat

Some people choose plant-based diets in the belief that it is better for the environment. The idea that all we need to do is eat more plants and less, or no, meat is overly simplistic. Problems like biodiversity loss, soil erosion, deforestation, chemical run-offs in waterways, to name but a few, are not solved by eating plant-based meats instead of animals.
In Australia, research by the CSIRO tells us that as individuals the biggest thing we can do to improve our dietary environmental footprint is to reduce our food waste, and to eat more whole foods and less ultra-processed food. But the marketers of plant-based meats would have you think otherwise.. ... Read more

Seeds of success


A group of home-school students, aged 5-11, brought sunflowers they had grown from seed to show off at their first Sunflower Competition.

The group, overseen by Hibiscus Matters’ garden columnist Dee Pignéguy, looks after the community garden behind Whangaparāoa Hall and that’s where the prizegiving was held, on February 26. Prizes were awarded for the biggest, tallest, and smallest sunflower. ... Hibiscus Matters’

Read more of the Dees columns that she writes for Hibiscus Matters

Backyard garden feeds families
The hard work, patience and resourcefulness of a small group of volunteer gardeners have transformed Magda Verkaik’s private backyard in Stanmore Bay into a productive patch of edible plants that benefit several local families.

Gardening – Paying it forward

Perhaps in our busy lives with the proliferation of fast-food outlets we forget the power of food.
I cook and that doesn’t seem like a talent that will change the world. But I grew up in a family where my mother cooked. There were carrots and beetroot to pull from the soil, fresh peas and beans, cucumbers and tomatoes to gather, leeks and potatoes, rambling squashes and trailing courgettes. An orchard provided apples, pears and plums as well as a great place to watch birds stealing the strawberries and foraging insects.
When we were hungry the garden was more important than money in the bank.
I learned to cook standing at the stove mixing, stirring and tasting as well as preparing food and watching people eat. Food – such an easy thing to give. Visitors never went hungry when they came to visit; a cookie tin was always handy with simple Dad’s cookies.
Sharing food was fundamental while I was growing up, feeding people was a great gift – family, friends, and strangers, nobody went hungry. ... Read more

Can We Meet the Challenge

Who amongst us is able to go back in time and see the world as a child again? Can we remember—think back to where you played outdoors, how things looked, how they smelled? The place we made our games, our stories and ourselves. The Earth was your home, your environment, every time you stepped outside you were an explorer discovering that world. You were a scientist in action finding out how this home, this universe worked.
Today I wonder, when your children go outside what do they discover, are there places for them to tune into the magic of life? Have we adults done our job and created an outdoor environment for children that will interest and excite them?
Young children use their senses, each one gives them information about their environment. How does it feel, how does it sound, what does it look like, how does it smell? Are there spaces with tactile surprise for children to discover? Are there fragrantly flowering fruit trees, masses of herbs or scented pelargoniums to provide a wide variety of the spice of life? Are there places for birds and insects to find habitats to provide a chorus of voices to those of the children? Are there fruits or vegetables to pique their taste curiosity?
Beauty and surprise should be everywhere in front of children. The natural world is full of interesting patterns, changing images that all inspire curiosity.
There is no doubt that the natural world offers infinite opportunities for wonder and learning. We have developed environmental education because we believe in the power of nature to teach and inspire.
We are proud of Garden to Table and its role in schools to provide rich opportunities to weave gardening, vegetables and cooking into the lives of children, while increasing the children’s confidence and sense of pride and responsibility.
But walk outside your gate and look around at the parks and vacant spaces. If you were trying to develop in children a love of the outdoors you would find very few. Many of the playgrounds are filled with metal or plastic climbing apparatus surrounded by plastic or wood chips. When will we wake up to the fact that a natural playscape makes creative use of the space? Can we meet the challenge and create beautiful, engaging outdoor environments for children?
Dee's Column for Hibiscus Matters, September 2020

Grass not so green

HAVE YOU EVER WONDERED HOW MANY CHILDREN KNOW THAT PLANTS ARE FASCINATING ORGANISMS WITHOUT WHICH WE WOULDN’T EXIST? TEACHING CHILDREN about the natural plant world should be one of the most important events in their lives, and the earlier you start introducing the plant world to them, the better.
You may not have a forest school, but with a little planning you will be surprised how easy it is to set up a plant discovery table to introduce children to the world of plants, as some kindergarten teachers found out at my recent workshop. ... Read more

Grass not so green

There is an army of beneficial insects—spiders, bumble bees, dragonflies, hoverflies, wasps, ladybirds, praying mantis, beetles, earwigs and honey bees just waiting to help us manage pests, pollinate crops, and recycle waste and debris.
All they need is a home, a safe haven, something to eat and somewhere to live and reproduce. ... Read more

The Discovery Table in Action

An article by Dee Pigneguy
A discovery table ma be the first opportunity that a child has to connect with nature, so there is absolutely no excuse for not aving an exciting discovery table in you centre. Discovery tables are a fun, meaningful way to discover, observe and investigate some of nature's concepts, without an adult and at a child's own pace
.... Read more

Find out more with this recommended reading:
A Little Bit of Dirt
The Kids Outdoor Adventure Book
50 Fantastic ideas for Exploring Nature
Bug Lab for Kids
Outdoor Science Lab for Kids
Nature in a Nutshell for Kids
The Stick Book
Exploring Natures Pattern Magic
Nature's Techno Tricks
Gardening for Planet Earth

Research shows that Children who comprehend patterns in the world around them develop skills to acquire and retain information.

Exploring Nature's Pattern Magic

Many of Dee's workshops show teachers how patterns have the potential to make a major contribution to inspire teachers and increase their variability of teaching strategies.

The Benefits of Legally Hunting Your Food

An article by Joe Thomas
Many people in modern society have never considered the possibility of hunting for their own food. However, with the negative environmental and welfare implications associated with the agricultural industry and with the current high cost of meat, it is becoming more of a viable option.
... Read more

The Power of Pee

There is no waste in nature and all the waste products of living things are used as raw materials by others. In natural ecosystems, soil organisms break down organic matter making nutrients accessible to plants. It is nature's digestive system in action. Organic gardeners recycle crop residues and animal wastes and are surrounded by organi matter free for the gathering – manures, seaweed, grass clippings, nettles, comfrey and urine.
... Read more

Margaret Jones - Soil & Health Pioneer

Margaret Jones is 90 years old and is proud of the fact that nobody is subsidising her health! She may be old but she is living proof that old doesn't mean you lose your faculties. There is no pillbox sitting on her bedside table. "If you believe in organics you can't believe in pharmaceuticals," she says.
... Read more

Magnesium - The 'Life and Death' Mineral

The death in February 2010 of Ms Natasha Harris of Invercargill, just 30 years of age, made headlines when her partner told the news media that she died as a result of her addiction to drinking coke. The Guardian headline 'Coca-Cola habit linked to New Zealander's death', was just one example of the worldwide coverage.
... Read more

Organic Gardening for Beginners

Congratulations, you are about to join the growing revolution of people who are digging up their lawns, sheet mulching, installing raised garden beds, and filling containers with edible plants. Over the centuries the very same planting, growing and harvesting skills you will be learning have been the basis of life..
... Read more

Sally Fallon was on a recent speaking tour in NZ hosted by the Weston A Price Foundation.

Dee interviewed Sally in the May/June issue of OrganicNZ. Check out Sally's Work on The Weston A Price Foundation.

Gardening for Planet Earth - November Newsletter 2011

A timely warning to everyone.
Email from Teacher at Milford Kindergarten, after Dee's visit.
What's Happening in My Garden.
Go ... Project Gro
and more ...
Find out more
Gardening for Planet Earth - October Newsletter 2011

All over the world people are searching for better ways of growing food and sustaining life.
Sheet Mulching at Murray's Bay Intermediate School.
What's Happening in My Garden.
Seeds - Learning from Nature is a Lifelong Education.
and more ...
Find out more

The food pyramid - A model for obesity

Food Pyramid Being overweight is not a disease; it is a symptom that things are wrong with your diet. Did you ever imagine that a young woman could kill herself by drinking coke? Join the growing band of Food Nannies, the parents that care about children's health...
Being overweight is not a disease; it is a symptom that things are wrong with your diet. Is it any wonder that in today's fast food culture when flour in biscuits, tomatoes in tomato sauce, and potatoes in chips contribute to grain, fruit and vegetable servings that many people are becoming aware that the USDA 'food pyramid' is an unsuitable model for promoting health? ... Read more

Great Ideas Grow Better

A green-fingered author and educator is helping people help themselves - and make the planet a better place ... Read more

Backyard Chooks

Chickens have been the flavour of the month for a couple of years now, but North Shore City Council regulations restrict the number of chickens I can keep in my urban garden to six, although once when I had four broody hens arranged in small runs on the back lawn ... Read more

Predator–prey cycles in the home garden

To help your plants survive insect pests, Dee Pigneguy shows the importance of getting to know the predators and prey in your garden, and understanding their life cycles ... Read more

Aitutaki Cyclone

Dee and Mike used to manage Tauono's Organic café, each year (2002-2008) for a month or so when Sonja and Tauono were overseas having a well earned holiday. Tauono died from a stroke while visiting Auckland in December 2009. Sonja and her cat Banff experienced the full force of Cyclone Pat in February 2010 and the following is part of an email she sent to us ... Read more

Snack Attack

Snack Food accounts for one-quarter of children's calories, so pervasive are these non-foods that moves are afoot in the United States, where February is their National Snack Food Month, to have snack food seen as a major food group ... Read more

Feed Me Right Courses

Dee is known for her inspirational edible gardening and "feed me right courses" says Jackie Russel of the Howick and Pakuranga Times ... Read more

Natures Techno Tricks in Action

  • Natures Techno Tricks in Action
  • Natures Techno Tricks in Action
  • Natures Techno Tricks in Action
Our 4 year old children used the information they "read" to learn about wasp nests. They then made their own nest using the shape and 'stamped' the interlocking shapes. They then cut around their nest and displayed their work on the wall.
This all fits with the Early childhood Curriculum Te Whariki Communication & Exploration Goal. Finding information and using it to build their knowledge and understanding of the natural world.

Introducing Arocatus rusticus The Swan Plant Seed Bug

  • Arocatus Rusticus
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon and while examining a swan plant that had reached 2 metres, tiny flashes of red caught my eye.
On closer examination I saw the tightly clustered swan plant seeds were crawling with tiny red insects that I had never seen before. Photographs being the best method of identification, Mike was quickly on hand to photograph the evidence.
After capturing the insects and placing them in a large jar, complete with foliage and seeds, I rang Landcare Research. An email complete with photographs was sent to Leonie Clunie.
Her reply:
"These insects are the immature stage of Arocatus rusticus, an Australian bug. Common name is swan plant seed bug, as that is where it's usually found. Also found on a NZ plant Parsonsia and Tweedia. Hibernates under bark and under old leaves of cabbage trees. These nymphs don't have fully developed wings yet. In adults, grey wings cover the red body and you only see a red flash as they launch into flight."

I will be watching with interest to see if we can photograph the adults when they develop. But if any of you have seen this insect and would like to share some of your photos, just send me an email.

Sonja's Kitchen

  • Sonyas Kitchen
  • Sonyas Kitchen
  • Sonyas Kitchen
  • Sonyas Kitchen
With my expertise in cooking and growing food organically and Mike's ability to repair and fix things we were the perfect couple to manage Tauono's Organic garden Cafe between 2001-2008 on Aitutaki, the quintessential tropical island.

Experimenting with new recipes, gathering food from the plantations, tending the cafe garden and cooking with island food was an absolute delight. Visitors loved the abundant tropical produce and the unique island-based cuisine which offered healthier alternatives to the highly refined and imported processed food. I knew that Aitutaki and Sonja's cuisine needed to be shared with people unable to sit in the garden and savour the food, the flavours, the colours and the warm tropical air.

So I teamed up with Sonja to bring these delicious island flavours to your kitchen. Now, let Sonja's Kitchen inspire you to create many delectable dishes that visitors have enjoyed at Tauono's Organic Garden Cafe on Aitutaki.

Now available.

Click to have a sneak peek
Click to order your copy

Storylines Auckland Family Day - August 2011

  • Insect head
  • Insect head
The Storylines Festival of New Zealand Children's Writers and Illustrators has been a highlight of many families' calendars since 1993.
The festival – particularly the Free Family Days around the country – give children (and adults!) a chance to meet their literary heroes - authors, illustrators, storytellers or book characters.
While visiting Dee at Factopia, and using the masks many children discovered some of nature's clever technology and experienced the world of insect eyes..
If you would like Dee to bring her insect heads to your school to show you just how insects see please contact her.

Fruit Tree Pruning with Rob Velseboer

Why Prune?
We prune to prevent disease, damage and manage size.

Robs Fruit Tree Tips
• Buy Fruit Trees from a reputable source
• You want a 'pickable' height for your section. This may be dwarf root stock.
• Prune for mowing and for air movement in and around the tree.

Learn more about pruning

Stephanie Bowman

Kia ora koutou, Many of you will have met Stephanie Bowman when she was in New Zealand and helped make the wonderful eel tapestry. Velvet is now on the move check out her blog to see when will it be coming to your location.

Stephanie Bowman's Blog

Past Events

Dee was at the New Zealand Book Festival - November 2017, Mt Eden It's an exciting time for the literary world, with the resurgence of independent publishing bringing new voices to the fore, and allowing diversity in the publishing landscape. The NZ Book Festival brings writers and readers together to share their love of literature. Book Fair Poster


What are the new challenges for gardeners with changing weather patterns? Dee spoke at the Snells Beach Garden Circle, Mahurangi East Community Centre, Snells Beach. October 2017.


Magic Patterns in an Edible Garden. On November 2017 the North Shore Branch, Forest & Bird Kiwi Conservation Club visited Dee's new urban garden in Manly. She will show us her secrets to developing an intensively planted organic, edible garden in her urban backyard. Find garden insects; discover how nature keeps pests and predators in balance. Discover Nature's technology, "Biomimicry", and Pattern Magic. We copy many of nature's ideas to solve our problems. www.kcc.org.nz


Dee was at the Nature Education Conference, Whangarei. Her workshop title: "Library of Nature" Letting Nature tell her story. Developing literacy based on the natural environment rather than the digital fantasy world. November 2017. www.natureeducationnetwork.co.nz


On Storylines Family Day, at the Aotea Centre, Auckland, will see Dee and Dietlind of Dede puppets dedelive.com running a puppet making workshop. Puppets are an excellent way of exploring the world and different possibilities. Using Grow Me Well we will encourage the children to build their own puppets from a variety of recycled and surplus materials. The storyline is directed only by the set up of a scenery based on the importance of food in their life. The puppets are for the children to keep and parents can also take images of the children acting out their own storyline. www.storylines.org.nz

Garden to Table

Dees series of workshops for Garden to Table have featured identifying herbs and unusual plants to establish biologically diverse plantings for beneficial insect gardens, pruning and the importance of patterns.
Garden to Table Specialist Meeting, July 2017, Glen Eden Primary School, Auckland
The importance of patterns in the garden. Pattern observation is a tool to understand the maths behind the patterns in the living world. Discover how Matter cycles on our planet, how energy flows through the earth's system and how the Web of Life connects organisms with each other. www.gardentotable.org.nz


Childspace Nurture In Nature workshops have featured Dee's presentations about sustainability, natural environments, gardening, nutrition and patterns in nature. www.childspace.co.nz


For the NZAEE Conference 9-12 February 2016. Dee's Patterns of Life workshop used the visually exciting book 'Exploring Nature's Pattern Magic' to introduce nature's patterns and a whole new vocabulary to help young children talk science. With a collection of natural materials, Dee shared inspired fun and practical hands on ideas for creating an environment that fosters curiosity and engages children. NZAEE NZ Association for Environmental Education. nzaee.org.nz

Lagoon Day, Rarotonga

Lagoon Day Rarotonga - October 2015. Dee was a guest speaker on the local radio Rarotonga. Both Dee and Mike were involved in helping to judge this amazing Cook Islands Science fair.


Croydon West Primary School

While in Melbourne recently, Dee visited the Croydon West Primary School. Ruth Bode, the Sustainable Future's Teacher and her pupils showed Dee around their amazing school garden.