Wake up and smell the cof­fee

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Tino Carnevale

IN MY stu­dent days when, to be quite frank, I was dirt poor, I was al­ways on the look­out for ways of gar­den­ing that were not just cheap but free.

I used to re­ally en­joy re­search­ing old gar­den lore and I trea­sure the in­for­ma­tion I learnt through that part of my study.

One thing in par­tic­u­lar it taught me was that there are many things in and around the house that are fa­mous for one job but can be used in the gar­den for many oth­ers.

Legumes are a win- win for the gar­den, as their roots have a rather pro­duc­tive re­la­tion­ship with fungi called rhi­zo­bium which al­lows them to ex­tract ni­tro­gen from the at­mos­phere and store it in nod­ules on their roots.

By get­ting your hands on a cheap bag of beans or peas and plant­ing out your bed you can get not only get a tasty crop but also by dig­ging the plants back into the soil you get free fer­tiliser.

Egg shells are cal­cium car­bon­ate which is what is sold at the nurs­ery as gar­den lime, so by crush­ing and lib­er­ally throw­ing them around the gar­den rather than in the bin you are adding cal­cium to the soil as well as rais­ing the soil’s pH.

Now for those of you who are cof­fee lovers like my­self and wake up in the morn­ing re­sem­bling an ex­tra out of some zom­bie apoca­lypse movie un­til you can get the morn­ing’s ra­tion cook­ing on the stove­top, there is a fur­ther use of the seem­ingly end­less piles of black grit you pro­duce. Cof­fee grounds acid­ify the soil, they are toxic to the gar­den’s gas­tro­pod pop­u­la­tion such as slugs and snails and they also con­tain a small amount of ni­tro­gen which makes them a great ad­di­tion to com­post bins to speed up the job.

There is also the added benefi t of mak­ing parts of your gar­den have the same aroma as your lo­cal cafe.

Those of you who suf­fer from sore joints whether through work, the play­ing of con­tact sports or age will prob­a­bly have a box of Ep­som salts in the bath­room cup­board.

An­other name for Ep­som salts is mag­ne­sium sul­phate and a small amount added to a wa­ter­ing can will help to cor­rect mag­ne­sium defi cien­cies in plants.

An old gar­dener once es­poused the virtues of milk as be­ing a great fungi­cide.

Af­ter some tests and a fair amount of re­search I found he was, in part, cor­rect.

It will not con­trol an ex­ist­ing fun­gal in­fes­ta­tion but it has great value in pre­vent­ing it from spread­ing.

When sprayed on un­af­fected plants that are in close prox­im­ity to the out­break, the fatty acids in the milk can help pre­vent the spread of the fun­gus.

Salt and vine­gar on chips is a match made in heaven but it is also a po­tent her­bi­cide when di­luted in wa­ter and put in a sprayer.

Small amounts of vine­gar will lower the soil pH and help to de­ter ants, plus it makes a great cleaner of tools such as se­ca­teurs.

Some plants, such as as­para­gus, will love it if you throw a small amount of salt at them.

Watch out though, too much will make the

Salt and vine­gar on chips is a match made in heaven but it is also a po­tent her­bi­cide when

di­luted in wa­ter

soil toxic for plant growth, just ask the an­cient Me­sopotami­ans.

Bak­ing soda is a mild fungi­cide that can be used to con­trol pow­dery mildew and black spot. Sim­ply mix a tea­spoon in a litre of wa­ter and ap­ply. It can also be used as a sim­ple pH tester, just mix it with moist­ened soil and if you see bub­bling then your soil pH is acidic.

Now, just to clar­ify, I have used all these meth­ods and they have worked well for me but like ev­ery­thing in life, mod­er­a­tion is the key.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.