Beating the birds to fallen fruit
BEAT BIRDS ANDWASPS TO YOUR FALLEN FRUIT
Ripe apples and pears are dropping from my fruit trees onto the soft mattress of grasses and herbs, and unless I pick them up and bring them inside, they’ll become bird food or dessert for wasps. Some already have, though all is not lost. If I get to them soon enough, I cut off the pecked and chewed bits and stew them up to go on top of my breakfast oatmeal or muesli. If left lying, sugary fruits can attract wasps and they’re no fun to stumble upon or wrap a fruitcollecting hand around unwittingly. Fortunately, there has been no sign at all of wasps in my garden this year, despite the fullness of my fruit harvest. In other years, they have been a disincentive to walking barefoot beneath the fruit trees. The presence of birds, particularly blackbirds and bellbirds, doesn’t force me to keep my shoes on but can make me grumpy if they’ve been helping themselves to too many apples and pears.
Hazelnuts should be harvested quick smart! If you leave them lying on the ground, you might find your crop will be stolen by rodents from under your feet. These small mammals have sharp, chisel-shaped teeth that make short work of hazelnut shells and the wearer of those teeth won’t stop at just one nut. I visited a copse of hazels just recently where the gardeners – who for years have collected sound hazelnuts from beneath trees at their leisure – are tearing their hair out at the sight of hundreds of gnawed nuts on the ground. I expect that when the chestnuts still hanging on the trees nearby, fall, the same gnawing fate will befall them. The best action to take to beat the rats, will be to shake the un-nibbled nuts from the tree, knock them off with a stick if they won’t dislodge, and collect them straight away. Left to lie on the ground overnight, these nuts will be nothing but hollow shells come morning!
MAKE THE MOST OF FLOWERS BEFORE THEY DISAPPEAR
Winter’s not so very far away and if you don’t have any hellebores or other sorts of winter flowers due to blossom over the cold months, appreciate those that are appearing now before they shut up shop as the rough weather arrives.
At the moment, evening primroses, crocosmia and lacecap hydrangeas are lighting up the green of my garden. I love them all, even though the crocosmia is looked upon as a pest by many gardeners; the flowers of this roadside corm still look, to my eye, elegant and attractive. Hydrangeas too, attract derision from some quarters, but I’m a fan, especially of the lacecaps, with their alternative flowerhead form. Don’t let the season of any autumn flower pass without spending time appreciating their colours and shapes. Come winter, you might regret it.
PLAY WITH YOUR FOOD
There are many vegetables suitable for crafting into creatures readily available to home gardeners at this time of year. Providing you have no objection to playing with your food, loads of fun can be had in the construction of people, animals, dinosaurs or whatever takes your fancy when you are holding that courgette or carrot. A sharp knife, a careful hand and a little imagination and you can make a vegetable being that might be half as good as the one any child you invite to try along with you, will create. Children love making vege characters so give them a chance to express themselves vegetatively. If their creation flops, you and they can always turn them into soup.
CAMP OUT IN THE GARDEN
Before it gets too cold, offer the chance to your sons and daughters (or their offspring) to spend a night outdoors in your garden. Pitch a tent in a safe spot and invite the young ones to sleep over and enjoy an adventure amongst your trees and shrubs. I’ve put up a small canvas tent under the beech trees and on top of a patch of comfortable spongy This column is adapted from the weekly e-zine, get growing, from New Zealand Gardener magazine. For gardening advice delivered to your inbox every Friday, sign up for Get Growing at: getgrowing.co.nz soil, and am encouraging my boy’s boys to spend a night or two outside. There’s a chance they’ll hear a morepork and perhaps see a glow-worm glow. Adventures await the camper: camp fires, torches, midnight snacks, talking into the wee hours, weeing into the mosses; all the things boys like to do but can’t when they’re in the house.