Putting old lin­gerie to a good use

North Taranaki Midweek - - GARDENING - LYNDA HALLINAN

STAKE & SUP­PORT WEIGHTY CROPS

Ladies

(es­pe­cially those of us with big­ger busts): don’t biff out your old lin­gerie.

We all know that lad­dered panty­hose and thread­bare tights can be re­pur­posed as flex­i­ble tree or tomato ties, but worn-out bras can come in handy too if you’re grow­ing mel­ons and gourds over a climb­ing frame. I’ve chuck­led at the pho­tos I’ve seen this week on­line of pairs of plump rock mel­ons sup­ported in lacy bras. Per­son­ally, I’m hop­ing my wa­ter­mel­ons grow MUCH big­ger than my bra size, so I’ve tucked the swelling fruit into lit­tle ham­mocks of vin­tage fab­ric (you might no­tice I’ve colour­co­or­di­nated them to match my newly blue-painted beds).

There’s noth­ing quite as heart­break­ing as los­ing weighty – and al­most ripe – crops to sum­mer storm dam­age, so this is a good re­minder to add ex­tra stakes to fruit-laden tomato plants, egg­plants and cap­sicums. If you have blocks of corn on the go, adding sturdy cor­ner stakes and cir­cling them with twine doesn’t go amiss ei­ther.

GAR­DEN ART? GROW YOUR OWN GIGGLES

NZ Gar­dener’s most pop­u­lar Face­book post of all time had noth­ing to do with sow­ing veges or plant­ing flow­ers... and ev­ery­thing to do with rais­ing a smile. More than 900 gar­den­ers ‘‘liked’’ this photo (above) of Star Wars gar­den gnomes.

Gnomes, tyre swans, toi­let bowls planted with suc­cu­lents: who says gar­den de­sign fea­tures have to be se­ri­ous? It’s good fun to be a bit silly.

I’m not a Star Wars fan but my most re­cent gar­den art pur­chase hap­pens to be a glazed green Loch Ness mon­ster (above right) for my pond. When I saw this ce­ramic crit­ter for sale at the Aeroview Gar­den Cen­tre in Thames, I knew it was just what my pond needed. (They come in two sizes, in green or cop­pery red, and are also avail­able at Mitre 10.)

In the round­about at the end of our drive­way, we in­stalled a huge rusty wa­ter bowl and, when I last opened my gar­den to the pub­lic, ev­ery­one stopped to peer into it... which was un­for­tu­nate, as there wasn’t any­thing to see apart from stag­nant wa­ter.

But now it’s got a quirky crea­ture (and some pa­pyrus grasses). ‘‘Ha,’’ said my hus­band, which I took as a sign of ap­proval.

SOW CARROTS FOR AUTUMN AND

WIN­TER

Carrots are one of the best-value veges to sow. Two sow­ings – one in early spring and an­other in late sum­mer – en­sures a sup­ply of carrots year-round, as they store well in the soil for sev­eral months with­out any no­tice­able drop in flavour or crunch.

Al­ways sow carrots di­rect, in soil that has been well worked over to re­move lumps, sticks and stones.

Don’t go over­board with ma­nure or com­post as overly rich soil causes fork­ing. Take your time sow­ing, spac­ing carrots seeds a few cen­time­tres apart, to save time thin­ning later on.

WANT TO SAVE SUNFLOWER SEEDS?

Act now or birds will filch the lot. Wait un­til the ring of golden petals around the out­side of the flower have faded and the heads are start­ing to hang, then cover with a pil­low­case or hes­sian sack, tied at the top of the stem. Leave the head on the plant un­til the seed shells have dark­ened, then cut and hang in­doors to com­plete the ma­tur­ing process. When fully dry, the seeds can be eas­ily dis­lodged for roast­ing. Sadly, hulling isn’t quite as easy!

GET GROW­ING

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

HARVEST MAIN CROP SPUDS AS THEY DIE DOWN

Main crop­pers such as ‘Agria’ and ‘Red Ras­cal’ (pic­tured) are ready to dig af­ter the plants have flow­ered and died right down – this takes about 120 days. It’s im­por­tant not to rush the process if you are grow­ing spuds for win­ter stor­age, as once the plants die down, the skins on the tu­bers har­den and cure, which means they keep for longer. If you are dig­ging to eat straight away, how­ever, you can sim­ply harvest on de­mand.

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