Putting old lingerie to a good use
STAKE & SUPPORTWEIGHTY 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 wornout 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 growMUCH 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 (below) 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 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!
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.