Keep­ing ap­ples from preda­tors

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING - RACHEL OLD­HAM

PRO­TECT FRUIT FROM POSSUMS

Ap­ples are in sea­son, and while you wait for your crop to ripen, you can be sure possums will have their beady eyes on it too! My par­ents have hit upon a sim­ple so­lu­tion to keep their fruit safe by rig­ging up a low elec­tric fence around their trees. So far it’s been 100 per cent suc­cess­ful. To guard two heav­ily-laden trees, my fa­ther used a so­lar-pow­ered, por­ta­ble elec­tric fence unit (bought from PGG Wright­son) and at­tached the elec­tric tape to wooden fence ba­tons with sec­tions of gar­den hose act­ing as in­su­la­tors. When the fruit was still form­ing, the guards around the trunks were enough, but as they grew and the branches got lower to the ground, fur­ther mea­sures were needed. The fence seems to be keep­ing pukeko away as well, even though they could eas­ily fly over the top. My par­ents did the same thing around their peach trees dur­ing the sum­mer and not a sin­gle fruit was lost to the furry men­aces.

MAKE YOUR OWN CLIMB­ING FRAME

Au­tumn is the per­fect time to get stuck into gar­den projects. Cooler tem­per­a­tures and the con­se­quent slow­down of growth usu­ally al­lows

a lit­tle more breath­ing space to get those jobs done that the manic pace of sum­mer har­vest­ing won’t al­low. Sweet peas, run­ner beans, peas, pas­sion­fruit and any­thing else that likes to scram­ble nat­u­rally needs some­thing to cling to, and this DIY climb­ing frame cost next to noth­ing to make. This frame was made from old steel re­in­forc­ing mesh and is held in place by some repurposed 4x2 tim­ber that was once part of an old per­gola. The frame was built to fit per­fectly over one of the smaller raised beds in my mother’s gar­den. The first thing she plans to plant there are sweet peas.

Keep an eye out for any­thing that might be use­ful to turn into a handy climb­ing struc­ture. Old chicken wire, gar­den gates or sec­tions of fenc­ing – even bed heads can be fash­ioned into a use­ful sup­port for climb­ing plants. Or bash in a cou­ple of posts or sturdy stakes at each end of your gar­den and string wire be­tween them for a sim­ple frame that can be eas­ily taken down as re­quired.

BREWLIQUID COMFREY FER­TILISER

It won’t be long be­fore comfrey dies back for the winter (if it hasn’t al­ready) so pick the last of those big leaves and make your own comfrey tea. Fill a bucket, bin or drum with wa­ter and pile in as many leaves as you can. For ex­tra nu­tri­ents, add chopped sea­weed har­vested from the high­t­ide mark, a small amount of farm an­i­mal ma­nure (not pet poo) or any other nu­tri­ent dense ma­te­rial, cover, then leave it to break down for up to six months. Check reg­u­larly, giv­ing it a stir and top up with more wa­ter as re­quired. When ap­ply­ing, di­lute to the colour of weak tea as it can be in­cred­i­bly strong.

SOW POPPIES TO COM­MEM­O­RATE ANZAC DAY

Red soldier poppies (Pa­paver rhoeas), are the clas­sic poppy of re­mem­brance. They can grow up to 1m tall, and their sin­gle, red bowl-shaped flow­ers tra­di­tion­ally pro­vide splashes of colour in early sum­mer. In New Zealand, poppies are sown on or around Anzac Day (April 25), so that they are flow­er­ing by Re­mem­brance Day on Novem­ber 11.

HOW TO SOW POPPIES

Poppies pre­fer a site with welldrained soil and full sun. Sow poppy seeds di­rect over bare soil – you might like to spray first to clear the area of weeds. If you pre­fer, you can also raise the seed in con­tain­ers and trans­plant the seedlings in spring. Feed plants in early spring with a con­trolle­drelease fer­tiliser.

SMALL GAR­DEN? TRY BOKASHI COM­POST­ING

If you only have a small gar­den and not enough ma­te­rial to make reg­u­lar com­post, then Bokashi bucket com­post­ing could be for you. This sys­tem is per­fect for turn­ing food scraps into use­ful liq­uid fer­tiliser and the re­sult­ing fer­mented ma­te­rial can then be dug back into the soil to break down. In as lit­tle as four weeks it will have com­posted away and given those nu­tri­ents to the soil. An ad­van­tage is that you can add items such as citrus, meat, fish and left­over food that couldn’t nor­mally be com­posted or put in worm farms. You can also make your own bins us­ing two plastic 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

paint buck­ets, one placed inside the other with holes punched through the bot­tom of the in­ner bucket. Buy bokashi kits from hard­ware stores and on­line at www.zing­bokashi.co.nz.

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