Keeping apples from predators
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.