1. CATS SCAT! Tired of finding feline calling cards in your garden? Here are four simple solutions. Make a repellent by combining two parts cayenne pepper, three parts dry mustard and five parts flour.
Simply mix together and sprinkle. Cats don’t like tea leaves, so empty your used ones onto the garden soil. Try using a sprinkler activated by a motion sensor. Getting doused once or twice will deter any cat. To keep them oﬀ your pots, use 150mm-long wires made from old coat hangers. Insert half the length into the soil around the perimeter of the pot as a barrier.
2. SOAK CLEVER
It’s a great idea to water your garden thoroughly before you put your mulch down. This wets the soil and the mulch keeps the moisture in. The best mulches are those with a variety of large and small particles as they let oxygen and moisture penetrate through to the plants’ roots. Even-sized mulches tend to compact more easily and prevent oxygen and moisture from penetrating soil.
3. ROUGH’N’READY TRELLIS
Make a rustic trellis from stems or canes of a variety of plants. Bamboo is the most obvious but poplar and willow are also eﬀective, as are small-diameter branches dropped from eucalyptus trees.
Support the frame at intervals with star pickets if necessary. For a rectangular trellis, vertical branches can be interwoven with horizontal stems, especially if they are flexible like willow or poplar. Tripods of natural materials also look eﬀective, will last a season and hold up either vegies or flowers that need support.
4. HANDY TO KNOW!
The average adult handspan from pinky fingertip to thumb tip is around 20cm across.
When your fingers are held straight and not stretched out, the width of your hand from little finger knuckle to thumb knuckle is about 10cm across. These measurements can be very handy to remember when you’re planting out seedlings.
5. FRAGRANT SKEWERS
If you have a large rosemary bush with plenty of hard woody stems that need cutting back, don’t throw away the prunings.
Strip oﬀ most of the leaves, leaving a few here and there for flavor, and keep the loose leaves to use in cooking. Then sharpen one end of each hard stem to turn it into a pungent meat skewer for barbecuing.
Tip: make holes in your meat pieces first to make them easy to slip on to the skewers.
6. MAKE A LOOFAH SHOWER SPONGE
Loofah, or luﬀa, is a climbing vegetable from the cucumber family, popular in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. If consuming, it
should be eaten young, but if you leave it on the vine you can create a loofah shower sponge, perfect for skin polishing and exfoliating.
When the luﬀa fruit has turned a dark shade of yellow or brown and become lightweight and dry, it’s ready for harvesting and sponge making. Carefully peel away all the skin and shake the seeds out, banging on the floor if necessary.
Apply water pressure from a hose to remove the sap; this will further remove remaining seeds. Squeeze out excess water and allow to dry in the sun, rotating as needed. The sun-drying will lighten the luﬀa into a creamy color; the longer you leave it in the sun, the coarser its texture will become. What a great way to clean yourself after a hard day’s graft in the garden.
7. BRANCH STACKING
A rustic, one-of-a-kind hat-stand can be easily made out of a found or lopped tree branch that has been stripped and cleaned of debris. Choose one that will stand relatively straight and has some smaller branches going oﬀ it for hanging hats and bags on. Get your DIY person to make a nice timber base from wood off-cuts that’s deep enough for the branch to be set in.
8. GREEN AS MUSTARD
Mustard is a great crop to grow as green manure. When you dig it in to the soil, the mustard decomposes and releases “mustard gas”, which kills and controls root-knot nematodes in the soil. There are many diﬀerent nematodes and some can be beneficial but the root-knot nematode can be problematic, causing nodules on roots and poor plant growth. Make sure the garden bed is kept moist to get the best results as the mustard decomposes. Of course, it’s important to follow up with all the other good gardening practices, such as crop rotation and building up a rich soil with organic composts, manures and mulches.
9. SHADE YOUR PUMPKINS
Here are some your pumpkins from very hot ways to protect sun and early frost. When developing, on very hot days their skin can burn just like human skin if the leaves of the plant don’t cover the fruit. Use shade-cloth (or any material will do) to cover them. Similarly, when your pumpkins are ripening in late autumn, make sure they’re covered if there’s risk of an early frost. In both cases, the damaged skin can deteriorate, become mouldy and rot. Damaged pumpkins will not store into the winter.
10. BREAK IT DOWN
Is your compost taking too long to break down?
The versatile herb comfrey is a great activator. Simply applying the leaves of this nitrogen-rich plant to your compost litter will speed up the decomposition of the less degradable elements. Comfrey can also be used as a great general purpose liquid fertilizer. To create your own organic nutrient-rich fertilizer, soak comfrey leaves in a bucket of water for 2–4 weeks, leaving it until it turns black. Strain the leaves out and dilute with water to create a potent plant food.