What you didn’t need to know

Who would have thought? I was fossicking around in online stuff that I never really needed to know about and came cross some gardening tips that I will never get to use.

It doesn’t make them any the less interesting though – and I share them for the benefit of others equally devoid of any passion for growing things.

Fingernails – I don’t like sweaty rubber gardening gloves but don’t black finger nails either. Here’s a solution to both problems. Before serious gardening scrape your fingernails over a cake of soap. Plug those nails – soap comes out easier than soil.

Fresh flowers – add a few drops of vodka and a teaspoon of white sugar to the flowers to keep the blooms blooming. Then pour yourself one too. It might assist the appreciation of the flowers.

Slugs and snails – if beer is your poison put out a small bowl and invite the slugs and snails. They enjoy a drop but it has a terminal effect on them.

Seeding trays – save your take-out coffee holder and four toilet rolls for the complete biodegrable seedling tray. Also ideal for anally retentive Virgos, who even like to keep their seedlings nice and tidy.

Minefield – no limbs will be lost but it will deter animal intruders apparently. Take a fist full of plastic forks and plant them strategically, handle first, around your small plants. Animals seem to find the prongs intimidating.

Identification – a use for the leftover plastic forks. Write lettuce, tomato, cabbage, whatever on the handle of the fork and thrust it into the ground prongs first beside the appropriate plant.

Nappy nurture – sounds weird but a disposable nappy laid on the bottom of a pot, absorbent side up of course, will keep potting mix or soil moist for days. Unused diapers perhaps?

And a two litre Toyota drying rack – lay a sheet of newspaper on an oven tray and then lay out whatever herb you are drying in a single layer. Stick it in the trunk. Roll the windows up, close the doors and let the herbs dry out. As long as you don’t mind your car reeking of sage or basil or chicory, dill or cilantro then all good. Or you abandon this idea and go straight to aisle five at the supermarket.

Thousands of uses for orange peel – well, just one. Hull out a lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange half, sprinkle in some potting mix or soil and a seedling. When ready the whole shebang can be transplanted into the garden and the fruit will compost. Completely biodegradable and does away with peat moss or little soil pots. The seedlings to cute to boot.

Style killers – do not paint car tyres and create small garden features in the middle. And do not use upturned wine bottles as creative garden borders.

Scallywags with scallions – buy a bunch of spring onions, cut the bottoms off and lay them out to dry. Then you can plant them a few days later and they will sprout. Or to save all the bother, you can spend $2.50 at the supermarket when you need some more.

Another style killer – do not think that a coffee pot terrarium is cute.

Gumboot garden – spray three sets of varying size of gumboots the colour of your choice. Punch three or four holes in the bottom of each gumboot, fill them potting mix and a plant of your choice and attach them to the wall or fence. Eat your heart out Taihape.

Cheap and easy – take a two-litre plastic milk container, punch holes in the top and voila! A cheap, easy and water thrifty watering can.

Babylon in the backyard – use a shower caddy to create your own hanging garden.

Palatable pallets – take an ugly old shipping pallet. Prop it upright with the slats horizontal. Fill each slot with a durable fabric. Stable or attach. Fill the fabric with peat moss and potting mix and you now have a hanging garden. It is a surprisingly good rustic look.

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