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Oily Rag - Your Mail

Oily Rag - Your Mail

By Frank and Muriel Newman

The mail bags are full again, and now that its spring attention is turning to the garden.

A reader from Whangarei was bragging to us recently about their new garden. They were giving their garden a much needed makeover and decided to approach it by asking what it was they least liked about gardening. "Bending over" was the answer. The solution was to raise their garden beds up to a height of about 600mm and have a border on the top, big enough to make a comfortable seat. So that's what they did. They now have two beds about 2m by 1m. They filled the beds up with soil from their existing garden, which had become a bit lifeless, added a load of seaweed (free!) and horse manure, then a mixture of soil and compost as a top layer. They have already planted a whole range of vegetables and looking forward to easy care gardening. And, they have become so enthusiastic about their garden that they are about to add a mini greenhouse on stilts, using an old door frame with a full panel of glass!

Possum from "Up North" has this tip. "Here's an old trick I use to keep 'possums away from my fruit trees. I fill up a small stocking with dog hair and hang it from the tree. The 'possums smell the dog and keep well clear. A more permanent and better solution is to trap them, but this will at least keep them away if you don't have a trap."

Still on the matter of pesky critters, Sam has a tip to stop the neighbour's cat from ‘using’ your garden (funny how they prefer to use someone else's garden!). "Use the rinds of oranges or lemons - cut into chunks or strips and scatter around the garden. It won't harm the pesky cat but they really don't like the smell. Adds a bit of colour and breaks down into compost after a while."

"M" from Masterton has a productive use for banana skins. "I use banana skins (and bulk overripe cheap bananas) to fertilise and mulch roses."

Vicki from Waihi has this bathroom tip. "When I have used about a third of my bottles of shampoo and conditioner, I top them up with water, shaking to mix them well. You will notice very little difference in the consistency of the liquid, and it lasts heaps longer! I have been doing this for more than thirty years now. And it works for a lot of other liquids too."

After thirty years that would amount to a lot of shampoo and conditioner, and significant savings. Add to that all of the other ways to save money, and it's not surprising penny pinchers are a happy bunch!

Joy from Cambridge has this great idea about curtains. "My thermal drapes are past their best and no longer keep the warmth from escaping through the windows in winter. Before winter started this year I purchased enough shower curtains of a similar colour to the backing on the thermal drapes. They have no pattern on them and are the size used for a shower over a bath. They have worked really well - the difference in warmth when the curtains are pulled back is telling. I bought mine at Kmart - they were a lot cheaper than the Warehouse." There you go, that's a great tip to keep in mind for next winter.

Mavis from sunny Papamoa has this pantry tip. "If your powdered stock goes hard in the cupboard try storing it in the fridge - I found that fixes the problem."

Graeme as a bathroom question. "I have false teeth and am looking for an alternative to paying $7 at the supermarket for denture cleaning tablets." If you can help Graeme, please contact us and we will pass on your tips.


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