Home & Garden

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How to prune trees and shrubs

<p>Autumn is a very busy time for anyone wanting to prepare their garden for winter. And according to Julie Willis, horticultural advisor for The Diggers Club, pruning is a plant’s best defence against pests and diseases.</p> <p>Julie says the number one job in autumn is to prune stone fruit after fruiting to avoid the risk of bacterial canker. </p> <p>This is a rotting disease that occurs in branches that have split, rubbed against each other, or crossed over while growing. </p> <p> “Always remove any dead, diseased or crossing branches which may rub and cause a wound that can allow disease to enter the plant,” says Julie.</p> <p><strong>What to prune</strong></p> <p>Fruit trees aren’t the only plants that need a cut during autumn.</p> <p>“Cut old canes of blackberries and other hybrid berries to the ground, then tie in new canes which will produce next season’s fruit,” says Julie. </p> <p>Cut back bottlebrush and other spring-flowering natives by about a third, removing all seedheads.</p> <p>Climbing roses that have finished flowering can also be cut back. Or deadhead roses for autumn blooms.</p> <p>Hedges should be given a trim so the new growth can harden up a little before winter and be ready to burst out in spring.</p> <p>Seasonal pruning makes a garden look good and provides plant protection all year round, Julie says.</p> <p>“Pruning any plant allows air and light to penetrate, promotes the ripening of wood for flower and fruit production, and also helps reduce the incidence of pests and diseases.</p> <p>“With regards to timing for pruning, if in doubt, prune after flowering. If the plant is for fruit or berry production, then prune after harvest.’</p> <p>There is a huge range of pruning equipment on the market, but you should always choose the right type of tool for the job. Look for models with replaceable blades for when you can no longer sharpen the originals.</p> <p><strong>Secateurs</strong></p> <p>Trim back small growth and deadhead flowers to reinvigorate shrubs and flowering plants.</p> <p>Use secateurs on stems and small branches up to 10mm thick. Bypass secateurs are best for fine stems, anvil secateurs for hard woody stems. Look for ergonomic or geared models.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Snips are ideal to use for cutting flowers and lightly trimming soft foliage.</p> <p><strong>Pole pruners</strong></p> <p>High branches in productive trees should be cut back to a level where you can reach the fruit. For other trees, prune to shape. </p> <p>Use a pole pruner, which is like a pair of secateurs on an extendable pole. Power models have a bar cutter at the end and can cut through thick branches with ease.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Pole saws do the same work as powered pole pruners but you provide the grunt.</p> <p><strong>Pruning saws</strong></p> <p>Thick branches growing in the wrong direction or crossing over others need to be removed. Cut them back in stages, making undercuts so the bark doesn’t tear. </p> <p>Use a pruning saw to give you fine control over cuts. Check whether your model cuts on the push or pull stroke, or on both.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Loppers can be used on small branches up to about 35mm. </p> <p><strong>Shears</strong></p> <p>Cut hedges back in autumn to promote tight, green growth that has a chance to harden off before there is frost.</p> <p>Use shears as they let you make very precise cuts for rounded shapes and small hedges. Look for shears with wavy blades and gears to minimise tearing and make the job easier.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Use a powered hedge trimmer to make short work of a long, straight hedge.</p> <p><strong>Pruning basics</strong></p> <p>Most plants have specific pruning needs but there are general guidelines to follow when it comes to making cuts and tool maintenance.</p> <ul> <li>Sharpen cutting tools before pruning to minimise the risk of tearing the bark.</li> <li>Disinfect the tools as you go, particularly between each plant. This stops disease being spread around the garden. Wipe with disinfectant wipes or dip into a bucket of diluted bleach.</li> <li>Make clean cuts and ensure you’re cutting near a node or close to the trunk. Don’t leave stubs on the side of a tree as they make it easy for disease to get in.</li> <li>Cut in stages if you are removing a thick branch. Start on the underside each time then cut from the top to meet the undercut and prevent the bark tearing.</li> <li>Finish a branch removal just above the branch collar, which is the knob the branch grew from.</li> <li>Trim jagged edges with a sharp pruning knife.</li> <li>Seal major cuts with pruning compound, especially if there is borer in your area or the weather is humid. Acrylic paint can also be used, as it eventually washes off but lasts long enough for the tree to form a callus.</li> <li>After pruning check the plant is in good condition. Aerate the soil if needed and water with seaweed tonic.</li> </ul> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Up to a third of a shrub’s branches can be removed each year without affecting its growth.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/how-prune-trees-and-shrubs"><em>Handyman Australia</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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5 extraordinary uses for bananas

<p>We all know bananas are delicious, but did you know they can very useful around the garden?</p> <p>Here are five extraordinary uses for bananas you probably didn't know about. </p> <p><strong>Attract birds</strong></p> <p>Put an overripe banana on a raised platform in the garden, punching a few holes in it to make it accessible to butterflies as well as birds. Remove it at night so you don’t attract possums.</p> <p><strong>Polish leaves</strong></p> <p>Are the leaves on your indoor plants looking dull or dusty? Wipe down each leaf with the inside of a banana peel to remove the surface dust and replace it with a clean, lustrous shine.</p> <p><strong>Deter aphids</strong></p> <p>If aphids attack your roses, bury dried or cut-up banana peels a few centimetres deep around the base of the plant and they’ll soon leave. Don’t use whole peels as possums will dig them up.</p> <p><strong>Feed plants</strong></p> <p>Bananas are rich in potassium, an important garden nutrient. Dry the peels on screens in winter, grind them up in early spring and use as mulch for new plants, or cut into pieces and use as food.</p> <p><strong>Add to compost</strong></p> <p>With their high content of potassium and phosphorus, whole bananas and peels are welcome additions to a compost pile. The fruit breaks down especially fast in hot weather. </p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/5-extraordinary-uses-bananas"><em>Handyman Australia</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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The best colours to live with

<p>Colours more than just beautify our homes, they can affect how we think, behave and feel, says colour psychologist <a href="http://www.karenhaller.co.uk/">Karen Haller</a>.</p> <p>“Whether or not we like a colour can be shaped by the underlying psychological quality, our cultural beliefs and our personal associations with that colour, making the relationship with colour unique for everyone,” says Haller.</p> <p>When it comes to decorating our homes, colour is personal. Haller recommends using our intuition when choosing colours that instinctively feel right.</p> <p>“First look at the purpose and the positive behaviours you want to create in that room. Then choose the colours that you instinctively feel will create these behaviours,” advises Haller.</p> <p><strong>Get the tone right</strong></p> <p>Different tones of the same colour can elicit completely different positive and adverse behaviours and feelings in people.</p> <p>For example, psychologically a lime green can be stimulating and invigorating for some and make others feel irrational. An olive green can feel warm and safe for some and others may feel stagnant and stuck.</p> <p>“There are thousands of variations of the same colours, each with a different feel, so select the variation of a colour that feels right,” she says.</p> <p><strong>Make sure the proportion of colours is right</strong></p> <p>“The proportion of colour used can have an impact on how we react. For example, an all-red dining room can create a ‘wow factor’ in the short term, but be overstimulating and hard to live with in the long term,” warns Haller.</p> <p>To find the right balance of colour, Haller recommends “not using too much of the one colour but using a combination of colour with accents, or bursts of colour. Be mindful that all white spaces can feel cold, sterile and emotionally numbing.”</p> <p>“Think of your whole colour palette in a room to achieve your desired result,” she adds.</p> <p>Consider introducing these colours into the rooms of your house to tap into their positive psychological effects</p> <p><strong>The bedroom: Try soft greens or an injection of red</strong></p> <p>Avoid yellow here since “yellow affects the nervous system and is the colour linked to our emotions.” Instead, try soft greens to promote a restful night’s sleep. If you’re after a sexier, passion-inducing room, consider smatterings of reds, with silks and rugs and sumptuous fabrics.</p> <p>The hallway, sitting room and breakfast area – Try a warm shade of yellow <br />Yellow here can make people feel welcome and full of energy when they arrive or have their breakfast. “It’s like a big ray of sunshine that greets your guests, the colour of happiness,” says Haller.</p> <p><strong>The bathroom: Try a warm turquoise or warm browns or dark greens</strong></p> <p>Turquoise in the bathroom can help you mentally wake up and feel reenergised in the morning. However, if it’s a relaxing sanctuary you’re after “darker greens and warm browns can create a deeply relaxing environment that you might spend more time in,” says Haller.</p> <p><strong>The living room: Try a shade of green</strong></p> <p>Consider a warm green that isn’t too vivid, for a relaxing space to unwind. “Green in general represents reassurance and balance and can be a great restorative colour,” says Haller. “Avoid lime green which can be too invigorating,” she says.</p> <p><strong>The guest room: Try wood and natural colours</strong></p> <p>Include natural coloured materials such as wood as they are excellent for quest rooms to promote restfulness. “People often resonate with the colour of wood because it makes them feel warm and cosy and rested, like they’re reconnecting back to nature,” says Haller.</p> <p><strong>The office: Try dark blue</strong></p> <p>Accents of dark blue can be excellent for focus and where concentration is needed. “But if your work requires high amounts of energy such as in sales, avoid dark blue which can be too oppressive,” says Haller.</p> <p><strong>Kitchen and dining room: Try a shade of orange or black and white</strong></p> <p>Orange stimulates conversation and the appetite and is perfect for rooms where fun social gatherings occur. “If you’re more a minimalist and like everything neat and packed away, black and white might be more for you,” says Haller. </p> <p>What colour do you like to live with? Share your thoughts in the comments below.</p> <p><em>Written by Dominic Bayley. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/lifestyle/wyza-life/the-best-colours-to-live-with.aspx"><em>Wyza</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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How to paint a room like a professional

<p>With the right preparation and techniques, even a novice can give a room a professional paintjob. Just follow our steps to getting the job done right. </p> <p>The key to a professional result when painting walls is preparation. Remove furniture from the room you are going to paint, cover the carpet and clean the walls with diluted sugar soap then repair any cracks or holes with filler.</p> <p>Mask off the trim and switch plates, pressing the tape into position with a putty knife for a good seal.</p> <p>Ensure the room is well ventilated and don’t work on hot days as the paint will dry quickly, making it hard to achieve a consistent coverage.<br /> <br /><strong>TIP:</strong> Fabric dropsheets stay in place and soak up splatters better than plastic.</p> <p><strong>1. Paint the ceiling</strong></p> <p>Use a brush to paint the cornices or cut in around the ceiling then a roller with an extension handle to paint the ceiling, starting at the area furthest away from the main window and working towards the light source.</p> <p><strong>2. Paint the walls</strong></p> <p>Cut in one wall using a brush then paint the wall from left to right with<br />a roller, starting from the base and rolling up then down, feathering the leading edge before reloading. Repeat to paint the entire room.</p> <p><strong>3. Finish the trim</strong></p> <p>Paint the masked off trim using a brush, working along the skirting first then picture rails, painting the doors and windows last.<br />TIP Scrape spatters off windows with a razor blade when the paint is dry.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/how-paint-room"><em>Handyman Australia</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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The genius cleaning hack that will make your plastic containers look as good as new

<p>An Instagram account dedicated to providing cleaning hacks has gained traction after their latest tip.</p> <p>Instagram account Blossom, which currently has 3.9 million followers, has addressed a problem that almost everyone can relate to – stained lunchbox containers.</p> <p>The video, which has amassed a whopping 650,000 views in just one day, takes you through a 5-step process to ensure your containers end up looking as good as new.</p> <p>In the short clip, a yellow-tinged lunchbox is shown. The expert then adds a generous scoop of sugar to the stained container.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BvZR_z-A-PF/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;"><a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BvZR_z-A-PF/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">A post shared by Blossom (@blossom)</a> on Mar 24, 2019 at 7:53am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>Adding a squirt of dishwashing soap over the sugar, the cleaning aficionado lets the mixture sit in the lunchbox.</p> <p>Then, in a surprising turn of events, she adds six ice cubes and lets them dissolve.</p> <p>The last step involves a glass of water which is added to the mixture. It is then left to sit for 10 minutes.</p> <p>Once the concoction is emptied and the container is rinsed, the formerly stained item is now looking as good as new.</p> <p>Sugar helps break down old stains due to the enzymes it carries, while the ice cubes take apart the discoloured tinge.</p> <p>Users took to the comments section to praise the expert for helping them with something they’ve struggled with for a long time.</p> <p>“You just solved a problem so many households have!” wrote one user.</p> <p>“This is so great for busy parents, thanks for sharing!” said another.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to see the step-by-step process for removing stains off plastic containers.</p> <p>Will you be trying out this nifty hack? Let us know in the comments below.</p>

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Man’s hilarious response to “nosy” neighbour who complained about his fence

<div> <div class="replay"> <div class="reply_body body linkify"> <div class="reply_body"> <div class="body_text "> <p>A man has decided to hold a silent protest after receiving a zoning violation from the city of Santa Rosa, California, due to a neighbour complaining that his fence was too high.</p> <p>Jason Windus was the recipient of the violation after a neighbour reported his six-foot-fence for blocking a suburban corner and obstructing visibility for drivers at an intersection, as reported by <a rel="noopener" href="https://abc7.com/" target="_blank"><em>ABC 6</em></a>.</p> <p>Speaking to the station, Mr Windus said that he was confronted with a warning informing him of a daily fine that will be put in place until the fence was taken down.</p> <p>“It is very serious,” he said. “They made me freak out.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">Jason Windus. It's been four day since he put up the garden party. <br />"I'm waiting. If they didn't like the fence, how do they like this?" Neighbors love it. All except the one who initially complained. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Abc7now?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Abc7now</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/santaRosa?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#santaRosa</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SonomaCounty?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SonomaCounty</a> <a href="https://t.co/eVYytalYvU">pic.twitter.com/eVYytalYvU</a></p> — Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) <a href="https://twitter.com/WayneFreedman/status/1108107188147355648?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 March 2019</a></blockquote> <p>Mr Windus immediately took down the fence with some help from a friend, but due to height restrictions, the newly modified fence is unable to contain his two dogs.</p> <p>With the height of his fence being out of his control, the professional mover decided to take some control back in hilarious fashion – by rearranging an assortment of naked mannequins so it appears that they’re having a clothing-optional garden party.</p> <p>“I guess the average person would get angry and cop resentment?” said Mr Windus. “I throw a naked party in my yard.”</p> <p>And despite the height of his fence crossing the boundaries of legalities, his life-sized dummies are well within the law.</p> <p>To keep the display PG, Mr Windus even took the liberty to cover the mannequins' private parts.</p> <p>And the party was open for all, especially the “nosy” neighbour who reported the fence in the first place, with a sign reading: “Reserved seat for the nosy neighbour that complained about my fence to the city.”</p> <p>The anonymous neighbour is yet to respond and remains unidentified.</p> <p>But while the whistleblower may not be a huge fan of the installation, others cannot get enough.</p> <p>“I love it. I think it’s hilarious. More power to him,” a neighbour told <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nbc.com/" target="_blank"><em>NBC</em></a>.</p> <p>The only regret Mr Windus has is that his two dogs have nowhere to run around.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">"I was going to use them for target practice," said Jason Windus of the mannequins in his front yard. There's a 3-way stop at the corner, but an unidentified neighbor complained about visibility. "The average person would get angry. I throw a naked party in my yard...” <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/abc7now?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#abc7now</a> <a href="https://t.co/iFjiXMtK0u">pic.twitter.com/iFjiXMtK0u</a></p> — Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) <a href="https://twitter.com/WayneFreedman/status/1108145579345874944?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">19 March 2019</a></blockquote> <p>But despite that, he’s having a grand ol’ time, saying he hasn’t decided on when the mannequins will be packed away.</p> <p>Joking to <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.nbc.com/" target="_blank"> <em>NBC</em></a>, he said: “I was thinking of putting a barbecue out here next.”</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">Jason told me this morning that he still does not know which neighbor reported the zoning violation with his fence. Feels pretty good about the reaction, he said. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/abc7now?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#abc7now</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/mannequin?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#mannequin</a> <a href="https://t.co/djNfUcISmG">pic.twitter.com/djNfUcISmG</a></p> — Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) <a href="https://twitter.com/WayneFreedman/status/1108453104435920897?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">20 March 2019</a></blockquote> <p>Do you think Mr Windus has the right to be frustrated? Or was the neighbour right for reporting his fence? Let us know in the comments below.</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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Winter crops to plant in autumn

<p>The cool autumn weather provides ideal working conditions for gardening. </p> <p>The soil is still warm for planting and the time is right to grow vegies to eat in the coming months. All you need to produce a good crop is a sunny, sheltered position. </p> <p>Before planting, it’s important to add manure or compost to your soil. This will keep it in good shape and help your vegetables thrive. </p> <p>Fork the manure or compost into the soil and give it a good rake, making sure it’s smooth and crumbly, then water well. </p> <p>Mulch around the vegies to reduce evaporation and prevent weeds using lucerne hay, sugar cane or pea straw. </p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> You can grow climbing peas and spring onions in containers, using a premium potting mix. </p> <p><strong>1. Peas</strong></p> <p>In addition to tasting terrific, peas are full of nutrients and are high in fibre. </p> <p>They contain vitamins B1, B2, C and K and folic acid, plus are rich in magnesium, iron and potassium. </p> <p>If your children are reluctant to eat store-bought peas, encourage them to grow their own and eat them raw. The pod and the peas of snow peas and sugar snaps can be eaten. </p> <p>You can also grow dwarf or climbing peas, which can be cultivated on a teepee, a paling fence or on a frame made from upright timber posts covered in chicken wire.</p> <p><strong><u>SOW</u></strong> peas now and throughout winter. In very cold areas, frost will kill the flowers, so sow in late winter. Dampen the soil with water the day before sowing and keep it damp.</p> <p>Sow the seeds directly where they are to grow, making a furrow twice as deep as needed and scatter plant food along the base. Cover this with soil so it won’t burn the seeds, then plant the peas on top. </p> <p><strong><u>WATER</u></strong> regularly once the seeds have germinated. </p> <p><strong><u>FEED</u></strong> fortnightly with a soluble plant food when flowers first appear. </p> <p><strong><u>HARVEST</u></strong> every few days to keep the plants flowering for longer.  </p> <p><strong>In the kitchen </strong></p> <ul> <li>Fresh peas marry well with pumpkin in a risotto. </li> <li>Toss fresh peas, fresh herbs, red onion, olive oil and goat’s cheese through your favourite pasta for a great taste. </li> <li>Lightly stir-fry snow peas with garlic and ginger, season with sesame oil and soy sauce and top with sesame seeds. </li> <li>Make a tasty soup for lunch with fresh peas and mint.</li> </ul> <p><strong>2. Spring onion </strong></p> <p>Also called green onions or scallions, spring onions are among the oldest and most widely used ingredients in Chinese cooking. </p> <p>Really just immature onions that haven’t yet made bulbs, spring onions are harvested for their green shoots. </p> <p><strong><u>SOW SEEDS</u></strong> in well-drained soil or in pots directly where they are to grow. You can also plant seedlings, making sowings every 4-6 weeks.</p> <p><strong><u>WATER</u></strong> regularly for quick growth. </p> <p><strong><u>FEED</u></strong> with a soluble food such as Powerfeed to improve plant health. </p> <p><strong><u>HARVEST</u></strong> about 8-12 weeks after planting. Simply pull up the spring onions as required and use fresh. </p> <p><strong>In the kitchen </strong></p> <ul> <li>Stir-fry spring onions, scallops, green beans and ginger in a wok, then season with soy sauce. </li> <li>Combine spring onions, goat’s cheese and mushrooms to make a delicious quiche or tart.</li> <li>Lightly sauté asparagus and spring onions, place on toast, top with Gruyère or Swiss cheese and pop under the grill. </li> <li>Thinly slice potatoes in a baking tray, add spring onions, cover with cream and cook slowly in the oven on a medium heat. </li> </ul> <p><strong>3. Broccoli </strong></p> <p>An excellent cool-season vegetable, broccoli contains no fat and is full of fibre. It is also a good source of folic acid and high in vitamin C. </p> <p>Researchers have found that the star component in broccoli is the phytochemical called sulforaphane, which plays a major role in helping to prevent cancer. </p> <p>You can choose from large-headed varieties or smaller sprouting varieties such as broccolini. </p> <p><strong><u>SOW </u></strong>seeds now or buy seedlings. Plant seedlings in cold areas. </p> <p><strong><u>WATER</u></strong> regularly to encourage quick and healthy growth.</p> <p><strong><u>FEED</u></strong> by adding well-rotted compost or manure to the soil before planting. Broccoli prefers a soil with a pH above 6.5, so dig in lime or dolomite as well. </p> <p>When the plants have reached a height of about 200mm, give them regular applications of a soluble plant food for vegetables.</p> <p><strong><u>HARVEST</u></strong> by cutting the centre head of broccoli first when it is tightly packed and before the individual flower buds have started to open. </p> <p>Take about 100mm of the main stem, making the cut on a slant to prevent water accumulating in the stem and causing rot. New shoots will soon grow.</p> <p><strong>In the kitchen </strong></p> <ul> <li>Make soup using broccoli, spinach and potatoes. </li> <li>Combine broccoli and blue vein cheese for a tasty quiche. </li> <li>Stir-fry broccoli with beef and ginger and season with soy sauce.</li> <li>Create a pasta sauce with tomatoes, broccoli and garlic.</li> </ul> <p><strong>4. Broad beans </strong></p> <p>One of the oldest crops still under cultivation, broad beans have been grown by humans for many centuries. </p> <p>According to Roger Phillips and Martyn Rix in their book Vegetables, evidence of cultivation has been found in Egypt dating from about 1800BC. These primitive varieties of the crop had small black seeds. </p> <p><strong><u>SOW</u></strong> seeds directly where they are to grow. If sown in deep, damp soil, extra water shouldn’t be needed until the seedlings emerge in about 10 14 days. The best method of sowing them in a vegetable garden is in double rows about 250mm apart, with stakes at the end of each row supported by twine. </p> <p><strong><u>WATER</u></strong> regularly once the seeds have started germinating.</p> <p><strong><u>FEED </u></strong>as they grow with a soluble plant food for fruit and vegetables. Avoid using any fertilisers high in nitrogen, as the plants will produce lots of leaf growth but few flowers.</p> <p><strong><u>HARVEST </u></strong>the beans when immature and eat whole, as with French beans. Or you can allow them to mature and then remove the bean from the pod. To remove the outer husks, soak the hard grey beans in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then pop the cooked green beans out from inside. Otherwise, you can simply cook and eat the beans, husk and all.</p> <p><strong>5. Leeks </strong></p> <p>The national floral emblem of Wales, leeks make a flavoursome addition to lots of dishes. </p> <p>They’re also used as an herbal remedy for respiratory congestion and slow digestion, and as a diuretic. </p> <p>If you’re short on space in the vegetable patch, their strap-like leaves look good in flowerbeds. </p> <p>SOW seeds now in seed trays, or plant seedlings. The best way to grow leeks is to make a 200mm deep trench and position the seedlings in the base. Cover with a little soil and slowly fill in the trench as the seedlings grow to blanch the stems. </p> <p><strong><u>WATER</u></strong> regularly to encourage growth.</p> <p><strong><u>FEED</u></strong> fortnightly with a fertiliser high in nitrogen to promote rapid growth and produce plump, tender stems. </p> <p><strong><u>HARVEST </u></strong>as baby leeks or wait until the stems are about 20mm thick. If young plants have formed, they can be separated and replanted. </p> <p><strong>In the kitchen</strong></p> <ul> <li>Steam baby leeks and toss with olive oil and parmesan to serve as a side dish.</li> <li>Drizzle olive oil over tomatoes, thinly sliced potatoes and baby leeks. Add thyme and slow-bake.  </li> <li>Pan-fry prawns with asparagus and baby leeks. </li> <li>Make leek and potato soup and season with thyme or parsley.</li> </ul> <p><strong>6. Globe artichokes </strong></p> <p>A Mediterranean native belonging to the thistle family, the globe artichoke is unusual among vegetables because it’s the immature flowers of the plant that are cooked and eaten. </p> <p>The Greeks and Romans tended to consider globe artichokes a delicacy and they were introduced to England sometime around the 16th century. </p> <p>They soon became a favourite of Henry VIII, possibly because they were thought to be an aphrodisiac. </p> <p><strong><u>SOW </u></strong>seeds in spring or buy seedlings or suckers from nurseries in autumn and winter. </p> <p><strong><u>WATER </u></strong>regularly especially during spring and summer. </p> <p><strong><u>FEED</u></strong> with compost or well-rotted manure in early spring.</p> <p><strong><u>HARVEST</u></strong> the buds when the bracts are tightly closed, and the bud is about 75mm across. Once the flower begins to open, artichokes are inedible. When all the buds have been harvested, cut back the flower stalk.</p> <p><strong>In the kitchen </strong></p> <ul> <li>Slice about 150mm off the top of the artichoke and steam or boil for about 25-45 minutes or until the outer bracts can easily be pulled off. Serve hot or cold. </li> <li>Try pasta with artichoke hearts, mushrooms and fresh crabmeat. </li> <li>Chop artichoke hearts roughly, add your favourite mayonnaise and sour cream, then season with chopped fresh tarragon for a yummy dip. </li> </ul> <p><strong>7. Eating an artichoke </strong></p> <p>If you’ve never eaten an artichoke, it can look like a very daunting task. But this bud is delicious, and it is well worth making the effort. </p> <p>Hot artichokes are great served with a dip, your favourite mayonnaise or simply melted butter.</p> <p><strong><u>REMOVE </u></strong>an outer bract from the cooked artichoke, then dip the base of the bract in the mayonnaise, melted butter or dip of your choice. </p> <p><strong><u>HOLD</u></strong> the other end of the bract, place it in your mouth and pull it through your teeth to remove the edible soft part at the base of the bract.</p> <p>Continue until all the bracts have been removed and only the base remains.</p> <p><strong><u>CUT </u></strong>away the inedible fuzzy part, called the choke, which covers the artichoke heart.  Cut the heart into pieces and eat with your favourite dip.</p> <p><em>Written by Cheryl Maddocks. Republished with permission of </em><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/winter-crops-plant-autumn"><em>Handyman Australia</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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How to get the grandkids involved in gardening

<p>Gardening can be a lot of fun for kids, giving them the chance to get outside and grub around in the dirt. </p> <p>And if you give kids an area outdoors to call their own, they’ll be rolling up their sleeves in no time. </p> <p>The vegetable garden is a great starting point and a wonderful way for them to develop an understanding of where fresh food comes from. </p> <p>You’ll be surprised how many more vegies they are likely to accept on the dinner plate when they’ve grown them with their own hands.</p> <p>Let them add a scarecrow and it will become their favourite spot. </p> <p>Watering and weeding take up only so much time, so to really keep kids interested between sowing and harvesting crops they need to have a stake in the garden. </p> <p>The best way to do this is to create a kid-friendly landscape and this is possible whether you have a large garden, small courtyard or balcony. </p> <p>Use raised beds to give children a dedicated growing area, mark out kids-only spots using puppets, or decorate lights to hang outdoors and you won’t be able to keep them away.   </p> <p><strong>Watch a scarecrow </strong></p> <p>As a reward for the hard work of sowing garden beds and to give the vegie patch a guardian, help the kids make and dress a scarecrow to protect their crops from birds. </p> <p><strong><u>SINK A STAKE</u></strong> up to 3m high about 600mm into the ground, securing a crosspiece 300mm from the top.</p> <p><strong><u>ADD CLOTHES</u></strong> and stuff with grass clippings, woodchips or rags, tying the waistband and pant legs in place. </p> <p><strong><u>MAKE A HEAD</u></strong> from nylon tights or a hessian sack, stuffing it with plastic bags and securing to the stake with twine. Add a face and hat to finish. </p> <p><strong>TIP: </strong>Use bright colours to deter birds. </p> <p><strong>Garden craft </strong></p> <p>Take the time to look and you’ll find your garden is a great source of craft supplies, including seed pods, colourful foliage and flowers, twisted branches and straight twigs. </p> <p>A collection of goodies from the garden works well to create markers for paths and garden beds. </p> <p>Just add a few colourful pipe cleaners and Paddle-Pop sticks, then grab a hot glue gun and you’re all set to create anything your imagination can conjure up.</p> <p>This alien stick puppet was assembled using a glue gun, under adult supervision, to join porous materials and the shiny seedpods.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> When removing a part of a plant, trim it with secateurs rather than tearing it off by hand.</p> <p><strong>Designing a flower press</strong></p> <p>Pressed and dried flowers make beautiful keepsakes or additions to art and craft projects. </p> <p>A flower press is a simple device that features a rigid base and top plate with bolts through each corner. </p> <p>To make your own press, cut two 300 x 300mm squares from 9mm marine or exterior ply. </p> <p>Drill holes about 20mm in from the corners, insert the bolts and secure threaded drawer knobs over the top.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> You can also use wing nuts. </p> <p>To adjust the size of the press simply cut the plywood larger or smaller. For scrapbooks or albums you may want it A4 size. </p> <p>Position the flowers and leaves between layers of paper on the base plate then add the top plate.</p> <p>Wind the knobs to tighten the bolts and draw the top and base plates together, compressing the contents of the press. </p> <p>Change the paper every few days until the flowers or leaves have dried.</p> <p><strong>Watch the weather </strong></p> <p>Add a rain gauge to the garden and open up a new world for kids to explore. It is a simple and fun learning tool that helps children appreciate the importance of climate in their garden. The best spot is somewhere that’s frequently visited like the vegie garden.</p> <p><strong><u>POSITION THE RAIN GAUGE</u></strong> high enough so water won’t splash into it and in an area clear from overhanging buildings or trees. A large, securely mounted, seasoned hardwood garden stake is an ideal mounting point.</p> <p><strong><u>KEEP RECORDS</u></strong> to help kids learn how to track data and look at summarised results. Create a spreadsheet and graph that tallies the monthly and annual rainfall.  </p> <p><strong>Outdoor lights </strong></p> <p>Turn your garden into a fairy wonderland after dark by adding handmade lanterns. </p> <p>All you need is glass paint, LED tea-light candles and glass containers or bottles in just about any shape you can find.</p> <p>To hang lanterns from trees in the garden, decorate jars with wire handles. If you don’t have any, choose jars with a lip and make a hanger using galvanised tie wire from the hardware store.</p> <p>Paint markers make it easy to create pictures and patterns on glass candle holders of all shapes and sizes. </p> <p>They cost from $5 each, from Officeworks, resist fading and come in a range of colours including metallics. </p> <p>Get the kids to practise first on a piece of paper the same size as the surface to be painted.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> If using real candles, don’t paint on the side exposed to the flame.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/gardening-kids"><em>Handyman Australia</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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5 fascinating pollination facts

<p><strong>1. Pollination is an essential part of the fertilisation process </strong></p> <p>The movement of pollen from one flower to another flower of the same species is an essential step in the fertilisation of plants and the development of the fruit and seeds needed for reproduction.</p> <p><strong>2. 75% of flowering plants depend on pollinators for fertilisation </strong></p> <p>An overwhelming proportion of at least 75% of flowering plants depend on pollinators for fertilisation. It’s a good reason to encourage the birds and the bees into your garden to help it flourish.</p> <p><strong>3. Bees pollinate but so do other animals and insects </strong></p> <p>Birds, bees, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps and small mammals are all common pollinators. Other animals, as well as the wind, can carry pollen from flower to flower as well.</p> <p><strong>4. Pollination leads to the creation of everyday essentials like coffee and tequila </strong></p> <p>About a thousand plants we rely on worldwide for the production of goods require pollinators. These include those grown for food, beverages, spices and medicines. Think coffee, chocolate and tequila!</p> <p><strong>5. Protect pollinators by planting native flowering plants </strong></p> <p>You can protect pollinators by planting native flowering plants, reducing your use of pesticides and telling others of the danger these animals and insects are in through chemical misuse, loss of habitat and diseases.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of </em><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/5-fascinating-pollination-facts"><em>Handyman Australia</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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The genius $3 hack to clean your ceiling fans

<p>Some chores are less pleasant to deal with than others – and cleaning ceiling fans falls into that category. With the big size and the high position, they are one of the biggest dust traps in the house. It’s an ordeal to take out a ladder and clean them, but if left alone, they may spread dirt and dust around the room.</p> <p>A cleaning hack to solve the issue has gone viral, and it involves just one item – a pillowcase!</p> <p>To dust off the fans, simply cover a pillow case over the blades and slide it off. The dirt will get caught up inside the case instead of floating down in chunks, and all the corners of the blades will be covered.</p> <p>Afterwards, you can throw the dust and dirt off to the bin and wash the pillowcase.</p> <p>This trick will help you keep the fans spotless in your home, while giving an extra purpose to your old pillowcases. Alternatively, you can pick up a pillowcase from a discount store for as cheap as $3.</p> <blockquote style="background: #FFF; border: 0; border-radius: 3px; box-shadow: 0 0 1px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.5),0 1px 10px 0 rgba(0,0,0,0.15); margin: 1px; max-width: 540px; min-width: 326px; padding: 0; width: calc(100% - 2px);" class="instagram-media" data-instgrm-captioned="" data-instgrm-permalink="https://www.instagram.com/p/BHU58J9DJto/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" data-instgrm-version="12"> <div style="padding: 16px;"> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: row; align-items: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 50%; flex-grow: 0; height: 40px; margin-right: 14px; width: 40px;"></div> <div style="display: flex; flex-direction: column; flex-grow: 1; justify-content: center;"> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; margin-bottom: 6px; width: 100px;"></div> <div style="background-color: #f4f4f4; border-radius: 4px; flex-grow: 0; height: 14px; width: 60px;"></div> </div> </div> <div style="padding: 19% 0;"></div> <div style="display: block; height: 50px; margin: 0 auto 12px; width: 50px;"></div> <div style="padding-top: 8px;"> <div style="color: #3897f0; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: 550; line-height: 18px;">View this post on Instagram</div> </div> <p style="margin: 8px 0 0 0; padding: 0 4px;"><a style="color: #000; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px; text-decoration: none; word-wrap: break-word;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/p/BHU58J9DJto/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank">We're huge fans of this technique! #chicago #cleaning #summer #easycleaning #cleaninghacks #fan #cleaningservice #appointmentsavailable #easyclean #quickclean</a></p> <p style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 17px; margin-bottom: 0; margin-top: 8px; overflow: hidden; padding: 8px 0 7px; text-align: center; text-overflow: ellipsis; white-space: nowrap;">A post shared by <a style="color: #c9c8cd; font-family: Arial,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-style: normal; font-weight: normal; line-height: 17px;" rel="noopener" href="https://www.instagram.com/beltrancleaning/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_medium=loading" target="_blank"> Beltran Cleaning Service</a> (@beltrancleaning) on Jul 1, 2016 at 10:07am PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">Household tip: Do you dread cleaning your ceiling fan blades because of the mess? Try placing a pillow case over the blades then wiping the fan clean. No more dust in your face! So quick and easy too. <a href="https://t.co/7RoBJutPiZ">pic.twitter.com/7RoBJutPiZ</a></p> — Camden Hunters Creek (@CamdenHntrsCrk) <a href="https://twitter.com/CamdenHntrsCrk/status/930838642066706434?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 15, 2017</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">The old pillow case over the ceiling fan blade cleaning tip is genius. 👌🏻👌🏻</p> — Abby Lucas (@YoitsAbbsC) <a href="https://twitter.com/YoitsAbbsC/status/1035903417670086658?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">September 1, 2018</a></blockquote> <p>For a tougher clean, add water and white vinegar into the mix. Fill a spray bottle with water and two tablespoons of vinegar, and spritz the mixture into the pillowcase.</p> <p>Do you have any tips for cleaning tricky items around your home? Share with us in the comments below. </p>

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How to repot a plant the right way

<p>Plants are often left in the pots they came home in, but those plastic containers don’t do much for outdoor aesthetics and nursery sizes are only to be used for a limited period.</p> <p>When a plant outgrows its pot, it becomes hard for it to take up oxygen, moisture and nutrients, so growth may suffer, and the plant could die.</p> <p>When choosing a container, the main points to consider are drainage, the weight after potting mix is added and how porous the material is.</p> <p>“Consumer tastes have evolved from basic terracotta and glazed pots, with the new products made from composite materials now in demand,” says Simon Hupfeld of Northcote Pottery.</p> <p>“Lightweight materials like fibre clay and glass reinforced cement are especially popular and offer many practical benefits given their increased manoeuvrability and functionality.”</p> <p>When it’s time to repot, use the opportunity to update your containers, selecting colours, shapes and sizes that can be used to create a few showpieces in the garden.</p> <p>“We have noticed a move away from plain finishes on pots towards textured surfaces and the addition of subtle details that accent the pot and add character,” says Simon. </p> <p>“Our latest range features a wide variety of finishes and details, from stone and rustic textures to scrolls and floral patterns.”</p> <p><strong>Choosing a container </strong></p> <p><strong><u>Terracotta containers</u></strong> are porous and dry out quickly, making them perfect for plants and herbs that need good drainage such as lavender and rosemary. Painting the interior walls with a pot sealer can reduce evaporation for thirstier plants.</p> <p><strong><u>Plastic pots</u></strong> are lightweight, inexpensive and easy to move around but don’t provide protection against temperature extremes. Plant roots can get hot in summer and cold in winter, which can affect growth.</p> <p><strong><u>Stone, ceramic and concrete</u></strong> pots are heavy, but less likely to dry out on hot or windy days than terracotta and are good at keeping an even temperature in the soil.</p> <p><strong>Drainage solutions </strong></p> <p>Pots can provide excellent drainage, but the plants depend on you for water and nutrients. </p> <p>Consider each plant when repotting, choosing a slightly larger container with good drainage. </p> <p>Five to seven holes around the edge of the pot base provide better drainage than one in the middle.</p> <p>Drill extra holes or pop a smaller well-draining pot into a container with no holes, elevating it slightly.</p> <p>Regularly empty the excess liquid that collects in the larger pot to stop mosquitoes breeding and reduce the risk of stagnant water smells.</p> <p><strong>Recycled Planters </strong></p> <p>Another option for growing in pots is to make use of recycled objects. Take a creative approach and mix a random collection for a display that dazzles.</p> <p>Wheelbarrows, buckets and even an old laundry tub can all be turned into homes for plants. Whatever the container, the size determines the type of species that can be grown.</p> <p>Shallow-rooted vegies like lettuce or chives grow well in small vessels about 200mm deep. Plants with long root systems like carrot and parsnip need larger, deeper containers. </p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> To improve drainage, add a layer of gravel to the base of the container.</p> <p><strong>Repot a root-bound plant </strong></p> <p>Before repotting, soak the plant in its pot in a bucket of diluted Seasol for 10 minutes to reduce the stress of the procedure. TIP Don’t repot plants on a very hot day.</p> <p><strong>Step 1. Trim the roots</strong></p> <p>Trim the roots growing out of the drainage holes using sharp secateurs for a clean cut.</p> <p><strong>Step 2. Tease the rootball</strong></p> <p>Tease out the rootball by hand to encourage roots to grow down rather than around the pot wall.</p> <p><strong>Step 3. Plant and water</strong></p> <p>Water in well after planting into a slightly larger pot with fresh potting mix and firming it down.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/how-repot-plant">Handyman Australia</a>.</em></p>

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6 steps to prepare the garden for winter

<p>At this time of year most gardens are on the cusp of going into their winter dormancy, or are at least having a well-earned slow down. Now is the time to get outdoors and make things neat and tidy.</p> <p>Many of the simple tasks done in autumn prepare the yard for winter and set it up for a cracker of a spring. There is really only one rule of thumb when it comes to the garden at this time of year.</p> <p>If a plant flowers in winter or early spring don’t prune, transplant or divide it in autumn.</p> <p>The exception to this, of course, is roses.</p> <p><strong>1. Know the season</strong></p> <p>We think of spring as planting time but autumn is also the season to plant and transplant many species. Before winter sets in, bulbs need to go in the ground, as do edibles and bare-rooted roses and trees. Many perennials can also be lifted, divided and replanted.</p> <p>Autumn is a good time for this as the soil is still warm, temperatures and evaporation are generally low and the days are still long enough for plants to develop new roots to see them through winter.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Species planted in autumn take off twice as fast when spring arrives.</p> <p><strong>2. Choosing cool bloomers</strong></p> <p>If there’s one group of shrubs that shine in the cooler months, it’s camellias. The three main types are sasanqua, japonica and reticulata, and they flower from as early as late summer right through to spring. </p> <p><strong>3. Pamper the lawn </strong></p> <p>Give the lawn TLC now to help it build resilience to the harsher conditions of winter and keep the grass looking better for longer. </p> <p>Putting in a little effort in autumn will also provide the lawn with enough energy to keep in reserve for its spring surge of growth. </p> <p><strong><u>FEED</u></strong> the grass with a slow-release lawn fertiliser specially formulated for autumn and winter.</p> <p><strong><u>APPLY</u></strong> a hose-on soil stimulant to the lawn such as Seasol to increase biological activity in the soil.</p> <p><strong><u>TREAT</u></strong> the lawn for weeds, looking out for bindii and wintergrass. Remove by hand if possible, otherwise apply a selective lawn weeder. </p> <p>If you have a buffalo type of grass such as Sir Walter or Palmetto, ensure you use a selective herbicide that is safe for the species.</p> <p><strong><u>RAKE </u></strong>the lawn to keep it free from fallen leaves, as even the slightest reduction in sunlight can reduce the ability of grass to photosynthesise<br />at this time of year. </p> <p><strong><u>MOW</u></strong> with the catcher if your lawn is prone to staying damp in the cooler months, as a build-up of organic matter in wintry conditions can lead to fungal problems.   </p> <p>Give plants a gentle feed to see them through the harsh winter months, to stimulate soil microbial activity and to allow plants to store away energy reserves for the coming spring. </p> <p>At this time of year, the new generation of biofertilisers and pelletised or powdered organic derived fertilisers are the best option, supplemented with an application of a seaweed tonic.</p> <p><strong><u>WATER </u></strong>the garden well before application or apply after an autumn rain shower.</p> <p><strong><u>SPREAD</u></strong> away from the trunk. The highest concentration of feeder roots is generally around and outside the drip-line of the canopy.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Water in dry products well to reduce the risk of scorching.</p> <p><strong>4. Plant and move </strong></p> <p>The right plants to get in the ground now include shrubs, both winter and spring flowering annuals, and edibles. But the varieties can vary dramatically with region so always check with your local garden centre. </p> <p>Here are a few simple guidelines to follow to ensure success when planting or transplanting in autumn. </p> <p><strong><u>DIG </u></strong>the planting hole double the size and slightly deeper than the rootball. </p> <p>Ensure the soil on the sides isn’t smooth and compressed. If it is, open it up with a fork or the roots will take much longer to colonise outside the planting hole.</p> <p><strong><u>WATER</u></strong> well before and after planting with a fertiliser that encourages root development or a seaweed tonic such as Seasol. </p> <p>This helps reduce transplant shock and speeds up establishment.</p> <p><strong><u>BLEND</u></strong> compost or soil improver into the planting hole, making sure the material suits the needs of the plant.</p> <p><strong><u>POSITION</u></strong> the plant so it’s no deeper in the hole than the top of the soil from its pot and gently backfill. </p> <p>Firm down the soil around the side of the rootball but don’t overly compress it then mound a 50mm high watering dam in a circle about 150mm out from the trunk. </p> <p><strong><u>FEED</u></strong> by spreading a slow-release product such as Scotts Osmocote on the surface, or apply a gentle organic fertiliser like blood and bone, before watering in. Don’t put fertiliser in the planting hole as this can lead to root burn. </p> <p><strong><u>MULCH</u></strong> well once planted, keeping it clear of the stems.</p> <p><strong>What to plant</strong></p> <ul> <li>Trees and shrubs </li> <li>Azalea</li> <li>Camellia</li> <li>Citrus</li> <li>Natives</li> <li>Bare-rooted or bagged roses, fruit and deciduous trees</li> <li>Annuals </li> <li>Penstemon</li> <li>Poppy</li> <li>Pansy and viola</li> <li>Lupin</li> <li>Calendula</li> <li>Marigold</li> <li>Chrysanthemum</li> <li>Vegies </li> <li>Winter lettuce</li> <li>Cabbage</li> <li>Kale</li> <li>Broad beans</li> <li>English spinach</li> <li>Onion and shallot</li> <li>Radish</li> <li>Prune and train </li> </ul> <p>To keep plants under control or to a desired form, you need to prune. But the type of pruning you do in autumn depends on the climate zone.</p> <p>In a frost-prone area don’t prune anything that will reshoot quickly, as new growth may be damaged by frost. </p> <p>And if a plant is going to flower in winter or spring, apart from roses, pruning now will be at the expense of the flowering display for this year.</p> <p>Specimen plants and hedges can be heavily pruned or lightly clipped. Each tip that is cut off will send out at least two new side-shoots, improving the density of the foliage of those plants grown for screening. </p> <p>On many shrubs the tips include the remaining stems of last season’s flowerheads, so cut them off to encourage new buds. With roses this may induce a late autumn flush of flowers, depending on the climate.</p> <p>Cut off any damaged or diseased material from hedges, tip-pruning to remove the affected leaves, then rake up and dispose of the clippings.</p> <p>Climbers throw out sprawling shoots over summer. Prune these back to encourage bushiness, then tie or train the remainder back. </p> <p>As many climbers flower on new growth tips, this pruning also ensures a full flush of flowers next season.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Don’t prune either ornamental or fruiting grapes until June and give roses an annual winter prune in July.</p> <p><strong>5. Mulch for health </strong></p> <p>The simplest, most effective and sustainable thing you can do in your garden is to mulch. </p> <p>Whether you use an organically derived mulch like leaf litter or an inorganic mulch such as pebbles, the benefits gained are huge. </p> <p>Mulch helps soil retain moisture, buffers it from temperature drops and suppresses weeds. At this time of year your mulch is likely to need a top-up. </p> <p>The best time to mulch is after feeding, especially with organic matter as the mulch suppresses its odour. </p> <p>Calculate the amount of mulch required by multiplying the square metres to cover. One cubic metre of mulch covers 20 square metres when spread 50mm deep, which is the recommended thickness. </p> <p>The cheapest way to buy mulch is to order it in bulk from a landscape supplier and have it delivered. </p> <p>If you don’t need a whole load, share the cost with a neighbour and you’ll both save. For smaller areas you can buy mulch by the bag from a garden centre.</p> <p><strong><u>WATER</u></strong> the soil well or apply mulch after rain, spreading any fertilisers first. If extra weed suppression is required, lay weedmat or old newspaper to five sheets thick.</p> <p><strong><u>SPREAD </u></strong>mulch to 50mm thick, keeping it clear of trunks as contact can allow fungus or rot to develop in the trunk or stem.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong> Cover all  exposed soil then water in the mulch well.</p> <p><strong>6. Divide and multiply </strong></p> <p>While transplanting in autumn take the opportunity to lift and divide summer flowering plants. One clump of plants with fleshy storage roots like iris, agapanthus or canna can give you enough new plants from old for an entire border.</p> <p><strong>Step 1. Clear the bed</strong></p> <p>Lift the plant by using a sharp spade to dig around and raise the biggest ball you can. Locate a point that will allow you to cut or break off a section with a strong point of leaf growth and good root mass.<br />TIP The plants to be lifted should be watered well the day before.</p> <p><strong>Step 2. Split the crown</strong></p> <p>Split the crown or the rhizome into suitably sized pieces using a sharp spade, secateurs or garden knife. Each divided section will need to have a reasonable amount of foliage and clump of roots and or rhizomes attached. Discard any obviously dead bits from the divided plants.</p> <p><strong>Step 3. Trim the foliage</strong></p> <p>Trim the foliage back by up to half and reduce the root size to encourage new leaves, as well as minimise division and transplant shock by reducing moisture lost through transpiration. Replant or pot up the divided plant in fresh mix then water in gently with a seaweed tonic.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <span><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/preparing-garden-winter">Handyman Australia</a></span>.</em></p>

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A quick guide on growing rhododendrons

<p>Stealing the show in spring, rhododendrons are covered with large clusters of flowers, and many keep their foliage year-round.</p> <p>Autumn is the best time to plant them, so the roots develop before winter sets in. Avoid planting in midsummer.</p> <p>Most varieties prefer lightly shaded areas sheltered from the wind. </p> <p>The soil should be well-drained, so if it is heavy, loosen it and dig in organic matter like leaf mould or pine needles and a generous amount of potting mix. </p> <p>Plant the rootball just below the surface, taking care not to stamp on it when firming up the soil. </p> <p>If the plant is looking unhappy after a year or so, it can be moved to another spot. Ensure the rootball is moist, dig it out and replant, then water in and add mulch. </p> <p><strong>1. Test the soil </strong></p> <p>Rhododendrons like an acidic soil with a pH level of 4.5-5.5. If it’s too alkaline, growth will be stunted, and the leaves will turn yellowish.</p> <p><strong>2. Plant in pots </strong></p> <p>If the soil in your garden is high in lime, don’t plant rhododendrons in the ground, grow them in large pots.</p> <p><strong><u>USE </u></strong>a potting mix with a high acidity to provide the correct soil conditions.</p> <p><strong><u>MAKE</u></strong> a hole twice the size of the rootball and tease out the roots. </p> <p><strong><u>WATER</u></strong> the shrub in well to remove air pockets and keep the roots moist. </p> <p><strong>3. Keep them flourishing </strong></p> <p>Rhododendrons are shallow-rooted and don’t like the ground beneath them to be overly raked or dug over. </p> <p>In prolonged dry periods, water regularly and mulch with pine needles. </p> <p>To prepare them for the cooler weather, water well in late autumn if there hasn’t been much rain. </p> <p>They generally don’t freeze in winter, but they will dry out if the leaves lose water through evaporation and the roots are in frozen ground. </p> <p>For healthy growth, cut off dead flowers in late spring and spread a thick layer of bark mulch. </p> <p>They don’t need regular pruning, but tip pruning while the plant is still small encourages bushy growth.</p> <p><strong><u>GROW TIP:</u></strong> Apply an acidifying fertiliser in spring or add a 50mm layer of half-rotted compost, taking care not to disturb the roots of the rhododendrons. </p> <p><em>Written by Lee Dashiell. Republished with permission from <a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/how-grow-rhododendrons">Handyman Australia</a>.</em></p>

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5 ways to make cut flowers last

<p>Creating an eye-catching floral arrangement isn't as easy as bunching a few blooms together.</p> <p>A well-considered yet relaxed large display of flowers takes time and planning but will be a visual treat that makes a statement in the room with its burst of colours, textures and heights.</p> <p>But all this preparation can go to waste quickly if you don't prepare them to last as long as possible.</p> <p>These five easy tips will make your investment in real flowers pay off.</p> <p><strong>1. Slice the stems</strong></p> <p>Put freshly cut flowers in a bucket of lukewarm water for several hours.</p> <p>Next, working underwater, cut 25 to 50mm off the stems on a 45° angle using sharp, clean scissors.</p> <p><strong>2. Avoid overcrowding</strong></p> <p>Don’t jam a bunch of flowers into a vase that’s too small, as the stems need to breathe.</p> <p>If they’re crammed together, the stems wilt quickly and release bacteria into the water.</p> <p><strong>3. Pick the spot</strong></p> <p>Keep flowers out of direct sunlight and away from cigarette smoke and the fruit bowl, as ripening fruit gives off a gas that causes flowers to wilt faster.</p> <p>Remove any spent blooms.</p> <p><strong>4. Spray them fresh</strong></p> <p>A spritz of hairspray can help preserve the colour and shape of flowers.</p> <p>Hold the can 300mm away from the arrangement and spray the undersides of the leaves and petals.</p> <p><strong>5. Make sugar water</strong></p> <p>Dissolve three tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of white vinegar per litre of lukewarm water.</p> <p>Cover the stems by up to 100mm of the sugar water and change it every few days.</p> <p>Scroll through the gallery above to gather inspiration for your own flower arrangements.</p> <p><em>Written by Daniel Butkovich. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-make-cut-flowers-last">Handyman Australia</a>.</em></p>

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Do it yourself: Plant bare-root roses

<p>The best time to plant roses is winter, when they are in a period of dormancy. It’s also when roses are readily available as budget-friendly bare-root plants. In this form they look just like a bunch of thorny sticks, so read the plant tag carefully. The tag gives you a good description of what the rose will look like in bloom, and the conditions in which it should be grown.</p> <p>Rose breeders are constantly coming up with beautiful new colours, scents and forms, and enthusiasts look forward to seeing what’s in store for next season. There are also trends in growing, so a type of rose that was popular decades ago can make a comeback. Think about what you want from a rose before you head to the nursery. To cover a wall or fence you should choose a climber rather than a shrub rose. But to create big blocks of colour or mass plantings, use floribunda rather than miniature varieties.  </p> <p>Before planting, cut back the stems to above a healthy bud and remove any spindly looking shoots. Cut back long shoots by a third to a half, and trim excessively long roots to about 250mm so they fit in the planting hole.</p> <p><strong>Growing guide:</strong></p> <p>Follow these simple steps on how to plant and care for roses for years of beautiful blooms.<br /> <br /><strong><u>PLANT</u></strong> in well-drained soil with a pH of 5.5 to 6 and added organic material.<br /> <br /><strong><u>CHOOSE </u></strong>a sunny, sheltered position and do not underplant.<br /> <br /><strong><u>SPACE </u></strong>plants about a metre apart for good air circulation to help prevent fungal diseases.<br /> <br /><strong><u>WATER </u></strong>regularly the first year and deeply in hot, dry weather.<br /> <br /><strong><u>CHECK</u></strong> regularly for pests or diseases and treat immediately. <br /> <br /><strong><u>DEADHEAD </u></strong>flowers as they finish blooming to encourage more flowers and tear off any suckers as they appear.<br /> <br /><strong><u>PRUNE</u></strong> in winter and apply a preventative fungicide.<br /> <br /><strong><u>FERTILISE</u></strong> regularly for healthy growth and plenty of blooms.<br /> <br /><strong>TIP:</strong> Companion plant roses with chives to avoid powdery mildew.</p> <p><strong>Types of Roses:</strong></p> <p>A single rose flower is normally made up of five petals, where you can see the centre of the bloom. A double has the appearance of another flower inside the five petals. There are seven types of roses, with various sizes and habits.</p> <p><strong>1. Species rose</strong></p> <p>A single flower of five petals, some double flowered. Blooms in spring with ferny foliage. Varieties include: Moyesii, Primula and Rugosa. </p> <p><strong>2. Climbing and rambling roses</strong></p> <p>Climbing plants that can reach up to three metres in height. Climbers have a single fragrant bloom while ramblers have trusses of flowers. Flower display in spring.</p> <p>Climber varieties include, Clair Matin, Climbing Iceberg and Golden Showers. </p> <p>Rambler varieties include, Albertine, Dorothy Perkins and Excelsa. </p> <p><strong>3. Floribunda rose</strong></p> <p>Large clusters of flowers that may be single, semi-double or double. Blooms throughout the year. Varieties include, Apricot Nectar, Iceberg, Sexy Rexy and Satchmo. </p> <p><strong>4. Modern shrub rose</strong></p> <p>Bushy plant with an average height and width of two metres. Single or double flowers that repeat-bloom. Flower display in spring, summer and autumn. Varieties include, Autumn Delight, Golden Wings, Felicia, Titanic and Uncle Walter. </p> <p><strong>5. Old rose</strong></p> <p>Double flowers with strong fragrance. Blooms in late spring and early summer. Varieties inlcude, Charles de Mills, William Lobb, Celsiana Cecile and Brunner. </p> <p><strong>6. Miniature rose</strong></p> <p>Semi-double or double flowers 20 to 40mm in diameter with bushes 200 to 500mm high. Blooms in spring, summer and autumn. Varieties inlcude, Beauty Secret, Gold Coin, Rise ’n’ Shine, Starina and Love Potion. </p> <p><strong>7. Hybrid tea rose</strong></p> <p>Deeply scented double flowers that are up to 150mm across. Blooms in spring, summer and autumn. Varieties include, Double Delight, Fragrant Cloud, Mister Lincoln and Pascali. </p> <p><strong>How to plant bare root roses:</strong></p> <p>Before planting, cut back the stems to above a healthy bud and remove any spindly looking shoots. Cut back long shoots by a third to a half, and trim excessively long roots to about 250mm so they fit in the planting hole.</p> <p><strong><u>Step 1. Position the plant</u></strong></p> <p>Position in a hole that’s twice the width and the same depth as the bud join on the stem, spreading out the roots.</p> <p><strong><u>Step 2. Backfill with soil</u></strong></p> <p>Backfill a little at a time and use your fingers to gently work the soil under and around the roots to eliminate air pockets.</p> <p><strong><u>Step 3. Firm the soil</u></strong></p> <p>Firm down the soil when the hole is completely filled and water deeply to ensure there are no air pockets below the surface.</p> <p><em>Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/plant-bare-root-roses">Handyman Australia</a>.</em></p>

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"What is the correct amount of towels to own?" Man sparks heated online debate

<p>A man has accidentally started a Twitter debate with an innocuous question.</p> <p>Photographer Abdul Dremali took to the social media platform to settle a discussion between himself and his partner.</p> <p>"My girlfriend and I have a question," he wrote. "What is the correct amount of towels to own? I said 10 and she looked at me like I was crazy. We have zero frame of reference on the appropriate amount of towels in a household of two."</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">hello fellow adults. my gf and i have a question... what is the correct amount of towels to own? i said 10 and she looked at me like i was crazy. we have zero frame of reference on the appropriate amount of towels in a household of two.</p> — abdul (@Advil) <a href="https://twitter.com/Advil/status/1097218169062731776?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">17 February 2019</a></blockquote> <p>The post has garnered more than 10,000 likes at the time of writing, attracting arrays of responses and opinions on the appropriate number of towels to have.</p> <p>Some answered Dremali's question with the correct number.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">10 is appropriate</p> — jerm (@yung__father) <a href="https://twitter.com/yung__father/status/1097219654597201922?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">17 February 2019</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">plus another two or three per dog</p> — 🌈fat bottomed squirrels (@squilax_mcg) <a href="https://twitter.com/squilax_mcg/status/1097220589188608000?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">17 February 2019</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">10-15 for two people is appropriate. You could never have too many towels. I believe I have 12 for two people and I wish I had more. I could not stress this enough. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY TOWELS.</p> — Tommy Tucker (@Always_Business) <a href="https://twitter.com/Always_Business/status/1097310751633653760?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">18 February 2019</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">6 big nice towels<br />6 nice hand towels<br />4 - 6 fancy hand towels<br />6 washcloths <br />3 gross towels doe dogs/mud/whatever <br />2 backups just in case</p> — Lizzie O'Leary (@lizzieohreally) <a href="https://twitter.com/lizzieohreally/status/1097313037642543105?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">18 February 2019</a></blockquote> <p>Some gave practical tips.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">12+<br />My father's rule of thumb was to have enough to skip laundry for 2 weeks. I keep enough for at least 3. <a href="https://t.co/NOwxrDcvlg">https://t.co/NOwxrDcvlg</a></p> — R. A. Scientist (@CoquiTalksTrash) <a href="https://twitter.com/CoquiTalksTrash/status/1097495810261114880?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">18 February 2019</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">You’re overthinking this. Are your closets overflowing with clean towels that never get out into rotation? Too many towels. Are you always rushing to launder towels? Too few towels.</p> — Peter Conley (@talkinaway) <a href="https://twitter.com/talkinaway/status/1097226765771116544?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">17 February 2019</a></blockquote> <p>And as the debate went on, quibbles over towel categories emerged.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">What’s the difference between a bath sheet and a bath towel??</p> — Asha Rangappa (@AshaRangappa_) <a href="https://twitter.com/AshaRangappa_/status/1097330266899730432?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">18 February 2019</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">Bath sheet: An extra-large bath towel.<br /><br />Bath towel: Thing your tall friends never “borrow” from hotels. <a href="https://t.co/To6mdli1bZ">https://t.co/To6mdli1bZ</a></p> — Dictionary.com (@Dictionarycom) <a href="https://twitter.com/Dictionarycom/status/1097514381099831297?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">18 February 2019</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">Bath Sheets are actually a thing. Though these days not many people use them regularly as most people use a combination of bath robes + head towel + bath towel etc. Here’s a visual comparison of bath towel vs bath sheet <a href="https://t.co/gmm0OzBkVw">pic.twitter.com/gmm0OzBkVw</a></p> — Purva 🇨🇦🇬🇧🇫🇷🌈 (@purva_creations) <a href="https://twitter.com/purva_creations/status/1097398193611046912?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">18 February 2019</a></blockquote> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en-gb"> <p dir="ltr">2. For those asking what a bath sheet is, here’s a handy chart. <br /><br />cc: <a href="https://twitter.com/Advil?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Advil</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/jbillinson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jbillinson</a> <a href="https://t.co/p2oYTD0bGI">pic.twitter.com/p2oYTD0bGI</a></p> — Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) <a href="https://twitter.com/yashar/status/1097313460654813184?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">18 February 2019</a></blockquote> <p>How many towels (or bath sheets) do you own? Share with us in the comments.</p>

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See the flower that has been named after Duchess Meghan

<p>A flower has been named in honour of Duchess Meghan.</p> <p>The Royal Horticultural Society has officially named a flower after the Duchess of Sussex.</p> <p>The Clematis Meghan flower, bred by New Leaf Plants, is described as “an exquisite new large-flowering clematis” with “rich and opulent magenta-purple” colour that “will really make an impact when planted in borders or larger pots”.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr">"The flower is a purple-pink clematis flower, known as the clematis Meghan. But unlike the Duchess, who blooms all the time with her gorgeous smile and super sweet personality, this clematis only blooms two times a year."<a href="https://t.co/a3RVj49B6D">https://t.co/a3RVj49B6D</a> <a href="https://t.co/7FS6ypGVgX">pic.twitter.com/7FS6ypGVgX</a></p> — Duchess Meg (@DuchessMegFan) <a href="https://twitter.com/DuchessMegFan/status/1096830484070494208?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 16, 2019</a></blockquote> <p>The flower will have its official launch at the charity’s Chelsea Flower Show in May.</p> <p>It is not the only royal attraction at the upcoming flower show. Also set to make its debut is the RHS Back to Nature Garden, which is <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.oversixty.com.au/news/news/the-palace-announces-duchess-kates-surprise-new-project/" target="_blank">co-designed</a> by Duchess Kate with landscape architects Andrée Davies and Adam White. The garden is based in a woodland setting and aimed as a space for families.</p> <p>Clematis Meghan is the latest flower to be named in honour of a royal family member. The latest royal-named bloom was Clematis ‘Prince Louis’, a violet-blue clematis that flowers in the summer. Queen Elizabeth also received her namesake rose in recognition of her ascension to the throne in 1952, while Princess Diana has a dahlia named in her memory.</p> <p>Click through the gallery above to see the royal flowers.</p> <p>What do you think of the namesake flower? Let us know in the comments.</p>

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