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Mum’s miracle hack for restoring ruined chopping boards

<p>An online Melbourne mum and avid Tik Tok user by the name of <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@mama_mila_/video/6862601561869241606" target="_blank">Mama Mila</a> has wowed fans with her amazing hack to bring scratched wooden chopping boards back to life – and it’s so easy you can get it done in just minutes.</p> <p>“This hack is so quick and it's completely chemical-free,” writes Mila. “Just cut a lemon in half and rub the entire board with the juice. Once you've rubbed the board with lemon juice, sprinkle coarse sea salt and rub that in with a cloth.”</p> <p>Leave it for a few moments, and then rinse the board and leave it to dry.</p> <p>“Finally, rub it with mineral oil as this prevents it from absorbing moisture and cracking over time.”  </p> <p><strong>METHOD</strong></p> <ol> <li>Cut a lemon in half and rub the lemon juice into your wooden chopping board.</li> <li>Sprinkle coarse sea salt and rub it in with a microfibre cloth.</li> <li>Leave for a few moments, then rinse the board and leave it to dry.</li> <li>Rub is with a mineral oil to prevent it from absorbing moisture and cracking over time.</li> </ol> <p>Thousands who viewed the quick and easy hack were blown away by just how simple and effective it is, writing “OMG” and “this is fantastic”.</p> <p>“I need this,” another wrote, “my board just cracked.”</p> <p>Others said they would definitely try it for themselves.</p> <p><strong>IMAGES:</strong> Tik Tok / <a rel="noopener" href="https://www.tiktok.com/@mama_mila_/video/6862601561869241606" target="_blank">Mama Mila</a></p>

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DIY gorgeous hanging decoration for less than $50

<p>An enterprising Aussie woman has shared how she made a gorgeous wall decoration for under $50 using supplies from Bunnings and Spotlight.</p> <p>When she discovered that designs similar to the one she wanted to make retailed for upwards of $180, <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CDF8HloA2dk/">Keira Rumble</a>, owner of Krumbled Foods, decided to make have a go at making and hanging the decorations herself.</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/CDF8HloA2dk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=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/CDF8HloA2dk/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank">So turns out I’ve become a DIY’er in 2020 and I’m not mad about it 🤣💁🏼‍♀️ After I built this bedhead, I decided that I needed something to hang above it. I kept on seeing similar wall hangings going for a cool $180+ each. These hangings cost me $9-11 each, they were so easy to make (check out my story highlights under DIY) and I did them while kicking back and watching Schitts Creek on Netflix. Better yet, all you need is 3 things, raffia + little 3m hooks both found at @bunnings and craft rings. Paid Partnership @bunnings #DIYJULY #diy #pinterest #raffiadiy #homedecor #homediydecor</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/krumble/?utm_source=ig_embed&amp;utm_campaign=loading" target="_blank"> Keira Rumble</a> (@krumble) on Jul 25, 2020 at 10:01pm PDT</p> </div> </blockquote> <p>She made a trio of circular wall hangings using only three materials that cost a total of $47.40 and shared the DIY process with her 404,000 Instagram followers.</p> <p>Rumble used Grunt Craft Raffia Rope, Command Medium Clear Adhesive Wall Hooks from Bunnings and bought three craft rings from Spotlight. </p> <p>Not only did she save money by making the decoration herself, she also enjoyed the creative design process.</p> <p>But while the craft project was simple to make, Keira said the method was repetitive and time consuming complete.</p> <p>'This makes it an easy project to multitask and do while watching television (I created mine whilst watching Schitts Creek on Netflix) or alternatively it's a great way to relax and unwind after a long day,' she wrote on Instagram.</p> <p><em><strong>How to make a wall decoration like Rumble’s:</strong></em></p> <p><strong>Materials:</strong></p> <p>4 x <a href="https://www.bunnings.com.au/grunt-100m-craft-raffia-rope_p4310756">Grunt 100m Craft Raffia Rope </a></p> <p>2 x <a href="https://www.bunnings.com.au/command-medium-clear-adhesive-wall-hooks-2-pack_p3950277">Command Medium Clear Adhesive Wall Hooks </a></p> <p>3 x craft rings from Spotlight</p> <p><strong> </strong><strong>Method: </strong></p> <p><strong>Step 1: </strong>Research to get your DIY inspiration on Pinterest and Bunnings.com.au</p> <p><strong>Step 2: </strong>Start by measuring out your desired length for the raffia and cut into equal lengths. For a more organic look, each length of raffia doesn't need to be exact</p> <p>Note to create a three-ring wall hanging like this, you'll need approximately four packets of 100m raffia rope</p> <p><strong>Step 3:</strong> Fold a piece of raffia in half and thread it through itself to attach to the ring. Continue repeating this until you've filled your ring. Remember to regularly bunch pieces of raffia you've threaded together tightly to create overlap - this will ensure your wall hanging is full and has enough volume</p> <p><strong>Step 4:</strong> To complete your wall hanging, trim the ends of the raffia (if required) to create a more even circular shape and hang on your chosen wall with a hook! </p> <p>She then stuck the adhesive wall hooks to the wall and placed the gorgeous decorations above her bed.</p> <p>The social media post swiftly received more than 12,000 'likes' from Keira's followers who were more than impressed with the result and some were inspired to make the design themselves. </p> <p><em>Images: <a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/CDF8HloA2dk/">Keira Rumble</a> / Instagram</em></p>

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Woman’s amazingly helpful discovery during home renovation

<p>A Queensland woman has made an unexpected discovery on the wall of her home during a renovation.</p> <p>The woman was peeling off the wallpaper in her room when she found a scrawled note dating back to over 22 years ago, which detailed a tip from the previous owner.</p> <p>“If you ever need to wallpaper this room again, it will take 8 rolls of wallpaper,” the note read.</p> <p>“I bought just six rolls at $17 per roll [on December 5, 1997] and didn’t have enough. It really pissed me off.”</p> <p>The message was signed off by Jon on December 21, 1997.</p> <p><img style="width: 500px; height: 281.25px; display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7836514/wallpaper2.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/af4b27211df04024a6ee9d214c362dd7" /></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><em>Source: Facebook/ Bunnings Mums Australia</em></p> <p>The woman shared a snap of the finding on the Bunnings Mums Facebook page with the caption: “Only a DIY mum would be this helpful.”</p> <p>People flocked to comment the post, praising the former owner as “thoughtful” and “brilliant”.</p> <p>“Thanks for the tip Jon. I hope you’ve finally gotten over it. I’m sure it’s a story that’s still told,” one wrote.</p> <p>“There needs to be more people like Jon in the world,” another commented.</p> <p>One asked whether the advice would be suitable to the conditions today: “But what if wallpaper now comes in different standard widths or lengths?”</p>

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“Works awesome!”: New cleaning hack will get rid of tough shower stains

<p>A new shower cleaning hack has gone viral, much to the delight of people who clean around the world.</p> <p>The new trick sees people using a magic sponge with a dishwasher tablet inside the sponge which helps remove tough stains.</p> <p>One mum shared her impressive results with the popular Facebook group<span> </span><em>Mums Who Clean</em>.</p> <p>“My husband is a mechanic, so our shower cops a lot from all his hand washes to get the grease off,” Lauren said.</p> <p>“I tried the magic sponge and dishwasher tablet. Five minutes and not much effort!”</p> <p>She revealed her technique, explaining that she lets the magic sponge get very wet before removing part of the sponge and inserting the dishwasher tablet into the sponge.</p> <p>Lauren explained that she removed the “power ball” part of the dishwasher tablet.</p> <p><img style="width: 0px; height: 0px;" src="https://oversixtydev.blob.core.windows.net/media/7836176/body-shower.jpg" alt="" data-udi="umb://media/c465a27f9a174cbaa03c3359a3a28a69" /></p> <p>Other group members excitedly revealed that they had tried the hack with exciting results.</p> <p>“I did the same thing tonight! Amazing results here too!” said one.</p> <p>Added another: “Works awesome! Did mine today with the same trick, it’s never been this clean before!”</p> <p>Wrote a third: “I gave it a go and worked a dream. Didn’t even have to scrub hard.”</p> <p>Said one more: “I used this as well on shower I had scrubbed with everything. Worked like a charm.”</p> <p><em>Photo credits:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.facebook.com/groups/mumswhoclean/" target="_blank">Facebook / Mums Who Clean</a></em></p>

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The science is in: Gardening is good for you

<p>“That’s all very well put,” says Candide, in the final line of Voltaire’s novel of the same name, “but we must go and work our garden.”</p> <p>I studied this text at high school before I became a gardener and professional horticulturist. We were taught that Candide’s gardening imperative was metaphorical not literal; a command for finding an authentic vocation, not a call to take up trowels and secateurs.</p> <p>In fact, Voltaire himself really believed that active gardening was a great way to stay sane, healthy and free from stress. That was 300 years ago.</p> <p>As it turns out, the science suggests he was right.</p> <p><strong>The science of therapeutic horticulture</strong></p> <p>Gardens and landscapes have long been designed as sanctuaries and retreats from the stresses of life – from great urban green spaces such as Central Park in New York to the humblest suburban backyard. But beyond the passive enjoyment of a garden or of being in nature more generally, researchers have also studied the role of actively caring for plants as a therapeutic and educational tool.</p> <p>“Therapeutic horticulture” and “horticultural therapy” have become recognised treatments for stress and depression, which have served as a healing aid in settings ranging from prisons and mental health treatment facilities to schools and hospitals.</p> <p><strong>Gardening and school</strong></p> <p>Studies of school gardening programs – which usually centre on growing food – show that students who have worked on designing, creating and maintaining gardens develop more positive attitudes about health, nutrition and the <a href="http://www.kohalacenter.org/HISGN/pdf/HPP_2011_MMR_Sample1.pdf">consumption</a> of <a href="http://search.proquest.com/openview/61a8bb123ec000d6a6348aeb950645fa/1?pq-origsite=gscholar">vegetables</a>.</p> <p>They also <a href="http://horttech.ashspublications.org/content/15/3/439.short">score better</a> on science <a href="http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/syllabi/435/Articles/Klemmer.pdf">achievement</a>, have better attitudes about school, and improve their <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15330150701318828">interpersonal skills</a> and <a href="https://food-hub.org/files/resources/Blair_The%20Child%20in%20the%20Garden_J.%20Environ%20Educ_2009.pdf">classroom behaviour</a>.</p> <p>Research on students confirms that gardening leads to higher levels of self-esteem and responsibility. Research suggests that incorporating gardening into a <a href="http://kohalacenter.org/HISGN/pdf/Thechildinthegarden.pdf">school setting</a> can boost group cohesiveness.</p> <p><strong>Gardening and mental health</strong></p> <p>Tailored gardening programs have been shown to increase quality of life for people with <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J004v16n01_02">chronic mental illnesses</a>, including <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J004v16n01_02">anxiety and depression</a>.</p> <p>Another study on the use of therapeutic horticulture for patients with clinical depression sought to understand why gardening programs were effective in lessening patient experience of depression. They found that structured gardening activities gave patients existential purpose. Put simply, it <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/01612840.2010.528168">gave their lives meaning</a>.</p> <p>In jails and corrective programs, horticultural therapy programs have been used to give inmates positive, purposeful activities that lessen aggression and hostility during and after incarceration.</p> <p>In one detailed study from a San Francisco program, involvement in therapeutic horticulture was particularly effective in <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1300/J076v26n03_10">improving psychosocial functioning</a> across prison populations (although the benefits were not necessarily sustained after release.)</p> <p>Gardening has been shown to help improve the lives of <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jacqueline_Atkinson/publication/265575473_AN_EVALUATION_OF_THE_GARDENING_LEAVE_PROJECT_FOR_EX-MILITARY_PERSONNEL_WITH_PTSD_AND_OTHER_COMBAT_RELATED_MENTAL_HEALTH_PROBLEMS/links/55094b960cf26ff55f852b50.pdf">military veterans</a> and <a href="http://www.joe.org/joe/2007june/iw5p.shtml">homeless people</a>. Various therapeutic horticulture <a href="https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/dspace-jspui/handle/2134/2930">programs</a> have been used to help people with learning difficulties, asylum seekers, refugees and victims of torture.</p> <p><strong>Gardening and older people</strong></p> <p>As populations in the West age, hands-on gardening programs have been used for older people in nursing homes and related facilities.</p> <p>A systematic review of 22 studies of gardening programs for older adults found that gardening was a powerful <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01924788.2013.784942">health-promoting activity</a> across diverse populations.</p> <p>One <a href="http://journals.lww.com/jcrjournal/Abstract/2005/09000/Effects_of_Horticultural_Therapy_on_Mood_and_Heart.8.aspx">study</a> sought to understand if patients recovering from heart attack might benefit from a horticultural therapy program. It concluded:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>[Our] findings indicate that horticultural therapy improves mood state, suggesting that it may be a useful tool in reducing stress. Therefore, to the extent that stress contributes to coronary heart disease, these findings support the role of horticultural therapy as an effective component of cardiac rehabilitation.</em></p> </blockquote> <div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Yvir4sm2G7Q"></iframe></div> <p>While the literature on the positive effects of gardening, reflecting both qualitative and quantitative studies, is large, most of these studies are from overseas.</p> <p>Investment in horticultural therapy programs in Australia is piecemeal. That said, there are some standout success stories such as the <a href="https://www.kitchengardenfoundation.org.au/">Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Foundation</a> and the work of nurse <a href="https://www.anmfvic.asn.au/membership/member-profiles/steven-wells">Steven Wells at the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre</a> and beyond.</p> <p>Finally, without professionally trained horticulturists none of these programs – in Australia or internationally – can take place.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/65251/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/chris-williams-300083">Chris Williams</a>, Lecturer in urban horticulture, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-melbourne-722">University of Melbourne</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/the-science-is-in-gardening-is-good-for-you-65251">original article</a>.</em></p>

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Many Aussie plants and animals adapt to fires but the fires are changing

<p>Australia is a land that has known fire. Our diverse plant and animal species have become accustomed to life with fire, and in fact some require it to procreate.</p> <p>But in recent decades the pattern of fires – also known as the fire regime – is changing. Individual fires are increasingly hotter, more frequent, happening earlier in the season and covering larger areas with a uniform intensity. And these changes to the fire regime are occurring too fast for our native flora and fauna to adapt and survive.</p> <p><strong>Our fire-adapted plants are suffering</strong></p> <p>Many of Australia’s iconic eucalypts are “shade intolerant” species that adapted to exist within a relatively harsh fire regime. These species thrive just after a major fire has cleared away the overstory and prepared an ash bed for their seeds to germinate.</p> <p>Some of our most majestic trees, like the alpine ash, can only regenerate from seed. Those seeds germinate only on bare earth, where the leaf litter and shrubs have been burnt away.</p> <p>But if fire is so frequent the trees haven’t matured enough to produce seed, or so intense it destroys the seeds present in the canopy and the ground, then even these fire-adapted species can <a href="http://www.lifeatlarge.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/650007/Reshaping-alpine-landscapes-summary.pdf">fail</a>.</p> <p>The current fires are re-burning some forests that were burnt only a decade ago. Those regenerating trees are too young to survive, but also too young to have started developing seed.</p> <p>With the disappearance of these tree species, other plants will fill the gap. Acacias (wattles) are potential successors as they mature much earlier than alpine ash. Our tall, majestic forests could easily turn into shrubby bushland with more frequent fires.</p> <p>Even within a burnt area, there are usually some unburnt patches, which are highly valuable for many <a href="https://theconversation.com/burnoff-policies-could-be-damaging-habitats-for-100-years-30240">types of plants and animals</a>. These patches include gullies and depressions, but sometimes are just lucky coincidences of the terrain and weather. The patches act as reserves of “seed trees” to provide regeneration opportunities.</p> <p>Recent fires, burning in hotter and drier conditions, are tending to be severe over large areas with fewer unburnt patches. Without these patches, there are no trees in the fire zone to spread seeds for regeneration.</p> <p>Eucalypt seed is small and without wings or other mechanisms to help the wind disperse it. Birds don’t generally disperse these seeds either. Eucalypt seed thus only falls within 100 - 200 metres of the parent tree. It may take many decades for trees to recolonise a large burnt area.</p> <p>That means wind-blown or bird-dispersed seeds from other species may fully colonise the burnt area well before the Eucalypts. Unfortunately many of these windblown seeds will be <a href="http://hotspotsfireproject.org.au/download-secure.php?access=Public&amp;file=fire-weeds-and-native-vegetation-of-nsw.pdf&amp;type=">weed</a> species, such as African Love Grass, which may then cover the bare earth and exclude successful Eucalypt regeneration while potentially making fires even <a href="https://theconversation.com/how-invasive-weeds-can-make-wildfires-hotter-and-more-frequent-89281">hotter and more frequent</a>.</p> <p><strong>Animals have fewer places to hide</strong></p> <p>Young animals are significantly more vulnerable to disturbances such as fire than mature individuals. So the best time to give birth is a season when fire is rare.</p> <p>Spring in the southern zones of Australia has, in the past, been wetter and largely free from highly destructive fires. Both flora and fauna species thus time their reproduction for this period. But as fire seasons lengthen and begin earlier in the year, vulnerable nestlings and babies die where they shelter or starve as the fires burn the fruits and seeds they eat.</p> <p>Australian fauna have developed <a href="https://theconversation.com/animal-response-to-a-bushfire-is-astounding-these-are-the-tricks-they-use-to-survive-129327">behaviours that help them survive</a> fire, including moving towards gullies and depressions, climbing higher, or occupying hollows and burrows (even if not their own) when they sense fire.</p> <p>But even these behaviours will fail if those refuges are uncharacteristically burning under hotter and drier conditions. Rainforest, marshes and the banks of watercourses were once safe refuges against fire, but we have seen these all <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/nov/24/world-heritage-queensland-rainforest-burned-for-10-days-and-almost-no-one-noticed">burn in recent fires</a>.</p> <p><strong>What can be done?</strong></p> <p>All aspects of fire regimes in Australia are clearly changing as a result of our heating and drying climate. But humans can have a deliberate effect, and have done so in the past.</p> <p><a href="https://nph.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/j.1469-8137.1998.00289.x">Indigenous burning</a> created a patchwork of burnt areas and impacted on the magnitude and frequency of fires over the landscape. These regular burns kept the understory under control, while the moderate intensity and patchiness allowed larger trees to survive.</p> <p>There have been repeated calls of late to <a href="https://theconversation.com/our-land-is-burning-and-western-science-does-not-have-all-the-answers-100331">reintroduce Indigenous burning</a> practices in Australia. But this would be difficult over vast areas. It requires knowledgeable individuals to regularly walk through each forest to understand the forest dynamics at a very fine scale.</p> <p>More importantly, our landscapes are now filled with dry fuel, and shrubs that act as “ladders” - quickly sending any fire into tree canopies to cause very destructive crown fires. Given these high fuel conditions along with their potentially dangerous distribution, there may be relatively few safe areas to reintroduce Indigenous burning.</p> <p>The changed fire conditions still require active management of forests, with trained professionals on the ground. Refuges could be developed throughout forests to provide places where animals can shelter and from which trees can recolonise. Such refuges could be reintroduced by reducing forest biomass (or fuel) using small fires where feasible or by <a href="https://www.agriculture.gov.au/forestry/national/nbmp">mechanical means</a>.</p> <p>Biomass collected by machines could be used to produce biochar or other useful products. Biochar could even be used to <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13593-016-0372-z">improve the soil</a> damaged by the fires and excess ash.</p> <p>Midstory species could be cut down to prevent the development of fire ladders to tree crowns. Even the overstory could be <a href="http://theconversation.com/forest-thinning-is-controversial-but-it-shouldnt-be-ruled-out-for-managing-bushfires-130124">thinned</a> to minimise the potential for crown fires. Seed could also be collected from thinned trees to provide an off-site bank as ecological insurance.</p> <p>Such active management will not be cheap. But using machinery rather than fire could control biomass quantity and distribution in a much more precise way: leaving some biomass on the ground as habitat for insects and reptiles, and removing other patches to create safer refuges from the fires that will continue to come.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important; text-shadow: none !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/129754/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: http://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/cris-brack-98407">Cris Brack</a>, Associate Professor, Fenner School of Environment and Society, <a href="http://theconversation.com/institutions/australian-national-university-877">Australian National University</a></em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="http://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/many-of-our-plants-and-animals-have-adapted-to-fires-but-now-the-fires-are-changing-129754">original article</a>.</em></p>

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3 things a first-time gardener needs to know

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As it’s the beginning of a new year, many are thinking about what kind of hobbies they’d like to take in 2020. If gardening is on your list, here are three things that beginner gardeners need to know.</span></p> <p><strong>1. Don’t start too big</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Beginner gardeners might just see what kind of seeds they want to grow and begin planting, but according to Barbara Murphy, a master gardener coordinator and horticulturist with the University of Maine, this is the opposite of what you should do.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Starting too large is the most common mistake made by first-time gardeners,” said Barbara Murphy, a master gardener coordinator and horticulturist with University of Maine Cooperative Extension for 23 years.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Limit yourself to 10 feet by 10 feet, [3 metres by 3 metres]” she says. “If you grow frustrated because of too many things happening the first year, there’s a good chance you won’t feel like gardening for a second. You can always expand as your skills develop.”</span></p> <p><strong>2. Know your soil</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Knowing what your garden needs soil wise is vital for success.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Good soil preparation is important to success, but be patient,” said Rosie Lerner, an extension horticulturist with Purdue University to <a href="https://www.staradvertiser.com/2020/01/05/features/advice-to-first-time-gardeners-think-small-and-find-your-spot/"><em>Star Advertiser</em></a>. “Don’t force the soil when it’s wet. Soil structures will compact and get tight. That makes it tough for water and air to move through and greatly inhibits growth.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Squeeze the soil gently in your hand. If it crumbles a bit when squeezed, it’s ready for use. “It can take a long time to get good soil texture, and just minutes to destroy it if you work it while it’s too wet,” Lerner said.</span></p> <p><strong>3. Get rid of insects as quickly as possible</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Insects are bad news for growing gardens.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“Make regular visits to your garden to check for plant pests,” Murphy said. “Don’t worry about the adults. You want to go after the eggs before they develop into juvenile leaf cutters. Most eggs are on the underside of leaves. Use soapy water and picking or simply remove the infested leaves.”</span></p>

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6 home improvement projects that practically pay for themselves

<p>These smart upgrades pay off big in resale value and enjoyment of your home.</p> <p><strong>1. Give cabinets a new life</strong></p> <p>“Replacing your cabinets is a huge cost that is not completely necessary if the cabinets are less than ten years old, functional, and made from a high-quality wood,” says John Milligan, Product Development Manager at N-Hance Wood Refinishing. Refinishing can cost around $3,000 to $8,000 and can potentially bump up the value of your home between 3 and 7 percent.</p> <p><strong>2. The biggest bang for your buck</strong></p> <p>A fresh coat of paint instantly updates and transforms the entire interior of your home, and when you consider the relatively low cost of paint, it’s about the biggest bang for your buck you can get. “Greys are back in vogue, and create a neutral palette that lets your decor really pop,” says Steve Frellick, licensed contractor and founder/broker of Yonder Luxury Vacation Rentals.</p> <p><strong>3. Roll up the carpet</strong></p> <p>If you’re lucky, your wall-to-wall carpet will last about ten years. Well-maintained hardwood floors, on the other hand, last for at least 25 years. “Hardwood floors have a massive appeal and add an extreme level of warmth and comfort in your home and a definite return on your investment,” says Frellick. In fact, a recent Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors showed that a whopping 91 percent of the cost is recovered.</p> <p><strong>4. Exterior facelift</strong></p> <p>New cladding is like a facelift for the house, resulting in enhanced curb appeal. But replacing worn out cladding isn’t just about looks: damaged cladding creates moisture and mould, and it leaves insulation exposed, causing your heating and cooling bills to skyrocket.</p> <p><strong>5. The grass is always greener in your yard</strong></p> <p>Dragging out and moving sprinklers every week is not only time-consuming; it adds to your water bill. A better idea? Drip irrigation. “This puts water where plants need it – at the root zone – and it uses much less water over time, as the emitters are placed right near the plants and drip at a reduced rate,” says plant merchant Tyler Davis. It’s easy to install, and will pay for itself in a short time with water savings, he adds. A green and well-manicured lawn can add $2,000 to $7,000 to the resale value of your home.</p> <p><strong>6. Give yourself some space</strong></p> <p>Creating more usable space is something you’ll never regret, whether you use it for storage or more living space. “Having a finished basement or attic can be as simple as putting up and painting gyprock and putting down flooring,” says Shayanfekr. The costs will vary greatly depending on the square metreage and materials used, but the Remodeling Impact Report from the National Association of Realtors shares that you’ll generally recoup over 50 percent of costs at sale time.</p> <p><em>Source: </em><a href="https://www.rd.com/home/improvement/home-projects-pay-for-themselves/"><em>RD.com</em></a></p> <p><em>Written by Lisa Marie Conklin. This article first appeared in </em><a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/home-tips/12-home-improvement-projects-practically-pay-themselves"><em>Reader’s Digest</em></a><em>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, </em><a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V"><em>here’s our best subscription offer.</em></a></p>

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How to increase the curb appeal of your home in a weekend

<p>Whether your goal is to add value to your home to sell, or you’re just looking to get your home entertainment-ready for summer, there are three DIY projects you can complete in a weekend that will greatly increase the curb appeal of your home.</p> <p><strong>1. Repaint concrete exteriors</strong></p> <p>Painting an unsightly or worn concrete pathway, landing or wall is one of the most dramatic (and easy) home improvements you can make. With a little prep and some specialty concrete paint you can avoid the pricey task of having to replace the concrete and have it looking like new again.</p> <p><strong>Remember</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>PREPARATION IS KEY.</strong> Remove any lose concrete with a scraper, wire brush or sandpaper then scrub the surface clean with a strong detergent and stiff bristle broom and hose off with clean water. This will stop your paint from lifting and ensure long lasting results. Don’t skip this step! 
</li> <li><strong>ROUGHT IT UP.</strong> In order for your surface to really grip the paint, you need to make sure the surface is rough (it should feel like 180 grit sandpaper). If the surface is smooth, prep with White Knight Ultra Pave Concrete Etcher. If your surface is already fairly rough you can skip this step. 
</li> <li><strong>TIME TO PAINT.</strong> Using a roller and tray, first start on the large areas. Using White Knight Ultra Pave Quick Dry, start by painting the far corner and then work backwards so you don’t paint yourself into a corner. If you didn’t use a concrete etcher, I recommend thinning the first coat of paint with 20% water to help with adhesion. Your concrete area will be touch-dry in 30 minutes and ready to be recoated in two hours.</li> </ul> <p><strong>2. Paint the front door</strong></p> <p>Painting your front door and even your shutters is another easy way to improve the exterior of your home and help to leave a lasting impression.</p> <p><strong>Remember</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>KNOW YOUR ENVIRONMENT.</strong> Select a hardwearing concrete paint such as Ultra Pave which is designed to withstand Australia’s harsh climate. 
</li> <li><strong>DARE TO BE DIFFERENT.</strong> Remember, paint isn’t permanent so have fun with it. Try a strong contrast colour for maximum visual impact. Think red against a white frame and brick wall, bright yellow against navy, or deep blue on white. 
</li> </ul> <p><strong>3. Landscape</strong></p> <p>Last but certainly not least, a little bit of landscaping can do wonders to improve the curb appeal of your home.</p> <p><strong>Remember</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>ADD SOME COLOUR </strong>A vibrant flower bed can lift the feel of any home.</li> </ul> <p><em>This is a guest post by Dale Vine, former Block contestant and </em><a href="http://www.whiteknightpaints.com.au/"><em>White Knight </em></a><em>Ambassador. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.handyman.net.au/how-increase-curb-appeal-your-home-weekend"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>.</em></p>

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4 things you're doing to your home that real estate agents wouldn't

<p>Every day, real estate agents come upon cringe-worthy things homeowners have done to their homes. Leopard-print fabric wallpaper in the bedroom – yep. DIY electrical repairs – shockingly true. Sure, it’s your castle, and you can decorate or DIY to your heart’s content, as well as skip certain projects you just don’t think are important. But there are some smart reasons why real estate agents wouldn’t do the following things to their own homes.</p> <p><strong>1. Ignoring kerb appeal</strong></p> <p>You worked for months on the interior of your home, and now that it’s Instagram-worthy, you’re too tired and uninspired to care about the shabby lawn and cracked walkway. Shake off the sawdust and swap out your tool belt for some gardening tools. “It pays to hire a professional to get some advice to ‘stage’ your yard, too,” says real estate broker Kelly Parks. “A bonus is that while you live there, you will also love it.”</p> <p><strong>2. Planting trees too close to the house</strong></p> <p>Leafy trees, flowering bushes and colourful perennials instantly add a welcoming and homey touch to that all-important kerb appeal, but if you plant trees too close to the house, you might regret it down the road. Trees with long root systems can uproot the ground and your budget, and large limbs can fall on the roof or damage siding. “Roots over time can damage underground plumbing, foundation and driveways,” explains realtor Maya Madison. “It may look nice at first, but when you go to sell it in a few years, those roots will cause very expensive damage.”</p> <p><strong>3. Over-customising</strong></p> <p>A house is transformed into a home-sweet-home when you add personal touches, but if you’re thinking about selling your house down the road, you might want to rethink going all-in with your favourite motif. Broker Melanie Everett loves animal prints, but she’s not going to wallpaper her house with it. “I opted to buy some beautiful pillows instead,” she says. “Plus, I can take these with me to my next home, and I don’t have to worry about overwhelming a potential buyer.”</p> <p><strong>4. Hiring non-licenced contractors</strong></p> <p>It’s probably not a big deal to DIY a loose floorboard or hire your cousin to install a ceiling fan, but when it comes to the major housing components like plumbing and electrical, you should hire licensed, bonded contractors and possibly get permits. “This is very important because real estate agents know the value of being able to say that a licensed contractor or expert did the work,” says Parks. “This gives a potential buyer peace of mind, knowing that things are right, and the same is true when they go to sell the house later.”</p> <p><em>Source: </em><a href="https://www.rd.com/home/things-real-estate-agents-wouldnt-do/"><em>RD.com</em></a></p> <p><em>Written by Lisa Marie Conklin. This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/diy-tips/13-things-youre-doing-to-your-home-that-real-estate-agents-wouldnt">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V">here’s our best subscription offer.</a></em></p>

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5 ways to enrich garden soil

<p>Healthier garden soil means healthier plants. It is the foundation of successful gardening and thus worth paying attention to.</p> <p>Here are 5 ways you can enrich your garden soil.</p> <p><strong>1. Spread grass</strong></p> <div id="page1" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Grass clippings add nutrients as they decompose. They also provide shade, keeping roots cool and reducing water loss in hot weather.</p> <p>Mix them with leaf litter or dig into the soil to avoid them forming a mat that will repel water.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"><strong>2. Use manure</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"> <div id="page2" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Cow manure improves soil micro-organisms and chicken manure, which is high in nitrogen and phosphorus, is great for the lawn and vegie patch.</p> <p><strong>TIP:</strong><span> </span>Don’t use manure from carnivores, such as dogs and cats.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"><strong>3. Lay straw</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"> <div id="page3" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>Lucerne hay and pea straw strengthen the soil, so they’re highly recommended. They also break down fairly quickly, which gives the soil a quick nutrient injection, and can be dug in to speed up the process.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"><strong>4. Use bark</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"> <div id="page4" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>These mulches take longer to break down, so they don’t need applying as often.</p> <p>They shade the soil, help retain moisture, repel weeds and look decorative, but don’t add many nutrients to the plants.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"><strong>5. Add compost</strong></div> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"> <div id="page5" class="slide-show"> <div id="test" class="slide"> <div class="slide-description"> <p>A well-rounded source of goodness, compost allows water to penetrate the soil. It provides slow-release nutrients, attracts worms and encourages a healthy root system. Best of all, you can make it from kitchen scraps.</p> <div class="at-below-post addthis_tool" data-url="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"> <p><em>Written by Handyman. Republished with permission of </em><a href="https://www.handyman.net.au/5-ways-enrich-garden-soil"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>. </em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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How to know what weeds to pull and what to leave in the garden

<p>One of the least favourite but essential chores that must be performed regularly in the garden would have to be weeding.</p> <p>Because they are often attractive, easy-to-grow plants that thrive, weeds can quickly become invasive and destroy other less rigorous plants if they are left unchecked.</p> <p>The Australian government has produced a<span> </span><a rel="noopener noreferrer" href="http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/weeds/lists/wons.html" target="_blank">national watchlist</a><span> </span>of plants that should be avoided in your garden at all costs.</p> <p>If allowed to take root and spread, they quickly turn the backyard into an unkempt mess.</p> <p>Manager of the government’s National Weeds Strategy Project John Thorp, says, ‘Weeds are any plants growing out of place, such as on paths, in lawns or in a home garden, that a person wishes to control.’</p> <div class="advertisements"><strong>State of origin</strong></div> <div class="advertisements"> <p>Location is key in weed warfare, as species that are classified as a dangerous weed in a particular state or territory may be seen as a welcome garden plant in another.</p> <p>“Australia is affected in most places by weeds, but they change because we go from the tropics to temperate climates,” says John.</p> <p>“What may be an indoor plant in Tasmania could easily be considered a weed in the tropics.</p> <p>“You also get subtropical vines which scramble over canopies.</p> <p>“They’re a problem, especially in the Macleay River area in New South Wales where they really damage the bushland,” says John.</p> <p><strong>Garden invaders</strong></p> <p>There are 32 weeds listed by the federal government as having national significance.</p> <p>Many, including the most common one, lantana, are referred to as garden escapes.</p> <p>“That is, they’ve literally escaped from the garden,” explains John.</p> <p>“Birds typically spread the plants by picking up the seeds and flying over the neighbour’s place, dropping a few along the way and eventually heading into bushland.</p> <p>“The culprits include a range of black birds like the currawongs, which are frugivores.”</p> <p>Some of the most common backyard plants that turn into weeds this way include the fast-growing asparagus weed, which the birds prey on for their berries.</p> <p>Other widespread garden weeds are brooms, which come in different coloured varieties but are most common with yellow flowers.</p> <p>All types of broom, regardless of colour, are prolific seed producers. Cat’s claw creeper, Madeira vine and cacti are also garden weeds.</p> <p>“Cacti are a major problem if you are in a dry place,” says John.</p> <p>“Australia was overrun at one time with a type of cactus, the prickly pear. The opuntioid cacti are a whole group of plants that could easily invade entire dry parts of Australia.”</p> <p><strong>Plant right</strong></p> <p>To ensure the plants that are stocked are not dangerous to the environment, every Bunnings store has a Greenlife Buyer.</p> <p>National Greenlife Buyer David Hardie says one of the key selection criteria is suitability for local climate and conditions.</p> <p>“Our team also works closely with regulators to ensure we are always stocking the right plants,” he said.</p> <p>“Bunnings is committed to not selling environmental weeds that may have a negative impact on the natural environment.”</p> <p>David adds there are now more non- or less-invasive plant cultivars than in the past and recommends the state and territory plant guide at,<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="http://www.growmeinstead.com.au/" target="_blank">Grow Me Instead</a>.</p> <p>To control weeds, there is a wide range of herbicides and weedmats available instore. Mulching is a good way to prevent them occurring in the first place, as is cutting spent flowerheads from plants.</p> <p><strong>Disposal methods</strong></p> <p>Once a plant becomes a concern, it needs to be eradicated completely by preventing seeding and reproduction.</p> <p>“But the real problem with weeds spreading and propagating isn’t the birds, it is humans incorrectly disposing of garden waste,” says John.</p> <p>“Many people dump waste in the bush or recycle clippings as mulch thinking they’re being green, but it’s really just spreading weeds further.</p> <p>“The correct disposal method for a large amount of material is using an enclosed system like a skip bin, or taking the waste to the tip, making sure that it is tied down securely in a trailer.</p> <p>“Otherwise, use the green bin and dispose of clippings, weeds and other waste material through your normal rubbish removal service.”</p> <p>John also gives the big thumbs down to the backyard burn-off.</p> <p>“It is illegal in many parts of Australia, especially in summer, and the heat from a burn-off opens seeds so they can germinate. Weed residue can also be carried in the smoke.”</p> <p>Weeds are also a major problem in waterways, as they damage and pollute delicate aqua ecosystems.</p> <p><strong>Water invaders</strong></p> <p>“Athel pine is a shade tree which people use in arid lands,” says John.</p> <p>“It becomes weedy and, like the water hyacinth, which was once an attractive pond plant with its blue flowers, it invades major watercourses.</p> <p>“They are presently trying to control 600km of it in the Finke River, which is the largest dry river in the world, running from above Alice Springs to below the South Australian border.</p> <p>“These trees are often found in recreation areas, caravan parks and the banks of rivers,” says John.</p> <p>Many of the 100 willow tree varieties pose a double threat as they grow on both land and water.</p> <p>“Willows have a very short seed life, from two to six weeks, and this very brief propagation period means they can cross-pollinate and produce seed rapidly, so they’re now threatening our waterways.”</p> <p><strong>Growth season</strong></p> <p>The vigour of a weed’s growth depends on which time of year the rainfall occurs.</p> <p>For most of southern Australia, this would be in spring and for the tropical north in summer.</p> <p>Regardless of location, rainfall and season, once any type of weed takes hold, it’s hard work getting rid of it.</p> <p>“If you are going to successfully keep weeds down, you can never take the pressure off, as it requires dedicated persistence to keep them under control,” says John.</p> <p><strong>Pulling weeds</strong></p> <p>The Sydney Weeds Committee offers advice on how to weed manually.</p> <p>Always wear gloves and use a hand trowel to remove the entire root so the plant can’t resprout from any remaining root system.</p> <p><strong>RAKE</strong><span> </span>background mulch.</p> <p><strong>INSERT</strong><span> </span>the trowel and carefully loosen the soil around the roots.</p> <p><strong>PULL</strong><span> </span>the plant free, grasping it by the stems or the leaves while freeing the roots with the trowel.</p> <p><strong>REMOVE</strong><span> </span>the plant and shake off the excess soil.</p> <p><strong>REPLACE</strong><span> </span>the disturbed soil and any ground mulch.</p> <p>Place the entire plant or any part capable of reproducing, such as tubers, rhizomes, berries, seeds or other propagules in a bag and remove from the site.</p> <p>Other debris material can be mulched on site.</p> <em>Written by Handyman. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.handyman.net.au/how-know-what-weeds-pull-and-what-leave-garden">Handyman</a>.</em></div>

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7 plants to grow and spice up your home cooking

<div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>For lovers of spicy Asian food, a stir-fry, laksas and curries will be favourites on the menu.</p> <p>And certain herbs and spices are necessary ingredients for these cuisines.</p> <p>Curry leaves, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, chilli, galangal, ginger and turmeric are among the essentials, with different combinations imparting a fabulous zing to fish, meat and vegetable dishes.</p> <p>Add these plants to the vegie patch so you have them on hand and can enjoy them fresh and at their best.</p> <p>Even if you have a courtyard or a balcony, you can still grow them, as most can be planted in containers.</p> <p>Many great intense flavours come from underground from rhizomes, such as galangal, ginger and turmeric, adding spice to many dishes.</p> <p>Belonging to the ginger family (Zingiberaceae), they all feature elegant tropical foliage that looks great planted among ornamentals.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="view view-content-slider view-id-content_slider view-display-id-content_slider_block view-dom-id-b5c8b242cf08c50b909aa17f4a0eb74b"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>1. Galangal</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <p>Commonly called Thai ginger, galangal (Alpinia galanga) tastes like a cross between pepper and ginger.</p> <p>A good understorey plant among other tropical foliage, it can grow up to 2m high, depending on the variety.</p> <p>GROW: Choose a semi-shaded or shaded spot in rich and moist but free-draining soil. Feed in spring and summer with Yates Dynamic Lifter and water regularly. A light frost won’t kill the plant but will damage the leaves.</p> <p>In spring, plant small rhizomes with at least two eyes 50-100mm deep.</p> <p><strong>HARVEST</strong>: Use about 10 months after planting. Dig carefully around the base and remove rhizomes as needed if you don’t want to disturb the clump.</p> <p><strong>USE</strong>: Flavour Asian soups and curries with fresh galangal. The young shoots are edible and the leaves impart a slight perfume when used to wrap steamed fish. Teams well with lemongrass.</p> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>2. Ginger</strong></div> <div class="field-item even"> <p>The pungent rhizome of ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an important spice in Japanese and Chinese cuisine. It has elegant, lance-shaped leaves and grows to about 1.2m high.</p> <p><strong>GROW</strong>: It likes a warm, frost-free climate and a semi-shaded position in rich and moist but well-drained soil.</p> <p>Plant fresh store-bought rhizomes. Cut the rhizome so each piece has at least two eyes, let the ends dry, then plant. Feed in spring and summer with Yates Dynamic Lifter and water regularly.</p> <p><strong>HARVEST</strong>: Use about 9-10 months after planting. Dig up the whole clump or dig carefully around the clump and remove rhizomes when needed. Replant some rhizomes to ensure<br />a continuous supply.</p> <p><strong>USE</strong>: Add fresh to Asian soups, seafood and meat curries.</p> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>3. Turmeric</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <p>The name turmeric (Curcuma domestica) is thought to originate from the Latin words terra merita, meaning ‘merit of the earth’.</p> <p>It’s popular for its healing properties and is delicious in curries.</p> <p>With its tropical-looking foliage and white flower spikes, turmeric looks good planted with other foliage plants, in vegetable beds or large pots.</p> <p><strong>GROW</strong>: Give turmeric a lightly shaded or sunny frost-free position in moist but well-drained soil that is enriched with compost.</p> <p>In spring, plant small rhizomes with at least two eyes 50-70mm deep. Feed with Yates Dynamic Lifter in late spring and summer and water regularly.</p> <p><strong>HARVEST</strong>: As the leaves start to yellow and die back in late autumn, harvest the rhizomes. Dig up the whole plant or carefully dig around the clump and remove the rhizomes as needed.</p> <p>: Grate or chop fresh rhizomes and add to dishes, or dry and use with other spices for curries. Wrap fish in the leaves before barbecuing or steaming.</p> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>4. Curry leaves</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <p>A curry tree (Murraya koenigii) is a worthwhile investment for lovers of Indian food.</p> <p>The leaves are an essential ingredient of dhal and impart a strong curry-like aroma.</p> <p>A small tree, it grows to about 5m high but can be clipped lower. Its long, slender leaves are dark green on top and a pale green underneath.</p> <p><strong>GROW</strong>: Give a curry tree a sunny position in warm, frost-free regions. Feed in spring with a six-month controlled-release fertiliser.</p> <p>It can be grown in a large pot in frosty areas and put under cover.</p> <p><strong>HARVEST</strong>: Fresh leaves are best, as they lose some flavour when dried.</p> <p><strong>USE</strong>: Curry leaves impart their best flavour if fried in oil when you begin making a curry, and add taste to many Indian dishes.</p> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>5. Lemongrass</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <p>The young white stem and leaf base of perennial lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a common ingredient in spicy Asian dishes.</p> <p>If you don’t have room in the kitchen garden, it makes an attractive ornamental plant. But give it space, as it can reach a height and spread of 1.2m.</p> <p>It can be grown in a large pot.</p> <p><strong>GROW</strong>: Position in a sunny spot in well-drained soil in warm, frost-free climates. Feed in spring and summer with a soluble plant food.</p> <p>In cool climates, plant in large pots and protect from frost.</p> <p><strong>HARVEST</strong>: Cut the stalk at ground level from the outside of the clump at any time of the year. Cut stalks can be chopped and frozen.</p> <p><strong>USE</strong>: The soft base of the stalk is used in soups and curries. The green older leaves make a refreshing herbal tea.</p> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>6. Kaffir lime</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <p>Called the makrut lime in Thailand, the Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix) is an important ingredient in South-East Asian cooking. It grows to 1.5m high, but if the leaves are constantly being picked for cooking, the plant will usually remain small.</p> <p>The strong taste of the leaves is more popular than the fruit. The fruit is knobbly, and while the flesh is not eaten, the zest is used in cooking.</p> <p><strong>GROW</strong>: Give it a sunny position in well-drained soil. In spring, summer and autumn, feed with a three-month controlled-release fertiliser.</p> <p>In cool climates, grow in a pot and place under cover in the sun in winter.</p> <p><strong>HARVEST</strong>: Pick leaves as needed. The leaves can also be frozen whole.</p> <p><strong>USE</strong>: Kaffir lime leaves are used in green curries, fish and chicken dishes, laksa and soups.</p> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-title field-type-text field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"><strong>7. Chilli</strong></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-image field-type-image field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <p>The chilli (Capsicum annuum), an essential ingredient in many dishes, has been a popular spice for centuries.</p> <p>The fruit follows star-shaped white flowers and comes in many different shapes and sizes. Depending on the variety, chillies ripen from green to shades of red, orange, yellow, brown or purple. They look great in pots.</p> <p><strong>GROW</strong> Give chillies a sunny spot in rich, well-drained soil. Sow seeds or plant seedlings in spring and feed when flowers appear with Yates Dynamic Lifter Plus Fruit Food.</p> <p>Water regularly.</p> <p><strong>HARVEST</strong>: Pick chillies fresh, dry the excess or freeze them whole for later.</p> <p>Always wear gloves or scrub your hands thoroughly after handling chillies, as they can burn your skin. Also avoid rubbing your eyes or any other sensitive areas.</p> <p><strong>USE</strong>: Add zing to scrambled eggs and omelettes with a sprinkling of fresh chilli. Use in Asian dishes, stir-fries, laksa and Indian dishes. </p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>Written by Handyman Magazine. Republished with permission of <a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/7-plants-grow-and-spice-your-home-cooking">Handyman</a>.</em></p>

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10 must-read insider tips to save you money on gardening

<div class="field field-name-field-intro field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>Whether you buy materials from a farmer’s market, local farmers or chain hardware stores, here’s everything you need to know to get your garden growing on a budget.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>1. Grow what you eat</strong></p> <p>While this may seem like common sense, it’s easy to get carried away when buying seeds and plants for your garden. Realistically, if you don’t eat a certain vegetable or herb now (kohlrabi and purslane, we’re looking at you), you probably won’t eat it even if you grow it. Save yourself time and money by only buying seeds and plants that you know you and your family will eat. </p> <p><strong>2. Buy seeds early in the year</strong></p> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>According to Celeste Longacre, gardening expert and author of Celeste’s Garden Delights, you’ll find the biggest selection of seeds and the best deals in spring. “Many catalogues offer discounts if you buy the seeds before a certain date,” Longacre says. “Companies can also run out of specific varieties so you’ll want to get your order right in.” But you don’t need to plant seeds for every vegetable you intend to eat in the coming months. </p> <p><strong>3. Buy gardening equipment in autumn</strong></p> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>Most stores try to clear out their gardening supplies in autumn. You’ll find gardening equipment – like shovels, spades, rakes and buckets – at heavily discounted prices that you can use for next year’s garden. Another great idea is to source good quality second-hand items.</p> <p><strong>4. Go in on seeds with your friends</strong></p> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>It may seem counterintuitive, but the more you spend, the more you save, thanks to lower prices for higher volume. “Many companies offer deals if you spend a certain amount of money,” says Longacre. “If you get together with friends on your order, you can save.” If agreeing on seeds is a challenge in your friend circle, consider other uses for your yield. </p> <p><strong>5. Plant crops thicker than they actually grow</strong></p> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>You can plant crops like beets, carrots, onions, lettuce, basil and rocket closer together than traditionally prescribed, according Longacre. For example, instead of planting seeds 25mm apart, plant them 13mm apart. This way you can thin them out and eat the thinnings while the crop continues growing. </p> <p><strong>6. Hit up a local farm's harvest sale</strong></p> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>The harvest sale is basically the equivalent of a half-yearly or anniversary sale, so you can expect to find amazing deals. Harvest sales usually happen between late March and early May, with the majority being held in April. The earlier in the harvest season you go, the more options you’ll have when it comes to crops, but if you wait longer into May, you’re more likely to nab lower prices, as farmers are trying to unload crops for winter.</p> <p><strong>7. Invest in quality equipment</strong></p> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>Spending a little more on quality equipment will be worth it in the long run. Not only will you avoid having to re-buy the same gear each year, but you’re also be less likely to deal with stuff breaking mid-season. Equipment worth spending a little extra on: weeders, shears and pitchforks. But no need to buy fancy or expensive pots and planters. Regular, plastic ones will do.</p> <p><strong>8. Tend to your garden regularly</strong></p> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>There will be days when crawling on your hands and knees through the dirt doesn’t sound all too appealing, but doing just that is necessary in order to keep your garden healthy. If you get behind on watering, your plants will die, and you’ll have to spend more on new seeds. If you don’t treat a bug invasion right away, it’ll only get worse and cause more damage, both to your plants and your pockets. “The hardest part of gardening is that things need to be done when they need to be done, not when you feel like doing it,” says Longacre. </p> <p><strong>9. Ask about inventory</strong></p> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>A lot of stores offer discounted prices for products that they no longer sell, but still have in back stock. Just make sure you ask why they’ve pulled the product before buying because you don’t want to end up with a mower that doesn’t run or seeds that won’t grow in your climate. “Go to their websites and look for discontinued or clearance items,” advises Longacre.</p> <p><strong>10. Plant at the right time</strong></p> <div class="views-field views-field-field-slides"> <div class="field-content"> <div class="field-collection-view clearfix view-mode-full field-collection-view-final"> <div class="entity entity-field-collection-item field-collection-item-field-slides clearfix"> <div class="content"> <div class="field field-name-field-slide-content field-type-text-long field-label-hidden"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item even"> <p>If you plant your crops too early, they will die. And if you pick your crops too late, they will also die. Timing is everything when it comes to planting your garden. You simply need to choose the right produce for the season and do a bit of research on the climate in your area before selecting when to plant your seeds. </p> <p><em>Source:<span> </span><a rel="noopener" href="https://www.rd.com/home/gardening/gardening-tips-to-save-money/" target="_blank">RD.com</a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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How to start a vegetable garden

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Growing your own vegetables can save you money and give you a huge amount of satisfaction. Ready to get a green thumb?</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Your own homegrown vegetables taste much better and are fresher than any that you buy in the shops. Fruiting vegetables, like beans, tomatoes, capsicum and sweet corn, have the best flavour if they’re eaten as quickly as possible after harvest; leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, lose water and rapidly become limp, and all vegetables are more nutritious if they are consumed when as fresh as possible. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Growing your own can save a considerable amount on food costs and will also give you a wider choice of vegetables. Unusual vegetables are often difficult to buy in shops, but are easily grown in the home garden. Lots of vegetables are ornamental so can be grown for their good looks as well as their produce.  </span></p> <p><strong>WHEN TO GROW VEGGIES</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vegetables can be loosely grouped according to their growing season.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Cool Season Vegetables:</strong> Grow best when temperatures are between 10-20 degrees C or even lower. They include: broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, onions, peas, spinach and turnips.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Intermediate Season Vegetables:</strong> These are best between temperatures of 15-25 degrees. They include: beetroot, carrot, parsnip, celery, leek, lettuce, radish, silver beet.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Warm Season vegetables:</strong> Are grown best when temperatures are above 20 degrees celsius. They include: Beans, capsicum, eggplant, potato, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato and cucurbits (including cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkins etc.) </span></p> <p><strong>VEGETABLE CULTIVATION</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Position:</strong> Vegetables must have sun! Try to select a growing area that is sunny for most of the day, is sheltered, and is close to a source of water. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Soil: S</strong>oil is often the easiest thing to adjust to your growing needs. In fact, strictly speaking, soil is not absolutely necessary. Vegetables can be grown in potting mix or in a hydroponic set up, but the most common medium is still good garden soil. Soil must have good drainage and a good structure. Regular incorporation of old organic matter (such as compost) will keep the soil functioning well. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Nutrients</strong>: Vegetables, more than most other plants, need to be supplied with adequate nutrients.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Mineral fertilisers:</strong> are reliable sources of good quantities of nutrients. Mixes with a balanced NPK ratio are suited to a wide range of crops. Balanced, all-purpose fertilisers, such as Thrive All Purpose, can be mixed into the soil before planting. Soluble fertilisers, such as Thrive, can be applied in liquid form to plants during their early stages of growth. Additional dressings of Sulphate of Potash and Superphosphate may be necessary, especially for fruiting and root crops.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Organic Fertilisers:</strong> are derived from once-living material. They’re excellent for improving soil, but their nutrient levels can be very variable. In recent years, however, increased interest in these products has led to many improvements, with fertilisers such as Dynamic Lifter organic pellets now having guaranteed nutrient levels. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>pH:</strong> pH is the level of acidity or alkalinity in the soil. Most vegetables produce best results if grown at a soil pH level of 6.0 to 7.0. In some areas this may mean adding lime before planting. Checking the pH level of the soil is recommended. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Mulching:</strong> Mulching over plants’ root systems, preferably with an organic mulch, will retain moisture, suppress weeds, reduce temperature fluctuations, and prevent soil crusting. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Watering:</strong> Water thoroughly so that the entire root system of the plant is moistened. Thorough waterings are more effective than light sprinklings. Don’t allow plants to reach wilting point but, conversely, don’t flood them as this washes away nutrients and may cause drainage problems. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Crop rotation:</strong> It’s important to avoid growing successive crops of the same type of vegetable in the same spot in the garden. This practice, which is called crop rotation, helps prevent build up of soil diseases. Seasonal crop changes often lead to natural crop rotation. </span></p> <p><strong>FAVOURITE VEGGIES</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Beans –</strong> Available in dwarf or climbing forms, beans produce pods that are sliced or eaten whole. They must be grown during the warm season. Origin: Tropical America. Nutrition Value: Vitamin C, Vitamin A (beta carotene), iron, fibre and some protein.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Beetroot – T</strong>he deep crimson swollen root of beetroot is cooked in stews and soups or cooled for salads. Its leaves can also be used as a vegetable. Origin: Southern Europe. Nutrition Value: Excellent source of folate.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Brassicas</strong> (cabbages, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) – All grow better when temperatures are not too hot or too cold although new varieties are more heat tolerant. The introduction of Chinese cabbages and other oriental brassicas has encouraged new culinary uses for this group of vegies. Origin: Europe and Asia. Nutrition Value: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, mineral salts, fibre, protein.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Broad Beans –</strong> Grow on upright bushes during the cooler time of year. The whole pod can be eaten when young or (more commonly) the seeds are removed and cooked. Origin: Prehistoric Europe and ancient Egypt Nutrition Value: High in carbohydrates, fibre, minerals, Vitamin A and Vitamin C.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Vegetable -</strong>garden -carrots -potatoes -wyza -com -au</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">If you're short of space for growing veggies, try square foot gardening</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Carrot</strong> – A root vegetable that is traditionally bright orange in colour. Must be grown in well-drained, friable soil that is free of stones, fresh manure or fertiliser. Origin: Europe. Nutrition Value: Potassium, carotene (Vitamin A), Vitamin C and fibre.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Cucurbits –</strong> Includes vine plants such as pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini, melons. They must grow during warm season and almost all have separate male and female flowers. Only the females produce fruit. Origin: Tropical America and the Orient. Nutrition Value: Vitamin C, minerals and fibre.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Lettuce –</strong> The most popular salad plant in the world, lettuce is grown for its crisp green leaves. Butterhead lettuce has soft, buttery leaves; crisphead or iceberg have firm, solid hearts; cos has upright, loose leaves. Origin: Mediterranean. Nutrition Value: Carotene (Vitamin A), Vitamin C, fibre.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Onions –</strong> Onions are bulbs with a pungent flavour. The bulb develops in response to day length and correct sowing times are critical for onions. Origin: Central and Western Asia. Nutrition Value: Vitamin C, calcium.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Peas –</strong> The pea is a legume that is grown for its pods or for the seeds they contain. For many centuries peas were eaten only in their dried form but the fresh pea has a sweet, pleasant flavour. Available in dwarf or climbing forms. Origin: Asia and North Africa.Nutrition Value: Protein, fibre, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, mineral salts. One of the most nutritious vegetables.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The underground tuber of a warm season plant that is now one of the world’s staple foods. Easily grown in the home garden but needs plenty of room. Origin: South America. Nutrition Value: Protein, Vitamin C, carbohydrate and fibre.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Sweet Corn</strong> – A warm season cereal that is grown for its sweetly flavoured seeds, sweet corn grows on a tall plant. The seeds must be pollinated by pollen falling from the tassel at the top of the plant. Origin: South America. Nutrition Value: Vitamin C, fibre, minerals and protein.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>Tomatoes</strong> – A warm season fruiting vegetable that is popular both in salads and cooked dishes. Fresh tomatoes are best eaten at room temperature. Origin: South and Central America. Nutrition Value: Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fibre and protein.</span></p> <p><strong>MATT’S TOP 7 TIPS</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Sydney based Landscape Gardener Matt Paton says the secret to growing a great home veggie patch is finding the right location to plant, using a good potting mix and watering regularly. </span></p> <p><strong>1. Choose the best location:</strong> Always plant in a bright and sunny area which is away from any windy spots.This will maximise the growing potential for your vegetables and will help to provide years of fresh vegetables for you and your family.</p> <p><strong>3. When planting in clay:</strong> If you have a clay type soil use a liberal dose of clay breaker or gypson. This powder needs to be worked into the soil with a garden fork (as a guide you should go as deep as the garden fork goes in the soil) for best results. This helps breaks down the clay to release the other vital nutrients in the soil to the plants but must be done several days before planting the seeds.</p> <p><strong>4. Draw up a plan:</strong> Then mark up the spacing with a tape measure and create holes with your finger or a stick to show where you are planning to put the seeds. Then tag the area with whatever is handy such as coloured pegs or if you want the professional look then buy specific plant tags from a nursery.</p> <p><strong>5. Use a good quality potting mix:</strong> Buy this from a nursery and use your garden fork to mix this into the soil. This winning combination gives added nutrients to your growing vegetables and provides a healthy environment for a great crop to grow.</p> <p><strong>6. Space out your vegetables:</strong> Follow the instructions given on the side of seed packets regarding spacing out the vegetables. They will grow better and it really does make a difference to help maximise your seasonable vegetables crop. If they are planted too close together then pests and diseases are likely to become more prevalent in your vegetable garden. </p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;"><strong>7. Apply a layer of mulch:</strong> This should be about 50-75 mm thick of mulch to the whole area of the vegetable garden (just cover the rows you will be planting and harvesting) as this reduces weeds and provides organic matter to the plants when it breaks down. </span></p> <p><strong>8. Liquid fertilisers give good results:</strong> Consider using a liquid fertiliser as the plants take up the nutrients of the fertiliser quicker than they do with a granular fertiliser. It also saves you time. If you use a granular fertiliser then always water when the soil appears dry and apply the fertiliser before you water.You can use a granular slow release fertiliser such as 'Osmacote' for vegetables.You can also use a liquid fertiliser such as 'Seasol’. This has the added benefit of watering the plants and fertilising them simultaneously.</p> <p><em><span style="font-weight: 400;">Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/how-to-start-a-vegetable-garden.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></em></p>

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How to create an edible garden with Indira Naidoo

<p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Have you ever wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn’t know where to start? Or perhaps you feel you don’t have the space or time to grow everything you need? Cookbook author and gardener, Indira Naidoo, 47, says maintaining an edible garden is easier than most people think and you don’t need a sea change or tree change to get started.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the 1990s, Indira was best known as a news broadcaster on ABC’s Late Edition and SBS’s World News Tonight. She also entertained audiences with her comedic talents, making guest appearances on ABC’s Club Buggery, Good News Week, The Fat, and the McFeast Show.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">According to the former news broadcaster turned green thumb, gardening has brought back a sense of balance to her life.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“We outsource so much of the fun bits in our life, and all we’ve left ourselves with is the boring bits, which is work. And that balance isn’t there,” she says.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">As a journalist, Indira would often cover stories about emerging environment and food issues but she never felt truly connected with the space around her. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">“I think in our modern society most of us are very over-connected with our screens and our phones, our laptops. It can make you quite neurotic. And just be disconnected from that is very important.”</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Going back to basics, Indira started growing her own vegetables on her inner-city balcony, documenting the journey on her popular blog Saucy Onion. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">That was more than eight years ago. Since then, Indira’s been trained in climate change by former US President Al Gore, she’s released two books The Edible Balcony and The Edible City and conducts weekly gardening classes on the Wayside Chapel award-winning rooftop vegetable garden.</span></p> <p><strong>1. What are your top 3 tips for starting your own edible garden?</strong></p> <p>The key thing is to start small, start with the lettuces. As you get more confident and see how it grows move on to your other greens, tomato, capsicums, chilies.</p> <p>When you’ve got more space and you’re more confident about the time involved, then you can go to your root vegetables and your carrots and radishes and your potatoes.</p> <p><strong>2. How different is your career today?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I’m still exploring the same ideas and issues I did as a news broadcaster and journalist but just with a different level of connection, I guess. So for me it’s not that big a journey really. But I can imagine for some people it would be you know, coming from a manicure to having manure on your hands, can be quite a change! I just looked at my environment differently. I looked at my balcony differently.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We always tell ourselves that these little changes will happen when you retire, when you cash in your superannuation and you move to the beach or the coast or the country and I guess in a way I’m sort of challenging that because most of us aren’t going to do that.</span></p> <p><strong>3. What are unexpected benefits of growing your own food? </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I had no idea it would be so much fun, so enjoyable and in fact hard to leave my garden and go and do something else. Just connecting with nature, the greenery, and the lovely aromas. And it’s just fun to share your food with other people.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The great thing about being a gardener is that you see seeds, and you see them differently, and you think, ‘wow look at that’</span></p> <p><strong>4. How has gardening changed your views on food and the environment? </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The growing has changed my awareness, just the variety of things out there. And then obviously with waste. I mean, I can’t describe when you wait two to three months waiting for a fruit or vegetable to ripen, you are obsessed with it. Every little bug or caterpillar that tries to eat it, you protect it like a mother lion to her cub. It’s almost impossible to waste anything you grow yourself, you value it so much, because you invest so much time into it. And then that flows on to everything else. You can’t bear to waste their [farmers] food as well. I hate waste now. I hate any food scrap going into my bin. Any peelings. . . I try to take them to the worm farm.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">I try different varieties, different vegetables that I normally don’t get at the supermarket. That really changed my palate. Most people just do tomatoes, carrots, bananas, capsicums, and zucchini.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The great thing about being a gardener is that you see seeds, and you see them differently, and you think, ‘wow look at that’. You just want to put it in and see what grows. And without being aware of it you’re educating yourself, you’re connecting with it.</span></p> <p><strong>5. What’s new in the gardening space? </strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Vertical gardens or green walls are a huge trend at the moment. And over the years I’ve been trialling a few methods where you can have systems that are expensive or as high tech as you can afford.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The wonderful thing compared to when I first started gardening in small spaces, there wasn’t a lot of design or technology in the marketplace to support you. The wonderful thing now is companies are building specific growing mediums and growing containers for people with small spaces or limited or urban spaces.</span></p> <p><strong>6. Can edible gardens be as attractive as ornamental plants?</strong></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Edibles can be very attractive if you’re an ornamental grower. People think that edible gardens can’t be pretty gardens. I found that edibles can have beautiful leaves and beautiful flowers as well. Flowers from eggplants and capsicums can be really pretty. They have their own fragrances and smells as well.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Written by Mahsa Fratantoni. Republished with permission of </span><a href="https://www.wyza.com.au/articles/property/how-to-create-an-edible-garden-with-indira-naidoo.aspx"><span style="font-weight: 400;">Wyza.com.au.</span></a></p>

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How to handle a wasp infestation

<p>Wasps are common in all regions across Australia. They build nests on buildings away from direct sunlight and cause a lot of damage in the process. While most homeowners might ignore wasps, it is important to appreciate the risk they pose to your home’s occupants and the structure itself.</p> <p>They have an extremely painful sting which contains histamine. This chemical can cause allergic reactions in some people leading to health complications such as anaphylaxis or death. Stings from bees and wasps caused 12,351 admissions and 27 fatalities in Australia. It is for these reasons that you should learn more about <span><a href="https://www.dawsonspest.com.au/pest-library/bees-wasps">wasp nest removal</a></span>.</p> <p>This article highlights a few safe techniques of nest removal from your home or business structure. Read on.</p> <p><strong>Identify a wasp infestation</strong></p> <p>It is easy to find out if your home has a wasp infestation but finding a wasp is another matter altogether. These insects try to hide their nests away from sight where they can live undisturbed. You can check under an overhang where wasps stay away from the rain. They can also build under an awning, wood deck, soffit, railing or large tree branch in your compound.</p> <p>If you have noted wasps buzzing around your compound, it is important to call a licensed pest removal technician who has the skills and equipment to do the job.</p> <p><strong>Stay away from a wasp nest</strong></p> <p>If you happen to notice a wasp nest, it is advisable to stay away from it and remove your pets from the area. Many homeowners have ended up in emergency rooms while trying to locate wasp nests and remove them. It is important to note that wasps won’t attack unless they feel threatened.</p> <p>If you agitate them when trying to remove the nest, you will end up badly hurt or worse. To make matters worse, wasps release chemicals that attract others nearby and this can lead to a fatal situation especially if you have kids around.</p> <p>Once you identify a wasp nest, call a licensed wasp nest removal technician who has the prerequisite skills and equipment to do the job safely.</p> <p><strong>Professional wasp removal</strong></p> <p>The best thing about professional nest removal is that the pest control company knows how to handle the situation. They have experience dealing with different wasps in the area and will know which techniques to use. Without such skills, you might end up making things worse and injuring yourself.</p> <p>The nest removal process begins with a thorough inspection of your property, starting with the area where you spotted the nest. The pest control technicians wear protective gear to avoid injuries, and they use eco-friendly chemicals to eliminate the infestation and remove the wasp nest.</p> <p>When dealing with wasps, you need to appreciate that nest removal is not enough, hence the use of pesticides to get rid of the infestation. The best pest control service carries insurance for your protection and protection of their workers and you will enjoy peace of mind when they work.</p> <p><em><span>Written by Handyman Authors. Republished with permission of </span></em><span><a href="http://www.handyman.net.au/nest-no-more-how-handle-wasp-infestation"><em>Handyman</em></a><em>.</em></span></p>

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10 things you didn’t know you could compost

<p><span>As more people aim to lessen their carbon footprint, there’s been a quest to learn about all the things you can upcycle, recycle and compost. And you may be surprised to learn some of the things you can add to your compost bin.</span></p> <ol> <li><strong>Natural-fibre clothes</strong></li> </ol> <p><span>If you have natural-fibre clothing – pure wool, cotton, silk, or linen – that is too old or damaged to donate, then cut it up in chunks so it breaks down faster and add it to your compost pile! If you do compost clothes, be sure that there are no synthetic threads, plastic buttons, metal zippers, or stains from motor oil, paint, wood stain and other non-compostable substances.</span></p> <ol start="2"> <li><strong><span>Latex products</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>The next time you’re cleaning up after a child’s birthday party, throw the popped latex balloon fragments in the compost. Latex is a natural and biodegradable material, but for some reason, most of us usually forget that! Other natural latex products? Compost them next time instead of throwing them in the bin.</span></p> <ol start="3"> <li><strong><span>White glue and masking tape</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>Arts and crafts enthusiasts, rejoice! Your traditional Elmer’s glue and masking tape bits and scraps can all be composted. It makes cleaning up projects just a little bit better knowing it’s not all going in the bin.</span></p> <ol start="4"> <li><strong><span>Wine corks</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>The next time you’re recycling your wine bottles, throw their corks into the compost pile. Corks are a natural product, and although some wineries are now using plastic corks that look a lot like the real thing, remember that you can compost the wine stoppers if they are made of natural cork.</span></p> <ol start="5"> <li><strong><span>Fur, hair and nail clippings</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>If you have a pet pup or cat that sheds more than you like, hopefully you can find at least some solace in the fact that you can compost their fur! You can also clean out your and your family’s hair brushes and add all nail clippings to the compost heap. It may be a little gross but your compost will be happy about it.</span></p> <ol start="6"> <li><strong><span>Small paper rolls</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>While you can always recycle cardboard products, consider throwing the smaller stuff in your compost bin next time. Recycling can be costly and also uses a lot of resources, so compost smaller cardboard instead.</span></p> <ol start="7"> <li><strong>Old pet food</strong></li> </ol> <p><span>If you have some stale kibble on the shelf, just throw it in the compost bin. Be sure your pup can’t smell it though, because chances are if they smell it, they’re going to try to eat it.</span></p> <ol start="8"> <li><strong>Vacuum bag contents</strong></li> </ol> <p><span>Typically, the stuff your vacuum picks up is composed of compostable materials: dust, hair, dirt, etc. In some cases, even the vacuum bag itself can be composted if it’s made from natural products (be sure to check the bag to see what it’s made of). If you have a bagless vacuum, the contents of the dirt collection cup can be dumped directly into your compost pile. So, unless you’re vacuuming up after a glittery birthday party, your vacuum dirt should be okay to compost.</span></p> <ol start="9"> <li><strong><span>Cotton swabs and balls</span></strong></li> </ol> <p><span>Consider adding a tiny compost rubbish bin to your bathroom so you can collect all the compostable bathroom garbage. As long as the cotton swabs you’re using are plastic-free, you can add those to the bin along with cotton balls and toilet paper rolls. Just be sure that the dental floss doesn’t get in there.</span></p> <ol start="10"> <li><strong>Used loofahs and sponges</strong></li> </ol> <p><span>If you’re using a natural loofah, then remember that you can tear that thing up and compost it the next time you’re ready to replace it. If you’re currently using synthetic sponges, consider making the switch to a natural one. Man-made sponges can carry germs and add a ton of waste to the environment if you’re going through them regularly.</span></p>

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7 surprising fertilisers for your garden

<div class="page-header clearfix"> <div class="tg-container"> <div class="detailPageHeader"> <div class="postIntro">Feeding your plants shouldn't mean buying a plastic container full of synthetic fertilizer. Often, you can feed your garden with what you have around your home. And with these fertilizers, you're often reusing or recycling some old product to help your garden, making you even greener. Here are seven ways to do just that:</div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="tg-container categorySection detailSection"> <div id="primary" class="contentAreaLeft"> <div class="share-buttons"> <div class="addthis_inline_share_toolbox" data-url="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/gardeing-tips/7-fertilizers-for-your-garden" data-title="7 Surprising Fertilizers for Your Garden | Reader's Digest Australia" data-description="Feeding your plants shouldn't mean buying a plastic container full of synthetic fertilizer. Often, you can feed your garden with what you have around your home. And with these fertilizers, you're often reusing or recycling some old product to help your garden, making you even greener. Here are seven ways to do just that:"> <div id="atstbx" class="at-resp-share-element at-style-responsive addthis-smartlayers addthis-animated at4-show" aria-labelledby="at-b26d7a27-eff5-44ce-81e8-3d02c64ce5ce"> <p><strong>1. Ammonia</strong></p> <p>Give the alkaline-loving flowering plants and vegetables in your garden — such as clematis, lilac, hydrangea, and cucumbers — an occasional special treat with a shower of 1/4 cup ammonia diluted in 1 gallon (3.7 litres) water. They’ll love the boost in nitrogen.</p> <p><strong>2. Baking soda</strong></p> <p>Give your flowering, alkaline-loving plants, such as clematis, delphiniums, and dianthus, an occasional shower in a mild solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda in 2 quarts (2 litres) water. They’ll show their appreciation with fuller, healthier blooms.</p> <p><strong>3. Bananas</strong></p> <p>Banana peels, like the fruit itself, are rich in potassium — an important nutrient for both you and your garden. Dry out banana peels on screens during the winter months. In early spring, grind them up in a food processor or blender and use it as a mulch to give new plants and seedlings a healthy start. Many cultivars of roses and other plants, like staghorn ferns, also benefit from the nutrients found in banana peels; simply cut up some peels and use them as plant food around your established plants.</p> <p><strong>4. Coffee grounds</strong></p> <p>It isn’t the caffeine in coffee grounds that garden plants like azaleas, rosebushes and evergreens love, it’s the acidity and aeration the grounds provide — not to mention nitrogen, phosphorous, and trace minerals. Just be sure to dig the grounds into the soil to keep them from becoming moldy. Dig about ¾ cup of grounds into the soil near the roots, repeating once a month. And don’t overdo it. Fertilizing even acid-loving plants with coffee grounds too frequently could increase soil acidity to undesirable levels.</p> <p><strong>5. Fireplace ashes</strong></p> <p>Hardwood ashes from your fireplace will supply potassium and phosphorous to garden plants. Just make sure not to use wood that has been treated with preservatives or anything else. To fertilize plants, spread a half-inch layer of ashes a few inches from the stem and dig it into the soil. However, if you store ashes outside, protect them from the rain or their nutrients will be depleted, and don’t use ashes around potatoes, since ash can promote potato scab.</p> <p><strong>6. Matchbooks</strong></p> <p>Matchbooks as fertilizer? Yes! But only when you want to add sulfur to the soil to lower the pH for acid-loving plants. Tear out the matches from several matchbooks and toss them into the bottom of planting holes for impatiens, hydrangeas, azaleas, and gardenias.</p> <p><strong>7. Tea</strong></p> <p>Sprinkle new or used tea leaves (loose or in tea bags) around your rosebushes and cover with mulch to give them a midsummer boost. When you water the plants, the nutrients from the tea will be released into the soil, spurring growth. Roses love the tannic acid that occurs naturally in tea. Likewise, schedule an occasional teatime for your ferns and other acid-loving houseplants. Substitute brewed tea when watering the plants. Or work wet tea leaves into the soil around the plants to give them a lush, luxuriant look.</p> <p><em>Written by Reader's Digest Editors. </em><em>This article first appeared in <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/gardeing-tips/7-fertilizers-for-your-garden">Reader’s Digest</a>. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, <a href="http://readersdigest.innovations.co.nz/c/readersdigestemailsubscribe?utm_source=over60&amp;utm_medium=articles&amp;utm_campaign=RDSUB&amp;keycode=WRN93V">here’s our best subscription offer</a>.</em></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div>

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