Gift card, composting, and warm rooms

A reader from Whangarei writes, “I am pleased some major retailers are going to eliminate the expiry date on gift cards. In August 2014 I was given a Palmers gift card. I have used it occasionally but when I tried to use it last week they said it had expired and my remaining credit was lost! Lost! Lost in their pocket! It’s just not good enough.”

According to media reports Kiwis are losing up to $10 million a year because gift cards have expired. So it’s good to hear that Countdown, Kathmandu and Noel Leeming are going to scrap expiry dates entirely. We think all companies should do likewise, including Palmers. If there is an expiry, we think there is a legal case for it to be six years, which is the timeframe referred to in the Limitations Act 2010. No doubt there will be much more on this matter in the future. Some firms say they have been honouring expired cards anyway. Unfortunately that was not the case for the oily rag reader from Whangarei.

If you have had a good or bad gift card experience, let us know and we will share it around the oily rag community.

A reader has asked for suggestions regarding lawn clippings. Her husband has been putting them in the wheelie bin and has asked for a better suggestion. Lawn clippings can certainly be put to good use, and without a lot of bother.

A really simple way to turn it into compost is to put lawn clippings, weeds and cuttings into a large black polythene bag. Seal the bag and leave it. Turn it every week. After three months you will have good compost for your garden.

Another way is to make a compost bin. A number of readers have written in about their do-it-yourself compost bins. Simply collect four pallets of the type freight companies use to stack their goods on, and place them upright to form a square. Tie each corner with rope or wire and get started! When you think the compost is ready to use, undo the string at one corner and open it up like a gate. Shovel out the compost and store it. Close the gate and you are ready to make the next batch. We notice some businesses give these pallets away, so best of all, this is a free solution!

Or, how about making two raised garden beds, one for composting and the other for growing? Once the composting bed is ready, rotate the plantings and repeat the cycle. This is also a great way to use kitchen scraps. A reader from Hastings digs a deep trench in the garden, shreds his kitchen waste and places it into the trench. He covers the waste with soil and plants his vegetables directly on top.

A reader from Northland says he collects roadkill to use in predator traps on his property. We like that idea – dead pests being used to catch live pests so the good wildlife can survive. If his traps are fully baited he digs the remains into his garden to become blood and bone fertiliser.

Still on the topic of pest control, we think it’s great that central government has made a serious commitment to pest eradication and set the lofty goal for the country to be free of rats, stoats and possums by 2050. We encourage all lifestyle block owners to join the “Eradication Army”. For those oily raggers wanting to source traps, try your local regional council, which usually sells traps at their cost – or check the wide range of traps and baits that are available online from sites like

A reader has some advice on reducing heating costs. “Reorganise the layout of your house so that most of your living is done in the sunniest rooms. Most modern houses are designed to capture the sun, but some of the older homes have things a little back to front – like morning sun in a bedroom instead of the dining room. Change room use to maximise the use of natural heat.”