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Fruit and vege list


Gardening off the smell of an oily rag


It’s easy to grow produce in NZ, but especially if you are in the North Island. If you don’t grow your own produce, plan for next spring now.

My Auckland garden has very poor soil, and a previous owner skimmed off the top soil when the house was built so we have been left with very heavy clay soil. That being the case I grow all my produce in containers.

I found a source where I could buy 200 litre barrels for $10.00, cut in half give me two 100 litre containers. I also buy containers from either Warehouse Stationary or the Warehouse depending on which has the best price. They are the type that has different bright colours and two handles.  Just drill some holes for drainage underneath. Some of my containers are now 5 years old and they are still fine in spite of the Auckland sun.

In the 15 litre container I grow lettuces, parsley, coriander, basil, and capsicum. The larger sizes are 30, 42 and 60 litres. I use the largest for tomatoes and they will also hold 3 capsicum plants and potatoes in winter.

In summer I grow lettuces, herbs, silver beet, eggplants, beetroot, courgettes, strawberries, beans, chilli, tomatoes, capsicums, beetroot, snow peas, cucumber, bitter melon, rock melon and beans. I grow three types of tomato, Roma (acid free and great for cooking), cocktail (which has tiny salad tomatoes great to freeze), and beef steak.

In winter I grow silver beet, potatoes, broad beans, pak choi, coriander, baby carrots and lettuce. If you find a sheltered corner you should also be able to grow parsley.

The containers are too small to grow cabbages or broccoli so I buy them. I have a greenhouse so I can grow tomatoes including Sub Arctic Plenty, which was apparently grown in the poles so it is very hardly indeed, and also capsicums. I grow as much as I can fit into the greenhouse in the 15 litre, 30, and 42 litre containers.

I also have a compost bin and use that every 6 months to top up the containers. When on sale I buy bags of sheep pellets and blood and bone, usually it’s on sale in the off season, and I stock up for when it’s needed.  I add both to the soil and only do a complete refresh every 3 years to stop any diseases. Potting mix is also stocked up when on sale. - Denise, Auckland

Following on from the above, growing in containers does mean that you need to water more often, but I have a solution for that!

Hubby worked out a system at little cost to redirect the water from the down pipe into my 200 litre containers which are used for watering the garden, as well as things like washing windows, outside of house and cleaning the car.

Our system enables us to collect the water and when the barrels are full it goes back to the down pipe.

 It was the purchases for collecting water that gave me the idea of  halving them for my plants.

We have a two story house so we invested in a water pump from Bunnings for about $150.00 so the water can be used on both levels of the house.

Just before Christmas we purchased a 1000 litre barrel from trade me so now have 2000 litres in total to use.

Thanks to cyclone Lusi I harvested 1800 litres (in less than 24 hours!) which was very timely as I was about out of water.

In the peak of summer I use about 200 litres a day so I am saving heaps of money collecting for free what would only go out to sea.

There are 3 of us, and our water bills are between $34.00-$40.00 a month in summer, now saving us a lot of cash.

We discipline ourselves to a 5 minute shower, sufficient time we think and we shower daily.I have a dishwasher but stopped using it. Our water bills are now about half the cost they used to be  especially in summer when I have all my containers full to  use.I think the water pump has already paid itself off! - Denise, Auckland


  • Once you have cut the head off your broccoli plant instead of pulling out and starting again, leave it in. smaller heads grow out just above  where the leaves join the stem. You can keep eat broccoli for months. I did this a few years ago and we eat broccoli at least 2 or 3 times a week for about 4 months off 8 broccoli plants. – Cole, Auckland.


  • A friend gave me some Basil mint with the caution not to let it spread out of its container. To stop it spreading I trim it weekly and make a batch of Basil mint pesto. Basil is a real oily rag plant - so good to have it providing us with such delicious pesto. – Reader, Masterton.


  • "To keep the birds from scratching your seeds out and eating your vege plants, get any old DVD, CD or PC disc and thread fishing nylon through the centre hole and tie to a garden stake. Place stake in the ground where needed on an angle so the disc can spin in the breeze. Works a treat and has kept the birds away from my tomatoes." - Nana, Inglewood. 


  • Place crushed eggs at the base of plants, on top of leafy greens to avoid being munched/sabotaged by slugs/white butterflies/caterpillars.  They don't like the feeling of sharp bits under their bodies so you may be able to go a whole season without a half munched garden. - A-OS, Wellington.

  • Forget about buying expensive netting to protect your strawberry plants from greedy birds! Go to your nearest 2$ shop and buy a couple of lengths of Christmas tinsel and drape them around your plants. I did just that and have just eaten the most perfect, juicy berries ever! - Emma, Auckland.

  • Instead of expensive sprays to protect your brassicas try potting up mint and placing the pots in and around your young plants. The cabbage white butterflies do not seem to like mint at all and stay away. Just don't plant the mint in your garden direct or it will take over. - Canny Scot, Christchurch.


  • If requiring a small amount of fresh cabbage at a time, simply cut a wedge from the cabbage and leave the rest growing. - B.P.


  • Dab eucalyptus oil around the area. Cats detest smells like eucalyptus oil. I believe they don't like the smell of vinegar either but I haven't tried that out - only the eucalyptus oil. Reapply every few days. - Thrifty, Hamilton.
  • Here's a tip to stop the neighbour's cat from ‘using’ your garden. Scatter the rinds of oranges or lemons - cut into chunks or strips - around the garden. It won't harm the pesky cat but they really don't like the smell. Adds a bit of colour and breaks down into compost after a while. - Sam, Auckland [Funny how cats prefer to use someone else's garden! - oily rag ed']


  • I have grown cauliflower for many years and it is not uncommon to have only a few leaves covering the cauli-flower. The leaves are delicious & can be used anywhere silverbeet, or puha is. My daughter loves this green better than any other. I'ld be interested to see what others think. – SMP, Mangonui.

  • Cauliflowers. Years ago I cut the cauli out and forgot to pull out the plant. Months later I discovered at least 6 had grown up from the original root, and in diminishing size, each produced a cauli! In due course, more grew from those roots, and 6 months later another crop of caulis. It is a fun thing! I suggest you dig deep and dig in peelings, compost fertiliser, in a sunny sheltered spot and plant one cauli. When the older ones die, I cut them out being careful not to disturb the roots, and from the same spot, every six months or so, lo! Six or so caulis! - Ann of Whakatane.


  • Instead of throwing out the root end of the celery, place it in a jar of water. In no time, roots will develop and it can be planted in the garden for lots of free celery. - Faye, Auckland.


  • When your Chives have done their dash, cut them off at the base of the plant, and watch them grow again. - Kathleen, Tauranga


  • If you are not careful a compost heap can become a great smelly heap of sloshy muck. You are supposed to turn it over which is hard work, especially for old folks. Here is a tip. Get an old 40 gallon drum. Make a hole in the bottom. Put a piece of scrunched up wire netting over the hole to keep it clear, and perhaps a couple of broken pots.  Prop it up on bricks till you can easily slip a bucket in under the hole. Put vege scraps and weeds in the top, put a lid on if you have one, and the moisture that will run out the bottom into the bucket is wonderful liquid manure. This method is especially good for grass clippings which can go really soggy. When worms start appearing in your liquid you will need to pull it over and empty it out. It will be full of lovely compost. - Marie, Rotorua.

  • I only use a large rubbish bag about once a month for rubbish to go to the dump. I always put fruit and vege scraps, tea bags, egg shells, and vacuum cleaner contents into a bucket and when it is full I dig it straight into my small vege garden, where it turns into soil in next to no time. The compost bin is used for grass clippings and prunings and the odd weed - that takes much longer to produce soil. - C.T. Onerahi, Whangarei. [Good idea C.T. We put all household scraps into a compost bin, and a few weeks ago we emptied it to find dark rich soil. We formed it into a fertile mound, which has now become a thriving melon and pumpkin patch. Another way of getting rid of kitchen food scraps is to start a worm farm. We read an article recently about one being made from a length of 160mm downpipe. It was fun for the kids and a great way of having tiger worms turn kitchen waste into plant nutrients. - oily rag ed']

  • A tip for making compost using nothing more than large black plastic rubbish bags, helps with the slug and snail problem too. Jackie recommends filling the rubbish bags with soft green waste rather than stalks, keeping them in a warm sunny place, and turning them occasionally. She says the warm bags attract heat seeking slugs and snails. “Gather them each day, tie in a plastic bag and pop in the rubbish bin, or douse them with boiling water and put them in the compost.”

  • Use a couple of old car tyres placed on top of each other, then put all your potato peelings inside covered with some compost and dirt then topped up with lawn clippings. Before long, you'll have a tyre full of fresh potatoes. – PR, Kawerau.

  • I have a tip that may make people a little queezy. I collect dead possums and rabbits from the roadside and place them on a wire rack (a fair distance away from my house!). I put a large bucket underneath to collect the maggots as they drop off the carcass. I then feed them to my chickens. They love them!  After the maggots have had their fill, and my chickens theirs, the remains go into my compost bill. - Joanne, Kaitaia.

  • I always had a problem composting, till at a night class I was told to simply wrap peelings etc in newspaper and put in the compost.  The newspaper provides carbon and so balances the green nitrogenous waste. - Glenn, Wellington.

  • Compost. To date I can't put my veges in but all the agrapanthus/leaves now noxious weed. I cut off the green leaves and add to my compost.  We have tons of it here as well as Ginger which is excellent for the compost heap.  Don't forget to layer with brown vegetation. This will speed up the break down. On top of that seaweed, some soil, and also use as mulch around your trees/plants. - R.W., Tekaha, Opotiki.

  • When planting my strawberries I have given them a mulch of wet shredded paper from my shredding machine. It matts together nicely keeping light out to prevent weeds and I should have nice clean strawberries to eat. Makes use of your old bank statements too. Or your advertising junk is very colourful when shredded. Will break down eventually and feed the worms helping the soil. - Canny Scot, Christchurch.

  • If you have the space available, a great place for collecting your kitchen scraps is in the top draw! If your cutting board is above a utensil draw, move these utensils and create a compost draw. Of course you will need a plastic container to put the scraps into. A long shallow dish works best(similar to a kitty litter tray) but whatever fits. We are using a old ice cream container at the moment. My mum taught me this. So handy when tidying up the left overs on the cutting board - open draw and sweep in. Does need to be cleared regularly so  scraps don't end up jamming against the top of the draw. Also helps to line draw with newspaper in case of any spills... Hides the unsightly piles of scraps in the corner of your kitchen as well. (My other half has taken to using newspaper to line the plastic container as well to save him rinsing constantly.) - T.B., Palmerston North.

  • I have four round black plastic compost bins. I fill these with the household scraps and clean garden weeds. When bin 1 is full, I start bin 2, etc. By the time bin 4 is full, bin 1 is ready to use. If there is any uncomposted material in the "using bins", transfer it to one at the far end of the line. It will eventually break down. – G.B.
  • To make rich compose, place lawn clippings, weeds and other garden waste into a big black plastic bag (such as a big garbage bag). Seal the bag and leave. Turn it once a week an after three months you will have good garden compost.    

  • Getting rid of Cutigrass. We have the misfortune of having almost a dozen of these huge weeds in our garden. After much pondering I decided to chop down around the base & leave them to decompose. Instant mulch. Not only has it covered some bear ground & stopped numerous other weeds from taking hold, it has also provided valuable humus on a steep clay bank as it breaks down. No poisons, some effort but free compost. - S.P.


  • Make use of your fences. I have a 392m2 section which includes a 60 metre drive but I have managed to grow 56 varieties of edibles this year. Get plastic trellis and attach it to your fences and grow beans, peas, boysenberries, blackberries, cucumbers, snow peas, etc. They don't all need full sun just warm ground temperature. - Canny Scot, Christchurch.

  • I collect wooden pallets (they are free!). I have managed to fence of the back third of the section for my chickens, and my vegetable patch is fenced to keep out the dogs and chickens. These fences now provide lots of vertical areas for me to grow climbers. I tie them together with old stockings or plastic bindings which make them easy to move. To keep them upright I place spacer pallets at right angles which gives stability as well as creates 'rooms'/spaces in which to grow produce. – Reader, Masterton.


  • "M" from Masterton has this fertiliser tip that is not likely to suit everyone (especially one where the neighbours get a good view of your garden!). M says, "I recycle my urine and use it on lemons, Brassica's and other plants where you want good leafy growth".

    For those who have not turned away at the thought, here are some facts to think about:

    Urine is 95 per cent water, 2.5 per cent of which is urea, and a further 2.5 per cent of which is a mixture of minerals, salts, hormones and enzymes.

    It may be poured undiluted into a compost heap to accelerate the composting process, as well as adding nutrients. When using directly on plants the recommended dilution rates are about one part urine to ten parts water for garden plants and one to thirty for pot plants. Undiluted is OK for trees, shrubs and lawns.

  • I use banana skins (and bulk overripe cheap bananas) to fertilise and mulch roses. - M, Masterton

  • A dead electric kettle/jug is good for watering plants and giving them liquid fertiliser. The kettles with a gauge that tell you how much water is in them are particularly useful if you're mixing liquid fertilisers. Also, if you know how much water a particular plant needs you can mark the water gauge with a permanent marker pen (eg Sharpie) and/or write a list on the kettle (eg "Venus fly trap 500ml weekly"): this avoids overflows. A kettle with a small leak is fine if you're using it outdoors. The kettles that have a detachable cord usually use a common type that will fit other appliances, so they're worth keeping (especially if you have a habit of melting kettle cords!). -Boaz, Auckland.

  • Instead of buying blood and bone for your Garden, get a Fisherman's heavy duty meat grinder (Burly Maker) and Grind up the bones to use as fertiliser. Dry the bone meal in the oven as you cook your next Roast, or just dig it straight in. - TXMA, Glenfield.

  • Don't throw away your plastic milk bottles. When they are empty fill with cold water. Place lid on and shake. There is a good milky residue. Use the contents to water your pot plants. It acts like a pick me up. My African daises thrive as do my many other indoor plants. It saves you from having to buy costly fertilisers. - D.B.


  • Set aside part of your garden to grow flowers with long stems. This could save you a fortune in florist bills. - Meg, Te Pukes

Fruit trees

  • I have been enjoying a good fruit harvest from my dwarf fruit trees this year. When they all seem to ripen at once I slice nectarines and peaches and simmer them in some honey and cinnamon for five minutes then cool and freeze. Handy for whipping up a quick fruit tart or fruit cobbler when the family comes round. I am trying to avoid sugar and have a friend who has bees so some free honey. I freeze it in recycled takeaway boxes which I scrounge from my family as I don't often have takeaways but the boxes stack really well in the top of my freezer and keep it tidy with clear labels on the ends of the boxes. Great time savers. - Canny Scot, Christchurch. [That's a useful reminder for those planning an orchard - make sure you select varieties that will give you progressive fruit throughout the season.]

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

  • J Fairhall from Nelson suggests selling fruit from your back-yard trees.


  • I'm into aquaponics its growing fish and plants together the fish will feed the plants and the plants feed the fish any one interesting in it can contact me. I have a setup plan available if wanted. - Jodie Bonfrer, Whangarei.

  • After years of dirty nails and hands after gardening I recently discovered that if I put disposable vinyl gloves on then the knit type gloves on top - my hands remained wonderfully clean, and the disposable gloves lasted a considerable time. - N.W., Waverley

  • On my 1/8th acre section I have a feijoa hedge, raspberries at the borders, and apple, nectarine and lemon trees. Herbs in a small above ground garden by the back door beans and peas climb up fences on wire mesh. Asparagus in a plot and yams in an old barrel as they spread into anything. Plus a small plot for cabbage, broccoli, red onions, carrots, parsnips cauliflower plus many more seasonally. I plant veges that are more expensive to buy and live well. - Grandma C, Christchurch.

  • We have a decent sized vegetable patch, with raspberries, strawberries and blackcurrants under netting. We have a row of coppicing gum trees (which means they regrow after being cut at the base) for firewood, lemons, apples, plums, walnuts [which we trade for hazel nuts and almonds), sweet chestnuts, feijoas and peaches all help, and our three hens lay up to 10 eggs a week (which means a couple have a day off!]. Various herbs can be found amongst the flowering plants. - H M K, Waipukurau

  • We have just moved into a rental in Auckland and heard from our neighbours that last summer the landlady charged the last tenants a lot for 'summer water rates.'  We want to avoid any drama with unexpected unaffordable fees and have arranged with the landlady to attach a big plastic drum under the vertical spouting pipe coming off the the garage.  It will be easy to fix together when we move out and its another great water source for our garden. - Cat, Auckland.

  • Small garden and greens all winter. Silverbeet (perpetual) (chard to some) if planted  about mid summer is just huge before the winter stops it growing but before it bolts into seed. The leaves are so big that on leaf feeds one person for greens. And continuous picking lettuce also lasts all winter if planted about mid summer or later the secret is to plant say a month apart so that both silver beet and continuous picking lettuce are at their best as the first frosts come and they last most of the winter. 4 meters of garden plot feeds two for most greens all winter. - Kay Edgecumbe, Christchurch

  • Why complain about the high price of parsnips, carrots, leeks and silver beet in the supermarket when growing even a few winter vegetables is so easy and much cheaper. One packet of seed or one punnet of seedlings plus the fertiliser is less than one kilo of vegetables on sale. Winter vegetables require fewer sprays and big killers than summer ones. - Dorothy, Whangarei.

  • If you lack gardening knowledge, do so some research. Go and ask the elderly – grandparents, neighbours, oldies groups and how to go about it. - Dorothy, Whangarei.  - Dorothy, Whangarei.

  • A large section is not necessary. Some vegetables like leeks, silver beet and lettuces can be popped in among the flowers. A dog or cat is less likely to scratch them.  - Dorothy, Whangarei.

  • A use for old guttering: board up the ends and fill half with spagnum moss and then soil on top.  Plant out with parsley which will grow nicely even over winter.  Probably can do little lettuces too. - Glenn, Wellington.

  • Broken ceramic and earthenware pots? Knock them into small pieces and use as drainage material at the bottom of tubs or in soil. Larger shards of colourful glazed pots can look very effective when used to accentuate borders in flower and vegetable plots. - Thirties Depression Baby, Auckland.


  • Garlic is impossibly easy to grow.  Don't plant supermarket bulbs as they are sprayed so they don't sprout.  Go to your farmers market, garden centre or friendly neighbour.  One bulb will produce 10 or more the next year and so on and so on.  We had over 150 this year.  It also keeps the bugs down in the garden.  We're always giving them away! - M C Geisser, Invercargill.


  • Here’s a tip to make a cheap glass house. “Kept an eye on the Trademe windows for sale. Many houses are converting to double glazing so single glazed windows are going cheap, often for only a dollar. I now have 14 square meters of glass house and total cost was under $80. Old glass doors make good roof. I have even used old car wind screens (free from the window repair people). The screens were cracked but still water proof and (with suitable protective clothing) can be cut with a thin grinding wheel on a hand grinder. The result was a lovely curved roof strong enough to withstand a snow storm.” - Kay Edgecumbe

  • A cheap "glasshouse". I made mine by purchasing clear plastic shower curtains (Kmart seems the cheapest and Bunnings the more expensive) and attaching them to the inside of my balcony with curtain hooks. Apart from the easterly breeze which blows them around, have managed to keep my plants warm and sprouting nicely. - Trixie, Christchurch.

Herbs, basil

  • Another basil tip. The basil in a pot that you can buy at the supermarket is not a single plant but a cluster of about 20 seedlings.  Choose one with lots and then plant them out in the tunnel house or a sheltered corner of the garden. Much cheaper than buying a pack of basil plants at the warehouse or garden centre. - Allie, Nelson.

  • When you are harvesting basil, as well as making pesto, freeze some leaves in very small plastic bags. They will last all year in the freezer. Just take one out, crumble it (while it is still crunchy) into pasta dishes. It keeps all the fragrance and flavour of fresh basil. - Allie, Nelson.

House plants

  • Use a small squirt of shampoo to a cup or two of water to clean house plant leaves. It doesn't need to froth. Wipe mixture on leaves. No need to rinse. Result is nice glossy leaves without using a leaf shine. - Thrifty, Hamilton


  • Tomatoes require plenty of water when fruiting. The hose is useless on a hot summer's day. Take a two litre plastic bottle, drink the contents, put a pin hole in the side down at the bottom of the bottle, then fill with water and place it in the garden by the tomato plant. Remove the pin and a fine stream of water will run out, taking about 4 hours to empty. The water will not affect the tomato on such a fine day, and it will get the full benefit, resulting in more fruit. Do this daily in fine weather. - Apteryx, Kaipara

Kids gardens

  • Kids garden. The good thing about a kids garden is that it does not need to be big… something about a metre square should be enough. We recommend a raised garden, using a timber frame with a minimum height of 150mm (and if they get tired of gardening it can always be turned into a sand pit!).

    Place the frame on a flat sunny spot free from shadows and chilly winds. Line the bottom with newspaper then fill the frame with a mix of topsoil and compost or growing mix – you will only need about one-eighth of a metre or half a trailer load. That’s all there is to it! You’re now ready to plant, and you won’t need special equipment – just your typical beach bucket and spade will do fine!

    You could grow anything but to avoid disappointment start with things that are easy and do not require sprays. Try various types of lettuce, dwarf beans, mini tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage silver beet and capsicum. If you have space try water melons and pumpkins (grow the giant ones and using the shell to make a Halloween face). 

  • When my grandchild was a preschooler and I looked after her during the day, we spent many long hours in the organic  veggie garden One thing Emma  wanted to do was to grow something herself, by her self We chose the silver beet that we purchased, then Emma planted, them watered them & cared for them Now I am thrilled to say that she will go down to the garden, pick the leaves, wash them & above all loves to eat her silver beet. All you Nannies give it ago!!!!! - Nannie Suzanne, Okere Falls -Rotorua.


  • Use a push mower instead of a petrol driven mower. They are cheaper to buy, cheaper to run, create no pollution, and will keep you fit.


  • I order a truck load of manure at once. At $60 a truck load it’s really economical, as opposed to $12 a bag. – Reader, Masterton.


  • Coffee grounds are a good growing medium for mushrooms. - Greenfingers, Wellsford

Oinion weed

  • Often our favourite chives die down in the winter and we miss that yummy flavour in our meals. So why not use onion weed instead?  It's a similar but different flavour, yummy yet mild - and prolific in winter. Most people have it in the back yard and treat it as a nuisance weed. Enjoy it in your meals instead. Anywhere you'd use chives, you can use onion weed, finely chopped.  Here's a few suggestions for a quick winter meal:

  • in scrambled egg or omelette
  • with grilled cheese on toast or in a cheese and onion sandwich - toasted or plain
  • in egg sandwiches
  • in mashed potatoes (with lots of butter and zap of white or black pepper)
  • on hot toast with avocado and lots of black pepper
  • in scones - add cheese if you like.

- Caroline, Wanganui


  • A lot people have trouble getting parsnip seed to strike. The secret is after you have put in the fertiliser and sown the seed in the row pour boiling water over the seed. I know someone who always had trouble getting parsnips to strike I told him of this method, and he has had success ever since. Make sure to use hollow crown seed so you don't get a tough core. This method also works on older seed. - Diesil Den, Christchurch

Old toilet roll spools.  Save them up, cut them in half, pack in a kitty litter tray and fill with seed raising mix. Add your parsnip seeds, one to each roll. When they sprout you can plant out by lifting the toilet roll and transferring to garden bed.  Roll breaks down in soil. - Alastair, Whangarei


  • A pukeko is a bird with a strong sense of smell and it can be deterred from the garden with the smell of mothballs – but this may have an effect on beneficial insects in a vegetable garden too. Mothballs are usually used around flowers like roses. - Thrifty, Hamilton

Planting & propagation

  • We always plant our pea seeds in lengths of spouting filled with potting mix. When the seeds have germinated and are ready for the garden, all we do is dig a trench and push the length of pea plants into the trench. Works better than trying to get the seeds started in the soil and we don't have wasted areas of bare ground. - Rosie, Wanganui

  • Seed propagating kits from retailers are so expensive, and you can easily make your own. Save flat, shallow plastic trays (the black plastic trays used to sell sausages and mince in are perfect) to use for the base/saucer. Grab an old cardboard egg tray (the ones that hold 30 eggs) and cut it to the size of your plastic meat tray, so that it fits nice and evenly inside the tray....and voila! seed propagating kit. Instead of going about the finicky business of watering fragile seeds, you simply fill the plastic tray instead, and the cardboard egg tray will constantly absorb water from the plastic tray, keeping the soil and the seeds evenly moist. I use this technique to get a head start on the season, placing my home made seed kits in an old, unused vehicle, which acted like a greenhouse. You can also use old plastic bags, put the seed kit inside and leave in a sunny location, but be sure to open for a brief period daily to let the germinating seeds breathe.  Also, I have used the hot water cupboard with great success, to germinate seeds. Thumbs up to all the other comments, fantastic kiwi "number eight wire" attitude. love it!- K.O., Mahia.

  • Use broken up polyurethane packing in the bottom of your pot plants. it keeps them warm and is lighter when you need to move your large pots. - Denis, Opotiki.

  • Recycling milk cartons are great for potting up seedlings. Cut in half with knife, trim bottom corners with scissors for drainage. Ready to go, Plants should be removed when ready to plant as plastic coating doesn't breakdown. - M.T., Dunedin.

  • My husband is growing ALL our garden veges from seed.  He has found a useful way of using 2 litre milk bottles as seedling pots.  He cuts it halfway up, fills the bottom with soil, then cuts the top into 4 divider slots & slots them in.  We use every container, yoghurt pottle, plastic bottle, polystyrene container we have coming out of our house.  And best of all, they are reusable. - A Hume, Wairoa.

  • Making a seed propagator is quite easy, any container with drainage. Just sow seeds, water and bend some wire in a hoop, then cover with gladwrap. This should act like a mini glasshouse.  - Trixie, Christchurch.

  • Being a "keen as mustard" type of Oily Ragger I decided to build a large raised garden in the paddock next to the house with enough room, I thought, to grow enough veges to feed an army, to lower the food bill and generate some nature time and of course a great excuse to get a bit grubby! - which I in later months had to double in size and am at present thinking about a bit more room! After hours of begging, borrowing etc a certain gardening magazine, and armed with my rather tatty Yates guide, I was prepared to sow my first seed and did so in the egg cartons I had ferreted away for my project of the year.  After the third seed sowing expedition I ran out!  "Help a world wide egg carton shortage" I thought - then remembered that these are sold in the millions at shops so someone should have some.  Promptly putting on my thinking cap I begged and bribed, with fresh veges, my friends and family to get more but alas this was not meant to be by the fifth sowing that is - I had cleaned everyone out! Given that we have our own chocks things were looking rather grim on the egg carton front!  When all else fails "google it" and that was when I found that I could fold up and make paper pots in a number of ways.  Ah-ha! A good way to use up newspaper, non-shiny pamphlets, photocopying paper, invoices, statements, phone bills, electricity bills etc - you name it I have a seed sown in it.  Once the seedling has formed it's first set of real leaves these can be hardened off and planted into the garden with - like the egg cartons and toilet rolls - no disruption to the precious root system and the pot will disappear very quickly so the plant can grow through and establish it's self to help me pay for the egg cartons that I traded for veges! So I now look forward to getting my junk mail and bills as all I can see is the food that they will start. All I need now is a gardening guru on tap - seen as I am a relatively beginner gardener and wished I had listened more to Nana and granddad when it came to what is what and why this and that happens! But as always any help is gratefully received and recycled! Also a seedling in a paper pot is great to give as a living gift ready to go into your recipients garden - no waste and if you save seed from the previous year very, very cheap. I put together a "house warming" pack for a young family which had paper pots folded, home made seed raising mix in a couple of ice cream containers, 5 packets of self collected seed complete with growing instructions and some hand made row labels to finish it off. - Keen as Mustard, Rural Palmerston North

  • Place seeds such as peas, beans, luffa, etc in warm water for two days then plant. We are having a gardening competition so we are looking for ideas like this. We will be judging in December and taking a bus around to see all the gardens. - Manawahe School, Whakatane.

  • If planting large seeds like beans, use the inners of toilet rolls, part fill with seed mix, put in the seed and top up. You can get about 12 of these to stand up in an ice cream container. And in due course plant out the whole tube. No transplant shock. The cardboard will rot away quickly. – G.B.

  • Go to an organic shop. Purchase lentils, chick peas, haricot beans (navy) etc and come home and pop them in punnets. They will grow for you, Plant them in the gaden as normal and harvest when ready. - K.S., Morrinsville.

Plant markers

  • Be sure to write the name  on the lower part of the label as well  as it won't fade so quicly underground. - P.J.H., Waverley.

  • Next time you think about throwing out your old ice cream boxes cut them into strips and make little plant markers with them. Make sure you use a waterproof marker when writing on them. - Canny Scot, Christchurch.


  • When the milk bottle is emptied fill with cold water with lid on shake well, and use the residue on all your plants. If you have a fish tank, when emptying save the water for pot plants etc. These hints work well - you don't have to buy plant food. - D.M.

  • We had no luck growing capsicum from packeted seed so brought a fresh capsicum, scooped out the seed and planted that fresh and Walah  - lots and lots of plants. - K.S., Morrinsville.

  • Keep you packets of seeds in the bottom of the fridge in a container and they will stay useable for years. I once grew carrot seeds that were 5 years past the use by date. - K.S., Morrinsville.

Pot plants

  • To keep pot plants watered, punch a column of small holes down the side of a thin plastic bottle. Bury it in the pot with the top poking above the soil, and the holes facing the plant. Fill the bottle up and it will act like a reservoir and drip feed the plant. - John, Whangarei.

  • Collect water for your pot plants, place a bucket in the shower, and collect the water you waste waiting for the shower to reach the right temperature. I leave the bucket in the shower and collect what I splash around. - Annenz, Auckland

Potting mix

  • I live in a small unit with a courtyard. I will be buying potting mix, which I will be putting directly into bags. I bury the bags out in the courtyard and plant directly into those bags by simply cutting small slits in the bag. No mess no fuss. This will be my first go at it but I have seen it done. I have a potato with lots of eyes on it that I have saved to plant for new potatoes, and I am thinking about tomatoes - who knows what I can grow in those bags. Potting mix is pretty cheap here. - Old dame, Mooloolaba Queensland Australia.

  • Reuse potting mix safely .I fill a 3 ltre plastic ring basin with the old mix (moist) and give it 12 minutes  on high in the microwave. Give it a stir at about 10 mintes. I test with my big thermometer  and  if  its reading over 90 degrees so all the nasties have been zapped.   If you  don't have a suitable thermometer give it 15 minutes in the microwave  to be sure. This is much better than fresh potting mix for sowing seeds in just as it is .  But for planting out plants some slow release fertiliser needs to be added. - P.J.H., Waverley.

Raised gardens

  • Re-use old tyres available for free on Trademe to plant trees in if you have waterlogged soil.  Cut the centre out using a short bladed strong knife.  The roots love the warmth and seem to grow well. I use 4wd tyres that have fairly soft rubber easier to cut.  You stack two tyres on each other and fill with dirt you cut the part out that would usually hold water if you left it in so in effect you just have a rubber wall around the dirt.
    - P Medland, Marton.


  • When planting carrot seeds, put an egg tray in the ground at ground level, fill with seed mix soil & plant 1 carrot seed per egg hole When the carrots come up, you don't have to thin them, they grow to a good size because they are spaced & if any don't come up you just put another seed in that hole They look good too all in nice even spaced rows & the trays just rot away before the carrots are ready. - Bryan Batty, Rorotua.

  • When raising seedlings, put old tea bags in a dish of water and sprinkle or place your seeds on top. When they shoot and grow up a bit, transplant them to potting mix in raising cups with tweezers from your wife's manicure set (while she's out!). This way you definitely get only one seed per cup. - Shane Dumbell, New Plymouth.

  • Save seeds from supermarket or market purchased vegetables. If the seeds are moist such as tomato, pumpkin etc, space them out onto handitowels or toilet roll sheets. Write the date and variety on the paper. I love checking out farmers markets for unusual varieties of vegetables that contain seed to grow. You get to have your cake and eat it too! I always have small ramikins on my kitchen windowsill to scoop seeds into when preparing meals. Once dried you can roll up, wrap in tin foil and store for the next season. When planting time comes simply unroll and lay onto a seed raising container ( cut paper to size if required) and cover with another layer of potting mix. Plants will grow well spaced. - Jules, Napier

Silver beet

  • I grow silver beet - however don't always eat it all. I also had a problem with the plants going to seed as I didn't pick it fast enough. Now I just pick and chop up and freezing in bags works nicely. Bags can also be reused. When I cook I just put the frozen silver beet in.- Rocky, Napier.

  • Young Mum has a conundrum – one many families will relate to. “We have silver beat growing all year round. It’s easy to grow, and free which is even better, but unfortunately it’s not a favourite with our young children. Can anyone help me with ways to introduce silver beat into our meals in a way that makes it more palatable to young tums?” 

Hammelschwanz from Whakatane suggests, “In answer to young mum whose children do not like silverbeet I would suggest to make a thick white sauce with whole milk and add finely pureed silverbeet or spinach. The creaminess hides that 'teeth blunting' feeling, serve the vegetable with mashed potatoes and a fried or poached egg. Try and add a little vegetable stock powder or nutmeg to the blended vegetable and sauce mix.”

LandP writes, "Young Mum wanted a recipe for silverbeet which her youngsters will enjoy. What follows works just as well with Spinach and is delicious. Here are the ingredients for a meal for four: 750 grams of silverbeet, 2 eggs, 6 tablespoons flour, 500 grams cottage cheese, 1/4 teaspoon salt, nutmeg, freshly ground pepper, and 1½ cups grated tasty cheese.

“Wash the silver beet, trim & chop finely; cook & drain squeezing out excess water. Beat eggs & flour together until smooth, add silverbeet, cottage cheese, salt, nutmeg & pepper combining them well. Put into a well greased 23 x 34cm baking dish sprinkling more grated cheese over the top. Bake uncovered at 180 degrees for 45 minutes; it can be eaten hot or cold. A decadent option is to chop & & precook a couple of rashers of bacon sprinkling these & the bacon fat over the top a little prior to serving.”

Lorraine Barnes suggests this. “This is a useful way to use as little or as much silverbeet as you prefer. I use 4 leaves of silver beet chopped finely, a batter mixture of 3/4 cup flour, 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1 or 2 eggs whisked, add flour etc., milk to thin and greens. Fry in a little hot oil. It’s lovely with tomato sauce, which should appeal to children.” [Who can disagree with that – adding tomato sauce to anything usually does the trick!]

G M from Christchurch has a tip for spinach (which could also be used for silverbeet). “Chop the stuff up finely as if it is parsley and sprinkle it in everything...muffins with cheese, quiche type recipes, sprinkle on spuds, add loads to salad, add to soups, casseroles. The flavour is negligible but that iron goodness is incorporated into lots of food.”


Slugs & snails

  • I decided to start tidying my small vege garden today, ready for spring planting. In the centre of it there was an old square recycle bin, lying upside down. As I lifted it up I just about fainted; the inside was covered with snails! There must have been a thousand! Now, what to do with them all? I half-filled a bucket with water and a liberal amount of salt. Within 2 minutes they were crawling their way up to the top. So much for salt. Cut long story short, it took more than an hour before they finally gave up the ghost. I then remembered an old trick: Strong, fresh- brewed coffee is the thing - kills them dead! - Emma, Auckland

  • To keep slugs and snails away from newly planted seedlings, just make a small flat container out of tin foil and put 3 or  4 slices of cucumber on it. The cucumber and tin foil together seem to give off an unnoticed smell that slugs and snails don't like. I put a couple of little holes in the bottom so they didn't collect rainwater. We have a raised garden about 2 1/2 x 3 meters and I used 3 small containers about 12 x 9cm approx. - Trish, Tauranga.

  • Save on slug pellets etc. I cut the bottom off a two litre bottle of milk or soft drink and put it over any new plants until they are big enough for them to take off. Also they grow faster, after coming out of the hot house. Slugs and snails do not climb them – B Cassey, Te Puke.

  •  Stop wasting money on slug pellets, they don't work, slugs don't even like them. save your eggshells , dry them in oven ,crush and sprinkle round the plants you want to protect. Snails will not cross them. They break down and benefit the soil too without chemicals. P.S. I tried the newspaper tip but caught no snails. - Canny Scot, Christchurch.

  • We want to share a wonderful moneysaver I stumbled on. I crushed a piece of newspaper and shoved it among plants to save going to the house. Next morning I recovered and in it were 20 slugs of all sizes. I was so excited I put more crumbled paper around the plants. By the following morning I had 110 slugs. Prior to this I used expensive slug pellets that didn’t seem to work. Crumbled paper is the answer. It’s a plant and money saver. - P.M.


  • Grow NZ native spinach vine plants. They are a little known vegetable, it is a vine that is really fast growing, provides huge volumes, keeps weeds down and incredibly delicious. Simply pluck the leaves from the vine and it continues to sprout.3-4 plants will easily keep a family fed for the winter. It grows all year round and is idiot poof! - Jules, Napier

Spring onions

  • When using spring onions, leave the last 3 / 4 cm at the root end and replant in your garden, it will regrow, can then just cut spring onion leaving root in ground. Will have for spring onions for seasons from 1 original purchase. - C J Turner    Masterton

  • Instead of growing leeks, plant spring onions instead! They will grow just as big as leeks, have the same taste and are more useful over a longer period. - TB, Blenheim


  • Don't waste money buying garden twine. Grow a small flax bush and use pieces of the leaves. You may pay for the flax bush once, but you will have it forever. – YM, Christchurch.


  • If you or a friend have one tomato plant it is really easy to get many freebies. Use the laterals. These are the 'unwanted' side shoots that you are told to remove. Do remove them. As you do your gardening keep a cup of water handy, carefully pull the shoot off and put the shoot in the water. After about 3 days in water the shoots will start to grow roots. A new plant. Once the roots are about 1-2cm long plant them into pots of mix or compost & soil, then after a week or so into the garden. If you have some fine gravel or pumice put this in the water the shoots are in. It helps to keep the roots separate, grow stronger & easier to pot on. DO NOT DO THIS, BELOW, FOR GRAFTED TOMATOES. Always plant standard tomatoes deep so the top is just above soil level. The original roots are deeper, closer to water and the buried stem will grow roots allowing the plant to  grow faster & healthier. - Michael. Auckland

  •   Tomatoes require plenty of water when fruiting. The hose is useless on a hot summer's day. Take a two litre plastic bottle, drink the contents, put a pin hole in the side down at the bottom of the bottle, then fill with water and place it in the garden by the tomato plant. Remove the pin and a fine stream of water will run out, taking about 4 hours to empty. The water will not affect the tomato on such a fine day, and it will get the full benefit, resulting in more fruit. Do this daily in fine weather. -

  • Every one has left overs and they go in the fridge and come out a week later when you are growing tomatoes and taking a lot of laterals off and you forget your gloves and have tomatoes on the vine and you have lots of green on your hands from working with the vines take one or two tomatoes and squash them between your hands it will remove all the green of your hands we did this when i worked for someone picking tomatoes commercially so i know it works. - Tui, Thames.

  • One can grow tomatoes inside. Transplant seedlings, when need be put in a warm sunspot & you've got a plant growing! - P & J Funnell

Weed killer

  • To make a natural weed killer, mix 1 gallon of white vinegar, half a cup of salt, add eight drops liquid dish soap - put it all in a spray bottle to apply. Marion says it will kill weeds in two to three days. - Marion, Auckland


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