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Archive for 'gardening'

The Mystery of the Mesclun Salad

Mr. Munro planted a tub of Mesclun salad not long ago. The tub sat outside our kitchen in a nice sunny spot. I even remembered to water it each day, and we’d started harvesting the leaves, eating them for dinner.

Then I arrived home to find this…

Squashed Mesclun Salad

Flat Mesclun salad!

At first I thought it needed water, but water didn’t help. I’d come back from a day out to find the leaves looking sick and limp.

Something clicked and suspicion started to bloom.

Bella, the puppy suspect!

This was my main suspect – Bella, the puppy.

Then on Saturday, I caught the suspect in the act. The first sun of the day shines on the tub of mesclun salad, and Bella was using the plants as a comfortable bed. I let out a shout, unfortunately before I snapped a photo to prove the crime, and she jumped off.

Oh, yes. She pleaded guilty. Her low, tucked tail wag was an indication of complete guilt.

Another crime solved by Shelley Munro.

Want to Grow a Bonsai Tree?

Yesterday Mr. Munro and I were listening to the radio while driving down the motorway. Hubby listens to a fuddy-duddy station with lots of chat, but it turned out to be interesting when the discussion turned to bonsai trees.

The lady speaking about them made growing bonsais sound very easy. Hubby and I like projects, so this weekend we’ve done some research.

Although bonsai is a Japanese word, bonsai trees were first known in China back in 1000BC. They were grown as gifts to give to the wealthy and were called pun-sai.

Bonsai Tree

Bonsai are grown in shallow pots and usually kept outside. They should be kept out of direct sunlight because there’s not much moisture in the pots. Quite a few varieties of trees are suitable to turn into bonsais, including several New Zealand natives such as the pohutukawa and kowhai. The lady on the radio mentioned Japanese maples are very pretty since their leaves turn color with the seasons. Basically you choose a seedling or small “junior-sized tree” from the plant nursery. Trim one-third of the roots off the tree and also trim the leaves so you gain a nicely shaped tree. The branches can also be wired to attain an attractive shape. Special soil is required – check at your plant nursery – and of course you need your special shallow pot. Once the bonsai are established, they require yearly root trims and shaping.

We have lots of small seedlings underneath our hedge, and we thought we’d try growing a pohutukawa bonsai.

Here’s a video on how to make your own bonsai tree

Do you like bonsai trees? Have you ever grown one?

The Week That Was

The months are passing so quickly. We’ll be off on holiday again very soon. This time we’re going on a cruise of another part of the Pacific. We’re visiting Norfolk Island, Vanuatu and Noumea. I’m looking forward to the short ten-day break.

Mr. Munro visited a school or play center recently for his work. They had a worm farm and Mr. Munro arrived home with everything he needed to create his own worm farm. We already recycled all our kitchen waste into the compost bin, but these days I have to separate out the onion and garlic skins and any citrus scraps. I keep forgetting and that means a telling off. I think I’ve got it straight now, although I haven’t worked up the courage to peer inside the farm to see if I can spot the worms.

The garden has also received a bit of a makeover with some lime chips and some solar lights. It’s made a big difference and the garden is looking very pretty. The lime chips should also stop the weeds coming through. Yesterday, Mr. Munro planted some spring bulbs (rununculars and freesias) because he knows how much I like them along with some garden greens and coriander. I get the job of watering.

Bella has been a little horror since I last posted about her training. I’ve been calling her a devil dog and she’s lived up to the name. She will insist on biting when she gets over excited. I know it’s a puppy thing but I wish she’d get over it. At other times she’s so cute I just want to squeeze her. Ah, the trials of owning a puppy!

Cute Bella

In writing, I’m currently working on a short hot historical and I’m also adding a few words to the follow up story to The Bottom Line. The follow up story belongs to Julia. It’s given me real fits. I don’t think I’ve ever started a story so many times before. The current version has me excited and I’m cautiously optimistic that Julia’s story is on its way.

How was your week?

Water Lillies

I’ve always liked water lillies, which is probably why I’m a fan of Claude Monet. I adore his water lily paintings. A few years ago hubby and I purchased a single water lily. It’s never grown very well until last year when it had two flowers. A few months ago hubby repotted the plant, dividing it into three. Since then the plant has flourished, growing heaps of leaves. We’re now waiting for the flowers to pop up. Maybe we’ll even beat our record of two this year.

Water lillies are actually Nymphaeaceae and they grow in fresh water in both temperate and tropical climes. The plants grow in dirt, but the leaves and flowers float on the surface of the water. They come in lots of different colors, the flowers lasting only a few days before dying.

I took the photos below at the Wellington Botanic earlier this year.

Water Lily

Water Lily

Water Lily

Do you like water lillies?

Sexy Pantyhose

Thursday Thirteen

Pantyhose are a fairly recent invention. Allen Gant invented the modern form of pantyhose in 1959, and a seamless version was manufactured by Glen Raven Mills in 1965. I wear them on occasion, but I’m not a fan. I find them uncomfortable, and because I’m tall it used to be difficult to get a pair to fit. These days they are made to fit different heights so it’s not such a nightmare. I still dislike wearing them though.

Thirteen Alternative Uses For Pantyhose

1. Use to clean taps.

2. Protect delicate items (such as lingerie and sequined clothes) in the wash.

3. Thread pantyhose through the arms of woolen jumpers when drying on the clothesline.

4. Use to clean ceiling fan blades – wipe the blades with damp pantyhose on a broom.

5. Grow alfalfa in a section of pantyhose about the size of a tennis ball. Mix equal parts of sawdust and alfalfa seeds and put them inside the pantyhose and tie off tightly. Sit it on a saucer on a windowsill, water regularly and trim the sprouts.

6. Clean pet bowls by wiping over them with damp pantyhose.

7. Use them to wash the car. Place pantyhose over the head of a broom and sweep over car.

8. Use them as hanging pots. Pack the bottom of leg with soil, add seeds and hang. This works best with lighter plants.

9. Polish chrome furniture to keep rusty spots at bay.

10. Remove soap scum with damp pantyhose.

11. Use to polish saucepans.

12. Use them to clean the fridge.

13. Use as a scourer for cleaning Teflon frying pans.

Source: A nifty book called Save – Your Money, Your Time, Your Planet by Shannon Lush & Jennifer Fleming

Do you like wearing pantyhose? How often do you wear them? Are pantyhose sexy?

That Darn Cat…

Disaster! Our giant pumpkin seeds haven’t germinated. We’ll have to go back to the Farmers’ market and buy more seeds so we can try again. My father’s seeds have, of course, sprouted and are growing busily. I’ve no idea what went wrong, but all we have are little punnets of dirt.

And even worse, since our little dog died we’ve been over run with cats. Scotty used to enjoy chasing them and they knew not to enter our section. No longer. One particular cat called Austin has taken to doing his business in Mr. Munro’s vegetable garden. Understandably this makes Mr. Munro very cranky. The steps to deter Austin have gradually grown more determined. It’s Austin v Mr. Munro and what Austin lacks in size, he makes up in intelligence.

Hubby’s latest strategy is to cover his garden with netting, and he’s also set up a sprinkler system. I have strict instructions that the moment I see Austin near the garden I’m to creep to the tap and turn it on full force. Luckily Austin wears a bell and my hearing is good. We had our first run in yesterday. I heard Austin’s bell and headed straight for the tap. Unfortunately he wasn’t in the garden so he didn’t get wet with the sprinkler, but I did give him a fright.

Yes–it’s the Munros v Austin. And so far, we’re losing.

Does anyone have any tips to deter an adventurous cat?

Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater…

Our local farmers’ market has a giant pumpkin growing contest every year. This year I decided to buy some seeds and register. I gave some seeds to my father and sister, and my husband gave some seeds to both of his brothers. We’re all getting ready to plant our seeds and there has been much discussion about where to plant them. I mean, how big will they grow?

My father reckoned his pumpkins would grow big enough to use as houses for his pigs. The townie part of the family (that would be hubby and his brothers) are more worried about fitting the pumpkins in their gardens. So far we’ve planted the seeds in seedling containers, and we’re waiting for them to germinate.

Have you ever tried to grow giant pumpkins or other giant vegetables?

Upside Down Tomato

Today I have a gardening post about how to plant an upside down tomato, courtesy of Mr. Munro.

UPSIDE-DOWN PLANTER by Mr. Munro

What to do with that old paint pot or unwanted container.

It may seem strange to plant a tomato in an UPSIDE-DOWN container, but there are benefits. Very little soil related disease as the plant and its leaves have minimal contact with the soil. Roots easily absorb the nutrients as gravity provides a constant flow. Regular watering is crucial as gravity not only feeds but drains – there are larger than normal holes at the bottom of the container.

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To make an UPSIDE-DOWN PLANTER procure a suitable vessel. A 10 liter (2.5 gallon) pail is ideal. Whether it is a new or old paint container, it doesn’t matter. The important thing is that it has a lid and a handle. The lid can be adapted from anything but it must be able to retain the soil / potting mix once the container has been inverted. You are now wondering why we are turning the container upside-down. Think about it, it is an UPSIDE-DOWN PLANTER!

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We are getting ahead of ourselves. Before inverting the container we have to fill it with suitable material, potting mix would be preferable with a slow release fertilizer. Put the lid on and turn the container upside-down. Cut 3 x 30mm (1&1/4inch) holes in the bottom, which is now the top!! A 10 liter container should be able to cope with 3 plants, smaller containers perhaps only one plant. Now plant your seedlings in the small holes.

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After a week or two the plants should be established and able to cope with the next procedure. This entails the container to be raised up, turned over and held by the handle, discard the lid and hang by the handle. The plants are now hanging from the bottom of the container but will soon head outward and upward.

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DON’T FORGET TO FEED & WATER!!!!!

Enjoy your UPSIDE-DOWN PLANTER suitable for any sized garden or apartment.

I know some of you are gardeners. Do you grow your own vegetables? Do you prefer to grow flowers? What do you enjoy most about gardening?