Pearls of Wisdom II

Why do people spend so much time trying to hide sheds? Don’t put in an ugly shed!

I hate to see bare soil if I can avoid it so I love suckerers and self-seeders. I have swathes of forget-me-nots – they’re easy to pull out when you’re sick of them or they’re finished and they make good compost. People say, ‘oh but you get covered in burrs when you pull them out’. True. But if you pull them out naked that isn’t a problem … although it can be confronting for the neighbours!

Stephen Ryan, Australia

When buying seed mix, check the bag to make sure it contains Tricoderma fungi, a beneficial organism.

A teaspoon of broccoli sprouts has the same amount of nutrition as a head of full-grown broccoli.

– Gerard Martin, Kings Seeds

One of the most useful garden tools, says Margaret Barker of Larnach Castle, is an apple corer. She uses it to move and plant small bulbs like snowdrops.

Robert McGowan, rongoa Maori medicine expert, offers this advice on the use of kawakawa: Only take the leaves that have holes in them (they are medicinally active) and that catch the morning sun but are in shade for the rest of the day. Kawakawa is good for toothache and sore throats (chew a leaf and swallow the juice) and will help normalise blood pressure when taken as a tonic (ie, a tisane or herbal tea). He says a kawakawa tea “warms the whole body”.

“A lot of the medicine is in the form of aromatic oils,” he says, “so don’t boil it hard or you will lose the oils.” However, boiling a pot of kawakawa leaves will drive away blowflies.

Robert cautions that anyone taking kawakawa for the first time should try just a little to begin with. Occasionally people have an allergic reaction to it.

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