Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman
Oily rag austerity has been the theme of 2011. Some three weeks ago Statistics New Zealand released a survey which claimed nearly half of all New Zealanders say they have not enough or just enough to live on.
This comes at a time when there is a lot of talk about a “fair” wage – ironically by politicians who this week were given an across-the-board salary increase of 1.5 per cent! They also received a $5000 annual payment to compensate for their axed international travel perk – backdated to July 1st. Unfortunately, the struggling Kiwis who pay their wages, don’t have any say about how much a fair wage is for MPs – but while politicians are busy on the hustings, oily raggers are busy doing something for themselves.
November is a busy time in the garden. Things to sow in the garden include: carrots (for harvest from January – February ), climbing and runner beans (harvest January – February), cucumbers (harvest December – January), dwarf beans (December – January), potatoes (February – April), pumpkins (February – April), silverbeet (December – February), and sweet corn (January – February).
Sow seed trays (for planting in 4-6 weeks time): broccoli (harvesting December – February), cabbage (December – March), capsicum (January – February), leeks (February – March), lettuce (December – February), courgettes – which grow into marrows if not picked in time (December – January – March), rockmelon (January – March), tomato (December – March), and watermelon (January – February).
K.O. from Mahia says, “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 homemade 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.”
A. Hume from Wairoa, says, “My husband is growing ALL our garden vegies 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 and 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.”
Gardens do not need to be large, even something a metre or two square will save you heaps of money. For the frame, use whatever you have spare – free – timber, stones, blocks or bricks, logs, tyres, and so on. Place a thick layer of newspaper on the bottom, then fill with a mix of topsoil and compost. That’s all it takes!
Send in your favourite penny pinching tips by visiting the oily rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. The book Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available online at www.oilyrag.co.nz.
* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at www.oilyrag.co.nz. The book is available from bookstores and online at www.oilyrag.co.nz.