The eve of January 1st may traditionally be the time for making new year’s resolutions – ideas, plans and challenges to follow through with in the coming year, but I think this auspicious occasion is also a time to look back and remind ourselves of what worked so well we plan to repeat it. I know there are several time-savers in my garden that are so tried and true I will never do away with them.
I would never, for instance, want to stop using upturned PET bottles on top of the garden stakes which hold up my bird netting. Netting doesn’t come cheap so I want to look after it. Draping strawberry netting over young peas, berry bushes and germinating seeds is absolutely essential where ever you garden but when it snags on top of a warratah or fraying wooden post, the result is an ugly gash in the net that takes time to mend. Avoid this problem by snipping off the open end of a PET (soda) bottle and upending the bottle over the top of the garden stake. Instantly you have a smooth surface over which to slide the netting as you anchor it to the ground around your plant.
I will also never, if I can avoid it, buy leek seedlings. Fussy, time consuming little plants to transplant, the more leek seeds you sow directly into the garden the better. Once the row has germinated and grown to a height of 15-20 centimetres, carefully loosen and thin out plants to leave a spacing of about 15 centimetres between the remaining young leeks. The thinnings can be transplanted but the bulk of the young plants stay right where they are and grow on.
When it comes to garden infrastructure, I plan to keep on as I have for the last x-number of years! Purchasing supports for climbing plants such as peas, beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers takes money, and collecting them takes time. My bamboo pole cutting alone takes me half a day! That’s why taking good care of these supports at the end of autumn is something I’ll always do, even though it’s a slow, tedious job. Old vines are stripped back, fraying ends are trimmed up and poles that have supported tomatoes are wiped down with bleach. Then everything is bundled up and stored under cover until required next season when I am always so grateful (to myself!) for having done the job thoroughly.
One of my biggest time-savers concerns my glasshouse which regularly becomes covered in algae in the cold, damp winter months. I could tramp out with buckets of hot water and a brush and scrub it down, but much easier is to wait until a wet, dewy morning when the glass is already damp and the algae is slimy and wet. I take my window washing brush with me and use the scraper side to scrape off the algae, cleaning the glass at the same time. It is so satisfying.
This year, when New Year’s eve rolls around, remember that it can be just as important to reaffirm your successful garden practices as to make resolutions about new ones. Wherever you are, however you’re celebrating, all the best for great growing in 2016.