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Expert QA

Green Goddess: Trickle treat

Put my self-watering systems in place and you won’t have to worry about your precious house plants while on holiday, plus try my delicious kipper recipe – it tastes a lot like smoked fish pâté.

I’ve seen a few DIY self-watering systems around, but these two are my favourites. Not only do they work, they’re so simple and you can make them out of everyday household items. They’re an absolute life-saver when we go away and I always come back to happy, healthy pot plants. In fact, I suspect they’re better at watering my plants than I am!
1 Wine bottle waterer
This system is so easy and it’s perfect if you have a big pot plant. Get an old wine bottle or a 1 litre plastic bottle and hammer a nail through the lid. Take out the nail and you have a watering hole. Fill the bottle with water, replace the lid and plunge it neck down into the soil. The water will leak out of the bottle gradually, keeping your plant hydrated. If you have a temperamental plant, you might want to do a few trial runs before you leave, just to make sure it’s leaking the right amount. You can always add a few more holes or use a thumb tack to make a smaller hole, depending on what your plant needs. Otherwise, just plunge and go!
2 simple Wicking watering system
This system is better if you have a smaller, more delicate pot plant. Fill a bucket with water and elevate it above your pot – I like to put it on top of a big pile of books. You want to position the pot underneath the bucket, but make sure it still gets plenty of sunlight. Next, cut a long strand of cotton string (the kind that absorbs water), tie a paper clip onto one end of the string and place it in the water bucket. The paper clip will keep it weighted in the water. Then bury the other end of the string firmly into the soil, about 3-5 centimetres deep. Make sure the string is taut all the way from the soil to the water bucket – don’t let it dip down below the rim of the pot. You want a clean, straight line up to the bucket. As the soil dries, it will draw water down the string and keep your plant alive. You can also use the same water bucket for multiple pots, just use multiple wicks! As the soil only draws water in when it’s needed, this system is perfect if you have a number of plants with different watering needs.
Reader letter of the week
Dear Wendyl,
I’ve been getting quite regular heartburn recently and it’s driving me nuts! I used to only get it occasionally if I drank a little too much wine or ate a lot of acidic foods, so I was fine with taking the odd soother. But now it’s happening more often, I’m quite keen to try some alternative remedies. Any suggestions would be appreciated! Linda
Hi Linda,
I get heartburn when I drink wine too! My go-to remedy is, as always, the miracle ingredient – baking soda. Simply dissolve a teaspoon in a glass of water, then knock it back. It tastes awful, but it does wonders for balancing the pH of your stomach.
Do you have a question or a tip for Wendyl? Email her at nzww@bauermedia.co.nz with the subject line “Wendyl”.
Kippers on toast
In New Zealand, we don’t really eat a lot of kippers as they do in England, but recently I’ve found tinned kippers on the shelves at my local supermarket. Kippers
are basically herrings which have been pickled, then smoked. I created this great recipe for lunch the other day, not only was it delicious, it was also full of heart-healthy fatty acids. If you can’t find kippers, replace with a large can of sardines for something just as good.
-100g tin boneless kippers(drained)
-1 tsp cider vinegar (or malt vinegar)
-½ small onion, finely chopped
-2 gherkins, finely chopped
-1 tbsp mayonnaise
-Pepper, to taste
1 Mash the kippers with a fork in a small bowl, then mix in the other ingredients.
2 Toast some sourdough bread, or any bread you have on hand, then spread the fish mixture onto it.
Sit in the sun and enjoy!
*Add a drop of Tabasco sauce if you like a bit of spice.
Mouldy jam?
If you’ve discovered a few of your home preserved jam jars have developed mould, all is not lost. Simply remove the mould, boil up the jam again and re-pack into clean sterilised jars.
Animal care
We’ve been dog-sitting our friend’s little pug, who has been a delightful new playmate for Rosie and Flo. The three of them have been running each other ragged on the beach up north, so I thought I would treat them to a nice oil treatment using my trusty dog de-flea oil recipe.
Dog Oil
- 50ml olive oil
- 3 drops lemon essential oil
- 3 drops orange essential oil
- 3 drops citronella essential oil
Mix all the ingredients together and rub it into your dog and on their collar. Your dog will love the massage, but it will also soothe itchiness and deter fleas. If you really want to spoil your pooch, use it every two days. This recipe should be enough for two applications for a large dog and many more for smaller breeds.
A cautionary note: do not use this on cats – they really dislike orange oil.
Did you know?
It’s easy to boil an egg in an electric kettle. Fill the kettle with water, pop the egg in and switch it on. When it comes to the boil, just hold the switch down to keep it boiling for 4 to 5 minutes for soft to medium-firm eggs. Let the switch go, remove your egg and give the kettle a wash. This is perfect if you’re in a bind, but I wouldn’t do it too often or you could end up with a kettle that smells like eggs!

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