April 14 - 27, 2019: Issue 401


How To Water Your Plants When Away On Holidays + Some School Holidays Fun For Outdoors; A Skateboard Swing Or Indoors; Grow Or Make Pot Plant People

School holidays mean most of us have at least a little time away from home, whether for a day or two or longer. Some plants can last a long time without water, especially those adapted to our climate, but other plants need weekly or even daily care. If you are going away for a while, you need to ensure that your plants will receive enough water to survive your absence. In some cases, you might not even need a friend or neighbour to plant-sit for you - if they're going away too - a few ideas to help your plants survive your absence.

Idea 1: Making a Watering Bottle

Make sure that the soil is completely saturated. If the soil is too dry, it will soak up all of the water that is in the bottle. If the soil is dry, water it now. Get a glass bottle with a narrow neck. A wine bottle is ideal as it will be large enough to water 4 to 6 square feet (0.38 to 0.56 square meters) for up to 3 days. If you don't need to water such a large area, you can use a smaller bottle, such as a soda or beer bottle.[1,2]

Alternatively, you can also use a store-bought watering globe or aqua globe, or even buy plant pots that are 'self watering'.

Fill the bottle with water, place your thumb it, and turn it upside down. Don't fill it all the way; just up to where the neck starts will be plenty. You can also add additional items, such as liquid fertilisers; just ensure you follow the instructions on the fertiliser bottle to add the right measure to the right amount of water. 

Use your thumb to plug the hole in the mouth of the bottle when you flip it over. Position the bottle right next to the plant you need to be watered. Push the bottle neck into the soil. As you’re pushing the neck into the soil, move your thumb out of the way. Make sure that the bottle's neck is several inches in the soil. It's okay if the bottle leans to the side, but it should be sturdy and secure.

Make sure that the water is draining properly. If the water is not draining at all, the soil might be clogging the bottle. If this happens, take the bottle out of the soil, clean it, and glue a piece of screening such as gauze or some thing cloth over over the mouth. Refill the bottle, and insert it into the soil again.[4]

Draw a line on the bottle with a permanent marker, right at the water level. Check back after a few hours (or even a whole day). If the water level is below the line you drew, the water is draining properly. If the water level has not changed, something might be blocking it.



Idea 2: Making a String Drip System

This method will keep your plants watered for up to a week.

Saturate the soil before you begin. If the soil is too dry, it will soak up all of the water from the jug before you leave on your trip. By the time you get back, there may not even be any water left in the jug. Water the soil before making the string drip system to avoid this issue.

Place a 4-litre jug next to your plant. Position the jug so that it is out of direct sunlight; this will reduce the amount of evaporation. If you are only going for a few days and have a small plant, a mason jar will be enough.[5]  

Cut a long piece of cotton twine. The twine needs to be long enough to extend from the bottom of the jug to the base of the plant. If you can't find cotton string, or if it is too thin, braid 3 strips of cotton fabric together, and use that instead.[6] The string must be able to hold water. If it can't hold water, this method won't work.[7]

Place 1 end of the string into the jug. The string must reach the bottom of the jug. If you wish to water more than 1 plant, it might be a good idea to set up more jugs, 1 for each plant. This way, you won't run into the risk of the jug running out of water while you are away.

If you have a few plants that don't require a lot of water, such as succulents, you might be able to get away with a single jug for 2 or 3 plants. Even if the jug does run out of water, your plants may still survive because of their water-retaining properties.

Poke the other end of the string into the soil at the base of the plant. The string needs to be about 3 inches (7.62 centimeters) deep.[8] Also, make sure that the string is out of direct sunlight. Partial sun is fine, but if there is too much sunlight, the string will dry out before it can get the water to the plant.[9]

Fill the jug with water. If your plants need fertiliser, you can also add some liquid fertiliser into the water at this time. If your plant is in a sunny spot, consider putting a piece of duct tape over the mouth of the jug; be careful not to cover the string, however. This will help slow down the rate of evaporation.

Make sure that the mouth of the jug is above the base of the plant. If the jug is too low, put it on top of a book, a block, or an upturned pot to raise it up a little. This way, the water will be able to drip down the string.

Idea 3: Making a Bottle Drip System

Make sure that the soil is completely damp. If the soil is too dry, it will soak up all the water from your bottle before you even leave for your break. Having the soil already damp before you begin will ensure that the plant doesn't soak up the water too fast.

Get a plastic 2-litre bottle. If you have a smaller plant to take care of, a smaller bottle will do. Since you will be burying this bottle in the soil, this method will work best for garden plants or plants in large containers.

Use a hammer and nail to poke 2 holes into the bottom of the bottle. This is very important as if you don't have any drain holes at the bottom of the bottle, the water will sit instead of draining out. This can lead to algae growth.[10] Also make 3-5 holes in the sides of the bottle. Stick to 3-5 holes as if you put in too many holes, the water will leak out too fast, which you don't want.

Place the holes on 1 side of the bottle only. When you put the bottle into the soil, turn it so that the holes face the plant you are watering. 

Dig a hole in the dirt next to your plant. The hole needs to be deep enough to cover the bottle up to the neck. Fill the bottle with water, then insert it into the hole. At this point, you can also add some liquid fertiliser as well. Gently pat the soil around the bottle and be careful not to get any inside it.[11] Put the lid onto the bottle, if desired. The lid will help slow down the rate of water flow; this is great for plants that don't need a lot of water, or if you will be gone for a long time. The tighter you screw on the lid, the slower the water will flow out.[12]

Make a mark on the bottle with a marker, right at the water level. Check back after a few hours. If the water level has not changed, loosen the cap a little. If the water level has dropped significantly, tighten the cap.

Idea 4: Put Indoor Plants in the bath or shower

Keep bigger plants in the bathtub. Line your bathtub with a plastic sheet and layers of old newspapers. Place the plants on top, water them until the newspapers get soaked, and close the shower curtains.[18] Alternatively you can use a shower cubicle. If you're leaving for less than a week you can put terracotta pots on a tray of water and this will keep them healthy. 

Idea 5: Asking a Friend or Neighbour

If this person is watering indoor plants, remember to leave behind a spare key so that they will have access to your plants. It's best to ask someone who lives close by as asking someone who lives far away, or for whom getting to your place would be a time consuming or a hassle may be pushing the friendship. Try to keep the visits to a minimum by using some of the homemade watering systems described above so they only have to pop by once or twice to refill bottles. Someone might be willing to visit your place once or twice a week, but they might not be willing to visit it every single day, especially if your home is out of the way for them.

Group potted plants together based on watering needs. This will be easier for your neighbour to keep track of. For example, you can keep all of the succulents in 1 area, and the ferns in another.[13] To keep your house clean, consider storing the plants on a tray.

Write down specific care and watering instructions. Be detailed, but not complex, and do not make assumptions. Your friend or neighbour may not have the same gardening skills as you do. 

A few More Tips

  • Bringing your potted plants indoors will help the water last longer.
  • Think about how long you will be away. If you are only going away for the weekend, a good soaking the night before you leave might be all that your plants need.[19]
  • Consider what the weather will be like: you may need more than just an upturned bottle to keep your plants watered. 
  • Consider the kinds of plants you have. Young seedlings will require more care than older, established plants.[21]
  • If you are asking someone to look after your plants, remember to return the favour, or they will be unwilling to plant-sit for you next time.
  • Try your watering systems a few days before you leave to ensure that they work as intended.
  • Install a drip system, timer, or other automatic irrigation. It does not need to be fancy or permanent. A simple tube with holes poked in the right places for your plants can be connected to a timer on a hose. Visit Installing a Garden watering System

• 12mm x 15m. Also available: 30m: $64.00 


  1. https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/yard-patio/how-to-water-plants-while-on-vacation/
  2. http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2015/07/how-to-vacation-proof-your-garden/
  3. http://www.thegardenglove.com/going-on-vacation-3-diy-self-watering-ideas-for-the-garden/
  4. https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/yard-patio/how-to-water-plants-while-on-vacation/
  5. http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2015/07/how-to-vacation-proof-your-garden/
  6. http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2015/07/how-to-vacation-proof-your-garden/
  7. https://www.houselogic.com/by-room/yard-patio/how-to-water-plants-while-on-vacation/
  8. https://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/home/how-to-water-plants-when-youre-away-on-vacation
  9. http://dontwastethecrumbs.com/2015/07/how-to-vacation-proof-your-garden/
  10. http://thegardeningcook.com/soda-bottle-drip-feeder-for-vegetables/
  11. http://www.providentliving.org.nz/bottle-drip-irrigation/
  12. http://thegardeningcook.com/soda-bottle-drip-feeder-for-vegetables/
  13. http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/vacation-watering/8534.html
  14. http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/home/4-ways-water-plants-while-youre-away
  15. http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/vacation-watering/8534.html
  16. http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/home/4-ways-water-plants-while-youre-away
  17. http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/home/4-ways-water-plants-while-youre-away
  18. http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/vacation-watering/8534.html
  19. http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/vacation-watering/8534.html
  20. http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/vacation-watering/8534.html
  21. http://www.gardeners.com/how-to/vacation-watering/8534.html

Autumn School Holidays 2019: DIY Fun Ideas

For Outdoors: Skateboard Swing

Some may have seen the wonderful ArtDecko works that youngsters have made locally during recent weeks and which will be on display for a few more days. The art works reminded us of our own skateboarding days and how we'd use the old decks as a swing. That idea has been fancied up in recent years and is more than the old slab of wood with some ropes attached swung over the strongest tree in the yard. It's still a great way to repurpose that old deck though and the young'uns can get involved in doing some home art decko stuff prior to then being able to use their masterpiece for some serious outdoor play.

For those who'd rather take it into the yard as a skateboard, visit previously run: Make Your Own Scooter or Skateboard: Summer 2016 Fun 

Find an old skateboard that your kids no longer use. Take off all the old wheels and scrape all decals with a wire brush.

Sandpaper the under surface to remove and lumps, bumps and splinters. If the top of the deck still has that surface grip you may want to leave that intact so your swing user has extra grip.

Paint the base to your liking; maybe assign this step to the young creatives. Remember to put some kind of sealant on over the artwork once it has dried to protect it from feet and weather. You may also want to put 

Using the four holes (where the wheels were screwed) as a guide, mark where you intend to drill the holes for the ropes. Drill two holes between the four holes of the board.

Cut two dowels with the same width as the skateboard. These will serve as handles.

Place the dowels on top of the board where you made your holes. Use it as a guide and mark where you will be making the holes and then drill your holes.

Cut two rope lengths into 20 feet (6.1 m) each. Insert the rope in the holes you drilled. Tie a knot above each hole to keep the rope in place but make sure you keep the ends even, centre the board in the middle of each rope. Tip: don't tie your knots too tightly, because you may need to adjust them later. 

Measure the handles' height. It should be somewhere between the child’s waist and shoulder for them to be able to use them to swing.

Tie another knot for the dowels. Insert the dowels. Now your swing has handles. Tie it securely and let it hang on a tree.

Now to get some serious air time!

For Indoors: Grass Heads People

You can also do this idea outside too of course. This again is an oldie but a goodie - youngsters love seeing those hairs grow!

Needed for this project: Pair of pantyhose without holes, Potting soil, Grass seed, Craft supplies for the eyes and nose and ears and mouth of your youngsters plant people. Craft glue.

Cut a 15cm to 20cm long piece of panty hose (any colour will work). If your piece does not include a toe, then knot one end of the hose and turn it inside out. 

Scoop 2 to 3 teaspoons of grass seed into the closed end. Fill the rest of the hose with potting mix (please wear a mask and gloves while doing this step) and then tie the hose closed. Use your hands to gently shape the ball into a head shape.

Place the head in a shallow dish with the grass seed side on top. Use craft pieces such as wiggly eyes, buttons, pompom balls, felt and chenille sticks to make eyes, a nose, mouth and arms. Attach these with craft glue.

After glue has dried, carefully water your new plant person until the soil is thoroughly moist and place in a warm location. Check on it daily to make sure soil stays moist (if it seems to dry out quickly you can keep a reservoir of water in your dish), and within 3 to 5 days your new plant person will begin to grow “hair.” Once the hair is established, youngsters can give him/her a hair cut or just let it grow and see how long it will get. If you have time and supplies, make more than one to create a whole family of plant people.

For Outdoors and Indoors: Pot Plant People

While on adding extra 'character' to your indoor and outdoor areas, these DIY Clay Pot Planter people are great for gardening and garden decorating, and work well in backyards that have stacked steps, benches or levels. You can design your own and together with the children for fun - they will love them and it gets them in contact with the Great Outdoors! 

More Products And Tools From Johnson Brothers Hardware Mitre 10 'Get Cracking For Easter' Sale

Available until Match 28th, 2019 - sales catalogue available to read online

EARTHCORE GARDEN RANGE 25L: Any 4 for $20.00 
• 8 varieties to choose from.

• Choose from Lawn, Fruit & Citrus, Complete or Rose. 

• Choose from Premium Potting Mix, Vegetable & Herb, Top Dress Lawn Mix or Compost Premium Soil Improver.

WEBER Q2000: $429.00
• 131W x 62D x 37Hcm.   • Titanium coloured lid. • Cast iron split grill.  • Cast aluminium roasting lid & body.  • 2 swing out work surfaces.  Also available: Black Coloured Lid: $459.00  Patio Cart: $219.00 

• Hinged lid with cup holders. • 180° swinging handle.

VICTA HAWK 125CC 18" LAWN MOWER: $399.00
• Briggs & Stratton 4-Stroke engine. • Dual blade cutting.  • 10 stage height adjustment.  


Passionfruit flower - photographed by Zoya Guesdon, March 2019
Green Life Garden Centre at Johnson Brothers Mona Vale

Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Store
73 Bassett Street
Mona Vale - Online Store: Jbhmv.Com.Au

Products advice is available from the trained friendly staff at Narrabeen, Mona Vale and Avalon Johnson Brothers Mitre 10. 

Click on logo to visit Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 website

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Avalon            (02) 9918 3315

Johnson Bros Mitre 10 - Mona Vale     (02) 9999 3340

JBH Timber & Building Supplies          (02) 9999 0333

JBH Fencing & Landscape Supplies    (02) 9970 6333

www.johnsonbros.com.au Online store: jbhmv.com.au

All information and tips in this publication are of a general nature only and neither Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 or Pittwater Online News does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information and tips in this publication. This publication is not intended to be a substitute for expert advice. Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 advises you to always consult an experienced and qualified person when undertaking jobs of this kind (including consulting a qualified tradesperson such as an electrician or plumber where relevant expert services are required). 

You should also consider any safety precautions that may be necessary when undertaking the work described in this publication (including wearing any necessary safety equipment such as safety glasses, goggles or ear protectors or hard hats). The information and tips in this publication are provided on the basis that Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 and Pittwater Online News excludes all liability for any loss or damage which is suffered or incurred (including, but not limited to, indirect and consequential loss or damage and whether or not such loss or damage could have been foreseen) for any personal injury or damage to property whatsoever resulting from the use of the information and tips in this publication. 

Pittwater Online News and Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 also advises there may be laws, regulations or by-laws with which you must comply when undertaking the work described in this publication. You should obtain all necessary permissions and permits from council and/or any other relevant statutory body or authority before carrying out any work. Major projects published in this publication always list these and/orlinks to where you may research what your own project requires to meet regulations.

Previous DIY Pages:

Decking Timbers  Caring For Your Deck Decking Finishes  Privacy Screens I Privacy Screens II  Privacy Screening Hardwoods  Autumn Paths and Lawns  Insulation Batts Plasterboard  Ventilation - Edmond's Ecofan Blackboards for Children and Home Spring Lawn Care  Shade Sails & Watering  Basic DIY Tools DIY Tools - Power Drills Recycle Your Trampoline into An Air Bed  How to Build Your Own Backyard Cricket Pitch Christmas Lights Displays around House and Garden Summer Mildew - Refresh, Renew How to Fix Things That Drip and Bump in the Night Time To Plant Winter Vegetables in  a Raised Garden Beds Layout Organsing Your Tool Shed  Make Your Own Weathervane Installing A Garden Watering System  Decking Oils  How To Make Garden Compost  How To Winter proof Your Lawn  How to create Shabby Chic effect on Timber Furniture How to Build Your Own Raised Garden Bed  Growing Your Own Winter Vegies  Winter Heating Guide  Prepare Your Yard For Winter Eradicating Noxious Weeds From Your Yard How to Fix Furniture Finishes Part I  How to Repair Scratches, Dings, and Dents of Furniture Surfaces - Part II Winter Draughts Fix  Classic Wooden Tool Carrier Spring Garden Checklist Part I  Install Your Own Skylight  Retaining Walls for Saving Soil and New Spring Garden Beds  Summer Salad Garden  Native Plant Garden for A Fairy Arbour Renewing Short Flight of Exterior Stairs Deck Maintenance DIY Summer Tasks You Can Do In Time to Get to the Beach  Garden Ponds for Attracting Birdlife, Dragonflies and for the Soothing Sounds of Water  Salt Air: Maintenance and Protection Creating an Outdoor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio - Part I Creating an Outdor Dining Arbour, Gazebo or Patio Part II  Autumn Garden Tasks  Autumn DIY Jobs: Waterproof Your Home Checklist  Dealing With Dampness Inside the Home  Fixing Your Fence  Repairing and Replacing Damaged Decking boards DIY Toy Box and Snow Globes: School Holidays Fun - Winter 2015  DIY Wooden Toy Cars and Perfect Painted Flowerpots: School Holiday Fun - Winter 2015  Shoring Up an Under House Earth Bank – Installing a Basic Retaining Wall  DIY One Shelf Sideboard  Early Spring 2015 Garden Care Salad Garden For Children  Keeping Your Garden and Home Cool in Hot Weather  Classic Beach Garden and Camping Chairs 3 Portable Versions Anyone Can Make DIY Outdoor Furniture Mark I: Park Benches for Your Garden Make Your Own Scooter or Skateboard: Summer 2016 Fun  How to Install a Solid Core Door and Door Furniture  Summer Garden Jobs: Pruning A Hedge  How to Make A Swing Chair - With A Frame for Garden Setting Garden Jobs for March to Make A Beautiful and Healthy Spring  Keeping Outdoor Nooks Warm During Cooler Months Children’s Step Stool with Storage  Stop Winter Rain Lawn Loss and Soil Erosion on Slopes  DIY Garden Shed: Part 1 of 4 - Base  DIY Garden Shed: Part 2 - Framing Walls  DIY Garden Shed: Part 2b - Gable Roof Framing  Garden Shed Part 3: Roof Installation  DIY Garden Shed: Weather- boards - Door And Window Installation And Paint Finish DIY Coffee Table With Chessboard Inlay  Spring Gardening: Feeding Your Soil And Plants - What Works For Each Plant  DIY Sandstone Flagging Parking Area - Platform  DIY Pre-Summer Checklist For A Safe Home   Summer Spruce Up: Interior Paint Tips and Three easy steps to rejuvenate your timber deck The Perfect BBQ Garden Setting DIY Water Wise Garden   DIY Side Gates  DIY Storm Preparation And Home Protection  One To Two Day DIY Weekend Spruce Ups  Vegepods For Autumn Planting + Easy To Make Lego Table Or Student Desk That Can Be Dismantled + Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Online Store   Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Great New Mona Vale Store: Still In Bassett Street - number 73  Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 New Mona Vale Store: The Greenlife Garden Centre  Go Outside And Play: Creating Garden Spaces To Connect Children With Nature DIY Plasterboard Repair DIY Dolls House Or Garage Or Boatshed  DIY Child's Waggon - or use as a large planter mover DIY Bathroom Refresh: Zing For Spring  Tips for Growing a Native Garden FireCrunch, Australian Developed Fire-proof, Sustainable, Durable and Reliable Building Board Now Available at Johnson Bros. at Mona Vale and Narrabeen School Holidays DIY Ideas for Children: Little Vegetables Garden, Swing, Windchimes Bushfire Season Preparation 2017: Home and Outdoor Areas  Johnson Brothers Mitre 10 Trade Centre at Mona Vale + Issue No 1 of Mitre 10’s inSITE Magazine for Tradies and Handymen  Preparing Al Fresco Areas for Christmas Get-Togethers and Summer Visitors  Summer De-bug; Mosquitoes, flies, cockroaches and ants - how to keep the outdoors insects where they belong DIY Summer Projects: Install A Fountain Or Water Feature  Late Summer and Early Autumn Projects: A Shed For All Storage Solutions + Garden Tasks + Keeping Our Waterways Clean   Autumn Plantings for Winter Harvests   2018   Paintback Collection Event: Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale Saturday, April 7 Reducing Ticks in Your Garden: Garden care, Plants that Repel, What to Wear Outdoors Attracting Insectivore Birds to Your Garden: DIY Natural Tick Control  Mother's Day 2018: DIY Rose Garden Winter Mould & Mildew Inside Your home: How to Keep Air and Surfaces Healthier DIY Traditional Rocking Horse  Johnson Brothers Trade Day 2018 DIY Mushrooms and Vege Kits: School Holidays Fun Winter 2018 for Curious Kids  Woodworking Projects for Beginners: School Holidays Fun Winter 2018 - Simple Storage Box + Wood Tool Box Spring Garden Prep: Soil Care  Spring into Spring + JBH August 2018 Trifecta  DIY Backyard Doggie Paradise  Garden Care for Heavy Rain Days + Non-Toxic Snail and Slug Debug Ideas  Garden Design and Plant Management to Minimise Tick Attacks and Infestations - insights from an essay by Bill Conroy BSc. (Agr) (Syd) + a Tribute to Wilfred Lawrence Conroy CBE by Keith Jackson, PNG and others  Make Your Own BBQ Kitchen Garden: Gifts That Grow Past That Giving Day  Christmas Lights 2018: Light Up the Night  How to Keep Your House Cool During a Heatwave Without Using an Air-Conditioner Mid-Summer Garden Care  2018 Winners Of National Hardware Store Of The Year - Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale! + End Of Summer Garden To Do List  DIY Fruits of Your Garden: Growing Figs  Fruits Of Your Garden: Growing Passionfruit - Autumn Is Also The Time To Plant Strawberries For Spring


John and Bob Johnson - The Johnson Brothers Profile  John William Alfred Johnson - The Eulogies for those who could not attend Mass

Australia's Prime Minister Visits Mackellar - Informal Afternoon Tea with Hon. Malcolm Turnbull October 2016

JBH Win Awards August 2018 Trifecta - 2018 Free Trade Day supporters, Mitre 10 Heritage Advert features JBH Mona Vale Store, Hardware Australia’s 2018 NSW Hardware Store of the Year over 2500sqm.

Front Page Issue 294: 2018 Winners Of National Hardware Store Of The Year - Johnson Bros Mitre 10 Mona Vale !!!