How to grow a giant pumpkin among heaps of tips

By Frank, Muriel Newman

The mail bags have been bulging with fantastically frugal tips from readers. In fact, we can't remember having received so many letters. More and more families are realising it's possible to live well without high costs. Here are some of the tips received this week.

R.D. has a tip about saving money on milk and yoghurt. "I used to buy yellow-top milk and drink up to half a litre a day, to make sure I got enough calcium and protein. Now I use skim-milk powder plus a three-month calcium prescription from my GP, which costs $3. Skim milk powder makes 10 litres of milk per 1kg. I also have a yoghurt maker. To make the first one I get a probiotic packet mix, use 1-2 tbsp plus 140g skim milk powder. I keep the rest in the fridge in a recycled peanut-butter container. Then I just leave some in the container to act as a starter for the next batch, plus 140g milk powder."

Stella Hughes from Napier has a tip about transporting pets. "Put pet in a pet cage and cover with a towel to keep it calm. Securing the cage with a seat belt gives extra protection in case of an accident."

Shirley from Masterton has a bread recipe, to rival store-bought Vogel's.

"You will need: 2 cups (315g) white flour, 2 cups (315g) wholemeal flour, cup (75g) kibbled wheat, cup (35g) kibbled rye, cup (70g) sunflower seeds, cup (22g) rolled oats, 2tsp Surebake yeast or 1tsp Bakels dried yeast, 2tsp salt, and 3 cups plus 1tbsp of warm (30-35C) water (total 765ml). Combine all in a large bowl and mix into a shaggy dough. Place in loaf pan and leave on top of hot water cylinder for five hours or until risen to the top of the pan. Fan bake at 220C for 45 minutes. The ingredients can be altered (eg, different flours, seeds, etc) successfully." Shirley estimates the cost, including electricity, at about $2.20 a loaf.

Anonymous from Rotorua has this Hurry Curry Beans recipe. "You will need an onion, some cooking oil, 1 tbsp of cheap brand curry, 500g mince, two cans of baked beans (house brand or on special), cooked rice, and green beans. Fry up onions with oil and curry till clear. Add the mince and fry until brown. Add baked beans and simmer for 15 minutes. Add seasoning then eat with rice and green beans. Yummy and filling!"

And now, from the "that's fairly oily rag interesting" department - we have previously mentioned growing pumpkins, and the fun of growing giant ones. Well, a new New Zealand record has just been set by the Barton family from Parua Bay, Whangarei - with a 721kg whopper. That smashed the previous record of 540kg set last year by a grower in Taupo, and is only 100kg from the world record of 821kg, grown in Wisconsin, US. We have no doubt it won't be too many years before we see a New Zealand grower as the giant pumpkin world champ!

The trick to growing really big pumpkins is to start with the right seed, and feed the plant lots of horse dung and other fertilisers including commercial formulas, seaweed, and fish emulsion.

To find out more about growing giant pumpkins, see It's a great site with lots of "how to" tips to get you growing.

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 at

- Hamilton News

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