Many thanks for all your new tips. It is good to know the Oily Rag community is active and thriving.

JB from Whangarei writes: "About 17 years ago the Government raised child support to $150 a week for our child. Michael Cullen at the time suggested parents think about their child's future educational needs -- so we did.

"I saved $50 a week in a special account, not touching it except for major dental work, and there is now $25,000 in the account."

While on the subject of savings it's worth making a comment about the changes to KiwiSaver that were announced in the Budget.


The $1000 kickstart has been removed, which will make it less attractive for parents wanting to sign up their children.

However, what remains for those over the age of 18 is the government's $521 annual tax credit, the employer's subsidy for salary and wage earners, and the substantial first-home buyer benefits. It's well worth taking advantage of that.

Laurel from Whangarei Heads has sent us these dog food recipes. "For dog biscuits: you need 1lb (500g) of wholemeal flour, 4oz (110g) mince, 4oz (110g) white flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon cod liver oil. Mix all the ingredients and add enough water to form a stiff dough. Roll out and mark into squares.

"Prick each one with a fork and bake at 150C for one hour, or a little longer if they are not quite hard enough.

"For vegetarian dog food mix 1 cup grated raw carrot, 1 cup chopped parsley, 1 cup rolled oats, 3 crushed garlic cloves, half a cup of cheese, and a teaspoon of cod liver oil.

"Give your dog one meal of this a week. My dachshunds love both these recipes."

Turning to gardening, June is a good time to plant seedlings of some vege staples, including cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, silverbeet and winter lettuce. You can also plant strawberries, and in the warmer areas, early potatoes. In the orchard, it's time to prune the trees that have finished fruiting and plant new fruit trees, including apples, pears, plums, peaches, nectarines and citrus.

Andrea from Nelson has this tip for a raised garden: "Use old bricks. You can change the shape of your garden if bored. Last year mine was a huge circle but I am now remaking it as two large rectangles. The bricks are just stacked two high and topped up with home-made compost, from our compost bins made from free pallets."


Andrea also has this tip for a kids' drink. "I now make smoothies. If you use banana as the base it's sweet but with no added sugar. Since having these as his after-school snack, my son has trimmed down."

B.D. from the Waikato has this tip for a super-simple portable garden: "I have two halved lengthwise plastic 250-litre drums. These cost as little as $5 or are sometimes free. I cut mine in about five minutes using a jigsaw. Make some drainage holes and cover with a few stones to stop them getting blocked.

"Fill with manure and soil. I planted 30 silverbeet and kale. This is ideal for anyone who has to uplift the garden if renting or moving. It can't come easier or cheaper than that -- and, of course, there's no garden to dig and very little weeding required."

Now for some questions. Pat from Orakei in Auckland is keen on the garden drum idea but has asked for help: "Does anyone know where I can get plastic 250-litre drums in the Orakei area?"

Jane from Auckland has asked: "I would like some advice as to how to clean mildew from cream-coloured cotton/linen curtains."

And Andrew has asked: "Does anyone have some super-simple, cheap recipes for meals for cold winter nights that are suitable for a young family?"

If you can help Pat, Jane or Andrew then please drop us a note at our website.

Thanks so much for your questions and tips -- please keep them coming. You can send in your ideas and join the Oily Rag mailing list by visiting the website or writing to us at Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei.

Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Read tips at