I've been pondering the great ponder, when one gets a repetitious item through consumerism. Somewhat out of necessity too. I'm talking about onion bags. Those plastic nylon nets when buying in bulk. I've kept several over the years, always with that question, what on earth can I do with them?
Well today, that question has been answered...
I've turned them into weights, to help pull down new growth of my avocado tree. Those shoots are heading for the sky, and I don't want that. I want to be able to reach the avocados, rather than needing a ladder. So the shoots which grew after pruning my tree last winter, are now being weighed down with my recycled onion bags. They have to be used on green flexible growth, in order to train them before they harden off.
Of course there's more to it than onion bags...but not much more.
This was a large onion bag, about 5-8kgs worth, but you could use the 2 or 1kg onion bags too. Because it was a long, large onion bag though, I cut it in half. The top had a draw string, already built in, so I just tied a knot to seal the base. Then I added however many rocks I needed - sealing it with some leftover twine from a bale of Lucerne. (Note: cut length of twine in half, to go the distance between both bags).
Finally, another knot was tied, to make a large loop in the twine (see above).
This loop has to be big enough, so you can pass the bag of rocks through it. You select the place on the branch you want to weigh down, then simply pass the bag through the loop, and slip it into place. Gravity does the rest!
This requires some experimentation for where you'll place the bag, and also how much weight is inevitably placed in them too.
Because the aim is to bend the shoot, without actually splitting it. Which is why you gently let the onion bag down, once attached to the shoot. If you hear any cracking sounds, you might have to move the bag, lower down the shoot, or reduce how many rocks are in the bag.
Weighing down, upper shoots, or even lateral branches, helps keep fruit within reach. A bit of applied stress to the branch, also increases the strength of it to cope with a glut of fruit. Especially useful with trees which are prone to glut.
This is a lower branch of the same tree, which already has a natural bend in it. No artificial weights were applied by me. This is the lower branch's attempt to reach sunlight, from competition with the upper canopy. So avocado trees, are good specimens for training into more manageable sizes.
Some training is required for this tree, because it isn't in a desirable location. It's sitting on top of a retaining wall, so it's roots can only spread so far for nourishment and stability. By reducing the height and deliberately training the upper branches to grow downwards (through applied weights) I'm helping the tree survive it's limited growing space.
This can be done with any kind of tree, with flexible new growth, and tends to put forth gluts of fruit. Apple trees come to mind, so does any kind of stone fruit tree. I'm sure there are other uses for onion bags. Have you discovered any?