Gardening Tips

Here are some of our favorite gardening tips-

Compost

The most practical way to dispose of yard and kitchen waste is with a compost heap . Grass clippings, shredded leaves, raw vegetable and fruit scraps, eggshells and coffee grounds add a multitude of nutrients that will break down over time and greatly benefit growing plants.

Tools of the trade

When spacing plants, a long-handled tool (or even a short one) such as a shovel, rake, or trowel you keep nearby when outside in the garden can be used as a measuring device. Lay the tool on a flat surface and use a measuring tape and make marks along the handle with a permanent marker for a ruler.

Mulching

A layer of mulch in the garden will help the plants to retain moisture and will reduce the amount of watering needed. The mulch will also reduce the amount of weeding and the plants will be able to stay warmer and consequently extends the growing season. One of our favorites is grass clippings.Place a generous amount of grass clippings around your plants after mowing the lawn. The plants will benefit from the nitrogen as the clippings break down. Just be sure that you are using grass clippings from a lawn that hasn't had weed killers applied to it.

Waste not

After boiling potatoes or steaming vegetables, cool the water and use it to water your potted plants. The plants will appreciate the extra treat.

Animals in the garden

Put some water in the garden like a birdbath to attract birds to come and eat bugs. A bat house in the yard will attract bats and they will eat the insects at night. Toads in the garden also eat the bugs. A pot with a small opening at the bottom placed in the garden, upside down, might be an ideal hiding place.

For acid lovers

Save your coffee and tea grounds to spread around acid-loving plants like azaleas, gardenias, rhododendrons, and even blueberries. About one quarter of an inch once monthly will keep the PH of the soil on the acidic side.

Herb drying

The fastest way to dry harvested herbs is to cover the back seat of your car with newspaper and place the herbs on the paper. Close all the doors and windows. After the herbs are dried your car will smell fantastic.

Conserve water

Soak the soil completely when you plants need water. Insubstantial watering will cause shallow root development. The use of a soaker hose in the garden is a good idea. Many people like to water at night; however, you’ll get better results if you water the plants early in the morning.

Garden smart

A five-gallon bucket can be very useful to the gardener because it carries many small tools. Turned over, the bucket also doubles as a seat in the garden. The outside of the bucket can be adorned with apron of pockets just like the tool buckets made for carpenters.

Use native plants

These plants have adapted well to their environment and will much hardier. They will also be a better food source and shelter for native animals.

Prolonging blooms

"Deadheading" annual flowers like marigolds, cosmos, and geraniums, will ensure blooming throughout the growing season. This works very well for handing baskets. Cut or pinch off the dead and brown flowers. Roses will not bloom all summer but the blooms will last longer by removing deadheads. Deadheading perennials will help them to look more attractive but they probably won’t produce more flowers.

Mix up the plants

Select several different types of plants like trees, shrubs, flowers (annuals & Perennials), fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Water gardens will add a peaceful and tranquil effect. You can mix and match with herbs, flowers, and vegetables. There are many types of herbs that repel pests.

Cut flowers

To help your flowers stay fresher longer, cut long stems and remove the foliage. Use a clean vase and clean water. Add some citric acid or a packet of flower preservative to the vase. Citric acid lowers the PH of the water and the cut part of the stem will draw more water.

Companion planting

Companion planting will confuse pests because of all the different smells. It is a lot harder for them to find their favorite foods. You can plant marigolds, basil, sage, or rosemary with tomatoes, squash, beans, and corn. Fragrant herbs bordering your vegetables will be a natural protector.

Slug baiting

Slugs spend most the winter, spring, and summer underground because it is either, too wet, too cold, or too warm. In the fall when it rains, they come out of the soil to eat, mate, and lay their eggs. Commercial slug bait products that contain iron phosphate work very well and have been shown to be less toxic to dogs and cats than those that contain metaldehyde.

Grow disease resistant varieties

Check the seed packages or the description inserts on potted plants for specific disease resistance information.

Stretch the growing season

In early spring, the use of a cold frame or row covers can lengthen the growing season. Vegetables that tolerate cold weather include carrots, parsnips, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Raised beds and dark mulch will heat up the soil for earlier production.

Don’t trust your memory

It’s a long time from one growing season to the next. Keeping a garden journal is a great idea for remembering last year’s garden and is a great learning tool. You can keep track of what, when, and where seeds and plants were grown. Keeping a yearly record helps with crop rotation by changing the kinds of vegetables and flowers in an area. Other features you might want to record are precipitation patterns; unusual weather; the first and last frosts; the kinds of animal and insect visitors, weeding, fertilizing, and harvest dates.

Plant Markers

Make these inexpensive and durable plant markers from recycled plastic jugs. Save the cut off tops for a funnel.

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