Saturday, June 24, 2023


 for the good of the cause.

So many handwritten tips shared by friends, so many tips clipped from garden magazines over the years that need to be shared.  Some might save you money, others may just make your gardening days easier.

PLANT TAG KEY CHAIN:  Keeping your plant tags can be helpful as they hold important cultural information, hardiness zones, cultivar name, moisture fertilizer.  All the things we need to know.  Keeping track of the tags sometimes is pretty haphazard.  Using a key ring could be helpful.  Punch the plant tag with a hole punch and slide it onto a key ring.  Multiple rings, or divider tags on one ring could be useful to organize vegetables, perennials, container plantings, and annuals.

A WET OR NORMAL SUMMER?  Normally we don't face the challenge of a wet summer but who knows this year.  Melons or squash on a moist soil encourages rot.  There are recommended 'melon and squash baskets' being marketed (at a price).  The tip I saved was to repurpose dishes from the thrift store.  Ideas would include dinner plates, soup bowls salad plates and saucers turned upside down. Place the ripening vegetable or fruit on top.

KEEP DRY WHEN WALKING:  When walking with a full watering can, carry it backwards with the spout facing behind you to prevent splashes on clothes or wet feet.  DAH!  So simple!

MEASURING UP:  What do plant instructions mean by 'plant 8 inches apart'?  Should you measure from stem to stem or edge of flower or bud?  Common practice is to plant so the centers are 8 inches apart.  Another way to express it is that they are 8 inches apart 'on center'.

PLANT SWEET ALYSSUM:  Sweet Alyssum, (Lobularia maritima) can help fight pests in the garden   reducing an aphid population especially in the vegetable garden.  Alyssum should be interplanted with other plants.  It is a standard planting in my greenhouse.  

TWO PROTECTIONS FROM THE PRICKLIES:  Weeding around your roses or any other thorny plant is not a process you look forward to.  A roll of corrugated cardboard is used to wrap around the prickly plant and secured with a bungee cord.  You can purchase the cardboard at office supply stores or home improvement stores.  The rolls are approximately 4 feet tall and up to 6 feet long.  A second tip was for smaller jobs of removing one or two thorny branches.  Sometimes the thorns can even pierce thick gloves.  An innovated gardener uses a double folded newspaper in his palm as extra protection when gripping a thorny branch.

KEEP STRING HANDY WHEN TRELLISING:  A Canadian gardener shared a clever tip on how to keep track of a fallen ball of string.  Gardener was on a stepladder ready to tie roses to the arbor, string dropped back to the ground.  He devised a system that leaves the ball of string on the ground and threads the end of the string through his shirt's top buttonhole.  It stays put and he doesn't have to look down to locate it.  Smart gardening!  We may not have the prolific climbing roses; we do have aggressive vines.

CLEVER TRELLIS SETUPS:  Prop up four old skies, remove old bindings.  Stick one end of each ski into the soil a few inches and lean them together.  Wind monofilament line around the trellis at a few different heights giving the plant a foundation of something to grab on to.  Remember the old collapsible clothes drying rack?  Extend the rack, turn it on its side and lay it into the garden beside any climbers.  In this case it was for a blackberry patch.  The blackberries grow over the rack, with the canes twining horizontally across it and the fruit is held off the ground.  This might be a valuable technique used for raspberries.

HEDGE YOUR DILL:  From a gardener who sells dill at their local farmers' market in Massachusetts.  She tries to grow more leaves and less of the long, leggy stems.  She plants the dill intensively.  When the seedlings are about 1 foot tall, cut them back to 6 inches.  Every few weeks after, trim them back to 6 inches and pinch off any seedheads that form.  This routine produces the lushest, leafiest, longest producing dill ever.  

"There is always music amongst the trees in the garden, but our hearts must be very quiet to hear it."                                                                                                   Minnie Aumonier

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