Most people may not look at gardening as a creative enterprise but it is or can be, in many ways. In fact, there is an entire world of gardening tips if you apply a little creative thought. For one thing, you know that necessity tends to be the mother of invention.
Many of the old-timers in gardening could tell you a few stories about home-grown solutions they came up with. That is just another aspect of gardening that makes it all the more pleasurable.
Indeed, if you join some of the larger gardening forums on the internet, you can spend hours reading all the creative ways people solve problems in the garden.
Check the Garden Frequently
Here is a very simple gardening tip that can make for a fun and relaxing afternoon. We know because we have done this on more than one occasion. Sometimes when you are driving, you will notice someone’s garden that looks very nice. If it is possible, go check it out and see what is growing and how it is all laid out.
Of course, you will see some that are pretty standard even though the flowers are beautiful. But once in a while, you will come across something you have not seen before. The garden may have different strains and hybrids previously unknown, and you never know what you will discover.
Coordinate the Layout of Your Plants
You have to coordinate the layout of your plants with the sun’s daily track in the sky. You have to know where the sun will be hitting your flowers. The reason that may become an issue is if you have a mix of short and tall flowering plants.
So you want to make sure the mature plants that are shorter will have enough sun. You will surely be disappointed to discover the tall plants are providing shade where you do not want it. Another important layout decision involves leaving enough room for your plants to grow to full maturation.
Wide Row Vegetable Garden
If you do not have a lot of extra space on your property and have always wanted a vegetable garden, then all is not lost. There is a relatively simple solution to this dilemma and it is called the wide row vegetable garden.
You do not need to have a long row, just one that is shorter and wider than a single row. If you want to grow carrots or beets, for instance, then you can make a wide row that is elevated about a foot or so.
You will still do your normal ground preparation but just add some topsoil to attain the height. You will discover a very full and good size root vegetables in this manner.
The above gardening tips are not new or earth-shattering, but they are very practical and have served others very well. There are many of them would love to grow both flowers and vegetables. But perhaps they feel there is not enough space for the vegetables. That is why the wide row vegetable strategy is such a great idea.
Jobs to do in Spring
- Fed your bulbs with high potassium (potash) fertilizer, to encourage them to set flowers for next spring.
- Don’t cut their foliage off until it is brown and dead. If you do, then you won’t have flowers next year.
- Start incorporating compost and animal manure into your soil to improve its water-holding capacity.
- Make your lawn to increase the oxygen content in it. This will also improve water penetration. You can buy hand corers from your local hardware store.
- Spring is also the time to feed your ornamental plants especially your roses, herbaceous perennials and annuals
- Once your plants have flowered, this includes native plants, it is time to cut them back. If you are unsure how much to take off, then only remove 1/3 of the plant and your plant will be okay.
Winter – Coping with Frost
- Watch the weather forecast
- Water the garden the night before. Wet soil is warmer than dry soil.
- Bring delicate plants inside the house if you can.
- Place light materials over your plants. It is better if you can take the weight off the plants by using stakes. Don’t use plastic.
- Water your plants before the sun rises, this slows down the thrawing process. Rapid thrawing is what causes damage to the internal cell walls.
Jobs to do in Winter
- If you are inundated with leaves, get some chicken wire and stakes, make a circle and secure it with the stakes and put the leaves in. Add some blood and bone and water and in 4 months time, you will have lovely compost. Turning every now and again will also help.
- Prune your roses and then spray the soil and stems with lime sulfur to try and kill fungal spores such as black spot. Make sure you don’t spray lime sulfur in spring, it will damage the new leaves.
- Clean and sharpen your tools. A job that everyone forgets about! Sharp tools make your job much easier in the garden.
- If you didn’t prune your hydrangeas in autumn, now is the time to cut them back. You won’t get flowers until the next year, so leave all the unflowered stalks (have candlestick points) as they are this year’s flowers.
- Winter is still a good time to move plants.
- At the end of winter, the dreaded job of checking that the watering system is a must. It can get blocked up with soil and insects.
Jobs to do in Autumn
- Early autumn put your large bulbs like daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips into the vegetable crisper of the fridge to get a cold period. They can stay there for up to 6 weeks. Don’t put them in the freezer, you will ruin them.
- Soak small bulbs like ranunculus and anemones in a bucket with a dash of liquid fertilizer and leave for 24 hours. They will swell up and germinate quicker. It gives them a good start in life.
- Early autumn says March before the soil temperature has cooled down is a good time to give your plants their last feed of blood and bone or any other solid organic fertilizer before winter sets in.
- This time of year is also excellent for repairing, renovating or replacing your lawn. And autumn is the last time you have to fertilize it before winter arrives.
- Autumn is also a great time to move small trees and shrubs if you have too. The remaining warmth in the soil helps stimulate new root growth.
- Autumn is also a great time to plant your winter/spring annuals such as primulas or pansies. Again, it helps them get over transplant shock if you soak them in some liquid fertilizer for a couple of hours. It really works!
Coping with Summer
How to Manage your garden with Wet Summers
After 13 years of drought, Australia is experiencing torrential downpours and in many parts of the country – floods. For years we have all been asking how to help our plants survive drought, now we are asking how do we save them from drowning.
Wet soils are many plants enemies, especially citrus. Clay soils are usually the problem because they have small pore space (gaps between the soil particles) and they fill up quickly with water, pushing out the oxygen. Plant roots need oxygen just like us to survive.
Signs of Water Stress
- Black edges on the mature leaves.
- Leaves becoming pale yellow.
- Mature leaves falling off in massive amounts.
- The general lackluster appearance of the plants and
- Sometimes at the tips of the leaves, they go a pale yellow and very limp.
To improve drainage, I suggest the following:
Put down some agricultural pipe and drain the excess water to another part of the garden. If you have a pond or dam, drain it to there. It is a good idea to put a layer of small stones down, then the agricultural pipe.
Long Term Effect
- If your soil pH is over 5.5 add gypsum. It loosens up the clay soil particles and allows the moisture to drain away. It needs to be applied every 1 to 2 years.
- Incorporate regularly, lots of compost and animal manure. Again, they loosen up the soil particles and improve drainage.
- If you have very heavy clay, initially you may have to rip or rotary hoe it.
- And the last trick is to choose local plants that have adapted to heavy wet soil conditions.
Tips to protect your plants on extremely hot days in summer
- Take pot plants inside.
- Put an old umbrella up over delicate plants like hydrangeas.
- Put shade cloth over delicate plants like fuchsia. Don’t forget to tie it down or it will blow away.
- Old sheets and towels also can protect your plants.
- Don’t forget to take them off after the heat has passed.
- And only water early in the morning or at the end of the day.
- Revive your burnt plants from the extreme heat
- Do not prune any plants until the cooler weather of autumn arrives. The burnt foliage provides protection for the buds that are still alive.
To tell if buds are still alive – green buds yes, brown dried out looking no.
Run your thumb along the stem and take off some of the bark. Green is alive, brown means the stem is dead. Do this all over the plant to find if any part is still alive.
Climbing Plants Hints
For those climbers on fences wind the lateral (side) stems horizontally through the lattice holes or along with the wire support. This will create lovely thick low coverage of foliage.
Wisteria needs a winter prune and summer prune. In summer prune off the long tendrils. To encourage next springs flowers (which occur on second-year growth) identify the join where the last year’s growth finishes and this year’s growth start.
Last years growth is grey in color and this year is green. On the green section count up three buds and prune off the rest. This will become spurs for the next springs flowering.
Think about what part of the vegetables you want to eat. eg: flowers, leaves roots, etc.
1. Tomatoes – do not enrich the soil too much as they will only produce leaves. Add a good handful of potash when planting and water in well.
2. Sweet corn – needs to be planted into 2 rows, so that the wind can cross-fertilize it.
3. Pumpkins/zucchinis – need a lot of room to grow. The male flowers appear first, female occurs at the end of the tendrils. You may need to pollinate the female flowers your self. Get a toothbrush. Pick the male flower and pull back the petals. Brush the toothbrush gently over the male stamen and then gently over the female. If the little fruits fall off, it could be because it was not fertilized or there has been an inconsistency with watering – too much/not enough. Only let one or two pumpkins etc develop on each plant by chopping off the tip.
10 Easy Gardening Tips That Will Help Save the Planet
Big gestures and promises are important when it comes to environmental change, but so are little things. When millions of people do the little things, they add up fast.
Why not think about ways you protect the planet while planting your garden this year? Let’s talk about 10 Easy Gardening Tips That Will Help Save the Planet because even small actions can have a big impact on the environment.
1. Keep Grass Green, Even During Drought
All you need is a rain barrel. With it, you can collect excess rainwater from your eaves, creating a double win: It will prevent flooding in low lying parts of your garden while at the same time allowing you to water your plants and flowers, with no impact to your water bill.
Even in the middle of a drought, you can maintain your garden’s fresh look. Tip? Install a fine mesh screen on the top of the barrel to keep pests out. You can do it!
2. Got a Hankering for Cornbread? Weeds don’t!
If you like using corn meal gluten in your cooking, you might want to buy a little extra and use some in your garden too. Corn meal gluten keeps weed seeds from germinating and growing into full-fledged pesky weeds.
All you need to do is sprinkle some cornmeal around your flowers and plants. But beware: the gluten will prevent any seed from germinating – so if you’re growing vegetables, keep the cornmeal away or you’ll have a mighty small crop this season.
Is your garden already being invaded by weeds? A natural weed killer that works is a pinch of salt at the base of the weed.
3. Invite Good Bugs Into Your Garden
Encourage the good bugs to pay your plants and flowers a visit and watch as they keep the bad bug population down for you. Example? Ladybugs love brightly colored flowers, like sunflowers.
They also enjoy a hearty snack of plant-destroying aphids. Bright flowers attract the ladybugs and the aphids become lunch for them, so it’s a win-win for your garden, and the ladybugs!
It’s easy to encourage good bugs to visit your garden. Simply plant colorful flowers. It will create a botanical smorgasbord that they won’t be able to resist. Learn how to attract ladybugs to your garden.
4. A little Irish Spring in your step?
There’s a good reason to buy not one but two bars of Irish Spring soap. Take one and shave pieces off with a knife or grater. Sprinkle the shavings around your perennials and most species of small, furry beasts will avoid your plant beds. The soap is an inexpensive pest deterrent that is safer than many of the products sold at your local garden center. It smells better too!
Why the second bar of Irish Spring? When you’re done gardening for the day, you can take the other bar into the shower and put it to good use. Win-win! Learn how to attract ladybugs to your garden.
5. Recycling in a different way
If you’ve got kids, you’ve got milk jugs and plastic drink containers. It’s a given. While most of these containers can be recycled in the traditional way, you can also pull a few from the bin and put them to good use in your garden.
Early spring seedlings are in danger from frost or inclement weather to keep them safe by cutting off the bottom of a milk jug or plastic bottle and placing it over top of the growing seedling.
This little ‘house’ will protect them from threats of a late frost. When the good weather is here to stay, remove the bottles so the plants can get the full and healthful benefits of the sun and rain!
6. Don’t forget to mulch
Mulching protects plants from pests and weeds; it helps the plants retain moisture and minerals from the earth that they need to grow and thrive.
Mulch also helps to cut down on the time and energy you need to spend maintaining the garden and plant beds, which is a good enough reason in and of itself!
Take your mulching up another level in environmental sustainability by using a long-lasting Rubber Mulch, made from recycled rubber tires. You can’t get more earth-friendly in your garden than that!
7. No two slimes are alike
If you’ve got an invasion of slimy slugs and snails on your potted plants, spread some petroleum jelly on the edges of the planters. Snails and slugs don’t like it, despite their own slimy exteriors, and you will be able to save your plants from becoming an all-a-snail-can-eat buffet.
8. Tired feet and a tired garden both need Epsom salts
Epsom salts are a wonder for tired gardeners but not just in the way you might be thinking. The salts will help keep your plants green, your flowers healthy and will also balance the levels of magnesium in your soil.
Magnesium is a vital mineral for your garden. And after a long day in the sun bringing your garden to the heights that you want to achieve, you can put the salts to good use in a hot bath to relax those tired muscles!
9. Breakfast leftovers can be composted gold!
When you’re done your eggs and coffee in the morning, take heed before you throw out the detritus from your breakfast making. Coffee grounds can do a lot of good in the ground or your compost.
The grounds provide phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper, all of which your soil needs. Basically, they are the multivitamin of the garden world! Just be sure to place them at a depth of 6 to 8 inches in the soil or compost.
While the grounds decompose in the earth, they will also release nitrogen, which is another essential compound for healthy soil that will grow a beautiful garden. Fun experiment!
Sprinkle coffee grounds as mulch at the base of your pink hydrangea plants and the flowers will turn blue as the coffee grounds alter the pH levels in the soil! Amaze your family and guests with your skills!
10. Eggshells are two sources of goodness for your garden
- Eggshells are 96% calcium carbonate, so they can give your compost that dose of calcium that it needs to nourish your soil. Tomato plants in particular love calcium and will thrive with a little extra!
- Keep the slugs and snails at bay by sprinkling crushed eggshells around your plants. They won’t be comfortable moving over the sharp edges to munch on your growing garden.
- Everyone enjoys a beautifully grown and maintained garden but being able to help the earth to sustain itself at the same time.
Tips for Green Gardening
Green gardening is becoming popular for a number of reasons. There are several risks involved when using chemical fertilizers, bug repellents, and weed killers. Many consumers seek environmentally sound ways to care for their plants, flowers, and vegetables.
Chemical compounds may kill unwanted pests and invasive plant species, but they also have the potential to alter the composition of the soil and eradicate beneficial garden dwellers. Plants may even become dependent on the use of these chemicals to thrive.
Chemicals can be tracked into the home, creating hazardous dust throughout the entire house. Green gardening focuses on eliminating toxic chemicals from plant care and employing reusable and renewable products to promote a healthy ecosystem.
Deal With Garden Weeds
When you deal with weeds, it is important to note that the nutrients in your soil are providing the pesky plants a habitable environment. There are over 70,000 unique soils in the United States, and each soil has a different mineral and organic make-up.
The needs of each weed vary, and you can discern soil conditions by observing which varieties grow in your garden. Acidic soil, for instance, breeds dandelions.
Dolomite lime powder can safely and effectively neutralize acid and reduce dandelion blooms. Clover can be eradicated with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. There are also commercial citrus-based herbicides that can organically control weeds.
Pests are an unwelcome hassle for many gardeners. At times, an invasive species of insect develops a colony and threatens the delicate flowers and plants in the garden. Incorporating new insects that feed on your pests is a fantastic green alternative to harsh chemicals.
Green lacewings and ladybugs are beneficial to the garden environment. Starter colonies of these insects can be found in local nurseries. Insect repellents are easy to make with common household ingredients. Garlic and hot peppers deter pests naturally and organically.
Bee populations are on the decline in the country, so experts suggest that they are treated as welcome guests to your garden, rather than pests. Attract bees by planting at least ten unique flowering species in your garden.
You can turn your unwanted food scraps, weeds, grass clippings, and dead leaves into nutrient-packed compost. This soil supplement will improve plant health without the chemical treatment that commercial fertilizers undergo.
Composting boxes can be easily made from scrap lumber, allowing you to save money on the cost of commercial composters. Compost boxes should be closed. A warm environment is necessary to allow waste materials to decompose into a rich soil-like substance.
Mind your watering habits. Mulch and compost help soil retain water by slowing evaporation, so your garden will require watering less frequently. Soaker hoses and drip irrigation systems use 50 percent less water than traditional sprinklers.
It is best to water the roots of your plant rather than the leaves because this is from where the plant “drinks.” Construct or purchase a rain barrel to collect clean chlorine-free water to use for all of your plants and flowers. Rain collection systems reduce costs by using a free source of water rather than the tap.