I love gardening! If you’re anything like me, you can’t wait for this nasty winter weather to take a hike so you can be outside all day in the warm summer sun planting your favorite flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Heck, I already started putting my gardening stuff out earlier this week when the weather was in the low forties. Guess I’m eager to plant. With warm weather approaching, its almost time for Spring cleaning, which means getting your garden in order. The following 10 gardening tips and tricks will have you gardening like a pro in no time!
1.) Get Rid Of All That Nasty Dirt Under Your Nails
One of my least favorite things about gardening is waking up the next day after a shower and still having dirt under my fingernails. Fortunately there is a trick that works great to prevent all that garden gunk from accumulating under your nails as you work in the garden. Simply draw your fingernails across a bar of soap. Doing so will effectively seal the undersides of your nails so that dirt can no longer collect beneath them. Wow! Such an easy solution for such a common gardening problem. Finished gardening for the day? No problem! Use a nailbrush to remove the soap, and your nails will be sparkling clean again. Gone are the days of gardening all weekend and then showing up to work on a Monday morning with nails full of dirt.
2.) Water Your Plants Like A Pro
The next time you boil or steam vegetables for dinner, think twice before pouring the water down the drain. Instead, use it to water your potted patio plants. You’ll be amazed at how the plants respond to the vegetable soup surprise! In addition, when watering plants in your garden be sure to apply water directly to the soil surface. If you’re doing this correctly, the water should slowly soak in, rather than run off. This can be done most effectively by using a watering can or a open-ended hose at half pressure. Furthermore, knowing when to water your plants and how much water they should get is crucial to maintaining a successful garden. Don’t worry too much if you kill a few plants along the way, practice makes perfect and eventually knowing how to properly water each plant in your garden will become second nature.
3.) Boost Your Soil’s pH
One of the easiest, most cost efficient ways to acidify the soil of your plants that need it most, such as blueberries or rhododendrons is to save leftover coffee and tea grounds and sprinkle about one quarter of an inch of the grounds, once a month. Doing this will help keep your soil’s pH levels on the acidic side, and is also more eco-friendly than using store bought methods to boost levels.
4.) Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
One of the easiest, cheapest, and greenest ways to garden is to recycle items and re-use your everyday waste. Items such as toilet paper rolls or coffee filters work great for potting seedlings in your garden. Since these types of items are biodegradable they can be planted directly in the soil. When it comes to reducing and re-using did you know that you can save certain seeds to re-grow next year? Or how about the fact that certain vegetables can be grown from older discarded veggies? Just a few examples are onions, green onions, and avocados. There are all kinds of online guides that show how to do this.
5.) Make Your Own Potting Mix
Soil can be expensive, and a lot of times most store bought soils contain lots of harmful chemicals and carcinogens. In addition, there are a lot of soils out there that are bad for the environment, as well as insects, and wildlife that may come in contact with your garden. As a vegan I know that I try to avoid using things like pesticides in my garden, as the bee population is already in danger, and other animals and insects can actually be very beneficial to helping your garden grow. Something I struggle with is trying to find a soil that is vegan friendly. I never realized until recently just how many soils contain things like feathers, blood, bone, etc. Making your own potting mix is a great solution to all of these types of problems. You won’t have to worry about it having harmful ingredients, it could potentially cost less, last a lot longer, and in most cases is probably even better for your plants than any store bought soil would be. Here is a great website offering tips on how to create your own vegan soil. Happy planting.
6.) Drying Herbs Quickly
One of the quickest and easiest ways to dry herbs from your garden is to wait for a sunny day and lay a sheet of newspaper or paper towel down on the seat of your car, arrange the herbs in a single layer, and then roll up all the windows and close the doors. Your herbs will dry up in no time! Even better? Your car will smell great! Who needs air fresheners, when you have the power of fresh herbs?
7.) Make Your Own Garden Markers
I don’t know about you, but for me, gardening is really therapeutic and once I get started I get really excited and sometimes a bit carried away. When this happens, it can be hard to remember sometimes what seedlings you planted where. Sure, you could run to the store and spend a ton of money on those cute garden markers you saw in the gardening section. But why waste all that money when you have plenty of materials at home that can be just as useful? Making your own garden markers at home is fun and will save you a lot of money in the long run. Besides, it can be fun to decorate each marker in its own unique way. Some items that work great for making markers include stones, clothespins, popsicle sticks, etc. Simply write on them with a black permanent marker and decorate and place in your garden as you see fit.
8.) Fertilize From Scratch
Fertilizers or soils already containing fertilizer can be quite costly. If you are looking for a way to save money and have your garden be more eco-friendly then why not make your own fertilizer at home? One of the best homemade fertilizers is epsom salt. Simply combine 1 Tbsp. of epsom salt for every gallon of water. Sprinkle on and around plants to keep pests at bay. Epsom salt is extremely rich in magnesium sulfate (two minerals that are both crucial to a plant’s health), making it the ideal homemade fertilizer and pesticide.
9.) Keep Birds Out Of Your Garden The Natural Way
Birds are notorious for stealing items out of the garden, especially when it comes to berries. Two inexpensive, natural, and perfectly safe ways to keep birds and other pests out of your garden is to buy netting from your local hardware or gardening store to wrap around your strawberry plants. This will render birds and rabbits unable to reach the plants, making it impossible for them to take off with the berries or snag a bite. A second way to keep birds out is to paint stones as strawberries and place them around your plants. The birds will stay away from your ripe strawberry plants because they will think the newly ripened berries are stones.
10.) Quickly Washing Your Harvest
When it comes time to harvest your vegetables, try investing in a laundry basket. Collect all of your produce in the basket and then rinse off right there in the yard with a hose. This method makes washing your harvest easier than ever, and the basket acts as a strainer, allowing you to wash everything quickly. Goodbye dirt, debris, and heavy lifting. Hello, easy clean food!