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Gardening tricks


I'm sure you have bunches of tricks of your own...but here are some I put to use:

  1. Save twigs and branches (from your pruning) to use as plant supports and to hold peas off the ground. They seem to fit into the surroundings better, too. More natural.

  2. Plant a "living" fence. Plant a bunch of yellow willow whips along the area you want a fence about four feet apart. Keep the side branches pruned off or pruned close to the main stem. When the stem is twice as high as you want a fence to be, bend the stem to the ground along the same line as the other whips and bury it between two other whips. The top of the tree will root in the ground. Your fence will look like the top of a woven basket. Keep your "fence" pruned as much as you want to.

  3. Have you ever used a three-pronged aerator to aerate your grass? You push it into the ground with your foot and it forces out three plugs of turf, thus sending much-needed air to grass roots, causing the grass to grow better. Here's the tip: Before starting, coat the prongs (inside and out) with vegetable oil so the soil doesn't stick.

  4. A frequent question I get is about blossom-end rot in tomatoes. That's due to a lack of calcium as the tomato plant grows. Water your plants with a little milk (powdered is fine), mix crushed egg shells into the soil, water plants moderately but regularly. Tomato fertilizers usually contain calcium as well.

  5. Hate to go away on weekends, etc., because hanging baskets need frequent watering? Tip: use containers with a big water reservoir and plant baskets with drought-tolerant plants such as sedums, celosia, thyme, verbena, portulaca, California poppy, etc. I have a wire hanging basket lined with sphagnum moss and with hens and chicks planted through the moss on the sides for ornamental effect. It is filled with such drought-tolerant plants and I water it only when I feel like it. (With so many other containers demanding regular attention, I rarely "feel" like it.) Experiment!

If you don't want to use chemicals to kill unwanted vegetation, use yesterday's newspaper. Spread newspapers over the area where you don't want weeds, etc. Anchor them with planks, plywood, etc. Wet them if you wish. Two weeks later, remove the covering. Put newspapers into compost heap. (Don't put color sections of newspapers or fliers which have dyes into compost.)

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