Over the years I’ve collected a number of these tips from friends, magazines, online, or at conferences. Here are a few:
- Turn a wooden long-handled tool into a measuring stick. Using a permanent marker or a wood burner, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance you’ll already have a measuring device.
- To keep garden twine untangled and handy when you need it, stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole and set the pot upside down—in a wagon, the garden, or on a work station.
- If you don’t wear gloves while you work in the garden (as I rarely do), to prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails draw your fingernails across a bar of soap before you begin. You’ll seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can’t collect beneath them. After you’ve finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.
- To keep watermelons from resting on the ground and possibly rotting from the moisture, place an inexpensive plastic colander underneath them when the fruit is about the size of your fist.
- To create more natural looking plant markers for the summer, using a permanent marker write the names of plants on the smooth flat faces of light colored stones and place them near the base of your plants.
- The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don’t pour the water down the drain. Keep a pail or watering can nearby and drain the vegetable water in it to cool. Use the “greens” water for potted patio plants. You’ll be amazed at how well the container grown plants respond.
- Use leftover tea and coffee grounds to acidify the soil of acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias, gardenias, some hydrangeas and even blueberries. A light sprinkling of about one-quarter inch applied once a month will keep the pH of the soil on the acidic side.
- The quickest way to dry herbs: lay sheets of newspaper (black ink only) or paper grocery bags on the seat of your car, arrange the herbs in a single layer, then roll up the windows and close the doors. Your herbs will quickly dry AND the bonus is your car will smell great.
- Clean a hummingbird feeder by filling it with warm water and break a denture-cleaning tablet into it. Let it fizz for the time indicated on the package, then rinse. Denture-cleaning tablets are antibacterial and nontoxic—a near perfect cleaning solution for keeping the hummers healthy!
- Need a sturdy trellis? Recycle metal flat-link bedsprings from old bunks, cots, or day beds. Set 4×4 posts in ground just wide enough apart for the bedspring frame to hit on center. The metal frame is predrilled so it’s easy to secure it with long, rust-proof screws. Secure it so it will be 6-8 inches above the soil line. Paint or not as desired.
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