Please Add MORE 'My Favorite Gardening Tips'

July 4, 2002

July 3, 2002,


Here's one to start anew:

Keeping soil and water in pots:

To keep the soil in a pot, put 1" of leaves or grass

clippings in the bottom before adding any soil.

To retain water, add water-retentive polymer crystals

in the middle-half of the pot, to reduce polymer costs.

Plant, grow, water, and enjoy!!!



- * - * - * -


Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by Diana in WI - Zone 4 ( on Sat, Jan 23, 99 at 18:18

I'll start this off. I heard this on the radio the other day. When you're finishing up a gallon of milk, and have poured the last bit out, fill the jug with water right away, but don't rinse it. Save that water for your houseplants. The nitrogen in milk is a nice little boost for them. I now have 14 jugs of milk-water, and counting! LOL! What's a neat little trick you use, inside or outside in the garden? Diana :D


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Shannon - 6 ( on Sat, Jan 23, 99 at 19:14

This is a great idea for a thread! The best thing I ever read is that if you want to make an instant(sort of) garden without endlessly weeding and cultivating then you do this- Put down newspaper(only regular-not glossy ads)about 10 sheets deep in the area you want to garden. Water it well then cover it with a mix of compost and soil about 4-6 inches deep then leave it for at least 6 weeks. At the end of the time you can plant directly in the soil(tearing thru the newspaper if need be)This has been a minor miracle for me as we moved into a yard covered in a brutal mix of ivy, pachysandra and poison ivy. I've made several raised bed gardens this way and it works like a charm


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: beverly - mid mich - zone 5 ( on Mon, Jan 25, 99 at 22:53

One good tip I got from a friend was when planting a potted planted in the ground - fill the hole you've dug up with water and let in seep in before planting the new plant.(still have to water it in after planting) When I do seems that the new plants get off to a real good start.

I'll try to think of some more.



RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Jen - SoCal-9/Sunset 19 ( on Fri, Jan 29, 99 at 12:08

Here's another use for those empty 1-gallon milk jugs. After rinsing, punch several small holes (about 1/8") across the whole area of the bottom of the jug. When you have a few of these jugs, you can then place the jugs between plants, fill them with water, and let the water seep out into the ground. You don't need a lot of holes in the bottom of the jug; if you have too many it will be difficult to fill it with water as it will be running out too fast.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Wanda - sunset16 ( on Mon, Feb 1, 99 at 22:47

Someone told my neighbor he could fill 'em with water and set them on his lawn to deter invasive dogs and cats. Talk about your "tacky" lawn ornaments...didn't work, either. But frozen in the summer and placed in bunny cages, they make great coolants for overheated bunnies!


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Steve - 6-3/4 Nashville ( on Sun, Feb 21, 99 at 1:15

When planting a tomato, strip off all but the top two branches and plant it so only the top two branches show. It grows roots deeper that way, makes more fruit.

When sowing a wild meadow, kill the weeds first, then till or rake the soil to a shallow depth, an inch or two. That way you don't unearth the buried seeds of other weeds which are deeper than that, and wild meadows don't need heavily tilled soil.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: mj-ny5 ( on Wed, Mar 10, 99 at 9:50

Wear gardening gloves. And be extra careful when reaching downwards to gather a handful of dead plant heads with one hand and then cutting them off with pruning shears in your other hand. Easy way to lose the tip of a finger.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Jen CA9-Sunset19 ( on Wed, Mar 10, 99 at 12:30

Ditto the last suggestion; I snipped two of my fingers within a few minutes of each other last weekend. When you do cut, make sure your fingers are out of the way.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Andrea - 6 ( on Wed, Mar 10, 99 at 13:01

I found a very inexpensive way to make those stakes to hold up plants ( the kind with the circle on top) Take an old coat hanger, the heavy ones, untwist the two ends but leave the half circle part, straighten out the rest of the hanger, bend the half moon down like in the advertisments. You can leave them long for tall plants on use wire cutters to shorten them any length you need. The best part is you can make dozens of these at no expense, they work good for house plants too.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Cora Lea - 5-IA ( on Sat, Mar 13, 99 at 11:30

OUch! Mj and Jen - Be Careful! Its hard to garden without fingers - and I don't "think" they grow back!

Several comments are being made on the plastic milk jugs so I will share two of my favorite uses.

1. Cut them into strips, the width of plant markers, pointed at one end, any length that you like. Then, use something to stratch or etch the name of your plants into them. (I use an inexpensive electric engraver.) Push them into the dirt behind the plant and forget them. When you need to know what the plant is, pull them out, wipe them off, and the indentations are filled with dirt which allows you to read what you have written. (Sometimes it helps if you moisten your fingers slightly, if your dirt is not showing - or engrave a bit more deeply.) The great thing about these is the sun won't fade your writing!

2. Many times I sow seeds in the middle of winter for perennials. This way, the seeds get an early start and go through the proper "cooling period" - and its easier for me to put the seeds outside and forget them, than to be concerned about proper watering, etc. in the house and transplanting later. The problem is remembering "exactly" where I put the seed so I don't plant over it or pull it out in the spring - thinking it is a weed! NOW, I cut both the top and bottom out of a plastic milk jug, and bend it into the shape I prefer, "rough up the dirt where I want to plant" - not deep at all, anchor the container down with dirt built up securely on the outside, or with wire hangers which I cut and bend to hook over the top edge of the container, and push into the ground in several spots - enough to keep it from blowing away. I then scatter the seeds inside, or put them in a row - whatever works for you. Make sure you put a marker down into the dirt along the inside of the container so you know what is planted inside each jug. I can make sure they get enough water/moisture=snow, by directly placing it in the protector. When the plants start to grow, they are not only protected from the wind, but have a miniture "hot house" and are also less likely to be eaten by young rabbits, which like the "new, young growth". They also seem less inclined to put their little heads into a container to nibble. (Did I explain that last use well?)


Oops! There's more

Posted by: Cora Lea - 5-IA ( on Sat, Mar 13, 99 at 12:14

I meant to add to the above, but my "trigger finger" got "happy"...

When plants are large enough for transplanting, I remove the milk "ring", water the soil VERY well (so the ground is very soft and there is less damage to roots), separate the grouping of plants and plant them where I want them to grow. (Poppies do not like to moved, so I tend to thin by snipping the weaker plants at ground level, and plant three "rings" close together.)

The adjustment to being explosed to the elements is no longer a factor - they only have to concentrate on setting root in a new location - though I DO try not to disturb the roots any more than necessary. Make sure you moisten the hole good BEFORE planting, with water containing a good root stimulant, as someone else mentioned, and again after planting. The plants REALLY "take off" when I use this method!

(The milk jug "ring" method is great for remembering where you sow any kind of seed, even if done later in the year, with perennials OR annuals, as it is one way to get things started in a small space - thus not ending up with "holes" where seeds don't germinate - and allowing for transplanting when the plants are of correct size.)


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Tara - 5 ( on Sat, Mar 13, 99 at 20:53

Great post Diana. Hear are a few things I like or have read.

For inexpensive grow through supports I cut a length of chiken wire and bend it in an arch. When plants get to be 1/3 their mature height place the arch over it and secure the bottom in the soil with pieces of a coat hanger bent to hairpin shape. The plants will grow through them so you will not see the supports.

I also lay pieces of chicken wire flat around plants that rabbits like and cover with a thin layer of mulch. (they don't like standing on the chicken wire.)

For those in drought areas I read of burying a 1 litre bottle with tiny pinholes poked in the bottom 1/2, around plants that want more water. With the bottle burried by the roots, when you fill the bottle water is delivered to where it is needed.

A rural type mailbox in a garden is good place to keep extra garden tools to save a trip when the desire to prune, deadhead, or weed hits you.

I like to sow seeds in the flat tray you get when you buy a flat of plants. Much easier to prepare than individual pots or six packs.

If you do not have a mulching mower but do have one with a side discard chute: keep the chute on the side of the next pass to be mowed. You will then be mulching the last pass's clippings. No raking.

Before getting down and dirty in the garden. Put hand lotion on and scrape a bar of soap with your fingernails so it gets under them. Makes cleanup a lot easier. I wear gloves but still end up looking like Pigpen.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: marilyn - 5 ( on Fri, Mar 19, 99 at 20:36

This is for gardeners who live in areas that have SNOW.

Make markers using venetian blind (cut about 1 foot long). You can write the name of the plant or any message using an HB lead pencil on the inside curve of the blind and it will not erase - in fact I have markers 2-3 years old and the messages are still clear. We have a large field of herbs so I keep track of where the herbs are (as they are hidden under straw for the winter). I put messages such as: "32 lovage"; "40 thyme - pot up spring '99"; "garlic chives - divide and move to row X", etc. etc. ML


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Bill - 5 ( on Sat, Mar 20, 99 at 1:40

There's one that I read in a tree book that I've found works really well concerning tree pruning. If damage occurs to the bark on a tree (say a lot of woodpecker holes that create dead areas), or any type of wound that creates a blocky exposed area - this type of wound often callouses very slowly.

A pruning cut that is narrow at the ends and widens gradually in the middle (sort of like an eyesocket shape)heals much faster - I guess because the sap flows much more readily with this shape. So it is often better to take a utility knife and actually create a larger wound (though no larger than it needs to be to achieve this shape) with it's long axis parallel to the trunk or limb which includes the block shaped or patrchy wounds within it. Wounds which would otherwise take a half dozen years or more to heal may take only 2 or 3 years to callous over.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Diana in WI - 4 ( on Tue, Mar 30, 99 at 15:50

WOW! I knew you guys were full of it...full of GREAT ideas! Let's have more! Here's one: Start perennials from seed in large containers in the late summer (for your area). They'll be about half grown by the time the hard freeze hits. Overwinter them in your (unheated) greenhouse or in a cold frame for the winter. (This gives them the "down time" they need.) When you notice green coming up the following spring, start to water, and move them to a warmer place. You should have good, sturdy and practically FREE perennials to plant the next spring. I'm going to give this a try this fall. Diana :D


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: A Luft - 5b ( on Wed, Mar 31, 99 at 17:14

For anybody in a deer zone, like me, when your tulips first show signs of munching, take a bar of Irish Spring Soap (the original) and a cheese grater and grate it using the half moon side around the plants. I've had wonderful tulips the last four years in a heavily deer populated park. The soap lasts for weeks, as long as you can see the shavings there is no need to redo the process. I guess it's the pungent smell that masks the plants odor and the deer can't find the low growers.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Joe ( on Thu, Apr 15, 99 at 11:24

I've had trouble in the past finding reasonably priced supports for perennials such as peonies that don't get REAL tall, but need support because they are so top-heavy when they bloom. Here's what I did: I took the standard, three-ring tomato supports (that are in reality too small for tomatoes) and cut them down to size to make two supports. I cut the "stakes" on them that you drive in the ground, cutting them just above to lower ring. This leaves the top two, larger rings with supports to drive into the ground, the perfect size for peonies. The bottom ring with the original stakes can be used for smaller clumps or plants with a single top-heavy bloom, such as parrot tulips. Use heavy-duty wire snips to make the cuts, but be careful ... you may get jagged edges that can cut.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: dirtpig - 4a ( on Thu, Apr 15, 99 at 17:20


I too use tomatoe cages for support for taller plants . I cut up the side through the three rings and bend them open . I put the cages out early so the plants grow around it or should I say through it so you can't see the cage and the plant gets the support it needs . I also use milk or oj jags for watering pumpkins and tomatoes that like lots of water . I bury the bottles where needed , also use for plant food for the fussy plants that have specific needs like rhododendrons and azaleas .


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Diana in WI - 4 ( on Thu, Apr 15, 99 at 21:16

Moving post to the top. I know there are lots more ideas out there! Diana :D


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Lisa - Zone 7 - 7a ( on Sun, Apr 18, 99 at 21:30

I think the one I've used the most is to cut your panyhose in one inch rings, stretch,and cut the ring. These are the softest things I've ever used to tie up plants and my kids love to do the stretching part.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: marilyn - 5 ( on Wed, Apr 21, 99 at 19:18

Put styrofoam packing chips in the bottom of a large patio pot before putting in the soil and plant - saves on soil but also makes the pot much lighter and easier to move around.

See also


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Paula - 8-SC ( on Thu, Apr 29, 99 at 17:05

Two earlier suggestions were also good for people with outdoor pets. Milk jug rings (or soda bottle rings) placed around small plants discourage cats from digging them up. And...cats, like rabbits, don't like standing on chicken wire...and they can't dig through it, so I often place it over areas where I'm planting seeds.

2 or 3 liter soda bottles make great mini-greenhouses if you experience a later-than-normal cold snap. Simply cut off the bottom and place over plant, twisting to push it down in the soil a little. I usually leave the top off, so that if I leave the bottle in place during the day, it doesn't get too hot. (If you can't push it down in the soil, you can secure by sticking a long metal skewer through the open top down into the soil.)


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Dianne - 8 ( on Sat, May 1, 99 at 22:07

I've also tried the newspaper for detering and killing weeds, but better than newspaper is cardboard which most stores compact or throw away. It has helped with my weed in zone 8. It takes longer to break down than newspaper. The only problem is that you need to plant your plants first. Then place the cardboard down so it overlaps. This is very much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. After putting down cardboard, then cover with mulch. So far it has worked for me.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Evelyn - 34432 ( on Tue, May 4, 99 at 21:47



RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Jenra - 9 ( on Wed, May 5, 99 at 0:13


Would you by any chance know if dog hair would work as well as human hair? Our dogs are shedding their winter coats and it seems that there should be some use for it.



Moving To the Top

Posted by: Diana in WI - 4 ( on Thu, May 13, 99 at 10:15

Any more ideas out there? I don't want to miss any!

Diana ;D


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Kim - Chicago 5 ( on Fri, May 14, 99 at 22:00

Jenra -

Dog hair WILL help deter rabbits. Good thing I've got a shedder, it makes it a little easier! My friends request the dogs' hair for their gardens as well!


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Jenra - 9 ( on Sat, May 15, 99 at 0:03

Thanx, Kim. I don't have a problem with bunnies, but I do have snails and slugs. Since hubby is in charge of brushing both dogs (not that they mind, they love it) he now knows to save the hair so I can give it a try.

Maybe someone can answer this question for me? Why do husbands have to give big sighs and roll their eyes to the heavens when we make these type of requests of them? LOL!



RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: jane - 7 ( on Sun, May 16, 99 at 18:24

To clear an area that's full of brambles, weeds, vines, etc., cut everything down as best you can, cover with flattened cardboard cartons, and cover this with a thick layer (six inches or more) of leaves, grass clippsings, straw, or anything you would be putting on the compost heap. Next year, you have a plot all ready for planting. (Ruth Stout just used 10" of hay, but the cardboard cartons really smother the tough stuff.)


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Evelyn Smith - Georgia ( on Wed, May 19, 99 at 17:44

Plant supports----I use small bare branches(especially those from Mountain Laurel)Trim a point on the end and stick it next to the plant. It is almost invisible, unlike the wire supports. And it is free.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: dicken - 5 - SW mi ( on Thu, May 20, 99 at 15:22

my goodness!! someone else who's read Ruth Stout! there may be hope for us, after all!!



RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: June T - 8-9 TX ( on Fri, Jul 16, 99 at 4:13

to sow small seeds directly in the garden:

cut the top and bottom off of a cardboard box (1'x1'x 6")

you now have a 6 inch rim of cardboard. place this directly over the area you wish to sow. sow your seeds. place a piece of glass or plastic on top. this is like a mini portable greenhouse. your seeds stay moist until they germinate, then you can remove and use elsewhere.

you can make it any size you want, and using any material.

another suggestion is to remove the bottom of a large fiber pot,leaving only the rim.

i make my own using two by fours for the frame, a convenient size is 1.5 ft square.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Dee S. - 5 Michigan ( on Fri, Jul 16, 99 at 16:12

Instead of soaking my morning glory seeds I place them between wet paper towels. Just keep the towels damp until you see the seeds sprouting. Then plant in pots, flats, or whatever. This way you know you've got 100% germination. Sometimes I put the wet paper towels with seeds inside a plastic bag..they don't dry out as fast. The bag needs to lay flat so the seeds don't fall into a heap at the bottom. This really works for me.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Chris - 5 ( on Sat, Jul 17, 99 at 21:16

Use copper plumbing pipe to make arbours or any support. It will last forever. When it oxidizes it turns that pleasant green colour. There are many angle connectors available, and it is possible to purchase a copper pipe that bends reasonable easily.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Penelope - 6,Ontario, Canada ( on Mon, Jul 19, 99 at 13:22

i have a fairly large garden and am forever planting and transplanting. trouble is, when you do this (especially in the middle of summer LOL) you must water frequently until plants become established and i often forget where i've planted what. now, after i have planted something, i stick a 3' bamboo stake in the ground next to the new planting and tie a piece of flourescent plastic tape to the top of the stake (can be purchased at safety supply stores). when watering time arrives, no problem remembering those new plantings!! i leave the stakes in place for a week or two until i feel plants no longer need 'special' attention.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Zeigler - 5 ( on Sat, Jul 24, 99 at 14:39

i heard about the use of hair for deterring squirrels from digging up spring bulbs, so i got some from my hairdresser. she said lots of people ask for it. my bulbs all came up the next year! the year after, i got some dog hair instead from my friend who is a pet groomer. didnt work at all with the new plantings of bulbs and the squirrels got many. go figure. all i can think of is that human hair has a different scent or something. also to make this work, when applying in fall before the snow flies--you have to reapply if it is a very wet fall. dont know why--this has just been my experience.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Jul - 3/4 ( on Mon, Jul 26, 99 at 0:27

When I am spring planting. I roll up a fat roll of newspaper and soak it in water. once it wet it doesn't unroll. Then I lay in down in the hole under my tomatoes. The idea is that the newspaper retains water, and will aid in watering the plant throughout the season , and then degrade over the winter to supliment the soil.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Lee Ann - 6 ( on Wed, Jul 28, 99 at 16:02

I tried the newspaper mulch and it disappeared in one season, what a bother for me. If you have a huge area to cover, like I do, call a furniture store and ask for their cardboard - it's huge. I also asked what days were best for picking it up, what days their trash pickup is, so I can be there first. I remove any metal staples (few are stapled) and peel off any tape (most boxes are taped), toss back into their dumpster, and fold cardboard to fit in back of car. I've gone so long that the employees now ask about my gardens. The bonus is there are often filler pieces inside shipping boxes to keep furn. from getting rub marks. Bigger boxes can be torn down to smaller sizes if that's what you need, but it's sure great to not wrestle small boxes when covering a large area.

When transplanting new flowers from pots, I dig a hole bigger than needed and add a couple of trowelsful or shovelsful of peat moss/humus to hole bottom, put in plant, fill around plant w/more peat, add water, pull soil from hole over top and make a dam of any left-over dirt to get water down to roots when watering. I also use the boxes draped over tomato cages laid on sides to give shade to newly transplanted plants to shield from too-hot sun. Also keeps the ground around them moist w/fewer waterings.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Shirley Cleveland - zone 4 ( on Thu, Jul 29, 99 at 16:45

What a great thread!!


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: kathy - ky ( on Fri, Jul 30, 99 at 1:56

The linning from baby diapers can be added to your soil when planting in the ground or in a pot .

they hold water and are much like what is used in nurseries to help hold water for the plants.

Use tomato cages to support your tomatoes they hold mulch well and give support for cucumbers to be planted around them making more use of your garden space.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Daphne - Zone 8 in Tacoma, Wa ( on Sat, Jul 31, 99 at 1:58

TRANSPLANTING -- I make sure the rootball of each plant is wet when I plant it. I use a large, shallow plastic bowl to soak each plant that is really dry when I pop it out of its container. This only takes a few minutes of soaking time. I just pop 4-6 out, check the moisture content, and put the ones that are really dry into the bowl of water. Usually by the time I've planted a few moist ones, the dry ones are now wet and ready to go. (I squeeze out excess water if they have gotten too wet.) I also make sure the hole is damp, too. I keep a watering can with me to make sure.

I cringe when I see TV gardeners planting a dry plant in dry soil. They always say to water in well after planting, (which I do, too), but I know from experience how hard it is to get totally dry soil to absorb water. I started planting this way after I had to dig up plants I had recently put in (to move them) and found the root balls to still be totally dry, even though I had 'watered in well after planting'.

For the small plants that come in 4 or 6 packs - I try to remember to split the rootball vertically through the middle from the bottom up about halfway. Then I spread the two halves out and plant this inverted 'T'. This is supposed to give the roots a bigger area of contact with the new soil. Seems to work. (Saw this on TV somewhere.)


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Suzy - SC(coastal area) ( on Mon, Aug 9, 99 at 23:55

These are wonderful tips! I want to keep this on page 1 so I can get to it quicker.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: andy - NJ ( on Wed, Aug 11, 99 at 10:11

Hi. Thanks for this posting Diana. great idea.

Has anyone used the emply egg carton method of starting seedlings? I read it in a book and I'm going to try it next spring.

You take the egg carton, tear off the top and you are left with 12 holes where the eggs rested. Into each hole you put half an egg shell with a hole punched in the bottom for drainage. Fill the shell with seed starter mix and add your seeds. Once they start, remove shell and all and bury it, crushing the shell as you plant it. I'm going to try it on my poppies next spring even though I know they don't like to be moved. It should allow me to better space the plants. But that's that old saying? - If it sounds too good to be true...


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: tony - 8b ( on Thu, Aug 12, 99 at 19:39

Hello there:

When opening up a new plastic jug of herbicide or pesticide, they usually come sealed with an aluminum flap glued onto the lid. Don't peel it off! Poke a small hole in it with a toothpick. This way it doesn't spill out all over the place when all you need is 5ml per litre of water.

How do you measure 5 ml without contaminating you measuring spoons? Get a clear film canister (from Fuji Film) and measure in 5ml gradations with water. Mark each 5ml gradation with a Sharpie. A film canister can measure out 25ml. You now have an accurate measuring cup for those herbicide/pesticide/insecticide concentrates you can use over and over.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Dot - 7 ( on Sun, Aug 15, 99 at 12:02

Marilyn - Great idea about the styrofoam, but WATCH OUT!! They are now making biodegradable styrofoam - it dissolves in water. So, before you fill the bottom of your pot with the chips, take one and wet it and see what happens - I almost used a bunch of it myself. Fortunately, somebody warned me to check before I put the dirt on top of it!!


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Tan Boon Kiat ( on Sun, Aug 15, 99 at 15:06

What a good thread with lots of ideas and amazing tips! Any objections from the contributers if I ask my gardening society editor to publish some of these ideas in this coming September issue newsletter 'GRAPEVINE'?


Boon Kiat



RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Cathy D - 7b ( on Fri, Aug 20, 99 at 21:58

I LOVE YOU GUYS!! As a fairly new gardener, these tips are so wonderful! Picked up a great one from my mother-in-law: my daisies & mums bloomed this spring with very small, wilted looking petals. Mom told me to put my used coffee grounds around the plants, and now that they're blooming again, they're beautiful! Apparently my plants have taken on my personal traits--can't function properly without some caffeine! :)

Happy Gardening, everybody! Keep these wonderful tips coming!


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Jo-Anne - 8 ( on Sun, Aug 22, 99 at 17:08

Soap Ends: Put those annoying pieces of soap ends into a mesh bag (the ones onions come in) and hang the bag by the outside faucet. Rubbing wet hands on the mesh bag full of soap ends creates great lather and some of the soil is left in the garden, not down the drain.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Marilyn ( on Tue, Aug 24, 99 at 20:50

Dry rot at the stem end of your tomatoes? They need calcium. Next year, sprinkle some powdered milk and work into the soil around your new tomato plants and you'll have the sweetest, healthiest tomatoes. I learned this from an experienced farmer.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: JonPen - 8 ( on Mon, Aug 30, 99 at 23:44

Handy plant rot-proof markers can be made out of the slats

of a discarded mini-blind. With scissors just cut the slats

into various lengths. I use 6 inch ones and with a #2 pencil or a Sharpie permanent marker you can write info such

as plant name, source, date of planting, etc. These are

handy for future reference when you want to check on a plant's data. I stick them into the ground behind the plant

so they don't show. Also they are useful to stick in flats

of seeds you start and cuttings you are propagating.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Chris - 6 (GUSOOME@AOL.COM) on Thu, Sep 2, 99 at 16:28

For new gardeners or the clueless: Green side up. :-)


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Min - 7a ( on Tue, Sep 21, 99 at 2:15

1. Are squirrels raiding your bird feeders? Next time you fill up the feeders, be sure to add one or two table spoon fulls of hot chilly powder with the bird seeds. Birds do not seem to taste the hot taste, and will be happy to eat the seeds. Squirrels, however, will be bothered by the hot taste, and will be suitably deterred. (Like human beings, though, there are some squirrels who like it hot - so be warned.)

2. Squirrels robbing your fall/winter planted bulbs? Put chicken wire over the top of the soil and hide this with a layer of mulch. Once the shoots have emerged, you can remove the mesh (or else, leave it alone, if it doesn't bother you. It's best to remove it if you intend to plant something else on the same patch of soil).


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Steve - 6-3/4 ( on Thu, Sep 30, 99 at 1:27

Next time you have a garage sale, add some plants, and mention it in the advertisement.

I sold every plant I had potted up, including the orange ditch lilies.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: tammy - indiana ( on Fri, Oct 1, 99 at 15:46

Hello everyone. I found this out by mistake, and maybe many of you already know this, but I've only been gardening a few years now and just learned that lavendar roots easily from stems laying on the ground and covered with leaves, mulch, or dirt. What a nice surprise it was this past spring to see that I had more lavendar to share throughout the yard. Happy Gardening.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: tanya - CT-6 ( on Sat, Oct 2, 99 at 1:09

when dividing or moving plants shake excess soil off roots and place in a bucket of water in the shade. let sit in the water for a bit before planting again. i've left things for days and planted with great success.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Trish - 6 ( on Tue, Oct 5, 99 at 23:35

Here's something people don't think of: keep a garden diary. Oh, not every day, of course, but once a week or so write down the weather conditions, what plants are doing well, etc. I've been doing it for three years now, and seeing what happened in previous years has been a big help to me.


Free lumber for garden structures ....

Posted by: Ann Zone 6 - 6 ( on Mon, Oct 11, 99 at 19:08

I rarely pay for wood for garden structures. Instead, I stop by local construction sites and get free wood from them. Most construction companies put wooden planks right into the dumpster and have to pay to have them hauled away. They are frequently happy to have local people haul them for free. I've gotten wood to use for informal wooden fences (I garden in a rented plot in a field) and also for raised beds or compost bins. You can also get small pieces for use in building bird houses.

I also got a free end-of-the-roll of cement support wire. It's at least 10 feet long and over five feet tall and made of very heavy wire. It's going to make a great trellis for heavy cherry tomatoes.

'Reusing *is* recycling.'


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: di - 6 ( on Sat, Oct 16, 99 at 10:19

I always seem to have trouble finding string when I want to tie something up. But, it is always easy in summer in my garden to find wilted iris leaves, and they are extremely fibrous and strong. I use them to tie up roses, clematis, or whatever else needs attaching to a fence or support.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Clairabelle - 4b ( on Tue, Oct 26, 99 at 20:58

Tips to save you time and money:

1. Compost compost compost !

2. That funny rubber hose with all the holes in it! "Plant" one just under the surface of hard-to-get, usually dry areas(like under eaves, for example)for instant --well almost-- gratification! Instead of standing around for hours watering, this automatic system lets you get on to better things, like more planting, hammocking and cool-drinkizing!

3. Your old pantyhose is just right for securing delicate vines and branches in place. Cut in strips and store in pocket!

4. Yes, human hair works to ward off the hungry varmints. Also try dryer softener sheets tied around the base of plants, the critters hate the smell.

5. Don't pull the plug on your dishwater! Throw it in the garden!

6. Hold on to the water you've cooked your veggies in, and throw that outside too!

7. Don't be shy... take pictures and document your achievements/learn from your mistakes!

8. Share your passion (especially with the neighbors!)

If at first you don't succSEED, plant plant again!

Now: aren't we SPECIAL! LOL


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Susan Carroll - No CAZ9 - 9 - sunset 17 ( on Mon, Nov 8, 99 at 21:16

Forget regular gardening gloves! -Playtex household "living gloves" are the way to go. You can tell what you're doing and aren't clumsy at all, but your hands stay clean, warm and dry.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: vickie - 8 ( on Mon, Nov 8, 99 at 21:54

My dishwasher soap comes in large 3 gallon buckets. I reuse them in my potting shed and they come in handy for all sorts of things.Toting compost to the beds, picking up doggy doo, storing plant foods and slug baits. One of my favorite uses for them is to fill with medium grain sand and add a little mineral oil. Then I can just shove in my trowels and pruning shears and other metal garden tools when done using them and the next time I go get them they are clean!


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Rose - 5 ( on Tue, Nov 9, 99 at 0:21

Hi Everyone! I'm fairly new here and certainly enjoyed this post. It's printing and has been for a long time. There goes a ream of paper, but well worth it. I wish I could commment on everything because everything was great! I have a couple of comments:

Jenra, my husband does the same thing, but deep down inside we are making them feel useful, don't you think?

Chris, you talked about copper trellises. I've seen this idea before and think they are beautiful--what about the metal retaining heat? Does this not hurt the plants?

To everyone else, Hi. Enjoyed it!


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Mary - 5 USDA ( on Thu, Jan 6, 00 at 18:27

Use your grass clippings around your plants to help retain moisture while they gradually break down and add to the soil.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Susi Torre-Bueno - 10 ( on Sat, Jan 8, 00 at 19:01

Never go out into the garden without a pair of scissors in your hand - you know you always end up wishing you had them!


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: karen z6 - 6 ( on Mon, Jan 10, 00 at 23:12

Since I have a lot of pine trees on my property, my favorite tip is a way to get pine sap off your hands.

To remove pine sap, rub your hands with petroleum jelly. The sap will come right off and the petroleum jelly will leave your hands moisturized.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Kim El Paso ( on Wed, Jan 12, 00 at 23:17

Great Tips... My favorite is planting a banana peel next to our rose bushes. Also put a large tin can open at both ends.

Fill up with water. They really like it. Gets to the roots.

Good Luck....


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Mindy - 5/6 SE Indiana ( on Thu, Jun 8, 00 at 4:13

I think this has alot of great tips even tho' so old. Thought I would keep it going.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Margaret - 7 VA ( on Tue, Jun 13, 00 at 20:50

I hate wearing gardening gloves, and it takes me ages to scrub my nails clean, so I dig my nails into a bar of soap -washing my hands afterwards is a breeze.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Doris - 7 - AL ( on Wed, Jun 14, 00 at 7:49

To grow vines on a privacy fence or the like, use plastic fencing (sold in a roll). Staple on top, stake a few inches away from fence so that the vines can grow through the mesh. The mesh disappears in no time.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Steve - TN ( on Wed, Jun 21, 00 at 1:22

There is a kind of ladder looking wire used to reinforce concrete. It is quite pliable, will bend. You can get it at any home improvement place. It's great for any kind of plant that climbs. It's also galvanized and resists rust, and costs 99 cents for about eight feet.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Sudha - 6 ( on Tue, Jun 27, 00 at 13:42

I make plant labels from yogurt cans. Use Sharp permanent markers.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Elfrieda ( on Fri, Jul 14, 00 at 21:54

We should keep this one going. I have quite a few tips in my files and will dig them out to share. But, meanwhile, don't throw your eggshells out; wash them I then leave them in a bowl for a few days to dry. Then I mash them by kneading them with my fingers until pulverized. Sprinkle in your flower beds. It's calcium !. If you time it right and realize that the birds are nesting/producing in your area and are coming to your feeders ; put some of those pulverized egg shells out as a little "side dish" with, or by the bird feeder.

Another; sometimes it is so good to soak your feet. Isn't it ? Year-round living in Florida helps ! Anyway; sometimes when I relax on the patio and decide to treat my feet to a little relaxation (in a foot bath)- I always use Epsom Salts. It's been touted for years as a wonderful balm to soak feet in. The plus is that you just throw that water out - preferably around your roses. They love Epsom Salts. I have just noticed recently that in the W-M's and H-D's place they actually have cartons of "fertilizer" containing --- oh, my gosh ! Epsom Salts. It's going to cost you more, of course, more than if you went to the pharmacy section and just bought a container of Epsom Salts ! Gotta check out my files and post some more good hints.

Regarding using water that your vegetables have cooked in, to use in your flower beds; this should not be done if you use salt to cook your vegetables ! No ! No !


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Steve - 6-1/1 ( on Sun, Jul 16, 00 at 22:48

Do you ever use a long extension cord in the garden? If so, you know how it gets tangled and twisted while making those big round loops (like taking up a garden hose)to take it back inside. You decide how big the loops are going to be, and you make loop after loop and somehow the doggone thing looks twisted and starts fraying after a few trips to the garden and back.

The secret is put on every other loop backwards. Assuming you've got the loops in your left hand, and you're gathering a loop with your right hand, every other loop, right before you drop it into place, reverse your hand and drop it in. Describing this is a test of my technical writing skills, though it is very simple really.

Holding loops in one hand, the other hand comes bringing a new loop of extension cord and drops it into place. The next time the hand comes with a loop, right before it drops the loop, rotate your hand so you drop the loop into place with that hand facing the other way.

Oh well, that's the best I can do for an explanation. The wires inside an extension cord, looped like a hose, are twisting over and over again (and this is what causes extension cords to get all bent out of shape). If you reverse each loop, that takes the tension out of it. It may seem odd when you first do it, but it really works. (I learned this while taking a course at a cable access television station).


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Muffi ( on Mon, Jul 17, 00 at 16:36

What a great thread! I used to always end up cutting spring bulbs when planting in the fall. Now I cut large plastic pots into 2" rings and when I plant new bulbs, I cover with soil and near the top of the planting area, place the ring. When I plant in the fall, I am careful with the first plunge of the spade,carefully checking if there is a ring in sight. If I dig near one, it pops out before I am able to damage the bulbs below. It has really saved my bulbs.



RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Elfrieda ( on Mon, Jul 17, 00 at 21:33

Got to add one more that I feel is really important -- will try to add more if this thread keeps going and my memory doesn't fail. Anyway, for all you southern gardeners who have had their run-in with fire ants. I don't have a "fire-proof" way of getting rid of them. BUT, when you are bitten, slosh on some WHITE VINEGAR. I can't remember where I read this years ago; but honestly it works. I keep a large SAM's size bottle in my garage and a spritz bottle of the white vinegar which I take out with me when I'm gardening. I just can't stand to wear sneakers out there (too hot); so I usually end up with the "flip-flops" not good I agree - especially with all the other critters one might encounter on the ground. But I can't emphasize enough how instantly the white vinegar will put an immediate end to the painful bite; let along the postules that come later and the unbelievable itching. It just stops it all right away. I have told so many people about this, especially those with small children and some co-workers have even made sure that their day-care centers have the white vinegar on hand. Some years ago I remember reading about a small child (somewhere in Florida) who had fallen into a fire ant's nest; her little head and face were covered. The mother just couldn't get them off and couldn't wash them off either. The poor child died. I will never forget reading about that and thinking if only she had a bottle of white vinegar handy she might have had a chance.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: DeaMN ( on Tue, Jul 18, 00 at 9:58

And here's one more tip..I haven't used it as yet as I am new to gardening and haven't started anything from seed as yet, but it sounds like it would be a good idea. It has to do with egg shells as well...use them to plant your seeds in and when the seeds are ready to be planted, just plant shell and all. Gives the seeds a little extra "something".


Preventing tangles & kinks in garden hose

Posted by: Cajun Joe - 9 - New Orleans ( on Thu, Jul 20, 00 at 10:48

To prevent tangles or kinks in a garden hose =

When rolling up a hose on the ground, roll it up in and S shape each time. Thereafter when you go to use it, it will uncoil straight.


RE: Favorite Gardening Hint or Tip

Posted by: Elfrieda ( on Sun, Jul 23, 00 at 20:37

The plastic stuff that comes in a pack, with a couple of strips that you break a piece off -- usually used to "tack" your kids' posters to the bedroom wall - without using thumb-tacks --I just can't remember what it's called. Anyway; its great for fastening vines to a wall or wherever you want to train it until it gets to where you want it to go !!! It can also be used, with or without a stick, to bind up a plant that is bent or partly broken.

And for slugs -- apart from the b

Comments (91)

  • ReddKatt

    For the veggie growers:
    Tomato cages aren't just for tomatoes! Actually, they aren't very good for anything other than patio tomatoes, are they? ;oD My former tomato cages have a new life as *topiary* bases for my cucumbers.
    Just turn the tomato cage upside down around the hill where you have planted the prerequisite "3 plants to a mound" of cucumber seedlings. Tack the lowest circle of wire down using cut wire hangers bent in a u-shape, or use those old tent pegs that are hanging around the garage or attic. Periodically train the cucumber plant to the cage and if necessary give it a little assist with cut up panty hoses as ties. The cucumbers stay clean and are easy to access. By the time the cuke plant has grown up to cover the cage it is quite attractive and *topiary* in appearance !

    Kathie *ReddKatt*

  • Texas_Annie

    For rose gardeners (and other plants with thorns): I can't count the number of times I got nailed on the top of the head by my roses before I did this. Take a "gimme cap" and line the top with sturdy cardboard, then wear to work with your roses (especially when pruning tall ones!). The bill of the cap will keep canes from whipping into your face, and the "hard hat" top will save you from getting a sharp one in your scalp. Also, don't forget to get a tetanus shot every ten years. Rose thorns actually carry the tetanus bug! And of course we all get an "owie" out in the garden once in a while anyway.

    One more tip, this one a trifle morbid. My husband and I do feline rescue, and once we lost a very young kitten.(We have been lucky not to lose more, but sometimes I think Someone is looking out for the pusses!) Anyway, this was at the beginning of August, and I buried the poor baby kitty at the foot of a young bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) that was about four feet tall at the time. That tree grew THREE FULL FEET in the next six weeks. Granted, Q. macrocarpa is a fast grower when young, but it hadn't done anything at all earlier in the summer. So if you have *small* critters to bury (such as a mouse or dead sparrow), try interring them at the foot of your young trees. (I wouldn't try this with a larger creature, though. In order to get it deep enough, you would have to disturb the roots too much. Also, no more than one critter per tree per year, I think.)

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  • nwhorthappy

    If you have a Starbucks coffee shop nearby, stop by regularly and get their free, used coffee grounds. It's a corporate policy to give them away to gardeners -- they're packed into old whole-bean bags and labeled "grounds for gardens -- free" and if they don't have them prepacked already, the staff will just give you a garbage sack full for the asking. Wonderful dark brown mulch and nitrogen-rich fertilizer, for free!

  • nwhorthappy

    Stepping stones! Put enough throughout your garden beds so you never have to step on the soil directly. It keeps the tilth of the soil light and crumbly and you don't have to worry about crushing some little treasure that is just emerging.

  • Lady_Lisa

    My children love to grow sunflowers, and when the birds have finished feasting on the seeds during the winter months I cut them down and use them the following summer as pea/bean supports. They're really sturdy, a great bamboo cane substitute!!

  • therandey

    Add non molassed alfalfa pellets around your rose bushes and other shrubs if you like. You can buy them at the feed store for a good price. Just toss them around the plant and water. They will remain there for a time breaking can cover them with mulch if you like. They are good for roses.

  • decobug

    I put on Baby Oil gel after washing hands from gardening while they are still wet. They shrivel up like prunes from the dirt, and letting the oil soak on them for a few minutes puts them back to normal.

    DO NOT use cat litter in the bottom of pots for drainage. It CLUMPS.

    Something I learned this summer... when within reach of a swarm of bees or yellow jackets, lay out a bowl full of orange juice. Come back later and there will be many of them floating, drowned in their attempt to drink. Must be replaced daily.

    I keep all of the plant tags in a cigar box. Sometimes years later, I'll wonder what the name of something is, and there it is!

    We were trying to kill weeds by spraying round-up here and there. One summer day we made ice cream in the ice cream maker, and hubby dumped out the rock salt water on a weedy area. Was shocked to come out later and see everything completely dead... Not sort of dead, not edges of leaves dying (like with the sprays) but completely dead!

    Winter sowing of seeds - I have a large wheelbarrow filled with dirt. I sprinkle whatever seeds I have from the summer and cover with soil. They sit there all winter in the rain and snow etc... In the spring little sprouts start popping up. I have no idea what they are or what they are going to be. It's a nice surprise come the summer to see what made it. I dig up the largest of the plants and put them around the yard...

    I had some bags of bulbs last fall that completely molded when I left them out in the rain. Black fuzz and everything. I was heartbroken because they were expensive. I said the heck with it, and plunked them into a big pot of water and bleach. A day later, I peeled off all of the rotten parts, (like peeling an onion) and had much smaller albeit non-moldy white bulbs. I figured they were goners anyway, so it was just an experiment. I planted them like normal bulbs and waited. Yes, they all came up and look completely normal... Very happy I be :)

    I also had lots of iris fans that got moldy from sitting in the 'waiting to be planted' bin for too long. I sprayed the roots and any blackened areas with bleach and planted as usual. They are all still green and should be blooming soon.

    I had about 300 bulbs that I didn't get in the ground last winter. I left them outside in a rain free area. I planted them this spring as soon as the ground unfroze. They are all coming up, later than usual, but who cares. They will still be beautiful, and will bloom normally next year...

    I have transplanted plants at all times of the year. I dig up the root ball and plant in the new place. Then I trim the plant to be the same size as the root ball. Water daily until you see new growth. It will take a year to get back to where it was size wise, but at least it is in its new home...

  • stuytowngal

    I have found that if I soak caladium bulbs in a large pot filled with lukewarm water and a bit of plant fertilizer....they need much less time to sprout and show!

  • kaerie22

    Here are a couple of tips from my great grandmother the nurse. If you get bitten by a poisonous spider, apply a compress of bread soaked in milk. It should help draw some of the poison, slowing down the spreading while you get to a doctor. This tip actually saved my father from a brown recluse once.
    I have another use for white vinegar, also. It works great on burns, as well as on fire ant and other stings. In high school, my mom lives on the coast, and i was always getting sunburns. A washcloth, wet with vinegar, will actually come away hot from a fresh burn. It draws the heat out of your skin, keeps the burn from getting worse. It will get rid of that feeling that you're radiating heat from your skin. Vinegar only works if the burn still feels hot, though. For a set in burn, Aloe Vera is still the best answer. That goo inside is so cool and refreshing. We have some planted strategically right next to the bar-b-q.

  • mabeldingeldine_gw

    Awesome list!

    1) If you work at a large organization, organize a garden club to meet over lunch. No fees, just chat, sharing stories, and inviting guests to speak over lunch (volunteer Master Gardeners can address a variety of topics)

    2) Organize a plant swap in the spring with your new garden club, or host a plant swap brunch and invite all your gardening friends.

    3) cut up old milk jugs to make seed markers

    4) Poke a few SMALL holes in the bottomg of a milk jug. Set it near a plant that needs watering, and fill the milk jug to the brim. The water will slowly seep out, rather than running off.

    5) Save yogurt cups or cottage cheese containers to start seeds.

    6) Use large translucent plastic storage boxes to start seeds. Set the seed cups in th box, water well, and snap the lid on. I find this MUCH easier than those flimsy black plastic six-pack trays. For seeds that need light to germinate, put the seed cups on the LID and cover with the box bottom. When the seed starting is completed, wash everything well and store it in the plastic boxes.

    7) A clip on lamp with a 25 watt bulb pointed at the seed box will warm it nicely. Much cheaper than a seed starting mat, and very effective in the three years I've been using this method. (I start well over 100 plants per year this way).

    8) Keep a garden journal. I use a 99 cent "composition book" and keep plans of the garden, write notes of what I did when, make up lists of seeds to purchase, note what birds arrive when in spring, when things bloom, etc. Useful and a great reason to sit down in the shade during the hot part of the day.

  • mabeldingeldine_gw

    I forgot my favorite tip!

    Install a rural type mail box near the garden. It is perfect for storing extra hand tools, garden twine, hose accessories, etc.

  • peggy1155

    To keep dirt from coming out the bottom of container plants - for small pots use a coffee filter, for big (12" or over) use a white paper towel. You can usually get both items pretty cheap on sale or at dollar stores.

  • DianeGA

    I couldn't bring myself to dispose of lots of packing peanuts (styrofoam kind) because they never degrade in a landfill. So I've saved them in a large lawn-waste bag in the basement. Whenever I want to use a large, deep container, I first cover the drainage holes with landscape fabric (used dryer sheets also work great). I then fill the container with the peanuts until roughly 8" from the top & cover it with more landscape fabric. I cut the fabric large enough to go up the sides until it's about 1-2" from the top. Add potting soil & mix in some water-retaining crystals so it won't dry out so fast. You'll save money on soil & the pot is so much easier to move since it's lighter.

  • Vallari

    Oh my all the wonderful advice! Thanks all! Well, my gardening tip is to make a sketch of your home and shed or garage or permanent trees etc. and shade in the areas of shade that occur at different times throughtout the day. Do this every season at least once and you will notice a big difference in where the sunlight is each time. This helps for planting somewhere that looks sunny in late fall, only to realize in summer when trees have bloomed that it is really a shady area. Happy gardening! Great tips.

  • sheba1

    one more use for those old pantyhose. I cut them up to use in the bottom of flowerpots to keep soil from "leaking".

  • rosieo

    I found a cheap "Composition book" that my daughter didn't use last year. I've been using it as a sort of gardening diary, - I write down when I sowed which seeds, when did they come up, when I divided the daylillies or fertilized the roses, etc. All the stuff that I'll wish later I could remember!

  • ceresone

    ruth stout has been my guru for years, but i've just found out to stick to her gardening books, i'm reading "i've always done it my way"and i just cant agree with her there, so--i'll stick to her way of gardening--now, when i plant my tomatoes,(always deep, as suggested above)i put a tbsp of epsom salts in the bottom of hole, mixed with dirt--no blossom end rot.and last year, despite reading that sunflowers are like black walnuts to a garden, i planted sunflowers all over my garden--birds were so thick, i never had bugs or worms!!even when they werent blooming, they liked the height to perch on, and watch for bugs. beauty also

  • pdxjules

    In Fall and Spring I nab all the leaves I can from the curbs near my home...trying to get a blend of flavors.

    In fall a light, wide rake works great - and leaves are used everywhere as mulch, and in a couple great piles to make leaf mould - and for compost layers in between every kitchen bucket dump.

    In Spring - be sure to use a flat edged-snow-shovel - that makes it is easy to skim along curbs and lift finished leaf mould compost and curb weeds right onto a big plastic tarp to pull home.

    You get a real bonus doing this in Spring (before the street-cleaners come around) as the bottom layer is rich and fertile finished humus - lavish with earthworms, all ready to blend into your planting mixes, or for use as a rich dark top-dressing around the garden. The partly-finished stuff layers nicely to refresh or finish compost, giving you an excuse to turn your stack and check its status.

    Feeding the compost or mulching plants you love is a rewarding experience in itself. Clean curbs, and Everybody wins. I just did the Spring snow-shovel thing to tidy up 5 neighbors curbs yesterday. This will keep our storm-drains flowing freely - but I love getting all the free humus the most. And got a great workout to boot. Get out there!

  • maryliz

    If you make hard boiled eggs, let the liquid cool, and then take the pan out to the garden to water your tomatoes or other garden plants. It is calcium-enriched water.

    Also, pour boiling water directly on weeds growing between the cracks of your sidewalk. You could do this every time you have a cup of tea.

    Plastic tubs such as yoghurt or sour cream containers make great plant pots. Just use a 1/4" drill bit to make drainage holes.

    To kill fungus gnats that live in your houseplants and slowly kill them by eating the roots ... get a mosquito dunk, dissolve it in tap water, and use next time you water your house plants. If at all possible, let the soil dry out more between waterings, as constantly moist soil makes fungus gnats thrive.

    Plastic plant markers fade in the sun, even if you use one of those permanent markers. Pencil lasts longer. Even better, shove the marker down into the soil so that only the tip shows. When you need to read it, pull it out and wipe it off. Put it back when you're done. It will not fade for a long, long time.

    If you have trouble with rodents eating your bulbs, plant them inside a chicken wire "cage" and they'll just grow up through the wires.

    A free, if temporary, planter box for the veggie garden: Get a large cardboard box and set it in position, with the bottom flaps folded underneath the box, to hold the soil. If the bottom is not taped, no need to poke drainage holes. Fold the top flaps down and inside the box. Fill with soil and plants. Makes it easy to saturate the soil, since the water stays inside the box until it leaks out the bottom. You might be able to use the planter box a second year if the sides don't collapse.

    Save the cardboard tubes from toilet paper and paper towels. Depending on what you'll be growing, you might want to keep the toilet paper size ones their original length, or cut them into smaller sections. Stand each on end in a plastic tray left over from meat or some such, carefully spread a small piece of newspaper in the bottom to keep the soil from falling out the bottom when you eventually lift it out of the tray, and fill each tube to the very top with soil. Use it to plant things that don't like their roots disturbed, such as cukes, squashes, beans, poppies, etc. Every time you water, pour a small amount of water into the tray, and let the soil take it up by osmosis. Plant the whole thing in the ground, being sure to bury the cardboard tube completely. Leaving it above ground might cause it to wick moisture from the tiny plant growing inside. Over the summer, the cardboard will decay. The roots just grow out the bottom.

    When you start seedlings indoors, you can increase the amount of sunlight they receive through the window. Cover sheets of cardboard with aluminum foil, shiniest side out, and place next to the seedlings, facing the window, so that the light is reflected back at the plants. Also, if your seedlings are in tiny, individual pots (not flats) line the drip tray--or the shelf they are on--with aluminum foil. Every little bit makes a big difference.

    Learn how to propogate plants vegetatively from cuttings. This works for shrubs, and even trees. Start with something easy, like Forsythia, which will root in a glass of water after it has leafed out.

    Go to your local library and look for gardening books by Rodale Press. I have seen several that are chock-full of gardening tips like these. Great thread! Keep it going!

  • Eliza_ann_ca

    Time to get this thread going again...I just love all your tips.Keep them comming.

    Eliza ann

  • Mebane

    Here's a tip for seeds that suggest you soak over night. Place the seeds in a wet paper towel and place in a zip lock bag. Then I put the bag on the floor in front of the refridgerator. The heat helps with the germination. This is also the best place to place wet tennis shoes. The heat/air will usually dry them overnight!!!

  • booberry85

    I'm trying a few things this year. I'm taking the ashes out of my fireplace and putting them in the garden to help amend my heavy clay soil.

    I have an experiment going on right now. I had read that tin foil at the base of plants was suppose to distract some garden pests and give additional light to the plants. Instead of tin foil, I cut CD's (from an unsolicited internet provider)in half and put them around the base of the plant, shiny side up. Hopefully this will reflect light that the plant will like, distract the bugs and keep down the weeds near the base of the plants.

    I also save empty ice cream pint containers. I rinse them out and start seeds in them.

  • Steveningen

    Plant early.

  • paulinep

    Use your computer for everything!!

    -- Take your garden breaks at your computer
    ----check out GardenWeb Forums, answer your email,
    --- have your lunch in front of computer.
    ---Create several computer documents with valuable tips, etc., keep in folder called Gardening Stuff,
    --- Use your digital camera DAILY to record what is happening in the garden, if you download pics daily, vital info is kept along with the picture, date, time, etc. (just click on properties of each picture to get this info)
    --- Download pictures to Garden Monthly folders you can then click on slide show to see what happened each year during the Month of May, June, etc., Easy then to compare garden from year to year

    --Create a document called plant labels and type all info on plants you purchase and pitch the tag,

    -- keep info on what you buy and where from.
    -- Research every new plant you purchase on the internet and cut and paste the info into your computer Journal (along with pictures if you want).
    -- Use your digital camera to "save" all the pictures from your gardening magazines, After reading the magazine, take it outside and click away, eliminating all the ads, etc. don't worry if you get some glare, when you look at the magazine you always get glare, then download to your computer in folders that identify the magazine, then donate the magazines---create CD's for backup of documents/pictures/journals. Then when you are having lunch at your computer, click on slide show and look at all the great pictures to stimulate ideas, etc.,

    -- Use Win2PDF a free tool to convert long documents to Adobe PDF to share with others friends(smaller files--easier to email, etc.), (My yearly Gardening Journals are huge files when I am done with pictures embedded, etc. (I use a two column style of journal on the computer).

    --Send emails to yourself when you are on a favorite site with great info but don't have time to read it right then. My "favorite" sites get too long, so I just go to File when at a great site, then click on Send, then either send the whole page to myself, or just the link.

    --Use your digital camera to create panoramas of your garden, stand in one place and just move camera to next lateral picture then use software to stitch the pics together.

    --Preview garden changes/additions by using software like Adobe Elements to clone plants fron one part of your garden into another to see the result, or to add gate you have seen, cut and paste into your own garden spot, etc.,

    OK that's enough for now.

  • ConsiderThis

    Something that I found quite lovely, was growing climbing peas among my corn plants, with a few cosmos thrown in for color. (Since I'm still too sick (tetanus) to do much in my garden, this is wishful thinking right now, "wishful remembering" really.

    The other thing, is planting tansey below grape vines. I lost a whole grape vine last year because the pests weren't driven away by tansey... At least I think that's the reason because I never lost a vine when I had tansy.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Health-Boundaries-Bite

  • Karen Mickleson

    For MAC users:

    Following up on Pauline's notes above, an absolutely wonderful piece of software is called Sticky Brain by Chronos. [I don't work for them.] It lets you set up files of infinite categories--my "Garden" file has sub-folders of everything from Annuals to Aroids to Filler Ideas to Rose Care..etc. Then, whenever I'm online & find a web page or a forum thread or whatever, relevant to something, I can copy/paste its contents right into a new Note in a given folder, & it's always available to me. You can drag & drop a photo of a plant into a note. It also has many other handy, wonderful features, like capacity to add check boxes to To Do lists, etc. It looks like "Mail", with all the folders clearly lined up on the left hand side.

    And you can keep all the stuff Pauline mentions above organized in an easy-to-find-later fashion. I can't rave enough about Sticky Brain--for gardening & the rest of my life!


    Here is a link that might be useful: Sticky Brain website

  • paulinep

    Gee I wonder is there a Windows version of Sticky Brain? I sure could use it.

  • katbird

    Ok, things that I have heard and some of which I have actually tried:

    1)Visit your favorite barber, hair salon and have them save hair cuttings for you, put them in and around your hosta; this will keep rabbits away from them, they smell the hair and think someone is nearby..

    2) A saucer of beer in your hosta bed will attract slugs into it and they will drown, eliminates them ..

    3) Save your spent dish water, pour it over your roses, rids them of aphids.. make sure it has cooled to room temp of course..

    4) Spent coffee grounds sprinkled around the bases of hosta will also keep slugs off them.. and rabbits away, they don't like the smell, taste..

    5) At least once a month, give your houseplants a shower.. they love the humidity and it cleans and refreshes them, cool water only, just set them in the tub, turn on the water at a mild setting.. don't wanna beat them down!

    6) Yes you can use the empty Folgers Coffee Cans (red plastic ones) for winter sowing!! drill holes in the bottoms for drainage. Fill with dirt and your favorite seeds, tape clear plastic wrap over the top, pop some holes in it and voila!! Did coneflowers this past year that way!

    7) Offer friends starts of your plants when they visit, but then get them to dig them up and do some weeding a little around what they want.. cheap garden labor lol, do the same when your kids are visiting!!

    Just off the top of my head..
    Have fun and happy gardening!

  • silly_me

    always do your weeding right after a good rain (or, if you're crazy like me, while it's raining). the soil is loose then and weeds come up easily - roots and all.

  • greenvein

    I like to root cuttings in damp, coarse builders sand. But, when a cutting roots and is pulled out, sometimes the delicate new roots break off. To avoid this, hold a canister of warm water in one hand, pouring the water gently at the base of the rooted cutting. With the other hand, gently tug the cutting. As the water reaches the cuttingÂs roots, you will feel it loosen. At that time, pull harder and bring the entire cutting out of the sand while you are still pouring water. The roots will be intact, hardly ever any damage. Pot cutting as you normally would.

  • roseluvr

    When planting a second row of roses this spring, I discovered that underneath 1 feet of good dirt was nothing but clay-bad for the roses, who don't like wet feet. I had hubby dig down extra deep, then we added layers of grass clippings (we store it around the dog's pen, where it doubles as storage and mulch to keep the grass under control around the pen) with shovelfuls of worm dirt we keep piled up in the very back of our yard (just good dirt we keep on hand, salvaged from various garden/yard projects, which is always crawling with worms-no additional help/feeding needed from us). Drainage is great now and these roses are doing better than the first row we planted.


  • Gingers_Garden

    There are scissors with very long blades sold as wallpaper scissor at HD or Lowe's. I use mine to snip dead leaves or to prune unwanted shoots from deep inside bushy plants that I otherwise would not be able to reach with common clippers(pruners). Not having to cram my hand into the plant mean less damage to the mother plant.


  • trowelgal Zone 5A, SW Iowa

    These were fun to read. Here are a few from me.
    A suggestion about using the packing peanuts in the bottom of large containers to save soil. I put my packing peanuts inside a plastic bag and tie it shut before putting it in the bottom of the container. This way you can remove the soil later and it isn't all down in the packing peanuts and a big mess.
    When planting water loving plants I create a "crater" at the base of the plant with a soil rim around. Then when I water the plant gets it all with no "run off".
    Never fertilize morning glories as you will get a lot of foliage but few flowers. Also, once they are established water sparingly.
    To keep cutworms from severing your young plants put a wooden toothpick next to the stem to keep the worms from wrapping their bodies around it.
    If you collet seeds and need a great place to store them try the new Gerber baby food Gladware type plastic containers. They are small and clear and stack great! Be sure your seeds are very dry before snapping on the lid. If you don't have a baby ask around your neighborhood or at church. People are usually happy to save them for you.
    Plastic strawberry baskets work well to deter bunnies. Turn them upside down over your seedlings and they'll still get sun, air and rain but won't be nibbled.
    Squirrels always dig into my container plants every spring. So I have collected a lot of sea shells(from garage sales and thrift stores) and broken colored glass. After I fill the container with plants I top the soil with the shells and pretty glass pieces. Keeps them away.
    When planting hosta seeds plant about 10 seeds in a circle the size of a small yogurt lid. Then add three more seeds in the middle. Each seed will only create one leaf stem so you need them planted together to get a "hosta plant".
    The greatest idea to come off of Gardenweb is Winter Sowing. If you haven't heard of it please go to the Winter Sowing forum and check it out. You will find that Trudi has designed a way to save tons of money on plants and it's fun too!
    That's all for now. Keep them coming, it's great to share ideas, helps everyone.

  • karinova

    I recently tried air-layering for the first time on a schefflera plant that had gotten way too leggy. Holding a bundle of wet coir to the stem while wrapping the whole thing in plastic was just about impossible with only two hands. I was about to give up, but I'd already cut the bark, so I had to do something. Then I had a brainwave: I grabbed one of those polymer-infused seed-starting plugs, cut it lengthwise (halfway through), wet it, and wrapped it over the cut area clam-style. Tied with a twist-tie, it stayed in place very nicely by itself, and I was able to wrap the plastic easily. Much easier!

    Plus, the plug stayed damp for over two weeks, even though it was much smaller than the orange-sized clump of coir that was recommended. Roots appeared in about 9 days. Now I'm going to air-layer everything I can get my hands on!

  • karinova

    Here's another one for all you kind cat lovers:
    If you grow catnip outside, get one of those round-bottomed green-enamelled wire baskets that are meant to hold a coir liner. Put it upside-down over the catnip plant, and it will quickly grow over it into a neat little mound. Then neighborhood cats can come over to nibble at (or roll on top of!) it all they want without killing it-- they can only get at the bits that poke through the basket, which is plenty to get them, uh, intoxicated.

  • Jillofall

    ConsiderThis, you should have reminded us to get our tenanus booster shots!

    I live in a dry climate and can't grow a thing without a watering system. On the deck and indoors I plant things in "self-watering" pots, the kind with reservoirs, then pop those inside the pretty pots. I do this for flowers, herbs, and even lettuce. --Kris

  • ARUM

    Heres a great one for you folks who love your outside birds! In the heat of summer,(or almost any time really), take a gallon milk jug and put a tiny pin hole with a needle in one end at the very bottom corner. Fill with water and put a string around the handle to hang in a tree, on a clothes line,etc..., then put over a shallow dish of water. The slow drip drip of the water will attract the birds to a refreshing bath and drink. Cool huh? :) Arum

  • limequilla

    Thought is was time to bump this up again.

    I recently put in a raised garden because of bad drainage and compacted sticky clay. It really wasn't high enough, but I couldn't afford any more loads of dirt, so my husband & I rented a 4" diam one-person post hole digger for $20.00 at the hardware store. I selected the sites where the holes would go and he drilled them by leaning on the machine. (I tried to do it, but didn't have enough heft)

    The holes were about 3 feet deep, deep enough that we should have called the utilitiy company before we dug, so I would encourage anybody trying this to "call before you dig".

    I any case, I had 3 dozen holes that I filled with compost to the brim and then stepped on to really pack it in so it wouldn't settle. The bad soil that had been displaced by the auger from down in the holes was raked over all. This raised the bed some more and the drainage is GREAT now! Naturally, I am mulching so the bad soil on top will shortly be good soil.


  • sewobsessed


    Don't throw out those used dryer sheets...They're great for putting over the bottom holes of containers before filling to keep soil in and letting water out. Also, if you save enough of them (who doesn't have tons over winter) they make GREAT under-mulch lanscaping fabric for small flowerbeds, or even large if you have enough.

  • sandysseeds007

    Time for a bump up for this great thread. Thanks for all the tips of those who have left them and those who will.

    To deter our city monkeys known as squirrels from your bulbs and from uprooting your plants be sure to use the a pure white colored blood meal. We recently acquired bags of it that ended up almost 95% other darker stuff of which was not clearly stated on the bag but in much smaller printing elsewhere. Be sure it's Blood meal and not Bone meal too. Sprinkle liberally on the soil of your balcony/potted/garden plants. Works great!!! Tomatoes plants would probably benefit from a sprinkle of it around leaves near tomatoes reachable to the squirrels.
    After a month or so the squirrels will give up for a time but especially if you have a bird bath for them to reach and drink from. Loving my birds and squirrels too!

    Also: great link to find out germination data for different seeds at I personally would not take this as the only opinion but I'm sure it's of great value as a general reference tool.

    I personally value the damp paper towel in baggy method for most of my seeds. I really want to try the winter sowing methods suggested back in this thread in one of the Augusts'

    Happy Gardening! -Sandy

  • botanicals4u

    During the warmer months we buy about 1 box of "surgical gloves" the thin latex type that medical offices use that is sold in the pharmacy areas of WalMart and drug stores at a cost of about $5.00 for a box of 50 although my latest purchase was a box of 100 for about $7.00. I shove several pair in my pockets when I go outside, and put them on before weeding or doing anything. They let you use your fingers better than cotton although if I am using a tool with a rough handle I will slip a pair of cotton gloves over them. If I am handling large rocks or thorny plants then I slip leather gloves over them. With just the latex gloves you can handle even delicate jobs as if you were bare handed and when its time to come in, just snap them off and toss in the trash. Saves a lot of time scrubbing nails and your hands don't dry out from the dirt.

  • cheesy_2007

    I have found a cheese slicer, such as this invaluble as a garden tool. Use for tender seedlings...getting dirt out of pots..etc.
    The kind of slicer that you run across the top of the block of cheese and take off a very thin slice.

  • gardenscout

    Great thread. Deserves to be sent back to the top...

  • trowelgal Zone 5A, SW Iowa

    Outsmarting the tree rats (squirrels) around my house is a full time job. This past spring I hit on a new idea. When I plant a container I invert an empty wire hanging basket over the container and the plant gets sun and can be watered but the squirrels can't dig in it. Another idea: I bring in a lot of plants to "over winter" under lights in my garage. I have so many that it is hard to reach my hand under the lights (4 shop lights) to the middle for watering. So I bought a pump sprayer with a long wand and it works great! In late winter I add a little liquid Dawn detergent, few drops, to each gallon of water and not only does the soil get wet easier but the worms that are waiting to hatch into distructive pets just don't hatch. Don't know what it costs me to run those four shop lights all winter but I don't care. It is a small price to pay to be able to "garden" every weekend in the garage.
    Many people have mentioned that they mark their outdoor plants with a "permanent Sharpie". In my experience there isn't a "permanent Sharpie", they all fade and quickly too. A grease pencil/china marker or expensive "no fade" garden center marker are the only markers I have found that won't disappoint you by fading.
    Eight years ago I decided to learn about gardening so I tapped into my local library. I checked out nearly every book they had on gardening and learned so much. The Gardenweb forums are also a wealth of information and entertainment.
    There is always something new to learn and I appreciate all of you who take the time to write in your ideas. One last idea from me...I keep a small notebook on my computer table and jot down any idea I find that's new and I will want to try. Little pieces of paper get lost but I always know where my notebook is and also use it when I order "on line" so I will remember the name of the company and the order date.
    Tina or Trowelgal

  • flowrgirl1

    I use broken terra cotta pots as garden labels. THe marker holds up really well on the surface. Over time they will break down into the soil but it takes a while.

    I put an upside down plastic pot or closed pop bottles in the bottom of larder pots before i fill with soil. It uses less soil and keeps the pot much less heavy.

  • maximavswife

    Bumping this one again.

  • cross_stitch

    I've just found this old thread. Didn't see anyone mention this tip that I conjured up after destroying some bulbs in the past. When planting bulbs, add about 1" of sand on or just below the surface as you refill the hole. Then when you are poking about with a trowel someday, you will hit this layer of sand and it will remind you there is a bulb below.

  • green_go (Canada, Ontario, z 5a)

    I save paper coffee cups at work every time I buy a coffee or tea (which gives me about 2 cups a day). By spring, I have few hundreds of bio-degradable containers of various sizes (from small to extra large) to start my seedslings(just poke a drainage hole in the bottom of each cup). Cups are strong enough for growing seedlings for several months, then you can just plant your seedling in the garden bed with cups and they will grow beatifully (cups will decompose rapidly in the damp soil).

  • Villain Rose (Zone 11 Qld Australia.)

    I really liked this thread. There are some great ideas on here! Just thought I would bump this old thread back to the top! Anymore suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!

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