This is my first year having a true garden, and so far I’m loving the time I get outside playing in the dirt and absorbing the sunshine. It’s certainly a nice break from my computer! As a beginner, I’m learning a lot of things that will make next year’s garden easier, and hopefully a little healthier, too. I don’t want to win the prize for the largest squash (not there yet), but I do want a enough juicy tomatoes to last all summer long.
Whether you like to get your hands dirty in the garden or not, it’s nice to have a few gardening tips and ideas up your sleeve. Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for your yard that I hadn’t heard of before. I thought they were all pretty clever, but then again, I’m still a rookie at this soil and seed stuff!
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of redoing the landscaping every time the seasons change. Don’t get me wrong, I love the time outdoors, but the shovel and I are not best friends. Here’s an idea that was a bit of an “aha” moment for me. Dig a hole for your seasonal plants and fill it with an empty plastic pot. Now you can just drop your seasonal flowers (or herbs and veggies) in there and easily switch them out once they’re ready to retire.
Because packing peanuts still allow for good drainage, they are perfect for lightening the load in large flower pots. They are also cheaper than soil, so now you can justify a $4 cup of coffee while you get the job done. Just be sure to add a layer of landscape fabric over the top of them so that the soil doesn’t slowly sink to the bottom.
My blender rarely sees daylight, but now it might just get the chance to see the kitchen counter with this genius tip! I’m starting to understand the idea behind compost a little more now that I’m dabbling in the garden, so this just makes a lot of sense to me. Just like grinding your food makes it easier to digest, grinding eggshells makes it easy for your garden to absorb the calcium egg shells provide.
Animals (cats especially) seem to think all of the hard work you’ve put into your garden looks like a huge litter box. To keep them from pooping on your basil, strategically place a few plastic forks around your plants to deter them from destroying your fresh herbs, fruits, and veggies.
Just because you don’t have much of a yard doesn’t mean you can’t have a nice little garden going! Rubbermaid storage containers are lightweight and just the right size to get you started. Fill the bottom with packing peanuts and a layer of garden fabric to keep them easy to move. This could even work on a small apartment balcony!
Diapers aren’t just for doo doo! Place one in the bottom of a potted plant to help it retain moisture for longer. This would be great for those summer annuals that require daily watering.
Epsom salt has so many uses, including aiding in a beautiful and healthy garden. It’s rich in magnesium and sulfate which are crucial to plant life. For potted plants, mix a couple of tablespoons of the salt into your watering can once or twice a month. You can also sprinkle it in your garden’s soil to help your seeds germinate better. Tomatoes and peppers benefit the most because they both tend to have a magnesium deficiency. Add a tablespoon or so in with the soil when first planting, and then sprinkle more into the soil once mature.
Save your vegetable cooking water! The water has a lot of nutrients that your garden thrives on. Wait for the water to cool down first, and then use it to “fertilize” your garden or potted plants. This makes for a green and happy garden! You could also drink the stuff, but who wants to do that?!
Start your seedlings in a citrus peel, and not just because it’s really cute; It will compost in the soil and nourish the plants, so you can just go ahead and plant the whole thing once it’s ready. Just don’t forget to poke a hole in the bottom for drainage.
Not all of us have the skills to build a raised garden bed out of wood, and that’s when cinder blocks come to the rescue. I love how they have all the holes so you can easily separate your herbs. For a smaller space, you could even take out 2 or more of the block to create a narrower bed. After you’ve got a level place to start your garden, the rest is pretty simple!