Top 10 Gardening tips

Plant varieties that will mature in the amount of frost free days that you have.

Many vegetables have several options to chose from in seed catalogues.  For instance, when looking at cabbages there are some varieties that will be ready to pick in only 65 days, such as the hybrid savoy cabbage “Alcosa,” while others, usually called “Main Season-types” can need as long as 110 days.  By choosing varieties for shorter growing seasons, I can usually get a harvest.  So when choosing your veggie seeds, consider how long your growing season is and choose accordingly.

Get The Light Right

Some vegetables and fruits need direct sunlight for at least six hours every day. If your home isn’t particularly sunny, you can provide a supplemental light source to improve your garden’s chances of success. You can even use grow-tents that allow you to maximize the effects of your grow lights.

Test the soil

Use an at-home soil test kit to test your land’s pH level or Send a sample to the laboratory to ensure your soil is safe enough to foster plants. Most fruits and vegetables (except melons and potatoes and the eggplants) will tolerate varying pH levels, but they will usually do anywhere between 6.5 and 7. Testing soil nutrients is a key step for effective gardening. Furthermore, testing these different kinds of nutrients, including potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus, is also an essential factor in this step. If your test results incorrectly, you’ll need to take some time to fix the shortcomings.

If you live in deer country, protect your garden from the critters with a high fence

You can extend the height of a 4 foot fence with rope and fence post extensions gathered from surrounding hedgerows.  We weave binder twine from our hay bales, between fence posts extensions to extend the height of the fence to 6 feet and successfully keep out deer, who begin to look lustily at the garden in late September, when the broccoli is beginning to head and the surrounding fields are brown from late summer drought.

Grow Your Indoor Garden Vertically

If there’s limited space inside your home, you can always apply vertical gardening techniques. Vertically arrange a bunch of small pots in a vertical indoor garden organizer. It can be as easy as placing containers on a bookshelf, or you can shop for a premade vertical plant stand.

Get Rust-Free Tools

Pour builder’s sand into a bucket and store your tools in it with the blades facing down. The sand will help prevent the tools from rusting, which is all too common of a problem in coastal homes.

Save your coffee grounds

You can add coffee grounds directly to the soil, without composting first.  It will break down during the growing season and nourish your plants. Coffee grounds are rich in nitrogen.  If you need more than you produce yourself, go ask at your local espresso bar.  If your local coffee place isn’t involved in the program talk to their Green consultant, and ask them to get it going.

Properly space your plants to allow for maximum growth

Many of the current books on gardening suggest very close plantings in small spaces.  If you have the space, spread your plants out to allow for maximum growth.  They will need less fertility and less water if they aren’t competing with other plants in the same area.  Closer spacing doesn’t allow plants like squash and cabbage to fully develop, and leaves you with stunted growth.  I usually plant two beds of lettuce, one spaced really close for early spring greens, and another with proper spacing to allow for fully developed heads later in the season.

Blend Your Bugs

Collect those pests and liquify them in a blender using one part water to two parts bugs. Strain, put the liquid in a spray bottle and use as a very effective, natural insecticide. And, of course, it helps to have a designated blender for this rather than what you use in the kitchen.

Plant Seasonal Plants the Easy Way

This isn’t rocket science but it might be a tip you’ve never considered. If you like to rotate plants in and out of your garden, make the job easier by leaving their containers on when planting them in the ground. This way, you can slip them in and out with ease especially if you choose the same sized plant each time. It goes like this… plant an empty one-gallon pot in the ground. Buy a one-gallon plant, leave its container on and slip it into the planted container. Easy in, easy out.

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