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10 Outrageously Smart Gardening Tips (#5 is Really Clever!)
Summertime is here, which means it’s time for that summer vegetable or flower garden. Whether you haven’t started your garden because you don’t think you have enough time, or if you are a down-home farm girl or guy at heart, we have a few tips for that garden that you might have never dreamed before.
If you love getting your hands dirty, or if you want a pretty garden without getting dirt on your boots, we have a little something for everyone.
1. Super Easy Flower Garden
If you want big, beautiful flowers, but have no interest in digging in the dirt, pulling weeds and waiting weeks for seeds to sprout, try a secret used by Disneyland and many other locations. Bury some plastic pots in the ground (you only have to get dirty once, we swear!) so they are at ground level. Now buy some beautiful potted flowers that are the same size. Simply drop your flowers into the pots in the ground and BOOM! Instant flower garden! This also works with larger pots.
If you have a very large pot, you can bury one large, two medium or four small plants or flowers (depending on the size of the original pot). If the flowers die, or if you want to change the flowers to go with the season or holiday (How cute would it be to have a walkway lined with mums in the fall, poinsettias in the winter, tulips in the spring and carnations in the summer?) you only need to pull up the flowers and pot, then drop in a new pot filled with flowers! It doesn’t get much easier than this.
2. Keep the Cat Out
Don’t you just hate it when you spend all day in the garden pulling weeds, putting down mulch, applying fertilizer and then some cat comes along and says, “Wow. Nice litterbox.” You can put a stop to this by simply burying some plastic forks, tines pointed up, all around your garden. A poke in the butt is NOT what a cat has in mind, so they should make tracks pretty fast. This also works with small dogs.
If you don’t like the look of the forks, try putting some sheets of aluminum foil down in places where the kitty likes to go. Secure it with some rocks on the corners. Cats do not like that crinkle sound when they walk on the foil, and since there is no way they can “dig,” they would rather find a new potty stop.
3. Stop Invasive Plants
If you love some plants, such as ivy or cypress, but don’t want them to take over your garden, this is a genius way to stop them. Take a plastic pot and cut off the bottom where the drain holes normally are. Put the pot in the ground, and then put your plant in this pot. This limits the roots of the invasive plant so you can keep them under control. Read also about ways to kill weeds without RoundUp.
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4. Collect Your Own Rainwater
Despite what you might have heard on social media sites, it is not illegal to collect water from rooftops. This is actually a super resourceful way to easily collect water for watering your garden. Buy one or more heavy-duty trash cans (with lids) and disconnect part of your downspout so that it goes directly into the trash can and not down the drain. Once your can or cans are full, replace the lids on them, and store them in the garage or in some other place in your yard. Replace the downspout when you are finished collecting water. This is great for places that get very little rain or that regularly experience droughts.
5. Deep Water Roots for Free
You can buy deep watering systems at your local hardware store — but why? Whenever you plant a tree or other plants, simply bury an empty pot next to, or in the middle of, several plants. Choose a deep enough pot so that you really get water down to the roots of the plant. Some people are comfortable using two-liter bottles with holes punched all over them. Both methods work well getting water down 10 or 12 inches into the soil where the roots are.
6. Give Your Garden a Mineral Boost
This is a terrific and inexpensive way to improve your flowers, fruits and vegetables with almost no effort. Simply save your eggshells, and when you have shells from a dozen or so eggs, grind the shells into a powder in your blender. Rather than waiting for crushed egg shells to turn into compost, powdered egg shells are easy for your garden plants to digest.
You can also get bigger vegetables and flowers by working some Epsom salt (which isn’t really salt, but actually magnesium flakes) into the garden soil twice a year. This magnesium boost really does incredible things for your garden. You will get more results from Epsom salt than that “miracle” stuff sold at garden centers.
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7. Cinder Block Garden
If you are like a lot of people, the thought of digging up grass and weeds, preparing the soil and all the back-breaking work involved in just starting a garden from scratch is enough to make you want to just sink back into the hammock and dream of next year.
You can skirt some of the work, however, by simply making a cinder block garden. If you have grass, kill it by covering it with black plastic for a few weeks. The grass should be dead and easy to remove with a hoe.
Make a border using cinder blocks. You can make the garden as tall as you want, but most people find two or three bricks high is more than enough. You can break up your garden into sections by making two or three smaller squares using cinder blocks. Fill with dirt and compost. Water well, and then plant your seeds or plants! This is a super easy way to get a garden going.
8. Drainage for Peanuts
Using packing peanuts for drainage in pots is a great way to recycle those little devils and lighten the load in really large pots. They are cheaper than dirt or compost and work like magic! Put some packing peanuts in the bottom of your pot, place a coffee filter or two over them and then add a dirt.
9. Free Fertilizer
When you boil vegetables or “pasta” made from vegetables, save the water for your garden! This water is loaded with nutrients that garden plants can instantly absorb and use. Wait for the water to cool, of course, but then pour it on your flowers or vegetables for super healthy, happy plants. Best of all? It costs absolutely nothing.
10. Don’t Forget the Beer
After a hard day working in the garden, you deserve a beer, right? That’s fine — just remember to leave about a half a can for your garden. It’s not to be used as a fertilizer, but to kill slugs and snails. Pour about a half a can in a shallow pan or bowl. You want about two inches of beer in the container. Put the container it in a wet spot in your garden or where you have seen slug trails. Do this at dusk, and be sure the garden is wet. In the morning, you should find several slugs (or even a whole slew) in your beer. Slugs will be attracted to the smell, and they love beer but get drunk fairly easily. They fall in the beer and drown. At least they died happy.
Happy gardening friends!