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Top 12 Garden Hacks For Your Most Successful Garden Ever!
Now that warmer weather is finally here, it’s time to think about your summer garden. There is nothing like picking your own fresh, organic vegetables from your own garden and making a summertime salad!
There has been tons of research to show that people who have gardens, big or small, tend to live much healthier lives than those who do not. Many of the best gardening hacks or tips come from those who need to garden on a budget, or sometimes, they are just shortcuts that some people have picked up over the years that work and are kinda cool!
Keep reading and find out some of the top 12 garden hacks for your summer garden.
1. Best Ant Defense
If your garden should become overrun with ants (this is generally due to aphids, which we will discuss later) boil some citrus fruit peels (lemon, orange, lime, or grapefruit) in some water. Once the water cools, pour it around the base of your plants. You can also spray some up and down the plants. You can discard the peels or work them into the garden for some great fertilizer. Ants don’t like the scent and they should make tracks elsewhere. Boiling some sweet potatoes also works. Now, let’s talk about those aphids!
2. Aphid Control
Everyone knows that a safe and easy way to get rid of aphids is to simply wash them off with a hose or to spray them with a little soap and water, but have you ever tried tape? Seriously, tape! Since aphids love to live underneath leaves, this is an easy way to pick them all off at one time. Wrap some wide strip masking tape around your hand (sticky side out, of course) and then press it against the leaves, similar to how you would pick up lint off of fabric. This works remarkably well and you can get dozens of those little buggers in one swoop!
3. Larger Bug Control
The best way to remove larger garden pests, such as tomato bugs, squash bugs, and caterpillars, is to remove them by hand. Ladies, how many of you are squeamish about picking some of those ugly faced crawlies by hand? Thought so. Although it might seem a little gross, there is an easier method that keeps you at a distance from that bug – a clothes hanger. Simply unwind a metal coat hanger and you can poke that bug, like skewering a vegetable, and remove him from your garden.
4. Weed Control
You probably know that sugar isn’t good for you, but did you know that it’s not good for weeds either? Wet the offending weed, then pour one tablespoon of sugar over the plant. It will kill it right down to the roots. You can pull it out the next day. Be careful not to get any sugar on the plants you do want. Find out other ways to kill weeds without poisonous RoundUp.
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5. Protect Seedlings from Frost
If you have planted your seedlings and later find that you are going to have some unexpected frost, simply cover them with an inverted terra cotta pot. Just remember to uncover them as soon as the weather warms up! If you have long rows of plants and can’t possibly put pots over every seedling, a sheet will work in a pinch. A sheet will be light enough so that it shouldn’t crush the plant but it will offer some protection. Put rocks on the corners so it won’t fly away!
6. Deep Watering
Find some 1 liter BPA-free plastic bottles and, using a knife or an ice pick, poke holes all around it. Bury it in between your plants with just the top sticking out of the ground. You can pour water in the bottle for some really deep root watering.
7. Get Your Seeds Started Quickly
Many seeds have a very hard, protective coating on them and it takes days, sometimes weeks, for that coating to wear down so that the seed can germinate. You can shorten germination time by soaking those seeds in water overnight and helping them to get a head start.
8. Go Vertical!
If you don’t have much gardening space, or if you want to make the most of your space, go vertical. Many vegetables will climb up a trellis if you provide one. You can even plant many vegetables in large pots or whiskey barrel halves and provide a tomato cage or other type of support and still get plenty of vegetables while using very little space.
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9. Get Creative with Labels
If you have plastic markers that you used permanent markers on to write out which vegetables you planted where, you can reuse them by simply sanding off the permanent marker with everyday sand paper. Or you can get creative and make your own labels by painting rocks, roof tiles, writing on terra cotta pots, or even using broken terra cotta pots.
10. Make Your Own Measuring Stick
You can turn almost any long handled gardening tool, such as a shovel or hoe, into a measuring stick. Set your tool on the ground and, using a tape measure and permanent marker, note inches and feet measurements on the handle. When you are out gardening and you need to space your seedlings so many inches apart, you won’t have to run back into the house for a measuring tape, you can simply use the handle of your garden tool!
11. Save on Water
This is especially important for those who live in drought prone areas, such as California. Save water everywhere you can and use it in the garden. Put a bucket in the shower and collect the water that would normally go down the drain while you wait for the water to get hot. Use the water from boiling vegetables to water your garden once it has cooled down. Put buckets or large plastic trash cans under eves of the roof or the down spout to collect rainwater that you can use in your garden later. If possible, you could even reroute your washing machine drain so that it drains into a large trash can or directly out into your garden for free water every time you wash clothes.
12. Bargain Mulch
Mulch is really important as it helps to conserve water and keep weeds down. However, if you have a large garden, many types of mulch from those home improvement stores can be expensive. It might not be pretty, but old newspapers do a great job as mulch. You can then cover the newspaper with sawdust or coffee grounds. You can get free coffee grounds from Starbucks or start asking your friends and neighbors if you need more.
Bonus Tip: Speaking of coffee grounds, if you do make coffee at home, it makes a great fertilizer. Simply save the coffee that you would otherwise throw away (no added sugar or milk, only plain black coffee) in a bucket. When the bucket is half full, add water until the bucket is completely full and water your garden as you normally would. Free fertilizer, who knew?! Read more about free fertilizers.