Garden Tips - May 2018 - Deborah Carney

Horticultural Tips for May

I just returned from a delightful weekend stay at the Woodstock Inn in lovely Woodstock, Vermont.  By “one chance in a million” we were inadvertently given the Rockefeller Suite which was bigger and much, much, much, grander than any other suite in the entire place!!!  But that is a story for another day. 

The occasion was to attend the 14th Annual Great Gardens and Landscape Symposium presented by Kerry Mendez.  It was a great time in a lot of ways because I met up with 6 of my best friends that I had worked with for many years. They are all, like myself, newly retired, and also like myself, involved with their respective town garden clubs. 

The symposium was packed with wonderful speakers on topics from “The effects of climate change on plant zones”,  “Heads Up on the Newest Proven Winner Perennials for 2018”,” Best Plants for Dry Areas” and so many more, my head is spinning.  There were a lot of small local venders selling seedlings, garden ornaments, pottery, tools, and herbal everything! Needless to say, we were all over-fed and intellectually over-stimulated. 

Among the many handouts we received, was a neat little book entitled: 101+ Garden Hacks, edited by the folks at Rodel Press, 1999.  This little book is chocker-block full of practical, old school, down-home garden solutions that you can whip up in your kitchen or garage using everyday ingredients and left-over junk.  I picked a few to share with you in today’s column, I hope you’ll try one or two.  They are ALL ORGANIC, CHEAP, and practical.  Have fun.  Cheers.

How about a carpet of tomatoes: Roll out an old carpet remnant, blanket, or sheet, cut small holes in it and plant tomato seedlings thru the holes.  The fabric blocks weeds, keeps soil moist, and encourages earth worms.  I’m using a carpet with a beige coloring so it blends in (kinda), with the leaves and earth.  Maybe cover the fabric of choice with grass clippings or leaves to disguise it.

Do you hate weeding:  For weeds growing in your walkway or driveway try pouring boiling water on the weeds.  That will kill the weed and any weed seeds quickly and safely.  Also try a shot of vinegar from a spray bottle.  Use it 100% full strength.  Be careful not to splash it on the turf or other plants because it will burn or kill them too.  Better yet, carry a  piece of cardboard to use as a shield from contaminating close by desirable plants.  Keep in mind that lots of vinegar will acidify the surrounding soil after repeated douses, so maybe it is best to limit yourself to driveways and walkways.

Hate hand watering: Try burying one of the 1 gallon black plastic nursery pots with holes in the bottom, or  make a few holes in the bottom of  a 1 gallon milk jug.  Bury the pot/jug in the ground near shrubs or vegetables that may be hard to reach with a watering hose.  Allow about 1 inch of the top of the jug or pot to show above ground.  Fill the pots several times with your hose and walk away.  The water will drip out  thru the holes in the bottom and will reach the roots of the plants better than any hand watering or irrigation system could do.  Further, add a little manure to your pot, and make a manure tea that will water and feed at the same time!

Garden tools with wooden handles:  If you get blisters or splinters from your old rakes, shovels, wheelbarrow handles try going to the bike store and getting some foam handlebar wrap.  Or go to the plumbing section of a hardware store and get  foam  pipe insulation.  The thick spongy tube shaped cushions will protect your hands from the wear and tear of the rough handles.

Feed plants banana peels: Cutting banana peels into small pieces and letting them decompose  at the base of plants can prevent aphid infestations while adding phosphorous and potassium to the soil.  Phosphorous promotes root growth.  Potassium is essential for key plant functions like respiration, and nutrient absorption.  Roses particularly benefit from these two nutrients.

This little book was a fun read and jammed full of curious little nuggets of  gardening ideas.  I hope you like them and will give them a try.

Deb (May 2018 Horticultural Newsletter)