Every gardener has household gardens tips and advice to share with other gardeners each year. Some hints and tips are tried and true methods for everything from keeping squirrels away from your flower bulbs to keeping invasive plants at bay. While not every tip works for all household gardens, much of the advice is easily incorporated into every gardening zone.
Some methods of repelling pests, like using pepper to keep rabbits and squirrels away, are only temporary fixes. Other ideas stemmed from trial and error to produce working results. Whether you want to get a head start on weed control or are just looking for a new way to plant potatoes, you'll find helpful tips.
Tips using Containers
Instead of eliminating mints and invasive plants from the garden, contain them, according to the Herb Society of America. Flower pots become barriers in the garden when they are planted with mints, ivies and other invasive plants. For plants that send underground runners into areas where they don't belong, the pots keep the runners in an enclosed area. The plant is also within easy reach for quick pruning and maintenance.
Soup and vegetable cans, with both ends removed, fit well over most tomato and pepper plant stalks. The cans add protection from pesky cutworms who like to chew on the tender stalks. The City of Davis, California offers this tip in their Recycling Works pamphlet.
Keep a 5-gallon bucket in the garden to catch rain water where the hose won't reach. The bucket also acts as a seat to rest upon when it is turned upside down. Another use for a 5-gallon bucket is a planter for potatoes. Cover the bottom of the bucket with 5 inches of quality soil and add the potato sets. As the potato vines grow, cover them with more soil, allowing only the top 5 or 6 inches of vine to remain exposed. Keep adding more soil until the bucket is full, then let the potatoes do the rest. Once the vines die back, dump the bucket and harvest the potatoes. Just remember to water regularly when you grow plants in containers.
Gardening Tool Tips
Keep garden tools like shovels and hoes free from rust by adding a quart of motor oil to a bucket of sand, then plunging the implements deep into the sand. Bill Thorness, of The Seattle Times states that not only will the oil put a protective coating on the tools, but the sand will help sharpen the edges for better use; this also works well for garden clippers and pruning shears. Coat the tools with oil and hang them up for long-term storage.
Controlling Pests and Weeds
Wire mesh or screen used as a cover for container garden pots works very well to keep squirrels and chipmunks from stealing the seeds before they sprout. The mesh makes it impossible for the animals to burrow into the soil to find the seeds. Remove the barrier once the seeds start to sprout. Judy Sedbrook, a Master Gardener from Colorado, says to use 1 inch chicken wire under a layer of mulch to protect bulbs from pests.
A natural repellent for many troublesome insects is a mixture of 2 tablespoons of dish soap to 1 quart of water. According to the University of Colorado Professor W.S. Cranshaw, the soap kills the insects with direct spraying. Spray the plants daily and after two hours rinse the plant with clean water to avoid damage to plants. Locate the infected plant and remove it from the garden by covering it with a plastic or paper bag and pulling the plant up by the roots. Seal the bag and dispose of it as waste. Do not put the infested plant on the compost pile.
A layer of cardboard or newspapers laid between rows of plants keeps weeds to a minimum in the vegetable garden. As the growing season continues, the paper and cardboard start to decay and may be tilled in with the soil with no harmful effects. The University of Iowa extension office discusses mulching with newspaper and deep tilling in their "Weed Management in the Home Garden" pamphlet. The information states deep cultivation around plants stirs up weeds which may otherwise have remained dormant. Always use shallow cultivation methods when hoeing in the garden to keep weeds from sprouting.