14 Gardening Hacks To Make Your Job Much easier

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14-gardening-hacksThey say just about every profession has tricks of the trade. Why need to gardening be any unique?

When it is not possible to rush a plant’s development, we can do numerous factors that will either optimize circumstances, or that will make our job as gardeners much easier and significantly less time-consuming.

The difficulty is, looking for intelligent and sensible gardening hacks is a frustrating company. You wouldn’t think how numerous dumb concepts are out there, such as “How to turn old sneakers into strawberry pots” or “How to paint small rocks with cutesy faces to mark your plants” or other concepts that have been patently stupid or useless. Perhaps I’m just also sensible, but when I’m looking for gardening hacks, I’m not hunting for tween craft concepts. I’m hunting for sensible recommendations for how to make the garden flourish with significantly less work.

So, soon after trawling via dozens and dozens of web sites purporting to provide brilliant suggestions, hacks, tricks, and shortcuts, I’ve culled it down to 14 that have some merit.

Raised Beds

A single of the most significant and most effective “hacks” is to garden in raised beds. If your soil is fertile, friable, and you are not plagued with weeds, then raised beds may perhaps not be essential. But for the rest of us, raised beds (or its sister element, raised “containers,” which have closed bottoms though nevertheless enabling for drainage) may perhaps be the most effective remedy to difficult gardening circumstances which includes undesirable soil, brief developing season, desert climate, or even a undesirable back or stiff knees.

Raised beds warm the soil sooner in spring. The soil can be specially mixed (we use a mixture of topsoil, composted manure, and sand) and it never ever compacts (although it will settle). The dirt stays friable, and amendments and mulch are much easier to apply. Weeds are much easier to manage, each inside the beds and in the pathways involving the beds (See my article How To Develop and Preserve Raised Beds).

Mulch

Second, in positive aspects only to raised beds, mulch is a garden-saver in so numerous methods. Mulch reduces evaporation in the soil (and hence water wastage), assists manage weeds, assists guard against hot sun, protects against erosion and plant injury, and (in the case of organic mulch) can contribute to soil fertility.

Mulch can be organic or inorganic. Inorganic mulch incorporates pebbles, crushed rock, or plastic or rubber mats or chips. Organic mulch incorporates compost, straw, cocoa bean hulls, bark, wood chips, leaves, grass clippings, and newspaper. (Take it from me: never ever use hay as mulch it grows.) Two to 4 inches is the best depth for a mulch layer.

Homemade Weed Killer

Most individuals do not relish the concept of utilizing chemical herbicides in their garden, and there are endless magic formulas for homemade weed killers. Do they operate?

Yes, but not as rapidly as standard week killer and not in the very same way. These homemade sprays typically kill the top rated of the plant, but not the root program, so it may perhaps develop back. The weed typically need to be sprayed once more and once more.

• A single gallon vinegar
• ¼ cup Dawn dish soap

In a spray bottle just add the vinegar and the dish soap then shake properly.

According to Plant Guidelines, the vinegar draws out the moisture from the plant, killing it (they advise spraying weeds through the hottest element of the day so the weeds will dry out quicker).  The soap acts as a “sticker,” maintaining the mixture on the plant though the vinegar does its operate.

As pointed out above, this mixture may perhaps have to be applied a lot more than when, but it seems to be an successful weed-killer.

Homemade Seed Tape

When planting tiny seeds such as lettuce or carrots, numerous gardeners obtain it hassle-free to use seed tape. This small marvel of ease merely consists of seeds, spaced at even intervals, placed involving two layers of biodegradable tissue paper. The gardener unrolls the tape, covers it with a bit of soil, adds water, and voilà: A completely spaced row of seedlings.

Not only does seed tape pre-space the plants at the suitable intervals, but it also saves individuals the difficulty of thinning seedlings that could be spaced also closely collectively (it is difficult to yank up a completely innocent child plant!).

But it is effortless to duplicate the comfort of seed tape at residence utilizing toilet paper. Start off by unrolling toilet paper the length of the row you want to plant. Then fold the toilet paper into a hassle-free pile–a handful of inches wide, for effortless cutting–and reduce the pile lengthwise. You now have two strips various feet lengthy and a couple inches wide.

Make a paste utilizing 1 element flour to 3 components water (it need to “coat a toothpick without the need of dripping off”). On 1 strip of toilet paper, and utilizing a paintbrush or toothpick (and possibly a ruler), place a dot of paste at suitable intervals for what ever seed you are utilizing. Drop 1 or two seeds in the center of the paste dot (you could attempt utilizing tweezers if the seeds are specifically little).

Subsequent, lay the second strip of toilet paper more than the very first strip. Roll the strips up collectively and seal the roll with a dot of paste. Shop till you are prepared to plant. (Alternate tips calls for just misting the toilet paper with water and then putting your seeds on the strip, rather than utilizing paste.)

In your garden, unroll the homemade seed tape, cover with a layer of soil, and water as you would any other newly planted seed. Your plants will develop beautifully spaced and without the need of the require to thin.

Related to seed tape you can use seed mats, which can also be homemade utilizing paper napkins. Start off with a 12×12 inch cardboard square. Employing a ruler, mark a grid with lines spaced the advised distance apart for the seed you are planting. Make a significant dot exactly where the grid lines intersect.

Employing the very same flour/water paste pointed out above, unfold a paper napkin more than the cardboard. You need to be capable to see the dots on the cardboard grid via the paper. Place a dab of paste more than every single dot, then add 1 or two seeds to the center of the paste (utilizing tweezers if essential). Enable the paste to dry, then create the variety of seed on the napkin and roll it up till you are prepared to plant.

Homemade Seed Planter Pots

If you are brief on seedling starter pots, save up your toilet-paper tubes and use these to make seed pots.

Start off by removing any clinging remains of toilet paper, then flatten the tube. Flatten it once more at opposite sides to make a “square.”

Now mark the flattened tube in half with 3 lines: 1 down the middle, and the other people a half-inch from every single finish. Reduce the tube in half on the centerline. Along every single corner, make a reduce up to the marked line. Fold every single flap inward, then tuck them so they remain in location. Voilà, a seed pot.

If carried out assembly-line style, the seed pots can be created a lot a lot more immediately than carrying out them 1 at a time. For the reason that of the folded flaps, the base of the seed pots is not extremely steady when standing by itself, so it is most effective to brace them against every single other in a plastic flat.

Seedlings can be transplanted straight into the soil without the need of removing the cardboard, which is biodegradable and will dissolve immediately.

Related in principle to utilizing toilet-paper tubes is creating newspaper seed pots. These are clever and effortless-to-make pots, but take a bit of origami. Rather than attempting to describe the essential folds, watch this video.  Or you can buy a pot maker to make newspaper pots, which is a faster alternative.

Seed Spacers

Corks can be made use of as seed spacers in various methods.

For instance, attempt spearing a cork on the suggestions of pitchfork prongs. Pitchforks have 4 prongs, so based on how close you want to space your seeds, you can either use two or 4 corks. Then stab the pitchfork into the dirt at even intervals to figure out exactly where to plant your seeds.

A different system is to screw corks to a board at evenly spaced intervals, then pressing the board into the soil to build holes for seeds.

For a bigger hole a lot more appropriate for transplanting seedlings, a muffin tin pressed firmly into the dirt will also build cups in the soil.

Bicycle-Rim Trellis

A bicycle-rim trellis (for developing beans or other climbing plants) can be created in 1 of two methods. The simplest is to place the bicycle rim (with the spokes removed) more than a T-post so it rests on the ground, then run string or wire from the bicycle rim to the top rated of the T-post. This tends to make a pyramid shape for developing plants.

The second way utilizes two bicycle rims. Location a steel rod in the middle of two bike rims. Take some garden twine and tie lines from 1 tire to the other, at least two inches apart. Stand these vertically in the garden and plant pole beans or morning glories.

Gastropod Repellent

For these plagued with slugs and snails, there are a quantity of methods to kill or repel them.

Beer is the easiest and most properly-identified of slug traps. For what ever cause, slugs cannot appear to resist beer. Placed in a shallow bowl, slugs will crawl in and drown. (What a way to go!)

It is far better not to nest the bowl into the soil given that that could kill ground beetles which consume slugs. Alternatively, location a tuna can or a cake pan (not a pie pan you want steep sides) on the ground (ideally the rim is 1 inch above the soil) and fill it with beer. The slugs go for a sip and fall in. Beer traps only operate on slugs a handful of feet away, so you will require to location traps about just about every 3 feet. Slug traps are not 100 % effective. Numerous slugs will drink and leave without the need of drowning.

Numerous animals consume slugs, which includes toads, ducks, frogs, snakes, birds, lizards, and ground beetles. Salt is a famously successful slug-killer, but the final point you want to do in your garden is salt it.

If you have a extremely heavy slug or snail infestation, you may perhaps have to take away mulch given that these gastropods take pleasure in hiding in mulch.

Wood ash can deter slugs–it seems to have the very same desiccating properties as salt–but can also influence plants if applied straight. Placing a circle of wood ash about (but not touching) plants may perhaps assistance retain slugs and snails away.

The Energy of Raking

In early spring, lengthy just before it is attainable to plant vegetables but when weeds commence to poke their heads above the soil, vigorously rake your garden beds. And I imply, be vicious. Rip these weeds ideal out.

This does not take long–maybe a minute or two per bed of shredding the top rated layer of soi–but the benefits can be wonderful in terms of weed manage. Final year, out of 20 raised beds, I raked 10 and left the other 10 alone. The 10 raked beds had about 75 % fewer weeds than the un-raked beds.

Some weeds will re-root themselves, so providing the beds an additional vicious raking a handful of weeks later–and a third raking just just before you plant your vegetables–will save you a lot of weeding as the summer season progresses.

Fluorescent Flagging Tape

A single of the most effective mates for farmers, gardeners, loggers, or any person else who functions outdoors is fluorescent flagging tape. This comes in a selection of neon colors–pink, orange, green, blue, yellow, and so on.–and there’s no finer way to obtain a fallen tool than to tie a glowing pink or orange ribbon to the deal with. The item is instantaneously distinguishable on the ground amongst leaf litter, mulch, branches, or other all-natural detritus.

Fruit Picker Baskets

If your fruit trees are taller than you are and you do not relish the concept of standing on a ladder on uneven ground to attain pears or apples, your most effective alternative is a fruit picker basket. This is a vinyl-coated wire basket with clawed prongs along 1 edge and a foam cushion at the bottom. The baskets are cheap–under $10 each–and come with a clamp to attach it to a pole. I have two baskets, attached to poles of two unique lengths, for harvesting unreachable fruit.

Hose Deflector

Dragging hoses all more than the garden can lead to harm to plants. Even in raised beds, it is also effortless for a hose to slip more than the top rated of the bed and get dragged via valuable flowers or vegetables. To keep away from this, hammer a length of rebar into strategic corners of the garden, about 3 feet higher. More than the top rated of the rebar, slip a length of PVC pipe (Martha Stewart recommends copper pipe, cha-ching!). The pipe spins as the hose is dragged previous it, stopping harm to plants.

When to Plant in Trenches

For most individuals, raised beds or at least raised rows is the usual way to plant vegetables. But raised beds drain immediately. In regions exactly where water is scarce, you require to maximize the possibilities of your plants having sufficient moisture. In these situations, planting in a hollow or trench will permit soil moisture to concentrate about the plant’s roots longer.

Apply Compost in Autumn

For an effortless way to mix compost without the need of digging, apply a layer more than the garden in the late fall soon after the harvest is completed. Cover with winter mulch such as chopped leaves or hay. By spring, the melting snow and soil organisms will have worked in the compost.

If you want to do one thing crafty in the garden such as painting rocks or planting in old footwear and boots, fine, go ahead. I will not quit you. But if you want sensible suggestions that essentially operate, attempt some of the above approaches. Hopefully, your vegetables will thank you.

Patrice Lewis

Patrice Lewis is a wife, mother, homesteader, homeschooler, author, blogger, columnist, and speaker. An advocate of easy living and self-sufficiency, she has practiced and written about self-reliance and preparedness for more than 24 years. She is skilled in homestead animal husbandry and little-scale dairy production, meals preservation and canning, nation relocation, residence-primarily based organizations, homeschooling, private revenue management, and meals self-sufficiency. She and her husband have been married 27 years and have two daughters.

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