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General Gardening TipsKeep a gardening journal. The calendar is a great place to do this. Record date and amount of rainfall, date you plant something and keep the labels that tell you how each plant is cared for and its name. This will help you avoid repeating past mistakes. Plant Marigolds to deter insects. Plan before you shop. Prepare a scale drawing of your garden so you won’t spend extra money on plants you don’t need. When laying out a new bed or design in your garden, use a water hose or long orange extension cord to lay out the design. Vegetables that produce fruit are the ones that need the most sunlight. Vegetables need 2” of water per week-more in July and August. Check out companion planting. There are plants that replenish nutrients lost by another and some combinations even keep bugs away. If the first freeze is on the way and you still have green tomatoes on the vine, pull your plants and hang them upside-down in your greenhouse or inside. The tomatoes will ripen on the vine. Over ripe garden vegetables are magnets for pests. Pick as soon as possible. Harvest onions when the tops have fallen over. Research succession planting. You may be able to grow several crops in the same space over the growing season. If your space is limited, go vertical. Squash, cucumbers and melons can all be grown on trellises. Use a permanent marker to draw a ruler on the handle of your favorite gardening tool. That way you won’t have to guess when spacing plants. Start tomato and pepper seeds indoors in January. Start herb seeds cilantro, dill, fennel, and parsley February 14. Cut back ground cover when it is still cool. Cutting back in hot months will stress your plants. Use a houseplant fertilizer once a month on your houseplants. Control spider mites on vegetables and ornamentals with insecticidal soap. Set cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts transplants late-August. When trimming back grasses or flowering shrubs, use a bungee cord wrapped around the plant to gather the stems. Once the biggest part of the plant is trimmed, you can perform further cuts to achieve the shape you desire. Adding compost and/or mulch helps your soil store water. Add a drop of food coloring to your dry rain gauge. After the next rain, the water level will be easy to read.
CompostingIn the fall spread your compost over the area you are trying to amend. During the winter cover the same area with leaves or Alfalfa hay. By spring, the moisture and microorganisms of Mother Nature will have done all the work. Compost needs time to stabilize the soil. Put down three weeks before you plant. Be careful where your hay is from because of the broad leaf weed killer that could have been put on it. Turn compost pile monthly. Use caution using manure because of what the animals were fed, possibly containing the seeds of unwanted plants. A small compost bins can be made by burying a bucket, covered by a lid and with holes drilled in the sides. Add used coffee grounds to your compost pile. Coffee shops will save their grounds for you.
IrrigationConsider changing popup sprinkler heads to rotary sprinkler heads that put out larger drops of water instead of a mist. Consider converting bubblers in flowerbeds to a drip system.
TurfPaint the handles of your tools your favorite bright color. It will help you find them when you lay them down and forget where they are. Use a straight claw hammer to pull weeds.
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