Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Old Fashioned Garden Tidbits

I've never been without a garden, It's a lifetime challenge: a thing of beauty and a 3-D puzzle. ~Beatrice J. Elye

I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day. We visited with my parents, and my brother and his family who came to visit from out of state. Today I wanted to share a variety of tips I found fascinating and useful! These are from old gardening magazines that I've collected.

-The soil used to plant sweet potatoes should be prepared with some compost and wood ashes or other potassium rich materials, but not manure, cottonseed meal or blood meal, which have too much nitrogen.

-Birds will sometimes pull up sweet corn as it germinates (plus I've had starlings nip off new plant growth on some flowers too). If you have this problem sprinkle lime lightly on the rows and on each side just as the corn is popping through the ground. This will keep the birds away.

-I've always crushed up my egg shells after rinsing and allowing them to dry to keep slugs away from my hostas and other plants, but here is another option. Poultry graded oyster shell is available from most feed stores very cheaply, and if you use it to cover the soil around the stem of plants, it will keep away the slugs. They hate it! It's also good for your soil...unless you have a very alkaline soil already then you may want to opt for another method.

-If you trouble with your carrots splitting your soil may be too dry. Try mixing in completely rotted manure or compost into the soil when you plant, then mulch the plants and water them regularly and even more during drought periods.

-a reader had read that flax would keep beetles away from potatoes and decided to try it. She planted 3 seeds in each hill, just covering them with a big of dirt. All the hills with flax had no insect damage at all! Plus the flax is a pretty blue flower that will add a cheerful look to your potato hills!

-Damping off can be a real problem when growing plants from seeds inside. Take 3 tsp. of dried chamomile and steep it in 6 cups of boiling water. Allow it to steep while it completely cools off. Water the seedlings the next 2 or 3 times with this tea until they look healthy again!

-Wormwood makes a foul smell tea that repels pests! Add a couple of handfuls of chopped wormwood to a bucket and cover it with boiling water. Stir it occasionally until it starts to ferment. At this point you can sprinkle it on the plants to repel insects on potatoes, eggplant and okra. It has a sticky residue so it "sticks" to the plants!

-The plastic lids on coffee cans or other products can be painted with honey or a commercial sticky solution, and they can be hung in greenhouses to catch aphids. If the lids are washed regularly they will last a long time and can be reused over and over.

-A gardener from Wisconsin had trouble with rabbits eating their vegetable crops and had tried every solution they read about but none worked until they tried plain ground black pepper. They sprinkled it around all the plants and on the plant itself and it did the trick! Buy the cheapest variety of pepper(dollar stores are a good place to look) and reapply when it's washed away by rains.

-The mesh bags that onions are sold in work great for hanging herbs to dry! Place the herbs inside the bag and hand somewhere dry with good air circulation until they dry. Crush while still in the bag and they will fall out onto the counter or plate if you hold it over one. Store in a covered container and you are set!

-Spreading diatomaceous earth or finely crushed eggshells to deter slugs is a lot easier if you save your Parmesan Cheese containers. The holes are large enough to just"sprinkle" the shells or powder and you can close it up and store it in the shed until you need to reapply.

I've always loved collecting sweet gum balls (they are small perfectly round spiky balls that come from the sweet gum tree) for crafts. The kids love them too! But you can also use them around your plants to deter the slugs. Ask around, and if you don't have them on your property, someone who does would probably be glad to have you pick them up.

Ant wars? A very interesting tip on taking ants and soil from one ant hill and placing it in a second hill, and then doing the same to a third hill with ants/dirt from the second hill.Those ants move to the first hill and they all start fighting. Within a week all three hills were empty (or dead) and the tip writer didn't see them again!

Make your own soap spray for pests:


  1. AnonymousMay 27, 2009

    Anything rough on the ground will deter slugs and snails. Their soft bodies don't like it. Slugs are mostly nocturnal so another trick, if you don't feel its too hard-hearted, is to dig a hole just deep enough to bury a old can or glass jar to the rim, leaving the opening free. Fill with the container with beer. Slugs love beer and will crawl in and drown. You can dispose of them the following a.m. From what I'm told, this is a popular method of clearing slugs here in England where we've got LOADS of them!

    I'd not heard of pepper to deter rabbits. I wonder, would that work to keep the neighbourhood cat out of your flower bed? The old moth ball remedy doesn't always work.

  2. Interesting tips. Thanks!



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