MyStoryYourStory: All things wise in gardening

By Paula Damon

“What a [person] needs in gardening is a cast-iron back with a hinge in it.” C.D. Warner

When my little sister recounted her rescue of baby rabbits after her black and white Springer Spaniel, Hershey, hunted them in the myrtle patch behind her house, I suggested an old remedy.

Try placing mothballs around the myrtle and see if that keeps both the rabbits and Hershey out,” I suggested, not recalling when or where this solution was planted in the dark and dusty confines of my “fix-it” memory bank.

Curious as to other surefire garden tips to keep animals, bugs and birds away from our plantings; I did some digging and found a whole crop of tips for indoor and outdoor green thumbs, including these:

Water houseplants with flat soda pop or leftover cooled water from boiled eggs. Support indoor plants with inexpensive adjustable curtain rods, which expand as plants grow.

Every few days, move houseplants a quarter-turn to keep them growing straight. To prevent lime deposits, oil saucers and plates under potted plants.

Water inside hanging plants with a few ice cubes, which melt slowly and don’t drip. To keep plants watered while you’re away for a week, put a cotton cord in a container of water and the container a little higher than the plant. Or, place a plastic bag over the plants after watering. Another tip is filling the bathtub with a little water, place pots on layers of newspaper or bricks on the bottom of the tub.

Clay pots are better for root systems than synthetic pots. Keep soil from splashing out of pots when watering by covering topsoil with a half-inch of pea-gravel.

To keep plants moist by slowing down the drainage and drying process and keep soil inside pots, cut old kitchen sponges into one-inch squares and place them over the drain at the bottom of flower pots.

For garden trash and weeds, wear an apron with big pockets or pin a bag to your belt. Keep plants from falling off porches and railings by hammering a wide-head nail into the wood and placing the pot’s drain hole over the nail. And please refrain from spitting out your chewing gum in the garden or anywhere outside, for that matter. When birds ingest gum, they die.

For even rows and no seed waste, dump seeds into a backing pan and dip a wet string into the pan of seeds. Pick up the seeds evenly with the moist string and then plant the string.

To mark your straight garden rows, jot down the planting date on empty seed packets, insert the packets upside down into clear soda pop bottles and stick the bottle necks in the ground.

Mark the garden hoe handle every six inches for a handy ruler for spacing plants. Plant sunflower seeds, nasturtiums and marigolds to attract birds away from the vegetable garden. Fill a pail with oiled sand to protect your small garden tools from rusting.

Plant garlic and onion sets in beds to help keep aphids away. Sprinkle red pepper liberally or push a few mothballs in the dirt around the garden to prevent animals from snacking on your veggies.

Gophers are discouraged from ruining gardens, when daffodil and narcissus bulbs are present.

Try an apple corer to transplant and weed tiny plants. Use ashes from a wood fires and tea leaves to fertilize your garden. Tea leaves keep insect away. Used coffee grounds are good for geraniums.

While you’re planting, attract humming birds by growing morning glory, trumpet vine thistle or columbine.

Happy, happy gardening!

Source: “All Things Wise and Wonderful,” Pasadena Art Alliance, 1975.

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