April Showers, May Flowers: 7 Tips to Successful Gardening

One of my favorite things about spring is planting now flowers. As farmers, you spend so much time in the fields planting and preparing for a busy summer, but don’t forget to take some time to beautify your personal surrounding. Whether it’s planting new flowers, trimming the bushes, mowing the grass, or tending an herb garden, take time for yourself. The crops will be there when you’re done.

There are many tips I’ve learned over the years from friends, family, magazine articles, and how-to books. This is a collection of my favorite tips to help make your spring a little easier.

1. Clay pots

If you’re anything like me, then you love your clay pots. They can be used in so many creative and useful ways. Every spring, I pull out my clay pots and prepare them for planting. Sometimes I paint them bright colors or I just clean them up and stick a plant in them. One thing that is always a pain in the butt is the salt that builds up on the pots. So to remove the salt deposits that form on clay pots, combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to the pot and scrub with a plastic brush. Let the pot dry before you plant anything in it. Give it a try, you’ll thank me later.

2. dirty fingernails

I absolutely love the feeling of having my bare hands in the dirt. It gets so annoying though, to have to scrub and scrub your hands to clean the dirt from under your nails. To prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails while you work in the garden, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap and you’ll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt can’t collect beneath them. Then, after you’ve finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap and your nails will be sparkling clean.

3. Weed Eating

It’s important to keep your garden clean. Just like vacuuming the carpet, you have to get the weeds out of your garden. I use a weed eater to take care of the edges but the trim line can be so stubborn sometimes. Whether it gets clogged, keeps breaking off, or whatever, it drives me crazy. To prevent the line on your trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat with a spray vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer.

4. Multi-use garden tools

So you just got a bunch of your favorite herbs that need planted, right? You heard that it’s always best to give the plants room to grow and breath, not to mention your OCD kicks in a little and you want perfect spacing. So what do you do? Dig a hole, put down your spade, grab your ruler, measure out a few inches, dig, repeat. The process because time-consuming. Instead, turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick! Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance apart (from just an inch to several feet) you’ll already have a measuring device in your hand.

5. Gardening twine

The next time you’re planting your tomato plants, don’t fight with a tangle of twine. Instead, just stick a ball of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage hole, and set the pot upside down in the garden. Do that, and you’ll never go looking for twine again.

6. Avoid frost bite

So you planted your vegetables early to get a jump on the spring season and then you see that the temperature is dropping to freezing levels. All your hard work is about to blow away with weather.Don’t fret! Little clay pots make great cloches for protecting young plants from sudden, overnight frosts and freezes.

7. Garden Hose Protection

Nothing is more annoying then going out to water your beautiful flowers and having the garden hose rip through them like a wrecking ball. Instead, turn a clay pot into a hose guide. Just stab a roughly one-foot length of steel reinforcing bar into the ground at the corner of a bed and slip two clay pots over it: one facing down, the other facing up. The guides will prevent damage to your plants as you drag the hose along the bed.

Use these tips the next time you’re in your garden. Let me know if you have better ones. And stay tuned for more tips for May!

Happy May,

Jordan Zeitler, Lecturer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *