We hope that the following tips and lessons we've learned will be useful to other gardeners.
Good Neighbors: Vines and Roses - Grape growers often plant roses near their vineyards. Both roses and grapes are prone to powdery mildew and pests, but roses will show signs of the mildew first, giving warning that it's time to protect the grapevines. Planting a rose bush at each end of your arbor makes a wonderful companion for the grapevines while adding beautiful color and fragrance to the vineyard.
Deer Deterrent - A deer deterrent recently passed along from a neighbor: Mix three eggs along with enough water to fill a plastic outdoor sprayer and spray plants. It seems the deer don't like the smell of eggs.
Japanese Beetles - Are Japanese beetles on your fruit trees? Early in the morning before the sun warms them, Japanese beetles can't fly. Spread an old shower curtain on the ground below, shake the tree and the beetles will drop. Gather the four corners of the shower curtain and pour the beetles into a container of soapy water.
Pruning Lavender - Lavender plants should always be pruned in the spring time. The plant needs all the energy during the winter. When pruning, prune every other growth. Encourage Strong Roots - Put a teaspoon of Epsom salts in the hole you have dug for your plant to encourage a strong root system.
Rooting a Wood Stem Plant - To root a plant with a wood stem, such as a Rose Bush, in the spring select a stem that can be bent to soil level. Put a cut in the stem where it is going to be inserted in the ground. Carefully raise the stem to an upright position. Dust stem at the cut with root starter. Push the stem into a 6 inch deep opening in the ground. Place a rock on top to keep in place. Cover with soil and mulch, then water. It will root by next spring. Cut the new branch away from the Mother plant. Enjoy your new baby rose bush!
Protect Roses from Disease - To help protect your rose bushes from fungal disease, encircle each bush with four garlic bulbs.
Beware of the Invasive - Be very careful where you plant things (sweet woodruff, for example) that spread easily and can become invasive. Much time and energy will be spent getting rid of the plants, only to have them come back and spread again the next year.
Prevent Tomato Plant Disease - Combine half a cup of powdered non-fat milk, a quarter cup of Epsom salt, and a shovel of compost. Mix well, sprinkle around plants, or in the soil before planting.
An Old Knife, A New Use - An old serrated kitchen knife makes a great tool for dividing lilies and other perennials.
Shovel & Tool Cleaning - Fill a large galvanized bucket or tub with sand, pour a quart of motor oil over the sand and mix well. Clean shovels, spades, trowels and forks by moving them up and down in the sand. The abrasiveness of the sand removes some rust and dirt. The oil helps protect the surface. Wipe the tool off with a rag. Depending on the size of container, tools can be stored upright in the sand.
Tidy Daffodil Foliage - Once your daffodils have finished blooming, do not cut back the foliage until it has turned yellow. In the meantime, the foliage may become limp and messy looking. To keep foliage tidy, simply grasp it in a bunch, hold it upright, and use two or three pieces of foliage to tie the bunch together. A bamboo skewer or stick can be added also if necessary. For a more formal look, bunches of foliage may be braided. When the foliage has yellowed, cut back bunches and add to your compost pile.
Reduce Flower Box Watering - A trick for keeping the soil moist in your flower boxes is to line the bottom with a disposable diaper before you add soil and plants. The absorbent material of the diaper is excellent for retaining moisture and reduces the number of times you'll need to water each week.
Age a Terra Cotta Pot - Easily speed up the aging process of your terra cotta pots. Grind up moss and a little water in your blender or food processor. Paint the outside of the pot with buttermilk or plain yogurt, then rub the moss mixture on. Set in a cool, damp, shaded area for a few weeks and mist daily. Your new pots will have a nice "old and mossy" patina by the end of summer.
Share or Exchange Plants - To add flowers and plants to your garden without expense, check with your friends. They may have gardens overgrowing with plants you have been waiting to purchase or haven't been able to find: iris, tulips, daffodils, and more. Dividing plants is a great way to clean out a garden and share with others at the same time.
Keep Pot Saucers Clean - When potting plants, place a coffee filter or used dryer sheet in the bottom of the pot to prevent the dirt from coming through the hole in the bottom along with the water.
Save Your Back - A hand truck is great for moving large rocks. They are low, so rocks can be "rolled" onto them, instead of being lifted into a cart or wheelbarrow. And the wheels are usually sturdy enough for rough terrain.
Enjoy, Enjoy - Try not to be a slave to your garden; there will always be another weed to
pull or plant to dead head. Take the time to reap the rewards of gardening by relaxing and enjoying all of the beauty that you and nature have worked together to create.
For more tips and information, visit the resource pages.