One of the best things about gardening are all of the creative tips and tricks that gardeners come up with. As an old farmer, here are six that I’ve heard of and tested.
Well, I’ve tested all but #1! I hope you enjoy these tricks. Let me know in the comments if you have any of your own!
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1. Be Em-bare-assed!
Ever heard of the “Bare Butt Test?” Legend has it that many years ago, farmers would go out into the field, pull down their pants, and see if the ground was comfortable enough to sit on for a good period of time.
The idea was that if the ground was warm enough to sit on, it was warm enough to plant seeds. Now, you might not want to do that, especially if you live in an urban area with neighbors close by (or maybe you have a thing for mooning people, who am I to judge?) but the idea is sound.
For most seeds the soil should warm up to around 60 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit before it’s advisable to put warm season seeds in the ground. Get a good thermometer and don’t waste your time, work, and seeds until proper growing conditions have arrived in the Spring.
2. Stop that cutworm!
Cutworms! The scourge of newly set out tomato plants. The way cutworms work is that they wrap their entire body around the plant before starting their dirty work. So…use a popsicle stick and push it into the soil right next to the stem of your tomatoes. That prevents them from wrapping themselves around the stem, and your new tomatoes will be safe and sound.
3. Get Your Slugs Drunk!
Got problems with slugs and snails? You have no problem! Just bury a shallow saucer deep enough so that those disgusting critters can crawl in and fill it with stale beer. They love the stuff. Once they’re swimming in it, you will have both a dead slug and be a happy gardener. Problem solved.
4. Tomato Tricks!
Growing tomatoes? We all love them, but they can be much better with just a couple of tricks.
Trick 1: Put some powdered milk in the hole when transplanting. Blossom end rot is sometimes caused by a lack of calcium in the soil. Powdered milk will supply that needed nutrient, is inexpensive, and it works. About ¼ cup per plant will do the trick.
Trick 2: Bury 2 liter bottles up to the neck as close to your tomato plants as possible. Punch many holes into the bottles….holes just big enough to make the bottle leak all over. To water your tomatoes, just fill up the bottles for some long, slow and very deep watering, which tomatoes absolutely love! Also works well with automatic irrigation systems that fill the bottle automatically at least once a day.
Trick 3: Mulch your tomatoes with red plastic. It has come to light that reflected red light seems to make tomatoes grow better. And, if you’re using tip number 2, make sure your irrigation setup is under the plastic! Duh!
Trick 4: Lastly, stake your tomatoes on the same day you set them out. DON’T wait (as I often do!) until they’ve gotten so large that you break limbs and do damage to them while trying to get them in the cages!
5. Preventing Dirty Fingernails
But, if you’ll drag your fingernails across a bar of soap before digging into those garden chores, you will have no trouble with getting the dirt out from under them when the day is done.
6. Transplanting Tricks!
Go out and find a tin can that is of the proper diameter to go over and contain all the roots of the plants you’re going to move. Then, cut both ends out of the can. If you have the luxury of being able to sharpen one end to a cutting edge, do so.
Now, place the can over the plant you want to move, and push it down enough that it is below the plant’s roots. Work the can out of the ground, move the plant to it’s new location, and gently push the plant back into it’s new home! It won’t even notice that it’s been moved!