Here are my top 20 instant garden hints

By Melanie Mathieson
The Gardening Guru

1. Aphids: Plant onions around plants susceptible to aphid infections, especially roses.
2. Attracting bees: To attract bees to your vegetable garden, plant geraniums amongst your vegetables.
Flowering herbs such as bee balm, borage, and lavender also attract bees, plus can be used for their herbal qualities.
3. Basil: Basil planted among tomatoes will enhance the flavour, as well as keep bugs at bay.
Remember, many tomato recipes also call for basil.
4. Blood meal: Also a great fertilizer and also deters small herbivore pests (i.e., squirrels, chipmunks, etc.) and deer.
These animals hate the smell of the blood in blood meal because they are plant eaters. Some say dampened blood meal is even more effective.
(Note: raccoons have been noted to be attracted to the smell of blood meal. A very generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes after bulb planting should deter them from digging in your bed).
5. Bone meal: This is a gardener’s must. When planting any bulbs, it should be mixed in the hole with soil before placing in the bulb.
In an established bulb garden, sprinkle on top of soil and work in lightly, in the fall before frost. Can be added to a planting hole for seedlings in the flowerbed, as well.
It is important to follow the directions on the package carefully.
6. Container planting: If planting a large container and you want to conserve soil, fill the first one-third of the pot with Styrofoam cups (broken up), small plastic pots, gravel, bark mulch, or packing Styrofoam peanuts.
The filler will allow you to add soil on top (this lightens the load in the pot if you have to move them around a lot).
7. Cutworms: In August, the cutworm moth is attracted to jars of vinegar sweetened with molasses. Set these traps throughout the garden.
8. Dandelions: To keep dandelions and other weeds like quack grass from growing up between the cracks of your sidewalk or patio, sprinkle with pickling salt or vinegar.
Both are great natural herbicides.
9. Dusty Miller: Did you know that Dusty Miller flowers in its second year? To get yours to bloom, you must pot them in fall and move into the house.
Treat as a houseplant all winter. Then in the spring after frost danger, plant outside and you soon will be rewarded with orange-yellow flowers.
10. Lawn care: If the season is dry and your lawn is going brown, don’t despair. Although not pleasing to the eye, this is your lawn’s way of handling the drought.
This is a stage of dormancy for your grass. If you had a healthy lawn to start with, your grass will return to a green state after a good rain.
11. Making horseradish: Freeze horseradish roots before grating. The frozen root will be easier to grate fine and your eyes will not tear.
12. Peppers: When peppers begin to blossom, spray with a solution of one tsp. Epsom salts to a litre of warm water (mix well before spraying).
Spray solution directly on leaves. Repeat every other week for as long as there are blooms.
13. Plant ties: Clean but old pantyhose make very durable plant ties when staking your plants.
14. Roses: Never water roses in the evening as it promotes disease. Water in the early morning and give them a good soaking, rather than several small waterings.
Soaking encourages deeper and stronger rooting.
15. Slugs: Fill a juice container with a spout with warm water and a package of yeast. Bury in the garden with the spout at ground level and the lid on.
Slugs crawl in but cannot come out (yeast will not be destroyed by rain and sun).
16. Toads: Toads are insect eaters and keep pests at bay in your garden. Encourage toads by making some cool shady spots with plants, as well as installing a toad house or two.
A toad house can be made easily out of an inverted clay pot with a chip out of one side to make a door.
Place these homes amongst the shady spots in your garden and let the toads go to work.
17. Watering flowers: Cold water from a hose sprayed directly on petunias and geraniums cause the flowers to turn colour or go brown.
Make sure you water the soil only, or leave water in watering cans overnight for use the next day.
18. Watering plants: Fish aquarium water makes a super nutrient tonic for watering house or garden plants.
19. Watering your lawn: A lawn should never be watered by you spraying it with the hose and moving around the lawn. This makes the roots grow upwards in search of precious drops of water.
When the weather turns dry, so does your grass and it will die.
To maintain deep-rooting grass, you must water each section of your lawn a minimum 30 minutes with a sprinkler. The water soaks deep into the ground and the grass roots go deep in search of this water.
If you care for your lawn in this matter, it will go into dormancy (see hint above) and will survive dry spells.
20. Wood ashes: This is an economical fertilizer and at the same time keeps pests away from roses, onions, radishes, and the vegetables of the cabbage family.
Sprinkle liberally on soil around these plants.

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