There are always new things to try in the garden in search of more harvest with less effort, and anything which saves a little time and increases chances of success or saves money is worth considering.
Here are our top ten gardening hacks:
- Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick. Lay the device on the ground and place a tape measure next to it. Using a permanent marker, write measurement marks onto the handle, and a certain distance apart, you will already have a measuring device in your hand.
- Recycle old plastic labels by rubbing them with sandpaper, and that will rub away permanent markers relatively quickly, and you’ll get several years of use out of them or make your labels. Cutting used and clean yogurt cups into strips to make several labels from one pot old, broken roof tiles, make attractive markers by labeling. With white paint or for a more natural look, smooth flat stones of various sizes can be written on with paint or a permanent marker and can be placed unobtrusively at the base of your plants and reused each year.
- If you’re all out of cloches and there’s an unexpected frost forecast, use a terracotta pot instead. Turn it upside down and pop it over your precious seedlings. It’ll act as a warm jacket against a light frost. Don’t forget to remove it in the morning, so your plant can get the light. It needs to grow.
- If you garden organically, the chances are that come aphid season, and you’ll have them infest your plants. Many gardeners tackle this by squishing them with their fingers. It’s a messy job. You could try blasting them off with jets of water, but this is time-consuming and uses lots of water. Instead, try using sticky tape. Wrap a wide strip of tape around your hand, sticky side out, and pat the leaves of the plants infested with aphids. Concentrate on the undersides of leaves because that’s where they like to hide.
- If you live in a hot area or have a mainly sunny spot in your garden, you might find that thirsty plants like cucumbers and tomatoes dry out quickly without irrigation, reducing the crop or quality. Make water reservoirs out of plastic water bottles to keep your plants healthy. Drill a few small holes into the cap to allow water to percolate out. Cut the bottom of the bottle. Sink the upturned bottle into the pot or ground before planting, leaving about an inch poking above the soil’s surface. Keep the bottle filled, and the plant roots will absorb the water, as required.
- Reduce your water bill by reusing water from your kitchen. Save the water from boiled veggies and once it’s cooled, use it to water your garden or your pots. If you use a plant-based dishwashing detergent, this water, too, can be used in your garden. Don’t use it if you’ve washed pots with lots of dairy or meat, as you don’t want these products in your soil.
- Some seeds, like peas and sweet peas, have a hard coating once planted out. It takes a while for this coating to break down and germinate to begin. Get a head start by soaking. The seed you’ll use in lukewarm water overnight, then plant out as usual.
- Some vegetables like peas and beans don’t like to have their roots disturbed, so conventional wisdom is to plant them in situ and not to plant out, and this has some problems as seeds can rot in excellent soil, and damaged plants will result in gaps. Bypass this by making your pea and bean planters from cardboard tubes. Take a line and make three cuts about a third of the way along the pipe to make flaps. Push the flaps into the center and press to keep in place. Fill with potting soil and sow seeds as usual, store the tubes in a tray to prevent the flaps from failing. When ready for planting out, plant the seedling and tube as one.The cardboard will rot, and the roots of your seedlings will find their way out.
- If you have a small garden go vertical, there are many varieties of vegetables that will climb or trail. You can also make vertical planters for walls or fences. Start with guttering and cut to length. Drill small holes along the length to allow water to drain out. Install the recommended brackets and clip the guttering in place. Add a moisture-retentive, growing medium and with strawberries or salads plants that don’t mind the shallow soil. Keep it watered or install drip irrigation.
- Use garden planning software to help plan what you’re going to grow and where. Good planning reduces the risk of losing plants by sowing at the wrong time, spacing them incorrectly, or forgetting to rotate crops to reduce the likelihood of soil-borne pests and diseases from one year to the next. It would also help you plan succession planting to quickly see where gaps will appear and have plants ready to fill those gaps, making sure you get as much food as possible from your space.
Truly, these tips can help you in achieving a successful vegetable garden. However, the best tip that you must know about gardening is that you must have commitment. Nothing will be planted or grow if you did not commit to this wonderful venture. It takes time, but surely you reap the satisfaction you deserve with what you sowed.