Garden Hacks: Bigger, Better, Faster
Every year I try something different in how I grow things. After a few decades I've honed what works best for me and my climate, but there are a few hacks that will help regardless of your skill level or your climate.
Here are a few of my favorites.
Tomatoes: Grow them sideways. Trust me on this. Tomato vines sprout roots wherever they're buried. Dig a trench, lay out your transplant sideways, picking off the bottom leaves. Gently bend the leafy part just above the soil line. Cover the stem with dirt and pat down. Even if it looks lopsided, it'll right itself within days. The more roots, the more nutrients your tomato plant will be able to glean.
Trellised Vines: No matter what type of trellis you use, if the plant needs to be trellised, use soft strips of cloth (or my favorite) pipe cleaners (otherwise known as chenille) to attach them. They can be reused a long time and won't damage the stems.
Get Peppers Faster: This works best if you live in milder climates, but if you have a nice sunny window, it'll work no matter where you live. Every fall before the first frost hits, I dig up a couple of my pepper plants and put them in pots. (I prune them heavily so they don't have to use up all their energy to protect their leaves. I have an indoor atrium where they live out in near hibernation over the winter. Once the weather warms up I tuck them back into the garden. Voila! Peppers a full month or more before the rest of my new season pepper plants sprout blossoms.
Potatoes in Grow Bags: The thing I hate about harvesting potatoes is that I almost always run a spade smack into the middle of a perfect potato. I've taken the guess work out of where to dig by growing spuds in grow bags. The 7-10 gallon bags work best. Once you're ready to harvest, dump the whole bag in a wheel barrow or even the bare earth and pull out your spuds. No spade required.
Watering: I prefer to water deeply once or twice a week. Watering deeply forces the roots to go deeper rather than staying near the top of the soil where they run the risk of drying out quicker.
Watering 2.0: We've tried hand watering, sprinklers, drip irrigation, and soaker hoses. By far the most cost effective and efficient has been drip irrigation. Soaker hoses wear out fastest. I've seen more than my share of split soaker hoses. Sprinklers do a better job of reaching every plant, but it wastes a lot of water. Drip irrigation directs water right to the plant. My water bill went down to less than half once we switched.
Faster Clean Up: I am always weeding, raking, or trimming branches. When it comes time to move them, I do it the easy way. Get yourself a sturdy tarp. Rake your brush, leaves or weeds onto the tarp. Pull the four corners together and drag the tarp to your compost or burn pile.
If you like these hacks, let me know in the comments. I've got plenty more to share.
Has anyone ever started plants from cuttings? I've done the easy ones like basil and rosemary, but I'm expanding this year to other woody plants.
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