Author Topic: Tips, Tricks & Fun Things to Know for gardeners at SouthernSpiritHunters.com  (Read 4723 times)

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Offline Patty S

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I've had veggie gardens for more years than I care to talk about, but I look back at just 2 years ago when I didn't know the first thing about flowers, & how much help some of the "trivial" information was that people were willing to share with me.  Today, thanks to the help I've gotten from other people, my black thumb has gone to green & I have flowers growing all over the place!

Some of the simplest things that expert gardeners take for granted, might be the one step that beginners can miss... which may result in failure, so they give up & never know the joy of gardening. (Don't get me wrong... by no means, do I consider myself to be an "expert" gardener!  The more I learn, the more I realize I don't know! I still need help!) 

SouthernSpiritHunters, jump in & share your gardening tips, tricks & things you've learned... from seed planting, plant care & pest control, to harvesting methods & winterizing gardens... or whatever!  Believe me, what might seem like common knowledge to you, might make the difference between success & failure or work & play to someone else!

I believe that gardening is a mental health thing... now who doesn't need that?   
                 
« Last Edit: Apr 15, 2007, 02:14:06 PM by Patty S »

Offline Patty S

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I almost forgot that I put a tray of wet seeds on top of the frige a week ago! 
Last Sunday night, I thought I'd check to see if some of least year's seeds were still viable.

The way I do that is cut to paper towels into strips & write the name of the seeds on them... (with a pen that has ink that won't run when it's wet!)

Using a tray, I put a few seeds on the strips & fold it over so the name shows, then spray it down with water so everything is soaking wet.  I put the tray in a plastic bag & put it in a warm place & wait. 
(DON'T FORGET ABOUT IT!)

         
Depending on the type of seed (and if the seed is viable), sprouts will start to poke out of a seed as soon as 2-3 days.  I suggest not giving up on them though... some seeds take longer than 14 days to germinate, & some must be in the dark before they'll get started.  (Just to make it harder on us, some seeds won't germinate without light! I'll get into that later on... I have a list I'll share with you!)

Not only is this the easiest way to check for seed viability, it's also a "fun" way to give seeds a jump-start (especially if you have kids gardening with you).  Because of the extremely short growing season we had in Montana, I used to do this every year... before I finally learned the in's & out's of starting seeds in starter soil & raising them to a safe maturity to move to the garden, which gives them an even earlier start.

I was just lucky this time, cuz the bag that I put the tray in must have been air tight... I've lost MANY seeds when I've forgotten about them & they dried out after sprouting!   Here, I have a BUNCH of both yellow & red Icebox Watermelon sprouts, baby canteloupe, & Creme Brulee Coreopsis... from my 2005 seed harvest!

         

(Now comes the work... I have to bend all the way over, to get them in the ground today!)
« Last Edit: Apr 15, 2007, 02:11:35 PM by Patty S »

plants n pots

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Nice info, Patty!

But what do you do with the seeds that have already started growing in the paper towels?  Don't you need to keep the green "heads" above the soil line so they can keep growing?  That seems to be when I lose plants that I've started this way...

Offline Dianna

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The best tip I know is to buddy up with relatives and friends that know how to garden. ;) It sure has helped my plants to survive! ;D

Books and the internet are great resources for information, too. Read, read, read, and then read some more.

There is nothing like having someone you can ask for advice, though, that has already been through whatever you are trying to do. They have learned all the little tricks to fool the plant into doing what they want it to do... :D

« Last Edit: Apr 15, 2007, 02:46:03 PM by Dianna »
"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success." - Lao Tzu

Offline Patty S

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Lynne, there are a few there that have already sprouted leaves, & those might not make it.  (I should have paid closer attention & gotten to them earlier in the week.) 

The sprouted seeds go into the ground at the same depth as they would have if they were to have been sown directly from the packet.  (It doesn't matter if they have their little root pointing down... they turn themselves around as the root develops anyway.)  The one watermelon sprout that has the leaves on it, I'll probably plant with the leaves above the ground, but that doesn't give it much hope, cuz it'll essentially be planted too shallow.  (I just might put it in a starter pot here in the house & baby it, so it can have a fighting chance.)

Another thing... sometimes the roots poke through the paper towel when it sprouts.  If I pull it out, chances are that'll do damage to the root, so I just plant it, towel attached, cuz it's biodegradable anyway.

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There is nothing like having someone you can ask for advice, though, that has already been through whatever you are trying to do. They have learned all the little tricks to fool the plant into doing what they want it to do...

And... the only "stupid" question is the one you don't ask! Believe me, I've learned the hard way! (Still am)
« Last Edit: Apr 15, 2007, 03:00:21 PM by Patty S »

littlebrat

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Those look like some really good sprouts you got there. Can't wait to see more.

Offline Bonnie

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You are a warehouse of knowledge, Patty. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Bonnie
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Offline Penny

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Great tip.....thanks for sharing!

Offline Patty S

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You are a warehouse of knowledge, Patty. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Bonnie
Well I don't know how accurate the "warehouse of knowledge" thing is Bonnie... I think my warehouse has LOTS of empty spaces! All I ever planted prior to 3 years ago, was veggies & sunflowers! I'm just getting started learning about a lot of the things that the rest of you might think everybody knows, so I'd really like for y'all to dig through your warehouses & share tips about anything garden related.  Some days I think "there's got to be an easier way"... but that doesn't stop me!  I want to keep playing in the dirt, but my body tries to tell me that I missed the boat & should have been having all this fun when I was younger!
« Last Edit: May 28, 2007, 01:01:35 PM by Patty S »

Offline Patty S

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          My New Weeding Tool!
I mentioned to Keith the other day that since I don't have any fingernails left (happens every gardening season), I needed to invent a teeny tiny hoe. The smallest hoe I can find at the store is just too big to get real close to small plants, to scratch the weeds away. I've used a single edge razor blade to do the job, but the arthritis in my thumbs just doesn't do a good job of hanging on to those these days.

I was so surprised when he handed me his invention yesterday!  Here's a pic of it, along side my mini-hoe.
     
He used a 24" piece of doweling & a simple corner bracket, honed to a sharp edge on the bench grinder.

He asked how long I wanted the handle, cuz he could shorten it for me to any length I wanted, but I told him, "heck no! Don't make it any shorter... I'd just have to bend over farther, to use it!" (I hadn't even thought of a long handle, when I was thinking about inventing something!)  He spray painted it, cuz he claims that I leave tools laying in the yard all the time & he said that he didn't want to have to make me a new one every couple weeks.  :razberry:

I especially have a problem weeding in my Nigella bed, cuz the plants are so small.  I went to work in the garden & got lots done in a short time, cuz it worked like a charm!
     

Thanx, Darlin! :kissies:

Offline Dianna

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That is a neat little gadget Keith made for you, Patty!  :Glee:

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He spray painted it, cuz he claims that I leave tools laying in the yard all the time & he said that he didn't want to have to make me a new one every couple weeks.

One suggestion from me? Paint it a bright color so that you can see it while you are leaving it laying in the yard all the time. If you can spot it from a mile away, maybe you would remember to pick it up and put it away. ;) Neon pink would be purty!  :rofl1:

Now I need to talk Jim into making me one. :Halo: Wonder if my foot will ever get well enough for me to use it? ::)

« Last Edit: Jun 12, 2007, 08:31:37 AM by Dianna »
"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success." - Lao Tzu

Offline Bonnie

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What a clever idea. I too have a suggestion. Get somebody to use it for you.

Bonnie
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Offline Jim

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 :Whack:

I got enough to do around here.  :Groaner:

Maybe Reyla when she gets big enough or Brendon.  :idea1:
Former SMF Support Specialist

Offline Patty S

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I used to spray paint all my garden tool handles a neon orange... can't miss em!  I think that black was the only color Keith could find in the garage (of course, I keep telling him that things aren't going to jump out at him just because he's "looking" for them), so that's why he used black. 

Bonnie, I dont want anybody else to do it for me!  BG & I are fighting over this one, as it is!  We're both enjoying it a bunch, & the weeds are disappearing around here at a pretty fast clip! When the novelty wears off, I suppose we'll be right back to "totally green" garden beds again!

Oh... & the reason I leave tools laying outside is because the garage is so bad right now, if I put them in there I'd hafta use up all my garden time looking for them!

Offline duh

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When I think of the things I didn't know when I started my first garden the list of tips is endless.  lol.

First thing I know now is that the best way to start a garden is with a series of three compost piles each 3X3X3 ft in size.  Why you ask?  Well assuming that I'm just starting the garden and it isn't already prepared for me I want to have the healthiest plants possible.  And that starts with the soil.  And the best way to amend the soil is with compost.  So that is where I would start.    Why 3 piles and that size?  Well piles that are 6 to 7 cubic feet can spontaneously combust.  Not something that you want to happen.  And it is conventional wisdom that the 3 ft cube is best.  It is certainly easier to turn than anything larger.  Now why three of them?  Well as time passes one will be your finished compost.  One will be working, and the last one will be the one you are still adding stuff to. 

Next would be putting in drip irrigation.  No messing with hoses, sprinklers, watering cans or any other watering tools.  Just set the timer and it takes care of itself.  I love this idea.

So what next?  For me it would be making sure that the light requirements are right for what I'm hoping to plant.  Or if I had a spot that I know I want to plant making sure I understand how the light falls in that space.  That way I'll choose the right plants for that location.  Or the right Location for my plants either way works lol.

Then comes the soil test and the special amendments, lime, sulfer, nitrogen, potassium, potash.........

And then it's time to research what I want to plant there.  But I'll leave that for another post.  I'm awfully long winded.  :soapbox: 

Offline Patty S

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Post away, "Ms Windy!"   With everyone sharing as they learn, maybe the Brown Thumb Club here will take on shades of GREEN!

Thanx for the tips! I know that a lot of folks must be wondering what "perfect soil" should be, when you test it... what exactly are you looking for, & what does the lime, sulfer, nitrogen, potassium, potash etc. do for it?

While you're at it, can you explain what the 3 numbers are for on plant food, & which of those enhancements help to improve the roots, blossoms... or whatever? (Maybe new tutorial topics would be in order, cuz I would imagine they'll generate a few questions, & the answers might be pretty lengthy to explain... wouldn't want to get that info lost in here, cuz it's important stuff to know.)


Offline Patty S

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My daughter-in law was having trouble with some sort of critter digging up the starter plants in her veggie garden, & she tried to stop up the holes where it kept tunneling under the fence to get into her garden.  For every hole she plugged with rocks & lumber, or put wheel barrows, wagons, & bike parts over, there was always a new one dug to take its place!  

Whatever kind of critter it was, wouldn't eat the plant itself... just seemed to have an appetite for the roots! :ScratchHead: She was at wits end, until I took a stack of old gardening magazines & catalogs to her preschool classroom for the kids to use for their cutting & pasting projects. 

She didn't give them to the kids right away, but thumbed through them & read the articles during naptimes!  I can't remember now if it was a home remedy type article that she read, or an ad for a "critter stopper" that claimed to stop small, four-legged critters from digging plants up.

Being a preschool teacher (& a woman after my own heart), she never throws anything away that won't start to stink after 2 weeks, & she happened to have a stack of plastic strawberry baskets, just like what was pictured in the magazine.  She cut the bottoms out of them & put them into the soil around her plants... (sharp side up), & hasn't lost any of her plants to midnight root snackers, since!

     
We never did find out what kind of critter was doing the damage... but of course, most of the rocks, lumber, wheel barrows, wagons, & bike parts are still there!

*The chips that you see on top of the soil are crushed eggshells.
« Last Edit: Jun 20, 2007, 02:22:54 AM by Patty S »

Offline duh

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That's an outstanding tip and it looks cute around the plants too.

I also use egg shells around my hostas to stop slugs from snacking on them. 

I also grind the egg shells to dust in my coffee grinder to use in my tomato beds where calcium is a needed amendment.


Offline Dianna

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I am wondering if powdered milk would do the same thing as adding egg shells for calcium.  :idea: I have been keeping that on hand for when I accidentally run out of gallon milk or it goes bad on me, so I know we have that around the house.

I looked for Epsom salts up under my bath cabinet last night. Guess I used all of that on my foot when I first hurt it... :unsure:

As for the egg shells, do you have to wash them before you dry and crush them to add to the gardens?  :SmileyQmarks:
"Be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dream. Water them with optimism and solutions and you will cultivate success." - Lao Tzu

Offline duh

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Since botchelism(sp) is a problem with eggs I would suggest it.  It never hurts to be careful.  I love hard and soft boiled eggs so that's where I usually get the eggshells from.  It takes very few eggs over the course of a year to make enough calcium for a 30 ft garden which is what my tomato patch measures this year.

Milk is usually considered a no no so I'm kind of iffy on the powdered milk as a source of calcium.  But I'm not sure of the why's and wherefor's on that.

 

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