For the look of Relax in a worsted weight yarn, take a look at Worsted Boxy.

Garden Fever Has Hit, and a Little Contest

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Dear Kay,
Surely this must go down as one of Nashville’s most glorious spring days ever. Such a day! Never has there been such temperate perfection. The dogwoods are insane. The bees are lying around drunk.
It’s got me thinking about a book I finished weeks ago, Margaret Roach’s memoir, And I Will Have Some Peace There. This weather has me thinking about gardening, now that I’m watching the peonies fatten up, and there’s a ton of gardening in this book.
Margaret did the thing that so many of us fantasize about: quitting our jobs and stepping out of the fast lane. Margaret was the editorial director of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, so if you recognize her name, it’s because you saw her cheerful face peeking out from the pages of Martha Stewart Living. After many years of Success, Margaret did it: she quit, a single woman in possession of a little house up the river from New York, a passion for gardening, and a quest for meaning.
I read this book about 90 miles an hour. I admit to a certain morbid curiosity: is she going to make this story into a syrupy self-actualization story? Is everything to go swimmingly?
The answer is most certainly no–she’s very odd, in the best way: she shares hard truths about herself, she’ll talk to a frog, she’ll do amazing things with coyote pee in the name of garden preservation. She’s not averse to reading a bunch of self-help books. This book is clearly part of her ongoing process of discovery, and I think it will resonate with all women who have wondered what would happen if you stood up, said goodbye to your job, and took off.
The book reads almost as a journal would–it feels stream of consciousness in parts, and I do think she repeats herself sometimes. She was writing this even as she was settling into her new life; I wonder how this memoir would differ had she started it several years after making her break.
But maybe that immediacy is what makes this so compelling: we don’t know any better than she does whether this dramatic break is going to end up a good idea.
Her gardens are a main character in the story, so it was like meeting an old friend to see them in this book trailer.
Margaret started a gardening blog, A Way to Garden. Unsurprisingly, it’s great reading for armchair gardeners and true dirt diggers. I keep up with her gardens there.
Here’s a wee contest, for this gorgeous day: post a comment with your single best gardening tip–and it can’t be to water your plants! We’ll draw a random winner who will receive a copy of And I Shall Have Some Peace There. Deadline for entries is Sunday, April 16, 6 pm.
Love,
Ann

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283 Comments

283 Comments

  1. I put some dried leaves or grass (bamboo leaves work great!) into the bottom of my empty compost bucket (the one we use to transport kitchen scraps to the ‘big pile’) so the moist stuff just falls right out rather than causing a gloppy mess in the bottom of the bucket.

  2. Here’s my favorite gardening tip: search out a copy of Margaret Roach’s out-of-print book, A Way To Garden, and git busy. Someday I am going to plant something, and it is not going to die. I just know it.

  3. Newspaper makes great winter ‘blanketing’ for your plants. Especially now with the new soy inks that don’t contain any lead to run off. In the spring you can rake the paper into the ground for the satisfaction of some on-the-spot recycling.

  4. Plant only things you really love, and then you’ll be so interested in their progress that you’ll love on them every day. Other than that, mulch, mulch, mulch, so you don’t spend all your garden time weeding!

  5. Having gardened from 1400 feet in decomposed sandstone to sea level and silt – and now in adobe with oaks and deer – my advice is to heed what the native plants around you have to say about the soil, the rainfall, the light. Gardens, like relationships, oughtn’t be too hard. If they are, time to do something else.

  6. Keep a garden journal. A friend sent me one about 8 years ago and I groaned at another useless gift, and then I started filling it out and now it’s a valued reference. When did I put out the tomatoes last year? When did I plant potatoes? What bug ate my peas? Keeping track helps me get better at it.

  7. Orchard Mason Bees!!! Every garden needs them.

  8. Don’t let me in a garden. I will kill everything. Why oh why does this happen to me? I want to garden. I love the IDEA of gardening. But my thumbs are as black as they get.

  9. I agree: plant what you love, and plant what loves your climate and your personal sun/shade conditions. Further, plant in containers that you will pass every day. Finally, put the plants close to a faucet, so watering will be easy!

  10. If you have big flowerpots, rather than filling the whole thing with potting soil, fill the bottom 2/3 with leaves, twigs, flowerstalks, the kind of things that would go in a compost pile. Then fill the rest of the way with soil, let it settle a day or two, and plant annuals or artichokes or whatever in it. By the end of the summer, the sticks and things will have broken down into compost.

  11. Poop. Lots and lots of poop. Things grow lush and gorgueous if they’re fertilized, and the easiest way to do this (in my opinion) is to dig lots and lots of nice ages poop into yur garden beds every year. Bonus points if the poop comes from your own chickens/horse/alpaca/sheep in your backyard.

  12. Best gardening tip for me was determining exactly how early one can plant in your respective Zone. After moving from Kentucky to the very very deep south, I had difficulty believing that one really could (and should) plant tomatoes before Derby Day. An ironclad eleventh commandment busted – it was a revelation.

  13. I use my cat to kill the chipmunks that eat my strawberries. It wouldn’t be bad if they (Chipmunks) ate the whole thing, but half eaten strawberries, just when they finally ripen is just plain aggravating and mean. The cat and dog then play with the dead thing. Burying it in the sand, taking it out of the sand, bringing it into the kitchen, taking it back outside, cleaning it. The dog and cat play in the sandbox whichs keeps them out of the garden. Eventually the animals get bored or the husband comes home to find a dead wet chipmunk on the living room floor.

  14. In acidic soil, always sprinkle a little lime around the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant to avoid Blossom End Rot. That’s where the end of the veg gets black and when you cut into it the bad spot goes right through the whole thing. I had to keep after mine because of the high concentration of Oak trees in my old neighborhood. When Oak leaves fall and break down they tend to acidify soil. Most veggies like neutral to slightly sweet soil conditions.

  15. Okay, this one is about watering, but just listen: when you cook ears of corn in boiling water, save the water – let it cool down and water your plants with it. They’ll grown right before your eyes (and you won’t waste water if there’s a watering ban on).

  16. I’m an abyssmal gardener, so take these two for what it is worth.
    I don’t know the actual term, but practice “cooperative” gardening. Plant carrots near tomatoes and other vegetables that ward off each others’ pests. Better than pesticides in these greener times.
    Also, really look at your space before you garden. Take photos if you must, and find a sunny spot for vegetables. I’m a victim of ignoring this one year after year, as I find a new shady spot in my yard for my vegetable garden each year.

  17. If you get tomato plants rather than seeds, plant them DEEP- like up to the bottom of the first branches. It helps them anchor so they don’t fall over all spindly, and they seem to go on growth spurts to counter-act the fact they loose 5 inches of above-ground height.

  18. This is a variation on the “water your plants” theme and is for indoor gardening. I used to have a terrible time remembering to water my plants until they’d go all limp and sad. Then I got a dog. Every day when I put fresh water in his bowl, I dump some of the old into the plants. Now they’re lush, green, and happy.

  19. I think mine would have to be to water the plants–I have a definite purple thumb! My husband has the nature intelligence in this family–I have the animal kind.

  20. A bit of powdered milk sprinkled around the base of your tomato plants will combat blossom end rot (an ugly black spot at the base of the fruit). It’s the calcium!

  21. Even if you keep your tomatoes in large patio pots, keep them away from the patio steps so that animals that want to take a bite out of them can’t reach them. I still can’t figure out what animal took a small bite and then left the last heirloom tomato on the step for me to find. And I had been waiting sooo long for that last tomato!

  22. I have absolutely no skill for raising anything. So, my best gardening tip…Pay someone to do it for you. ;)

  23. If you have slugs in your garden, bury a straight-sided bowl (empty margerine container is perfect) in the ground up to its rim and fill it with beer. The slugs cannot resist it and will drown in a drunken stupor. No more slugs and safe if other critters are around.

  24. I’m not a woman, so i’m not really in the running for the book, but i check out MDK, and like to garden so…
    Out-smarting strawberry eating critters (see dead chipmunk post above)…scatter the area with strawberry coloured rocks prior to the plants fruiting. Then you don’t have to kill the critters. I leave my strawberries for the robins – it is adorable watching robin parents teaching their robin fledglings how to find strawberries. I buy mine at the u-pick or farmers’ market.
    My Best Tip: Plant a bed of dyeplants – growing stuff to dye fibre. Too much fun – Japanese Indigo, Woad, Madder, Weld, Coreopsis, etc, etc. A walnut tree?

  25. Leave a snag in your garden! A nice, dead, standing tree. Mine is a sour cherry tree, good-sized. I don’t know what killed it years ago, but now it’s a nice safe place for birds to get away from the neighborhood cats. Bugs live there, we put a bat house up, and it’ll be sturdy for a long time.
    (Also, chewed up sticks of Juicy Fruit gum, tucked nicely into the mounds left by moles and voles, chase the varmints into the neighbors’ yards. It really works!) (But you said single best… I’m sticking with the snag.)

  26. White flies do not like Dr Bronner’s peppermint soap mixed with water and sprayed on “their” plant. Which is good, b/c then it can be my plant again and not so white fly infested.

  27. My best gardening tip: Do not buy / plant anything that requires watering, weeding, or any other type of care. I am not kidding. I have some lovely things in my garden that come back year after year, through no fault of my own. Thank goodness.

  28. Let the husband do it….more time to knit!

  29. To always plant rosemary for remembrance, and to never plant mint in the ground, it will take everything over. You might be tempted to by visions of home grown herbal teas, but don’t do it.

  30. Plant perennials. They will come back year after year, in spite of neglect, drought, “accidental” mowing, you name it — they are slow learners.

  31. My best gardening tip is to use the cheapest plastic snakes you can find at your local dime store to scare birds or squirrels from eating your garden. I drape them on my porch vines and I haven’t lost a grape in 2 years.
    I must confess I actually got this tip from my mama in Alabama, who uses them to protect her winter pansies. If I win the book, I promise to share it with her, though!

  32. Three tips that are good as gold 1. If the garden center says its not for this area, there’s a reason. Don’t waste your time, space and money 2. If critters are getting more ripe tomatoes than you are, run to the nearest hunting/camping store and get some fox urine. Carefully, in your worst clothes you don’t care about, while outside drop a little drop on some small plastic lids and put them in a circle around your plants. Critters are stupid. Even though they can see there’s no fox there you can fool them into thinking there’s one in hiding. 3. Mama Hull’s favorite tip: Get a Farmer’s Almanac. Follow it like it’s a bible for gardeners. Mama Hull would also say don’t let your son-in-law plow your potatoes with the Volkswagen Bug if the man you hire can’t come the day that the almanac says you grovel potatoes. That caused much embarassment for an 80 year old granny.

  33. Mulch, mulch and then more mulch… keeps the moisture in and helps a bit to keep down weeds.

  34. Be green, use newspapers for mulch. Put a thick layer of newspapers down, cover with mulch (our electrical utility will dump a truck load free in your driveway) Keeps moisture in and weeds down. Easy and free!

  35. Know yourself – don’t bite off more than you can chew (or garden)!

  36. Amen on the mint! I made that mistake at the first home we had. I’m sure the current owners are still trying to get rid of it. My best advice is to plant lots of bulbs. They’re always a lovely surprise when they come up and they multiply. So, you can share them with friends.

  37. Garden with children if you can. It is so much fun to get down in the dirt with them, show them what are weeds and what are the plants to keep and let them water everything. If you don’t have children of your own…borrow some from a friend :o)

  38. after breakfast, put your egg shells and coffee grinds around the base of your tomato plants. this was my first chore as a kid, before green was high holy act. let a kid help!

  39. Keep a box of compost worms in your kitchen. Put the poop on your garden or in your plants. I have very happy plants. :)

  40. Ann, I can whole heartedly agree with you on the glorious spring day here in Middle Tennessee. And a reminder that tomorrow (April 15) is the last frost date for our area.
    My tip: I do my weeding and dead-heading right before I mow the lawn. I through it all out into the yard and then run it over with the mower. It just disappears!

  41. I use corrugated cardboard topped with mulch in the lanes in between rows..and around landscape plants, to minimize weeding!

  42. My tip: as the proud owner of a 10×10 foot concrete patio and a crappy hose, I joined a CSA that lets me get a discount in exchange for work. I get to weed and follow all the progress and reap the benefits even though I don’t have the space (or, let’s face it, the green thumb) to do it all myself!

  43. The only gardening tip I know: the best (and possibly only) thing to grow in a window box in foggy San Francisco is kale. The book sounds wonderful; I wish I had the space to garden for realsies.

  44. I’m a dreamer of gardens, an admirer of gardens, but I am no gardener.
    So here’s my tip: encourage your significant other (sometimes that’ll be a husband, other times someone else) to take up gardening. It sure worked for me. He’s steady, loves the outdoors, goes nuts when the bulb catalogs come….How could it be better? Right now, I have tulips blooming their fool heads off and indoors? well, tulips have unsuspected talents! Stick some in water and watch them do magic.

  45. Put Epsom salts in the soil around tomato plants. It’s great for them. P.S. If you use those plastic snakes, don’t forget where you put them, because months later, they will give you a scare when you are digging in the flower beds.

  46. My gardening tip: sit in the shade and knit, while thinking about how someday I will get around to planting a garden

  47. I plant garlic cloves around my roses to help deter the Japanese beetles. This is my one and only tip.
    Anne with an E.

  48. The other way to get calcium into your tomatoes is to put an eggshell under the plant.
    To keep rabbits out of the vegetables—if you have an indoor dog, tear open a full vacuum cleaner bag and spread the lint around the seedbed. The rabbits will smell people and dogs and will leave the seed alone. I’ve done this for years now and it works.

  49. Use lots of mulch wherever you can to keep the weeds down!

  50. My #1 tip is not directly about gardening, but I think it goes hand-in-hand: learn how to preserve! Then you can enjoy your garden’s bounty year-round – there’s nothing better than eating homemade strawberry jam in January.

  51. Plant only half as much as you think you want to plant. Just take half of those seeds you ordered and tuck them away out of sight, because believe me, you are about to plant WAY too much of everything. Seed Catalog Frenzy will induce you to plan a garden big enough to feed Rhode Island. That said, I’m considering sneaking into the neighbor’s backyard with leftover seeds in hand–is that wrong?

  52. Plant lavender, lots and lots of lavender –and you will always feel as if you live in a lovely novel. Also plant a few berry bushes (current, blueberry, raspberry)and you will have both romance and delightful treats.

  53. Plant lilies (and probably other bulbs, though I only know for sure about lilies) in containers. If you change your mind about them later, it’s too damn bad, they’re nearly impossible to get rid of. (or, as in my case, if the previous owner loved lilies and you don’t, you’ll have to resort to salting the earth in order to win back your gardening space from the likes of the lilies!)

  54. Compost, I compost everything, lawn clippings and leaves make great mulch, and the kitchen and chicken poop make great additions to enrich my garden soil. Using seaweed is also great, although I got carried away with it two years ago, and had tomato plants that stretched 20 feet long.

  55. My garden tip is: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Plants, like knitting, allow do-overs. My current experiment is coming up with a vole-proof potato cage. Those little rascals ruined the potato crop I tried to grow under straw last year (another experiment).

  56. My tip: Choose the right plants for your area. That means if you have a shady yard, don’t keep buying plants that need lots of sun. Admire the flowers in someone else’s sunny spot but plant for what you’ve got.

  57. Put vegetable or fruit scraps (like potato peels, apple cores or banana peels) into the hole before you plant your tomato plants, instant plant food.

  58. Wear gloves.

  59. My knees don’t work anymore, so I rely on daylilies. Once planted, they bloom beautifully for weeks at a time with no attention or weeding or watering from us, come in a zillion colors and heights and shapes.
    And if like us you love basil or cilantro, plant more than you think you can possibly use. For basil, pinch it back relentlessly all summer to keep it from going to seed and get it to branch. Make pesto with what you pinch, with something acid (citrus juice or citric acid) as well as the other stuff, and freeze it for winter.

  60. My best gardening tip: Don’t buy ANY plants in the spring until all the beds have been completely weeded and are ready for planting. Otherwise they somehow manage to get frantically planted in weedy beds before they die or they don’t get enough watering or something and they are sick by the time the beds are actually weeded and ready to receive the new cute plants. This is sort of the reverse of knitting..with yarn it doesn’t matter if I buy more yarn and am not ready to knit w/ it…it won’t go bad. But w/ the plants….it is a problem. Also…don’t buy more than 2-3 flats of flowers at a time…they always take longer to plant that the time you actually have available!

  61. I always empty the coffee grounds into my potted plants as “fertilizer”. I don’t really know if it helps or not, but my grandmother always did this, that’s evidence enough for me!

  62. I’m going to start calling my plants “Lady” to see if it perks them up as much as the corn dog man, um, perked me up.

  63. gardening tip? heh heh… i don’t know that you want a gardening tip from me. the squirrels who take corn from my feeders and bury it in my front yard have a better harvest than i do.
    i’m thinking about asking them to just take over the backyard gardens as well…

  64. Bury 3/4 of any tomato plant (up to the last 2 leaf sets) to promote good roots and productive flowering. All that you bury will become the root system. Can tolerate less water and can survive harsher conditions. Never have a single tomato plant of any variety. Cross pollination helps.

  65. If you live where winters are not so harsh and snow-covered, take advantage of one of those freakishly warm days in February to go out and pull weeds you missed back in the fall. Some of them are just starting to sprout and they’re easy to pull!
    One year I’m going to remember the trick to put down black plastic to warm up the ground and psych the weeds into thinking it’s spring already, then pull up the plastic just before a hard freeze so they’ll die and I won’t have to pull them. Bwa ha ha ha!

  66. It definitely IS spring:: i have some big heavy gardening books out from the Richford VT library and am dreaming of herb gardens and fall salsas. good gardening tip:: read all the stuff you can get from your library (someone once lent us John Jeavons’ book on biointensive gardening and we got all frightfully wound up). Make sure your books are suited to your region and climate. Talk to the old folks in your community garden:: they are a wealth of tips and advice.

  67. So here is a fun gardening project that the kids can help with! Save an egg carton and all the left over eggshells. When you have 12 eggshell halves and an empty carton, pack the eggshell halves with dirt and vegetable seeds. love and water the dirt filled eggs until your veggies sprout. Then, you can transfer the plants in the shells to a bigger outdoor pot or garden and the eggshell will continue to protect and feed the plants. So much fun and so organic!!

  68. My husband is the gardener – I am the freezer-canner! We try to use everything he grows and either give away or preserve the excess. Our family favorites are salsa, spaghetti sauce and purple grape juice! Our tip – grow what you like, share what you have, and enjoy the fresh, delicious produce!

  69. Just add compost: Save your coffee grounds, eggshells, and rotten veggies, etc. to feed back to your garden and it will keep feeding you. I will definitely check out her blog.

  70. plant marigolds next to your tomatoes to keep the bugs away.

  71. If slugs are a problem, save eggshells and crush them up and sprinkle them over the top of your vegetable patch. You can make nice rings of crushed eggshells around young plants and the slugs won’t crawl over the sharp edges to get to the tender plants.
    I like the beer options too since you have to finish the beer that doesn’t make it into the container – nice perk on a hot day.
    R

  72. For fruit trees whose branches are sagging from the weight of the fruit: I use old crutches! I buy them at the thrift stores (typically $1 per pair, and some even have the rubber sleeve on the top). And because they are adjustable, you can make them just the right height, to keeep the branch from breaking.

  73. Not sure if this is a boney-fidey “tip” as I haven’t tried it yet, but here goes!
    Lots of joint issues make gardening a life-threatening experience for me these days (years). So last autumn during the seasonal sale at the feed store, I bought a pipe-and-plastic stock feeder to use as a REALLY raised bed this year. I am so excited…it will need compost-rich soil and mulch to hold moisture in, and probably frequent watering anyway. But maybe I will have a pain-free garden bed this year. Not very wide, but ten feet long!

  74. My good friend has told me that if I want my peonies to bloom, I need to make sure their feet are uncovered. They haven’t bloomed much the past few years, so I’m going to take her advice and see.

  75. Wear gardening gloves. Besides preserving your manicure, it makes everything easier. Heavy things are lighter, rocks don’t hurt. Have lots of pairs, some waterproof.

  76. Enjoy the process.

  77. I could really use a book like this right now. Timely, timely.

  78. hey–my email address should count for extra points….
    favorite garden tip–talk to your plants…ask ‘em how they’re doing…tell them you’re happy when they come up….give ‘em lots and lots of love.

  79. Buy your plants locally. Dig a wide hole for planting (tip stolen from our local gardening guru). Get your favorite drink, sit in a chair and enjoy!

  80. I have to say that I talk to the flowers, plants, trees, sun, rain, moon… thank you, thank you.
    I agree with the -wear gardening gloves- comment!! Knitterly hands need to be clean and smooth….

  81. I wish I knew why my garden grew… I have loved getting to know my yard, and have gotten a few tips from friends about what and where and when to plant. Most of the time, though, I just do what seems like the right thing to do. So I guess my tip would be, trust your instincts!
    Thank you for this post – even if I don’t win the book, I have learned oodles from all the wise comments!

  82. Plant potatoes in gigantic black contractors’ garbage bags. Put some holes in for drainage. Put in some dirt, about 6″-8″. Roll the rest of the bag down like the brim of a hat. Plant potatoes. When the leaves appear, add more dirt. When the leaves appear again, add MORE dirt. Continue till the bag is full. When it’s time to harvest, slit the bag and let the dirt fall. Potatoes with no digging! This can also be done by stacking tires, adding another tire and layer of dirt as the plants grow.

  83. My gardening tip, coming from a not-so-green-thumber, is to not get discouraged. If something doesn’t work out, try something else. For me it’s a learning process and I’m enjoying every step! Sometimes I even get it right.

  84. You can dig half-finished compost right into a bed a day or two before planting seedlings. Then mulch the heck out of it (6-8 inches of straw, leaves, or hay). The compost will break down and enrich your bed while your plants.

  85. One thing I’ve learned after many years of gardening – only plant what you know you like to eat. Sounds logical, but it’s amazing what I’ve grown in the past and not really liked.

  86. my best garden tip? aged sheep poop!

  87. Plant the right plant in the right place, for your zone.No use spending money and time on plants that will not survive the summer climate conditions or will freeze in the winter.Better yet, help your newbie knitter friend (who is a perfessional gardener!!) with all her knitting problems ha ha!!

  88. plant only those plants that you are confident you can take care of. Mary in Cincinnati

  89. I save all my shredding, all year long, and use it for mulch. Never mind is all my personal stuff cut up, I make sure it stays on my property. Naturally, it’s not the only mulch I use but it’s always a good start.

  90. It looks like Chris just beat me to the tip of only buying what will grow where I live. I love to look at pictures of what flowers will grow into, and if I could buy things based on color alone I’d be happy as a clam, but I should really only get what will grow in my rocky soil and partial shade.
    another tip is to always plant just enough or a smidge over, and remember that it’s impossible to have too many tomatoes. Come July/August, when the plants are dripping with ripe red fruit, meet the neighbors and pass them along. Then it may be overwhelming, but now, when I’m thinking about it? it’ll be impossible to have too many.

  91. Mine would have to be: Call the guy. Get him to do it. The end.

  92. Don’t wait for the weather to get nice to start weeding. It’s like when you’re speeding, and you see the police officer…it’s too late.

  93. Plant bulbs – daffodils, tulips, and iris. They are beautiful, easy, and “paint” a new picture every year!

  94. Add crumbled egg shells to the hole when you plant your tomatoes, and make sure to sink them up to their first set of leaves–they will form roots all the way up the stem.

  95. I don’t garden…living in florida, I haven’t figured out how to keep things alive in our crazy heat. I belong to a CSA, and enjoy farm fresh veggies from just miles up the road.

  96. Have kids help! When we planted the leaf lettuce in a hanging basket by the house rather than way back in the garden, the boys took more interest in eating salad. They even wated it occasionally, but don’t count on that point.

  97. ENJOY your garden! put your chair in the middle, and knit. let it grow, weed the weeds, and let the rest to nature and the deer.

  98. Incorporate ritual and family in your garden plans. My husband and I plant potatoes on Good Friday anticipating his birthday party the first week in July when we will dig our first meal of new potatoes. All of our kids/grandkids look forward to this event in July.

  99. Used coffee grounds on the hydrangeas. Just dump them on.

  100. Read Square Foot Gardening and then do square foot gardening!

  101. Gardening tip: take down those hosta spikes in the fall. They look tatty all winter and now it’s spring and the new stuff is poking up and they still look tatty! I guess that’s more of a whine than a tip. Tip: I hear that slugs won’t crawl over broken eggshells, so wash the slime out of your eggshells, crunch them up and put them around your precious primroses etc.

  102. Crushed eggshells also deter slugs. When I used the beer (which DOES work), I also attracted some baby skunks…..

  103. The plants I love the most are the ones my Grandmother planted. I have cared for her tiger lilies, phlox,live forever and lilac tree. I miss her but her plants are a connection. My tip, plant what you will love

  104. I can’t claim this is my tip, but its the best one I’ve received: crumble up a few eggshells left over from breakfast and stick them in the hole before planting your tomatoes or other calcium loving plant. It’s cheaper, greener, and (imho) more effective than the store bought stuff.

  105. Compost!

  106. I’m an indoor kind of gardener who occasionally forgets about her plants. I find if I treat them like pets — admiring their new growths and color — I remember to water them!!!

  107. Another good use for eggshells: whenever I plant a tomato plant, I bash up some eggshells and mix them with the dirt at the bottom of the hole. I don’t know whether it leaches enough calcium to help with blossom end rot, but it can’t hurt!
    Actually, the cleverest gardening tip I’ve heard isn’t mine–it’s from an article about a 14-year-old market gardener (profiled at http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/18/magazine/18food-t.html?_r=1) who lays burlap sacks between rows. When the weeds grow up through the sacks, she picks them up, pulling out the weeds (like waxing!) and just turns them over, root side up, to rot. So ingenious!

  108. Put a seat in your garden and spend some time just enjoying the view! (Works equally well for vegetable or flower gardens.)

  109. I always plant more than we can use and take the extra to our local food pantry.

  110. This is not a tip, but an admonition: if you plant veggies, thin as directed. Even mesclun mix needs to be thinned. I thin with a pair of fine-pointed scissors.
    Here’s the tip. If you’re a northern gardener, and your tomato patch is subject to northern “breezes”, surround the patch (or at least do this on the north side) with 4′ or 6′ stakes and staple heavy plastic to the stakes. This wind barrier will warm the plants and keep them happy.

  111. Epsom salts!
    A TBSP of Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) in a gallon of water once a month helps keep container plants blooming.

  112. My best tip is to marry a man with a green thumb. I can kill anything, but the man I love can grow anything. He makes the vegetables. I cook them. Its a very give and take relationship.

  113. My best gardening tip is pouring boiling water on the weeds in between the bricks on my patio. Works every time and I am not using poison.

  114. Best gardening tip: Have a budget to stick to when buying seeds and plants. Otherwise, the first time out you may come home from the store with so many seeds, the thought of planting them will be overwhelming.

  115. First of all, don’t argue with success. If a plant looks happpy in your garden, plant more of it. If you struggle to keep another going, learn your lesson.
    Second, even in a very large garden I grow all of my herbs in pots mixed with flowers. Less damage to them that way and I know the dog didn’t pee on them.
    Third, share the wealth. When you thin things out, share the excess with a like-minded friend, who just might have something to trade.
    In my family for many generations, when a child left home for marriage, he/she took cuttings or bulbs from his parents’ garden. There was a rose bush, now lost to me, and bearded purple iris which are blooming madly in my garden now. My grgrgrandmother wrote of immediately planting the “bulbs” of her grandfather (Connecticut) when she moved to Texas in 1852 from North Carolina. The ones in my garden are descendants of those. And I wonder if the originals came over on the Mayflower. It is truly taking a little bit of home along into the unknown.

  116. Best gardening tip: Chickens are fertilisers and insecticides in one!

  117. I dump coffe grounds on the lilac bush soil. yep. best lilacs in town.
    also I love bulbs and perennials because you only have to buy them once. and planting bulbs is an act of faith.
    nice blog….I will buy the blanket pattern after lent.( I gave up knotting patterns and bulbs for lent.) (but not contests.)

  118. I always plant spring bulbs close up to perennials so the perennials new foliage covers the fading bulb plants. (And I never cut back any foliage from the bulbs until it has died.)
    Neat contest!

  119. I hope I’m not repeating someone else’s tip: my best advice (as a newbie) is not to worry if you don’t have a lot of full sun. I spent years thinking, “I wish I could have a veggie garden but there’s too much shade.” Finally last year I put lettuce and chard and onions (and beans and radishes and some herbs) in my part-sun patch and they bore all summer long. If you plant lettuce in full sun it will bolt as soon as the weather gets hot — so part shade can be a good thing!

  120. Since I live in foggy CA, remembering to water during the dry but misty summertime isn’t the no-brainer you would think. However, my best tip is to leave some weeds alone and wait and see what naturalizes. You are sure to be pleasantly surprised at least once. Also, deadhead your roses.

  121. Plant trees! If you’re building a new house, save as many trees as possible on your lot — don’t let the builders/developers clear cut your property.

  122. Know what grows well in your area and stick with it.

  123. Here in the pacific nw, wait to plant your annuals until May 6 or after. We still can have frost until then.

  124. Compost compost compost. Don’t walk on your soil. Knit some kneepads.

  125. Don’t try to do it all at once… build slowly i.e number of beds/containers, number of plants, types of plants etc. Gardens are a work in progress; start small with some plants you love and grow along with your garden. Enjoy!

  126. Put your 6 year old in charge of the Sluggo application. He’ll take the job far more seriously than you will, and even in the PNW you might go an entire season with out finding one of those nasty slugs in your garden!

  127. Does agreeing with other people count as a tip? :-) There’s been such good advice already, I’ve enjoyed reading these comments.
    The one about mulching heavily and using newspaper underneath is a good recycling tip and makes life easier for your back–particularly in in the heat of a mid-south summer.
    Also–and I’m not a great morning person–take time every morning to walk around and savor your work, even if the entire landscaping plan/dream is not complete or perfect–the joy of watching things grow is wonderful, at whatever the scale.

  128. Read on only if you are a brave-hearted and hearty person who has a chipmunk problem: My best gardening tip is how to kill the damn burrowing chipmunks! Yes, I tried numerous ways to NOT kill them. You need a dollar store office trash can about 2 feet high, a 1×4 about 3 feet long, and a bag of sunflower seeds. Fill the can 1/2 full of water, run the 1×4 up to it like a ramp, then sprinkle a generous amount of sunflower seeds over the water in the can to cover the top, and sprinkle some down the ramp. Place this contraption within 10 feet of the garden. Cats and squirrels can get out, birds can eat the seed, but the next day, you’ll have a trash can full of drowned munks and still thriving seedlings. This has helped us grow our peas, arugula, mesclun, peppers, maters, strawberries, you name it!

  129. Don’t be afraid to thin your plantings! It may seem like murder but if you leave the baby carrots alone, they will never grow up to be delicious, delicious big girl carrots.

  130. Plant your herbs by your front (or back) door, so that it’s easy to grab them on your way in or out for cooking. I find that if the herb garden is too far away it doesn’t get watered or picked nearly often enough!

  131. Instead of spraying black widow spiders with poison, spray them with Simple Green to stun them, then squash.

  132. When you are planting grass seed, to get it well established put up so stakes, and some roping with or without things tied to it for visibility. Rope off the newly planted area and keep everyone from walking on it for several months. Comes in nice and thick this way.

  133. Take off the peat moss pot and spread the roots when transplanting, the pot really doesn’t melt away and it impedes root growth.

  134. My tip: plant zinnias. Then you can see pure joy rise out of the dirt.

  135. Heirloom tomatoes are amazing. Try a few kinds each year till you find your favorite. Then save those seeds and plant just what you love. I’ve narrowed it down to 2, Sun Gold, Russian Black Krim. Very yummy.

  136. My best tip- walk in your neighborhood and look for what plants look really happy. Take their picture so you a look them up, and then buy them in threes.

  137. My best tip: hire someone else to do it.

  138. Buy the best plants you can afford.

  139. Sprinkle broken eggshells around delicate seedlings, it scares the slugs and other creepy crawlies away with the sharp edges, and it’s biodegradable!

  140. Keep and herb garden right outside the kitchen door. Doesn’t have to be complicated, but it’s so nice to step out back to pick fresh basil, oregano, rosemary, sage, parsely, etc.

  141. I also use the cat to control the chipmunks, but in another way. I drop gifts from the litter box into their holes, especially the ones in the lawn, which was starting to look like a prairie dog community. The chipmunks have moved their houses to the elsewhere.

  142. Two Tips: First, save compost scraps all winter long in a container that you keep in your freezer. This way, you only need to put on your snow gear to get out to the compost heap when your freezer starts looking like Mollie Katzen’s garbage can. Second, wake up early on a Sunday before anyone else is out of bed, collect your tools, and head out to get all those things done. If the morning is beautiful, and quiet, and not too hot or cold, you’ll remember why you started this to begin with.

  143. I like to plant things that I can eat as they grow like leeks, first baby leeks, then full size and they happily stay in the ground until you are ready. No massive crop to deal with.

  144. Plant only what you will really eat/put up. My husband loves tomato plants but plants too many and when they come to fruit we can’t keep up. We are both educators, so fall is not a time when we can be canning. This year, he’s going to get ONE tomato plant. And, we’re going to try Square Foot Gardening, using the new edition of the book with that name. I’m planning “early retirement” in a few years, so would love to read this book!

  145. Toilet paper rolls make good seed starting cells-for free. I was wise to this when I was in kindegarten, and somehow I have forgotten it until now.
    Other than that, splurge on a plant (or many plants) that you are absolutely in love with. It makes everything worth it to keep that little sucker alive.

  146. Plant a couple TUMS in the hole when you transplant your tomatoes. The calcium will help prevent blossom end rot.

  147. My single best gardening advice is to bribe the children to weed. Not that it works once they reach the age of reason, but it’s worth a shot when they’re little enough… Thanks for the chance to win!

  148. Feed your banana peels to your roses! Just toss them in at the base of the bush, mother nature takes care of the rest!

  149. Ha! My single best gardening tip… akin to asking a couch potato advice about exercise, but it’s a contest, so I have to comment:
    TIP: Don’t try to grow ferns in the desert. No matter how much you long for their green, foresty lushness. No matter how much they fill your heart with sweet memories of moss and lichen and the filtered light underneath a canopy of redwoods. Ferns do not belong in the desert, not even inside an apartment in the desert, and you will merely escort them through a protracted, guilty demise, unless you be a much more skilled plant custodian than I.

  150. Plant lots of perennials. My favorite part of gardening is seeing all the plants start to pop up in early spring. It gives me a real excitement for the upcoming season.

  151. When you get home from each day’s work, take a tour around your garden. You can carry snips and a bag and clean up any little things you see or just walk slowly and study what has been happening in the garden.
    It is a great way to destress and leave work at work before moving on to the next thing.

  152. People in my area go hog wild with too much mulch. Given some issues with my back, it is hard for me to spread mulch. So my tip is to plant ground cover to keep weeds at bay instead of mulch. Creeping Jenny is one of my favorites, but it is invasive so it works best in a bed bordering a sidewalk rathe than a bed bordering the lawn.

  153. I actually have two tips 1)get the man at the nursery to help you choose hardy plants so if you forget to water like me and 2)don’t let your husband/dad (whichever family member does your mowing) convince you to give up your garden so that it will be easier for them to cut grass with their 6 foot finishing mower attached to the tractor.

  154. My best tip is to do research on the plant before you buy it or put it in the ground. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve lost plants because I put them in the wrong place in my garden and weren’t getting the right conditions (water, sun, space) or that what I bought was not right for my climate.

  155. Figure out what works best where. There’s a corner of my garden where nothing would grow well except carrots, but the carrots were the biggest you’ve ever seen. The raspberries are very happy atop the septic field, and safe from drought.

  156. Trim/prune perennials back 1/3 to 1/2 in mid-season and they will fill out better plus resist flopping.
    (dreaming of summer here in Zone 4A)

  157. Hubby and I had trouble growing zucchini last year. Yes, you heard me right..zucchini. A friend told us to plant radishes around the zucchini to keep insects, critters, etc. away. If nothing else, we will have radishes this year!
    P.S. We will share the book with our friend, too.

  158. This is another of my many attempts to wind Roach’s new book. Do not be afraid to ask a fellow gardener for a start of whatever they have growing that catches your eye. They can always say No and walk away; but, often you will find that gardeners wish to share and if their plant is to precious to divide and give away, they may know where you can find a like plant. One never knows when another person can come into one’s life and change it forever..

  159. Two tips, one from me and from my dearly departed Momma. From me — turn garden guilt into a trellis. Every fall I feel guilt about the need to get out and do more cleanup of the spent garden. Last year I never did get around to cleaning up the dried nepeta/catmint. The dried up bones had created an interesting enclosed trellis. I just left it alone and allowed the new growth to go wild. It was the best looking and most upright nepeta/catmint I’ve ever had. From Momma — how to make a new garden bed from lawn area. Stake out the new area — with stakes, hose or in your head. Cover the area with at least 5 layers, 10 is better, of old newspaper. Cover the newspaper with composted cow manure. If too unsightly, cover that with mulch. Wait a year and you have a lovely new bed with lots of earth worms! You can wait less than a year but you have a little more work to do.

  160. Be careful how much you plant until you know if you like it. Three rows of pole beans seem like a great idea until you find out you’re not fond of pole beans and those things won’t stop growing for love nor money.

  161. Pay attention. Watch your garden–watch the sun, watch the rain, watch the dirt. Trust your own powers of observation.

  162. For a cold frame lay old storm windows on small pillars of bricks 1-2 high surround with old screen windows held in place with more bricks for critter defense.

  163. My gardening tip – Don’t cut back ornamental grasses in the fall – leave the plumes for interest. Our miscanthus helped me through the endless winter!

  164. This works! Put the dog house near to the garden (on a down hill side so nothing nasty drains into the garden)to keep out the critters. The deer, groundhogs, etc. won’t come near.

  165. I don’t like to garden with gloves on, they seem to get in my way…I feel better just getting my hands in the dirt. To keep from staining one’s fingernails here’s a hint – scrape your fingernails over a bar of soap before digging in and, also, when finished use the hose to spray a small, strong spray under your nails, just hold the hose over your garden and you won’t be wasting the water.

  166. My tip is about weeding. I despise weeding, but mostly I despise weeding when I have a whole yard’s worth to do and it’s the hottest day of the summer. It really helps to spend about 5 minutes a day pulling out the unwanteds. You barely get dirty, and anyone can stand something awful for just 5 minutes. It’s like Fly Lady for the garden.

  167. Dried Blood.
    We sprinkle Dried Blood around our plants to keep the “critters” from nibbling on the leaves/veg.
    Not only does it frighten away the bunnies and squirrels, it enriches the earth. After 10 years of working the same small veg plot, our soil is amazingly rich and the envy of all our gardening buds.

  168. I’m a rank beginner gardener and my tip is one I learned the hard way. Things grow better when you fertilize them. So elementary! But when you’re beginning, it seems you should just be able to stick it in the ground and it will grow.

  169. Gardens, like a marriage, need lots of love and constant attention. Remember, you get out of it what you put into it.

  170. I hope to enjoy gardening after I retire. In the meantime, my tip is to plant stuff that comes up year after year, and is strong enough to survive on its own.

  171. What I’ve learned in the handful of years I have gardened now: know your limits. Ask yourself what you really have time for BEFORE you go to the nursery/order those seeds.
    I have been following Margaret’s blog for a while now. I would love to read her book!

  172. For me, sometimes, the best advice is DON’T. Just wait and see what happens, don’t intervene, save it, cure it. There are times when plants will heal themselves and you have to get out of their way. Restraint is one of the hardest gardening skills to learn.

  173. MULCH!! I mulch with grass clippings, leaves, straw…hardly have to weed and it acts as compost when tilled back into the soil.

  174. No tip here – Just a thank-you for featuring the book. The title is pulled from one of my all-time favorite poems. A little serenity passes my consciousness everytime I think of it. Thanks…
    Carry on with the tips…

  175. My fave tip? Be sure to just sit in the middle of it and breathe it in.

  176. When planting tomatoes, wrap the lower stem in newspaper and plant it perpendicular to the remaining stalk of the plant. More roots will grow from that underground part, giving plant more access to the good stuff!

  177. When I lived in the Florida Panhandle, I planted tomato seedlings (not seeds) on Valentine’s Day, to beat the heat, with mushroom compost.
    Now that I live two hours south of Nashville, we’re trying strawbale beds. The neighbors did them with great results last year. We set the bales strawends up, covered with 4-6″ garden soil, and planted away. A month later, both lettuce seeds and tomato seedlings are very happy, and care is super easy.

  178. Here’s a tip that I’ve learned the hard way: If something doesn’t work or grow well in your garden, MOVE ON. There are so many wonderful plants out there that will work well. Life is too short to fight these things. (Memo to self: PLEASE remember this advice when heading to the garden center this weekend.)

  179. My tip – don’t plant all your seeds at once. I plant one row of green beans one week, another ten days later and another ten days after that. You will have beans all summer and your friends will love you more than usual when you bring them fresh beans each week!

  180. place beer in left over tuna cans — a really good way to get rid of snails. it works and no chemicals in the yard (maybe a few belches!).

  181. Find a friend that wants to learn, hand her/him the hoe and show them where the “start” button is.
    Sit back,tea glass in hand, and gently instruct away.

  182. Don’t create more beds than you are willing to care for. This includes edging and mulching in the spring, plus watering and weeding on the hottest summer day. Lovely gardens are a commitment and the lack of time (or will) to keep them looking good will not improve your outlook or your property value.

  183. share your bounty , daily.
    give away bouquets of flowers to unsuspecting friends in need of some beauty.

  184. Keep records! It’s not too hard to draw a little diagram and note what you planted. You’ll thank yourself come spring!

  185. Wow – great tips in here! My tip is to plant tomato plants both in your garden and one or two in a self watering planter. I put Early Girl in my planters here in New England and keep the planter in the sunny part of my patio and get tomatoes early in the season and then feast on the ones that mature later in my garden throughout late summer.

  186. One of my favorite things about gardening is rooting cuttings from plants. It’s the best kind of recycling!

  187. Plant fish heads under your tomatoes, along with some crushed eggshells. And don’t water your tomatoes until you see them a bit droopy in the morning. It works!

  188. To grow huge pumpkins … take a small cup (like a Dixie cup) of sweet syrup (sugar water) and submerge it next to the pumpkin so the top is level with the ground. Make a small slit in the pumpkin vine. Take a pick of wick and submerge it in the sugar water. Place the other end in the slit of the vine. The sugar water will make the pumpkin grow much larger than the average variety.

  189. Don’t water your plants if at all possible. Plant
    drought tolerant, preferably native plants to your area.

  190. Let your kids help choose the seeds, lay out the garden plan, etc. It gives them a vested interest in the garden and makes them a whole lot more willing to eat the produce.

  191. Weeding is a great thing to do when you’re otherwise having a bad day. And hire someone else to mow the lawn, so you can concentrate on the fun stuff!

  192. I have raised beds and I have rabbit wire stapled to the bottom of the edging boards so gophers and shrews can’t tunnel up and get the plants. They can prune the roots a bit, but the plants can still grow.

  193. I’m a great believer in recycling. We saved the bricks from when we dismantled our old chimney and used them to edge the garden beds. My muscles are still sore from swinging a hammer to chip the old mortar off the bricks! We save the prunings from our apple tree and then use them to construct trellises for our peas, tipis for the beans, and stakes for the tomatoes.

  194. Beware cherry tomatoes. They spread. And, your significant other could decide they need to be peeled and canned and enlist your help!

  195. Let your sunflowers go to seed on the stem. Next year–more sunflowers without ever planting a seed.

  196. My best gardening tip: When in doubt, Google it. I have to admit I’m not much of a gardener, so Google helps me find out what I’m supposed to be doing with all the plants my husband put in our yard.

  197. Mulch to help keep weeds to a minimum and keep moisture in soil. I use grass clippings. They add to soil mix too.

  198. Well, I dont have any gardening tips really, except to pull the weeds. I am a horrible gardener, but am on a mission to get better at it this year. And I love to read. THis sounds like a great book for our book club to read. Cant wait to read it now.

  199. My best tip is to buy Liquid Fence by the gallon to keep deer and bunnies from devastating your gardens and trees. We have a herd/flock of 4/6/8 deer in our backyard forest and they will eat everything. What the deer don’t like, the bunnies will devour. Liquid Fence is the answer. My neighbor made the “homemade lots cheaper LF” and the deer loved it. Spend the money, get the stuff that works.

  200. Compost, compost, compost. Good for the garden, good for the environment. We have a lovely crockery compost container in the kitchen, and even as I post, my husband is out mixing things into this glorious compost heap.

  201. I think I need to read this book to figure out how to leave my job and garden more often. Since I don’t have much time for gardening, and live in an area where the tomatoes I love don’t thrive, my advice is to plant pretty perennials and bulbs and join a CSA.

  202. It’s already been mentioned, but the one tip I know is to plant tomato plants DEEP – they’re much sturdier that way. (and perhaps more prolific? don’t know about this since I don’t plant them shallow)
    Thanks for the giveaway, and the opportunity to get really great gardening tips!

  203. Once established,(it only takes about two weeks!!!) thistles can be nearly impossible to get rid of…Try a white-vinegar and water solution in a spray bottle and give those thistles (and/or any other unwanted plants) what for. (I use a half-gallon plastic milk jug with the bottom cut out to target the offending plant/s…Just spray through the lid opening.) The vinegar spray kills just about anything so you don’t want to accidentally spray the heirloom tomatoes. This is a cheap and green alternative to expensive, poisonous weed killers.

  204. Never plant tomatoes right next to broccoli. I learned the hard way that they might grow, but will not produce well at all! When I did it, I got no broccoli and only the tomato plants furthest away produced and they were puny. Apparently, those plants are incompatible. Nice to know I can still be taught!

  205. Last summer I put two cucumber plants in a large pot on the front porch, next to a vertical post. I spiraled a strand of cheap acrylic (indestructable)yarn up the post and the vines zoomed up the yarn and kept in me delicious cukes all summer.

  206. Plant something edible (for me, blueberries, strawberries, and an apple tree) in your front yard. You’ll get to know more of your neighbors, especially the younger ones who will delight in the produce and visit you often. Don’t count on a big harvest for yourself, but it will be very satisfying to share it with others.

  207. Planting Asiatic or Oriental lilies? Plant some garlic in the same bed: wards off the dreaded (and deadly!) Red Lily Leaf bug. it works! Honest!

  208. My best gardening tip is to spend time in your garden every day.
    You get to see the small changes as the plants grow, and tasks like “weed everything before the weeds take over for good” can be broken down into pieces, like “weed the beans before they are strangled by the morning glory”.
    You also get to pick every single fruit and vegetable at its prime.

  209. Do not plant bamboo unless you’re willing to pay for remvoing the roots from adjacent parking lot and having to repave that parking lot! Bamboo escapes its barriers! Lesson learned the hard way.

  210. Coffee shops (such as St*rbucks) often save their grounds for folks to pick up for FREE! Use liberally in your compost…

  211. Mulch in & around rose bushes with coffee grounds.

  212. I’m a hapless gardener who gets the bug every spring, only to rediscover each late summer that my niche is to give those local farmers business. My gardening tip? Know thy limits. If you’re like me, plant the easy, early stuff, then as the summer really gets cooking, shop the Farmer’s Market!
    Love your blog, Kay and Ann. And, the book looks wonderful.

  213. My number one gardening tip? Read Mel Bartholomew’s “All New Square Foot Gardening,” and follow his advice/instructions. It will Change. Your. Life! (At least, your gardening life.)

  214. I have a dorm room gardening tip. Take over the tiny window sill before your roommate does! I have a row of herbs growing on mine and they make a ton of difference in the atmosphere of dorm life. Our room seems less institutional and I can make really delicious food from scratch or add some sorely needed fresh flavor to cafeteria food. You (or your kid) will feel so proud to have grown something for themselves in that tiny little prison, I mean room. Also, if they start looking puny, call your mama!

  215. Good, old fashioned horse manure (#1 best thing)! An acquaintance brought me a truck load of freshly shoveled stall contents and even installed it in my raised beds. When it came tomato time we planted roma variety tomatoes seed started from Park Seed Company in Greenville, SC (#2 best thing). I have never seen such beautiful tomato plants, but that does not begin to describe the tomatos! We had sacks and sacks of tomatoes to give away, freeze, use in sauces, and just eat in salads.

  216. Oh gosh. I have such a black thumb, so I’m out of the running, but the quote, “And I shall have some peace there,” comes from the WB Yeats poem “The Lake Isle of Innisfree”:
    I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
    And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
    Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
    And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
    And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
    Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
    There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
    And evening full of the linnet’s wings.
    I will arise and go now, for always night and day
    I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
    While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
    I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
    My family’s house is Vermont is named Innisfree for it. Three generations have spent summers there, and it is the heart of my home.
    My siblings and I read that poem at my father’s funeral, one verse each. I had the last verse. I’m not sure how we got through it, but I’m glad we did.

  217. If it’s not working, rip it out! Tough love. No guilt gardening is the only way to go. (OK, if you can’t just get rid of it, give the plant to someone who can use it.)

  218. Last summer I went out every evening after work and dusted every Japanese beetle I could find with diatomaceous earth. In person. “Die!!” Gradually there were fewer and fewer of them. This year, when it’s time for them to emerge from the ground, I’m going to dust the ground. Will be interesting to see the results… not that they won’t be flying in from other peoples’ yards, but still.

  219. Don’t over think it; just do it. Dragging little packets of seed around in your purse won’t produce much in the results department.

  220. My gardening tip:
    Even if you’re a neat freak with OCD, when your kid says he wants to help in the garden, get him a wee shovel, a hoe, and a rake, and let him get dirty. REALLY dirty. Help him run his hands through the soil. Put his rainboots on, make a muddy patch, and let him stomp until there’s so much mud on the bottom of the boots that he’s three inches taller than he was before. Laugh about it. Don’t worry about it. And while he’s bathing, sing him that camp song you remember, “Inch by inch, row by row…”
    Because a year later, it will be gardening season again, and he’ll actually BE three inches taller, and instead of asking you if he can help, he’ll sing the song to your newborn son, his baby brother, and it will be the best moment of your life. So far.

  221. Put cut up banana around your roses. They love it!! Also, put in left over fish bones.

  222. as you plant bulbs in the fall…do it with your mother so when they bloom in the spring, you can think of the very happy day you planted them with her. i also remember wanting to stop after the first two dozen, but she continued on. they are pokeing up throught the ground now, and i am looking forward to seeing tulips for years to come!

  223. If you have even a small patch of shade available, plant a few ferns and some impatiens, and keep a chair nearby to drag into the shade. When you’re working outside on a hot day, retreat to your shade garden at least once an hour. Sit and look at the ferns while you have a drink, and you’ll feel totally rejuvenated.

  224. Plant bulbs, spring, summer, fall – even if all that ever happens is that the foxes get a delicious treat!

  225. Live next door and across the street from neighbours who love to garden and hate to see your garden neglected. They will teach your youngest the joys of gardening as they know it’s too late for you. Pray they don’t move. Oh, and do not get a Blue Heeler.

  226. Since I kill plants regularly, my only tip would be to let someone else do the gardening.

  227. Beware cherry tomatoes. They spread. And, your significant other could decide they need to be peeled and canned and enlist your help!

  228. i think that some japanese people use chopsticks to remove bugs from their plants. I do not do that. However, several times a day, i go out to the garden and lightly WHACK on the tomato plants so that the bugs fall off….
    i also light a candle under the leaves on trees with hairy caterpillar babies on them… those hairy caterpillars can really do some damage if they come into contact with skin…

  229. Plant banana peels at the base of your rose plants. The roses either love the potassium or enjoy the instant compost. This works for my roses.

  230. I hope this isn’t already said in the many comments before! But, if you have a problem with cats roaming around your flower beds and using them as a litter box, take your used coffee filter with the grounds still in it and lay it in the garden. No more cat visits!

  231. Compost! I make mine with grass clippings, veggie peels, leafs, and lots of goat manure.

  232. Organic rose fertilizer: Add 1/4 cup alfalfa meal to a gallon of water. Let sit over night to make a “tea”. Add 1 Tbsp epsom salt & 1 oz Hasta-Gro. Mix and pour mixture on rose. Follow with water. Roses love it!

  233. Use your front flower beds for vegetables! That’s what I’m doing this year in my new rent house. For now, everything looks pretty and green. Not sure what we’ll do once the Texas heat fries everything, though.

  234. Plant what is native to the area! Living in a semi-arid area makes this especially valid. It means you won’t merely be planting appetizers for the wildlife to feed on, and you can afford your water bill. Hint: Blue grass is NOT a native high prairie grass, nor are tulips.

  235. Best tip: visit the garden every morning for even a short stroll to see what’s new, weed a bit, and start the day centered.

  236. Love egg shells… water your indoor plants with with hard boiled egg water. water (cooled). grind eggshells in coffie grinder and scatter on soil.

  237. Do something “crazy.” I don’t like the color orange, but one spring I picked up a pack of nasturtium seeds along with my usual pink, red, and blue types. As I was planting the other seeds, I kept thinking about throwing the nasturtium pkt away. But I ended up needing seeds for the last four feet along my front walk. Well…was I ever surprised. I still don’t like orange, but I fell in love with those nasturtiums!

  238. Always, always, always plant mint in pots or you will have it everywhere-I learned this the hard way!

  239. I probably should wear gardening gloves, but usually I like the feel of the soil and also find most gloves clumsy. But then I have gardeners’ nails with hard to remove dirt. So before going out for a barehanded session I dig my nails into a bar of soap. The soap under my nails keeps dirt from getting in really deep and helps with the wash up when I am done.

  240. “Lasagna Gardening”, by Patricia Lanza! Super easy and works in large or small spaces….

  241. Take those tomato cages (which are useless for tomatoes) turn them upside down over your pepper plants, cut off the three spikes and use them as the ground anchor on the cages.

  242. My tip is to plant native species. They look kind of rowdy and unkempt sometimes, but they tolerate a lazy gardener (me!) and comeback stronger than ever the next year!

  243. Sprinkle some food-grade diatomaceous earth (actually powdered, microscopic fossil shells) on the soil where snails lurk. The gritty stuff annoys their slimy selves.

  244. I put brown paper grocery sacks on the ground before I layer on mulch. This really reduces future weeding!

  245. 1 – mulch raised beds. dang but it really helps and keeps the weeds down. cover those puppies with all the autumn leaves you can find.
    2 – the black and decker alligator is the best garden tool i own. and felco clippers, but the alligator is magic.

  246. We laid old newspapers between rows in the vegetable garden to deter some weed growth, and it worked well!

  247. I buy a 4″ primrose weekly at store in early spring & place on table in basket for 4-7 days in house for the bloom. Then place out of doors around our cherry tree, for years of bloom. Dead head weekly and the primrose will bloom near year round in Seattle area!

  248. We used to call my mother the “Yard Weasel”, and the best thing I’ve ever done for my garden is invite my mom to visit. Unfortunately, she has dementia/Alzheimer’s now, and I guess I’ll have to replace her gardening magic for my own child!
    My only other advice is to start small, so you don’t become overwhelmed.
    Knit on!

  249. I love Lasagna Gardening too – it was a great way to start gardening without tilling on North Carolina clay! My new favorite garden is a Square Foot Garden (All New Square Foot Gardening: Grow More in Less Space by Mel Bartholomew). It combines the ease of reach with a 4’x4′ space, great soil mixture in a raised bed, and intensive gardening practices so each garden can produce 16 different “crops” at a time. Easy to build too. I put a chicken wire “lid” on mine to keep out rabbits, deer, and cats.

  250. Don’t forget to open a door or window in your greenhouse when it is sunny. It will get too hot inside and you will end up with crispy critters.
    Francis

  251. put grass clippings around the base of the tomato plants. don’t know why, but it makes the best compost for the tomatoes. (an old italian gardener told me this years ago and i’ve done it ever since). Grow basil- why? because the smell is delightful. Grow bee balm (monarda didyma) – because is’s beatiful!

  252. bamboo!
    i don’t grow it, but a girlfriend of mine does, so not only do i have a yarn stash, but i also have a bamboo stash. (here i believe, i could get extra points for incorporating knitting and gardening??)
    i love to make garden structures with my bamboo – i’ve made tomato towers for growing the vining inderterminate types, and shade structures for my scarlet runner bean/morning glory vines.
    and isn’t there such thing as bamboo yarn? (more points….)

  253. Pre-sprouting seeds in wet paper toweling before officially sowing them.

  254. No matter how eager you are to start planting, first, take a lot of time to nurish and prepare the soil. It’ll be worth it!

  255. I save teabags after using them. I open them up and sprinkle the leaves around my house plants. Scratch them into the soil. A natural compost. You can also toss whole tea bags and coffee grounds into your compost pile.

  256. Blossom end rot is caused by lack of calcium in the soil, not acidic soil, so I add a regular drugstore calcium tablet to the soil when I plant my transplants. I have slightly alkaline soil due to all the maple trees in my area. And the clay.

  257. When you plant your tomato plants, don’t “water them in” with a fish emulsion solution. Raccoons will yoink them right out, looking for that fish they think is under there somewhere.

  258. My hands get so dry when I am gardening, and then (gasp!) can snag my yarn! I keep them soft by applying thick lotion (aquaphor is my favorite) and then a pair of hospital gloves, followed by my gardening gloves. The hospital gloves keep the dirt from under my nails, protect my hands from the drying effects of soil, and make the lotion soak in. Try it!

  259. Use your core muscles (interior abdominals) to avoid back strain.
    I’m loving reading everyone’s tips. I garden, but I’m not very good at it!

  260. I use old/cheap panty hose cut into strips to stake tomatoes as they get tall and start bearing fruit. The nylons have give so the stalks don’t bend and crimp.

  261. No matter how your garden grows, enjoy and savor it. Relish the earth and the nutrients it offers. Appreciate the sounds and smells of the garden and its surrounds. Forgive the weeds just doing their thing. Learn from the animals that feed on your garden. No shaking your fist at the sky when it rains too little or too much. Soak up the warmth of the sun on your face and body. Gardens are microcosms that teach about the interlacing of nature and places where peace can be found.

  262. Make time to enjoy your garden – don’t let it become a chore! Weeds are beautiful and usefult too!

  263. Put used teabags at the base of Sunflowers. The tannin is great for them and the insulation the teabags give for some reason helps them grow big and strong.

  264. Invest in a rain barrel and use the rainwater to water your garden.

  265. Be sure to clean up the garden early….before all of those pesky weeds take over the perennial bed!

  266. If you don’t already have one, start a compost pile, and then use the composted remains. Dig it in the soil, mulch with it, or make a tea and water your potted plants with it. Black gold!

  267. Don’t eat the broccoli, the worms are the same color. Guess how I know :^}

  268. Keeping ants out of strawberries witout using pesticide. Soak cotton balls in sugar water and bromine mixture. Place cotton balls in margarine container with holes punched in sides. The ants will go after the cotton balls, get bromine on them and take the poison back to their nest to die. I think they might spread poison to other ants.

  269. remember to rotate your crops. and always wear gloves!

  270. I save my coffee grounds and sprinkle them around my plants to get rid of slugs. I had a bad problem with slugs eating some of my hostas, got this hint, and no more slugs.

  271. Do something every day. Not just on the weekends.

  272. For healthy tomato plants, put a couple of tablespoons of Epsoms Salts down in the hole you dig and mix into the dirt. Bury tomato plants deep; pull off the bottom leaves, leaving just the top. This will give them a good root system. We do love our tomatoes! Thanks for the contest.

  273. Choose Proven Winners plants for annuals and fertilize them constantly. They produce far more bloom than any other plant. I have 13 windowboxes on my roofdeck and the floral abundance is photographed from passers-by below and my secret is simply constant fertilizing with a Miracle Grow Bloom booster. It’s amazing the difference it makes!

  274. My favourite tip: plant flowers that which smell lovely. I find lavender and russian sage to be a great pick me up.

  275. We have heavy clay soil here, so my best tip is to start by mixing peat moss and manure into the soil before planting.

  276. don’t plant delicious herbs where the deer will find them :(

  277. Find what will grow in your area, in your dirt, and keep at it until it grows. I live in an apartment building, and it took me 3 years to find some bulbs that would live in the beds next to the building. But I found them, and they are gorgeous right now!

  278. Weed. And water. And use lots of bark to keep the water in, if you live in the desert (as I do.) A good bit of manure on the rhubarb early in the season helps, as well.
    And then get a good backrub from someone who feels guilty about all the weeding he has not helped you do.

  279. My best tip is to buy a house with beautiful, wild style beds already in place. Then maintaining is the main work. This has worked beautifully for us.
    My second best tip is avoid grass as much as possible. This allows one to pick up and leave for a few days in the grass growth season without fear of wrath from the neighbors. This tip is handy when one’s husband calls (from the other side of the world) and says, “Hey babe, why don’t you get on a plane tomorrow.” Then one only has to buy a ticket, do the laundry and call the security company.

  280. Potatoes can catch fire!
    I grew potatoes in raised bed garden last year. Had a great harvest of little, tasty taters. A month later, stepped out into my garden at sunset and smelled burning rosemary and basil. “Ahhhh, what a great smell. My neighbors must be cooking out,” I thought. NO – the unharvested taters had smoldered underground and had finally reached full-fledged ignition. I was up all night, hosing down the trough with water and feeling around for hotspots. Nobody ever mentioned this little possibility. So, as a public service, I pass it along to my knitting friends.

  281. I didn’t read through everybody’s tips, so I don’t know if this is a repeat, but you can take the hair from your hairbrush and put it at the base of your flowers, and it will keep the squirrels and other critters away from destroying your plantings!

  282. My advice to is add nutrients to the soil (organic) that will feed the plants in the long-run and then water with liquified fertilizers in the short-term. That way your plants will always have what they need.

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