By Shirley D Smith, Somervell County Master Gardener
Don’t know about you, but the sap is starting to flow in my veins and I am ready to start gardening seriously – NOW! But, this is Central Texas and I know from experience that I had better wait just a bit before planting anything outside (unless it is located in one of those microclimates we all have around our homes).
So, I will sit here reading my seed catalogs and gardening magazines making grandiose plans for the upcoming Spring. In the meantime, I would like to share with you some tips and hints that might make things a little easier on you as you garden.
Bunnies eating your winter veggies? When you trim your rose bushes (which date is coming up very soon), put these trimmed, spikey canes around those veggies the rabbits seem to favor to discourage them.
Do you have a stash of smaller (lunch size) paper bags? These make great vessels in which to start seeds. Before you add the soil, first brush the inside of the bags with canola oil, let them dry, then fill with soil. Now, they are ready to accept your newly purchased plant or seeds. When it is time to plant these into the garden, leave the seedling or plant in the bag and plant the entire bag directly into the prepared soil. The bags will decompose over time and the plants take root.
Those big red plastic Folger coffee cans make wonderful catch-alls for using around the garden. They can even be used for plants (after poking several drain holes in the bottom). Free! The built-in handle make them easy to carry.
For those of you who have a wood-burning fireplace, save your cooled, clean wood ashes in a covered trashcan. In early spring, mix 4 dry gallons of ash with ½ cup Epsom salts and sprinkle ½ pound of the dry mixture per 100 square feet of soil around your awakening bulbs. Apply only once a year. Wood ash contains calcium (35%), phosphorus, and potassium. Epsom salts are high in sulfur (13%) and magnesium (10%) which are rapidly utilized by plants.
Are you lucky enough to have asparagus? Spray an awakening bed of asparagus with a mixture of 5 ounces sugar and 1 tablespoon yeast in 1 quart of water to feed the soil and attract beneficial insects that do battle with the injurious asparagus beetle.
Need sun protection for your arms? Take a pair of old, holey socks and cut the foot off. Now, slip them over your wrists and arms to protect not only from the sun, but also to keep anything off your skin that might cause irritation or small cuts.
Keep bunches of long twigs or small branches around to be used as a trellis or stake for your plants and enjoy them as free-form garden sculpture.
“It’s better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” –James Thurber
Source: Trowel & Error – Over 700 Shortcuts, Tips and Remedies for the Gardener by Sharon Lovejoy