February is upon us and if your an avid gardener like I am you have already started to design your garden plan. You have taken the time to take pencil and paper and detail every square foot of your available space. Spring is on it's way and your getting anxious to get growing again. Here are my top ways for making your gardening life easier and hopefully more productive as you get ready to get out there and do what spring gardeners do. Enjoying the garden every step of the way.
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Step 1: #1 Keep a Garden Journal
Keeping a garden journal is probably the most important thing I do every year. Not only can I see the layout of last years garden plan, but also see which types of plants did well or ones that didn't do so well. With my journal I can see my crop rotations year by year and guarantee that where my tomatoes were last year means they will be in a different spot this year. Where my peppers were growing last year is not a good spot for my tomatoes this year. I will wait another year before I plant tomatoes where the peppers grew. I can make a list of feedings, and mark a date when I did it. That way I won't overfeed my plantings. You can mark which dates you pulled weeds, watered and did the duties you need to do to keep your garden healthy and happy.
Keeping a journal and committing to it should be an essential tool for every gardener. You can get a great journal from Amazon and here's the one I use.
Step 2: #2 Keep Your Garden Tools Close By
If you have an old fence post and a mailbox you can keep all those garden tools handy by storing them out of the weather and close to your garden for when you need them without having to go out and look for them in the tools shed.
- Bury a post that is 4' long about a foot into the ground, I used an old 4x4" wood post.
- tamp the dirt around it so it is sturdy and won't fall over in extreme weather
- attach the mailbox or newspaper box onto the post
- fill with all your garden tools.
Step 3: #3 Protecting Young Plants From the Weather
Using old gallon milk cartons can act a cloche to protect young plants from unexpected weather
- cut the bottom of the gallon milk jug about 2" from the bottom all the way around it's circumference
- placed around tender young plants burying the bottom about 2" up the side of the jug
- when hot outside remove the milk cap place back on at night
- so you don't lose the cap make a top hole in the center of the cap and put string through the hole and tie a knot.
- Make another small hole in the side of the milk jug, put the string through the hole and tie another knot. when you remove the cap during hot days your cap will still be there if you need to put it back on at night.
Step 4: #4 Rice Water
The next time you cook rice, don't toss the used water down the drain. Instead, use it as a natural fertilizer in the garden. Providing natural minerals for the garden, the rice water is an environmentally safe and chemical-free way to provide nutrients to your plants. Your plants will thank you.
Step 5: #5 Keep Those Coffee Grounds
There are many reasons to use coffee grounds in the garden. One, they are natural slug deterrents, and two, they actually help avoid mold and mildew growth. In addition, grounds are a natural fertilizer and essentially free, since you were probably just going to toss them anyhow.
- Use them as mulch. Simply spread the ground on the ground alongside berry plants and fruit tree's and a sweet mulch is formed. Don't just pile it on or mold will form use sparingly and evenly for the best results.
- They are a natural slug deterrent, slugs hate climbing over coffee grounds
- Side dress heavy feeders, coffee grounds are high in nitrogen ideal for plant soil and nutrition.
Step 6: #6 Give Those Plants That Outdated Milk
Not only is milk good for the body, it's great for the plant as well! Serving as a natural antifungal resource, milk also provides a good amount of nutrients to garden life.