We’ve been gardening for 10 years. We started off small, but now have a large garden growing strawberries, rhubarb, cucumbers, cantelope, butternut squash, zucchini, peppers, broccoli, beans, peas, tomatoes, lettuce, carrots and pumpkins.
We have learned quite a bit over the years. I thought I’d share some tips that we have learned to help you out as well.
(I know I’m a bit late in the game, but I haven’t had time to get these down before now. Now that our garden is finally completely planted that is.)
- Grow vines up trellises. We grow all of our cucs, cantelope and squashes up trellises. This saves a TON of space in your garden and also yields more evenly grown produce. It also helps keeping pesky animals from easily eating your produce (especially cantelope!).
- For heavy produce (like cantelope or butternut squash) grown up a trellis, use old pantyhose to tie onto the trellis. Cut the leg of the pantyhose and slip the produce into the toe. Tie the other end to the trellis so that the produce still has room to grow, but won’t weigh down the plant or break off the stem too early.
- Build a cage around your strawberry patch. My husband built one out of PVC piping and chicken wire. If you have a big patch, I would suggest building a cage with a separate top so that you only have to remove the top to pick the crop rather than the whole cage.
- Strawberries go bad quickly, especially if they are next to other strawberries. One way to keep them good longer is to store them in egg cartons in the fridge. Don’t wash them or cut off the stems until you’re ready to eat them.
- We were so tired of spending every weekend all summer weeding the garden. So we covered our entire garden (except for our strawberry patch and one other square for rhubarb, carrots and lettuce) with plastic and then cut holes where we wanted to plant. We’ve had the same plastic down for 2 years and it’s been a lifesaver. This year my husband is covering it with (free) mulch to make it look nicer.
- You can get free “mulch” from tree trimming companies. Find out who the city uses for tree trimming and ask for free mulch. It’s not beautiful, dark mulch that costs a ton of money, but it does the same thing. And it’s free.
- Cover smaller plants that need a bit of protecting still with plastic 2 liters. Cut off the bottom of the bottle and carefully place over your plant (or seeds) and press lightly into the ground, enough that it won’t blow away in a storm. Besides giving it a bit of protection from the weather, it creates a little greenhouse and does wonders for plant starts! (If it’s early in the spring, keep the top on. As it gets hotter, take the top off so the plants don’t bake.)
- Put on your tomato cages now, before your plants are too big and you break branches by trying to stuff them in the cages.
- I can’t stand gardening gloves. They are always too big and I can’t feel anything through them. But I also HATE having dirt stained hands for 2 days after I garden/weed. Instead, wear disposable kitchen gloves – you know, the kind some women wear while doing dishes? They are AWESOME for gardening!
- Lastly, save seeds from your current crop to use for plant starts next year. Let them dry on your countertop first, then place in paper envelopes. Don’t forget to label them!
I hope this helps you this summer and next. If you have another tip, please share!!!