Rafed English

Gardening Improvisation Tips

Little tips and tricks here and there can make gardening easier. Master gardener Paul James offers suggestions to help solve some of your gardening problems:

  • Shoveling is hard work, but it's often even harder when clay soil sticks to the shovel, forcing you to stop and scrape off the clay. The solution? Rub a light coat of floor or car wax over the metal surface with a cloth and buff lightly. Waxing also prevents rust from forming and even prevents snow from sticking to snow shovels.

  • Apply a light coat of wax to your mower's metal and plastic surfaces and buff well with a clean, dry cloth. The wax will protect the mower from the elements and prevent grass clippings and dirt from sticking to it, which makes cleanup a breeze.

  • To keep track of your long-handled tools when working in the garden, cut a 4- to 6-inch wide piece of PVC pipe to a length of about four feet. In an out-of-the-way spot in or near your garden, dig a hole with a post-hole digger about a foot deep. Place the pipe in the hole and pack soil around it. Put your tools in the pipe, and you'll always know where they are. You can also paint the pipe brown or green to blend in with its surroundings. To keep leaves out of the pipe when you're not working in the garden, top off the pipe with a PVC cap.

  • Use an old golf bag to carry long-handled tools to and from the garden. Some golf bags have a built-in stand, which makes grabbing tools a breeze. You can use the pockets on the bag to hold all sorts of gardening items as well as various refreshments.

  • Use a bucket or basket to carry hand tools.

  • To make an old rain gauge easy to read from a distance, just add a few drops of food coloring. Each time you empty the gauge, add a few fresh drops and occasionally change the color.

  • To remember where you want to plant spring-flowering bulbs in the fall or early winter, first determine exactly where you want the bulbs to go. Then dig individual planting holes at the proper spacing for the bulb you have in mind. Place four-inch plastic pots in the holes up to their rims, and fill each with the excavated soil. Next fall, planting will be as simple as removing each pot, placing a bulb in the hole, and covering the hole with soil in the pot. Make sure you plant the pots so that they are barely above soil level so you won't run over them with the lawnmower. This is a great way to ensure that next year you will get those bulbs in the ground on time.

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