The Shire Garden” Gardener Hints,” is a collection of this gardener’s years of proven hints on everything to gardening. Home remedies to folk-lore and more. If you have a home-grown hint please send it along, I’d love to try it out.

1) Keep it Clean;

Use a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach and 1 quart of water. this mix can be used to disinfect and clean your tools and pots as well as for algae and mildew on walk ways and any other hard surface. Do not apply to plant materials.

2) House Plant Care;

Water once a week till water runs from the base of the pot.

Fertilize every two weeks in the summer and in the winter fertilize in low diluted amounts or not at all,so that weak winter growth is minimal and will make for a better spring transition.

Also increase humidity with a weekly misting or place a tray of gravel and water amongst the plants.

3) The Big ( 3 ), N. P. K.

N, nitrogen – for vegetative growth.

P, phosphorus – for strong roots and stems.

K, potassium – for flowers and seed and fruit.

A balance fertilizer has equal parts of all three (3).

An imbalance fertilizers are used for needed areas of plant improvement.

Wise Note; In the winter when the moon is over head watch for where the shadows fall upon the ground for pruning out summer shade.

4) Home made pesticide and fungicide:

Puree 6 garlic cloves in a blender with 5 hot chili peppers and 2 cups of ( H2o ) water, strain and pour in to a misting bottle and add a few drops of liquid soap, this helps it to stick to the plant material. This will keep most pests of all types and diseases away, apply after rain or overhead watering.

Wise Note;       Spray in May – Prune in June

House plants; save the water from cooking pasta and veggies, let it cool and use it when watering – good stuff

5) Critter control, Mice dislike the smell of peppermint, use plenty in areas of problem. Voles and moles dislike castor oil. Mix 3 parts castor oil to 1 part dish liquid soap. 4 table spoons of this mix to a gallon of water and soak their tunnels and holes.

Folk Lore –  If the oaks bud earlier than the ash tree, it will be a wet summer; however if the ash buds first, it will be dry in July and August.

6) The common practice of putting fertilize directly in the bottom of a planting hole can be fatal to most newly planted plant, wait a month so roots can establish and the plant starts to grow. Most plants are fed at the nursery and have enough to get them started however if they come dry root still wait to feed.

7) Always raise any planters, pots or boxes off the ground, wood or stone surfaces to allow for better drainage and heat control and will keep ground surfaces clean. Small bricks or wood blocks work well for this.

8) Rotate vegetables in the garden each year. This way you will avoid soil borne diseases. Tomatoes are susceptible to verticillium wilt, this remains in the soil over the winter and will affect future crops.

9)  Don’t pull a plant by its stem out of its pot. Coax it out by sliding a knife around the outer edge of the pot, and gently tap the bottom of the pot and slide the plant out.

10) When planting in the garden try to choose a cloudy or soft rainy day. This is the best condition for exposed roots and lessons sun scorch to new foliage.

11) When watering the lawn or garden do so either in the morning or late afternoon to avoid evaporation and sun scorch on foliage and water for a longer period of time to encourage a deeper root system.

12 )Tomato’s split is common in the height of the growing season and are fine to harvest and eat. This happens as the fruit is growing faster than the skin.

13) The luckiest thing for the garden is a corner can be a stone of any kind, shape, size and color but must be in a corner. It is said to help curve the growing energy making for good growth and over all health of the garden. Who am I not to believe this, so the stone stays and the garden continues to do well.

14) Plant basil with your tomato’s, it is said that it helps keep insects away, if any thing they smell good together.

15) A Garden Prayer; May the sun shine sweetly and the rain fall often and may all the flowers and fruit be more.

16) Don’t fertilize at the time of planting, the practice of putting fertilizer directly in the planting hole can be fatal to most newly planted plants. Wait till the plants roots start to reestablish then fertilize.

17) Loosen the roots of a container grown plant before planting, this helps to reestablish new root growth, making for a happier plant.

18) If pollen should get on your clothing don’t try to wash or rub it off, use sticky tape or a soft brush to get it off without staining,

19) The term ” limbing up” is the removal of lower branches of a mature tree.

20) The term ” deadheading” means the removal of spent flower heads before they go to seed. It also encourages more bloom.

21) A tool saver; plunge your hand tools, pruners, weeders, knifes and trowels in a bucket of sand with a little oil in it this will clean their surfaces and the oil will keep them rust free.

22) A PH test kit home-made, buy some litmus paper, found in your local pharmacies a color scale should come with it. Mix distilled water and soil sample in a clean jar making a slurry. Dip the end of the litmus paper in the jar and find the PH by matching the color on the paper to the scale color.

23) Poisonous foliage; Buttercup, Datura, Delphinium, diffenbachia, foxglove, iris, monkshood, oleander, Philodendron, poinsettia, potato, rhubarb, rue and tomato.

24) Leaves make the best mulch for the garden, mow over the leaves to grind them up or shred them in a shredder, multiple types of tree leaves are best but not necessary. use as mulch in the garden or add to the compost they break down faster this way.

25)Grow mint in containers to contain its spreading habit, it will winter outside this way for years.

26) Winter pruning should not happen when temps are 30 degrees or below, the plants don’t heal and once the temp rises they weep and the healing is slower. Prune in 40 to 32 degrees in the winter this is ideal. If you must prune use a sealer to protect the cuts.

27) Winter snows are known as poor mans fertilizer, this is true as a lot of what is in the air is caught in the snow and melts into the soil. Pray for snow but only during the dead of winter where its insulation qualities are also needed.

28) Start seeds in late February and mid March for head start on summer bloom and fruit, plant during the waxing moon, just before the full moon.

29) January and February are great time to force spring-flowering branches into bloom, cut various apple, pear, Quince, forsythia, etc., and place in a pail of warm water and allow buds to swell then recut and place in favorite vase to enjoy a touch of spring early. A great up lift for long winters.

30) A walk in the winter garden reminds us that in stillness lies strength in knowing of the great things to come.

31) When Mercury is retro walk through the garden counting backwards from 50, you will find your communications will be better during this retro time frame. ( it works)

32) If you forgot to water your potted plant and it its soil really dries out, the water will just run through it without getting to the roots, stand the pot in a container of water for 10 to 20 min to soak the soil thoroughly.

33) biological fertilizer – mix in equal parts, horn chips, dried blood and bone meal -they contain phosphorus, potassium and just a small amount of nitrogen. Use 2 table spoons per 4 cups of soil.

34) Tip to check if your house plants need deep watering, Tapping on the clay or plastic pot with the handle or a spoon will help, a high pitch the soil is dry, low muffled tone the soil is moist.

35) New clay pots should be soaked over night in water, they will then be ready to be filled with soil.

36) To clean older clay pots of lime deposits and dried moss, soak in 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water mixed for 24 hours.

37) A basic knowledge of botany is one of the tools of a very successful gardener, when you are familiar with the growth processes of the plants you choose and of the mature size, you understand how it all works to avoid mistakes.

38) Basic rule for fertilizing: Supplying too many nutrients is often more harmful than too little.

39) To control Slugs in a safe way without using up all your beer, spread bran and or wood shavings around your problem plants, they dislike crawling across this. It Works.

40) When choosing color for the garden, start with 3 colors that pair well together and use it repeatedly throughout the garden, thus the garden visually walks with your eye, and a pleasant balance is met.

41 ) A foggy morning is usually the forerunner of a clear afternoon.

42 ) If it begins to rain after seven in the morning, it will continue to do so all day, and may also be an indication that it will rain for three more days.

43 ) Pennyroyal will repel flies, fleas and mosquitoes.

44 ) Chives, garlic and marigolds if planted between rows of peas and lettuce and hills of cucumbers and squash will help keep down aphids and cucumber beetle’s under control.

45) Indian Prayer; Thank the Lord for the Harvest, Bless the work of our hands.

46) To keep cut flowers longer in your vase, keep the water fresh with a small aspirin, or teaspoon of sugar.

47) More complex flowers like hydrangea when used as a cut flower, the stem should get a long slant cut and be placed in very warm water, this moves more water faster to the flower.

48) Always try to cut your garden flowers in the coolest time of the day or on cloudy days.

49) If your flower vases get hard to get out stains, use baking soda and water or denture cleaner to get them out safely.

50) The best time to dry hydrangea is in September, they keep their color longer. tie in small bunches and hang them in a warm dark place till stiff and dry, then if you like use hair spray on them to help with dust control.

51) Create a soaker hose: make a water saving soaker hose by punching holes in a old garden hose and screw a cap on the end to stop the water. If the cap dosen’t fit been the hose end back onto it self and duct tape them together to stop the water.

52) Turn your rake into a yard stick, mark your rake handle in 1 inch intervals. The next time you need to measure the distance between plants or what ever, you’ll be ready.

53) Keep track of your tools with wrapping the handles with brightly color tape so you will see them if you miss place them in the garden.

54) Fight Fungus with Cinnamon: When planting cuttings dip the stem end in cinnamon, which prevents fungus and acts as a rooting hormone.

55) Kill weeds with vinegar: Spray weeds directly with plain distilled vinegar, but make sure you don’t spray it on other plants.

56) Repel Pests with Citrus peels: to keep cats and other pest out of the plants in the garden, place orange/ lime/ lemon peels around your plants.

57)  Keep rabbits and other rodents out mix a few drops of mint oil to a spray bottle of water, spray on areas you don’t want them in. Once they change their habits you’ll be safe for a while. reapply after rain. this smell better than other repellents.

58) For fun plant early flowering crocus bulbs in circles in your lawn and tell people they are Fairy Rings.

59) Pick up and keep small sticks and branches that have fallen during winter storm and burn them in your fire pit. After the ashes cool turn them in the garden beds and watch your flowers and plants grow.

60) Smudging your garden with sage twice a year brings clean energy back to the garden.