Can't grow anything but weeds? Then, you're in need of some major help to flex your green thumb this year. Luckily, we've got some smart tips and tricks to help keep your garden blooming until summer's end. From the best ways to store and organize seeds to keeping track of your gardening gear, this time next year, you'll be a gardening pro.
Essential Gardening Tools, Care, and Storage
Before you start planting, you'll need to make sure you have all the right tools. The necessary equipment could help your garden bloom bigger and brighter than ever. From there, you'll need to keep everything organized and to keep track of the planting and harvesting schedule. In addition to the seeds or seedlings of your choice, we've compiled a list of the basic items you'll need for indoor and outdoor gardens to help you get started:
- Plastic, ceramic, or clay pots
- Stainless steel spades
- Potting mix
- A hoe
- Stainless steel spades
- A Soil Rake
- Stainless steel pruners
- Stainless steel garden fork
- Shovels with hard ash handles
- A sturdy wheelbarrow
Once you've gathered all your tools, clear out a space in the garage, shed, or porch to house everything you need. Any winter-items, such as snow blowers or snow shovels, can be stored in your CubeSmart unit. If you are planning to do a lot of gardening this year, use your DIY skills to build a potting bench to keep your gardening gear organized. But if you don't have a lot of space, here are smart and simple tips to keep track of everything:
- Stash baskets in the garage or on a pantry shelf so the small gardening tools are easy to find when you need them. This way, if you see a branch in need of a quick touch up, or need to repot a plant, you'll always know where the tools are.
- Keep a bucket of clean sand and machine oil to cure tools after each use to prevent rust from building on rust-prone tools such as shovels, garden forks, and hoes. After each use, rinse the tool with water and dry the blasé. Then insert them in the oil/sand mixture. The sand will scour off any excess debris and the oil will coat the metal, retarding rust.
- Store hoes, soil rakes, and other tools with horizontal teeth or blades facing up when they are being stored. For a smarter organizational tip, upcycle an old coffee can to hold long-handled tools. Simply remove the top and bottom of the coffee can and secure it to the garage, shed, or porch wall. Then slip the handles of rakes, shovels and hoes to keep them upright.
Once you've got your tools organized, it's time to begin your gardening adventures. Whether you planning to transform the backyard into a gardening oasis or create a small window garden, these indoor and outdoor can help your garden grow. For more advanced gardeners, check out Garden.org as an additional resource.
Indoor Gardening Tips and Tricks
- Planning to upcycle potting materials from last year? Before potting plants this year, you'll need to remove the salt deposits that form on clay pots. Combine equal parts white vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and water in a spray bottle. Then, apply the mixture to the pot and scrub with a plastic brush. Once finished, let the pot dry before planting.
- Boiling or steaming veggies this summer? For a nutrient-filled treat for your potted plants, use the cooled water to feed them. You'll be amazed at how well they respond to the "vegetable soup."
- If you don't have a lot of space or live in a small apartment, try using these materials to create an urban garden in your home.
Smart Outdoor Gardening Tips and Tricks
- Organize your garden by writing the names of plants – using a permanent marker – on the flat surfaces of stones to create natural plant markers. To maintain your garden, you could use a second stone to keep track of your plants' watering schedules to make sure they stay hydrated all summer long.
- Need a hand measuring? Any long-handled tool can be transformed into a measuring stick. Lie a long-handled garden tool on the ground next to a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. Now whenever you need to space plants a certain distance apart or want to measure the height of your gardening efforts, you'll be instantly ready.
- Protect plants by weeding early and often. Plan to weed five to seven days after sowing, seven to ten days later after that, and a third time three to four weeks after the plant has been planted. Doing so will prevent the plants from getting overpowered by weeds.
Storing the Fruits and Vegetables of Your Labors
- With the above tips, water, and sunlight, your garden will soon be growing better and greener than ever.
- Now that you've grown the goods, it's time to harvest and store them. Preserve the flavor and nutrients of leafy greens, root crops like carrots, and many other vegetables by refrigerating them.
- Shallots and tomatoes should not be chilled. Use hanging wire baskets in your kitchen to keep them fresh and easy to access.
- Dry beans, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, and winter squash stay fresh for months as long as they are stored properly. Keep them a cool, dry place and you'll be able to enjoy them all winter. If you are itching to use your DIY skills, you could always build a root cellar in your basement.
- Don't let any produce go to waste. When preparing meals, freeze any extra unused veggies to supplement a meal later. For example, chopped peppers, cubed summer squash, green beans, or sweet corns can all be stored in sealable plastic bags and stored to supplement vegetable soup.
- One smart way to save on your gardening efforts next year is to save some of the seeds from the fruits and vegetables that you've grown. Make sure the seeds are completely dry before putting them in a sealable bag. Then, label and date the sandwich bag with the name of the plant and storage date. Use a different sandwich bag for each seed type or plant variety. Once finished, put all of the bags into a gallon-sized sealable bag and then place into the freezer. When it's time for planting the seeds next spring, take out the seeds that you plan to use. Let the seeds come to room temperature before putting them into the soil.