100 gardening tips from the newest and latest and best gardening books

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Here are 100 tips from 13 new gardening books; read about those 13 books at www.roomandyard.com.
These books, which cover vegetable gardening, rain gardens, green roof gardening, flower gardening and flowering shrubs are chocked full of valuable information. They make good summer reads and thoughtful gifts for new homeowners.

  1. Spread out your chores; do a little as you go, instead of loading up the weekend.
  2. Stop planting like farmers, all at once; plant what you need, when the season and weather are right. Plant raised beds and containers a little at a time, all year.
  3. Develop a long-term, relaxing garden pursuit such as bonsai or topiary, garden photography, seasonally-appropriate flower arranging, collecting or hybridizing cultivars of a favorite plant, composting, or bee keeping.
  4. Garden for all the senses – wind chimes are as important as nice fragrances.
  5. Right plant, right place - choose pest-resistant plants well-adapted to your local climate and soils, plant them well, and let them grow without being pushed. Try untested new plants in a small area.
  6. Have something in bloom every week, if not every day, of the year. Include plants that bloom in the evening, and notice the hawk moths that visit after dark.
  7. Carefully select and display sculpture or other garden art, for all-year inspiration.
  8. Grow your own – propagate enough plants for you and for friends or neighbors.
  9. Grow your own fruit. Make preserves to share with others.   
  10. Lose some of the lawn, making edges and corners easier to mow with less backing up. Lighten up on the fertilizers and pesticides, enjoy a few wildflowers.
  11. Let some hedges grow informally, instead of keeping everything tightly sheared.
  12. Design your landscape for people-comfort. Include all-weather seating, dry paving, shade in the summer, and wind protection in the winter.
  13. Install a fire pit and waterfall, and use them as occasional relief from television.
  14. When practical, use quiet hand tools over noisy power equipment. Keep digging and cutting tools sharp and efficient.
  15. Get personal with your weather - use a rain gauge and outdoor thermometer.
  16. Enjoy the sun - put up a small clothesline for favorite t-shirts, and make sun tea.
  17. Garden to encourage year-round wildlife. Include a well-stocked bird feeder.
  18. Compost. Better yet, just keep a neat leaf pile, letting it work on its own schedule.
  19. Take it easy on vacation - visit public botanic gardens, and walk around older neighborhoods to savor what is grown locally by hands-on gardeners.
  20. Shop at a farmer’s market for in-season, locally-grown produce.
  21. Take advantage of area garden lectures, seminars, and shows.
  22. Browse good gardening sites on the Internet. Check out recommended links.
  23. Ponder the mysteries of the universe, in the microcosm of your own back yard.
  24. Keep a garden journal, including photographs (digital is fast, easy, inexpensive).
  25. Share relaxing garden techniques and easy, rewarding plants with children
  26. Growing crops of vegetables on a different piece of land each year can help reduce the buildup of soil pests and diseases because many spend winter in the soil, only to reinfect your plants annually.
  27. Soil fertility refers not only to the amount of nutrients soil containers but also to the soil's general health; just one teaspoon of healthy soil contains thousands of fungi, bacteria and other micro-organisms.
  28. Raised beds offer many benefits: easy access and less bending; warmer soil quicker in spring; good drainage; closer planting; attractiveness; and soil that avoids compaction because you walk around in instead of in it.
  29. Most shrubs, spaced properly when planted, need pruning only to slightly shape them as they grow.  Some shrubs, however, need regular pruning to improve their flowering effect so know what your shrubs need for their best performance.
  30. Too deep planting of shrubs and trees causes more death than any other factor. The depth of the hole needs to be only as deep as the pot that holds the plant when you buy it.
  31. When planting a tree or shrub, do not add organic matter under the root ball; you can add light organic matter as you refill the hole with the soil you removed.
  32. To get the best out of your shrubs, mulch with garden compost on a regular basis from year to year.
  33. Before you plan a major landscape project, or do an entire yard, walk around your property to determine if out have micro-climate areas -- sun or shade in certain spots, wet or dry in certain spots. Loo for spots that are different from the main areas.  You can turn a micro-climate into an advantage: the corner of a house may shelter a tender plant from frost or winds; a soggy space can be ideal for bog plants; or a dry, sunny space should be where you plant your herb garden.  Remember, your yard is not the same throughtout its space so learn its personality.
  34. October is the best time to transplant shrubs, trees and perennials to new homes because their roots can get re-established before hot, dry weather arrives again.
  35. Avoid using fresh manure because it will burn your plants. Compost, including sawdust, needs to age.
  36. If you do container gardening, work on your pots where they will finally set. Filling a pot can make it too heavy to move, so work on site.
  37. Do not top a tree because the technique actually weakens the tree's structure. Instead, thin out or remove crossing, rubbing and diseased branches to allow light and air to pass through the tree. A trained arborist can do the best job for you and keep your tree healthy at the same time.
  38. When you use chemicals to kill bad bugs, you also kill good bugs. Instead, opt for organic controls such as soapy water and horticultural oils to smother bad bugs.  Your yard is a living, breathing lifecycle so don't overload it with toxic chemicals.
  39. Keep weed trimmers and whackers away from the trunks of shrubs and trees because the nicking will seriously injure them. Instead, mulch around trees and shrubs for a good look and safer plant.
  40. If you plant on a balcony or another apartment-sized place, plant your veggies in rectangular troughs or containers' situate a simple trellis at the back of the trough to take advantage of the growing space above it. This works for climbing beans or pretty vines.
  41. Resist the urge to plant a clinging vine against a wood-sided house or wooden fence. Moisture becomes trapped by the suction cup-like discs or aerial rootlets, which will eventually cause wood to rot.
  42. If you live in high-wind areas, avoid planting trees that easily break: silver maple, mimosa, willow or poplar.
  43. The best way to use trees and shrubs as windbreaks is to plant them in two or three rows, if you can, putting the tallest in the back.  Use flowering shrubs in the front to add beauty.
  44. It's easy to focus on flowers to brighten a yard or garden, but shrubs, grasses and leaves add interest too.  Other ways to bring color include bark, berries and fall foliage.
  45. When you plant to hide an ugly meter or AC unit, don't plant pokey or spiky things. Meter readers and anyone servicing them will thank you; use soft plants like grasses or nandina, which can be easily pruned, too, and come back nicely.
  46. Remember, a formal design is a high-maintenance design because it usually involved manicured plants that need regular pruning. An informal design is easier to keep and enjoy, so keep it simple but stunning.
  47. Don't plant heat-sensitive plants against a brick wall or a wall with a southern exposure because the wall will heat up and stress the nearby plants. If you do, give the plants supplemental moisture to combat the extra heat.
  48. A specimen plant is a stand-alone beauty that needs nothing around it to be the star of the show. Think Japanese maple as a good one.
  49. Focal points in a garden are eye-catching elements like big boulders (few not many), garden art (big not teeny), artsy gate, trellises, ponds, arbors and fountains.
  50. It may be your property but don't fence it in until you check with your local zoning laws or homeowners' association for specifics on materials, height and such.
  51. No room for a tomato patch? Plant tomatoes between shurbs as long as they receive enough sun and air to thrive.
  52. Vegetables that thrive in part shade are ones that are grown mostly for their leaves: lettuce, spinach and Swiss chard.
  53. To make manure tea, place a sum of aged manure in a piece of old cotton and tie with twine. Steep the bag in a bucket of water for a day or two, and then pour around your prized plants and watch them thrive!  Seaweed extract and fish emulsion are also good sources for the micro-nutrients that manure tea provides; you can find these products at garden centers that feature organics.
  54. Cut your roses back when they are dormant for good blooms and health.
  55. To keep beetles from eating your roses, remove all the blooms and buds before the beetles arrive; when beetle time is gone, let the roses bloom again.
  56. What is pH? It's a scale of 1-14 that measures the acidity and alkalinity in the soil; these elements are important because they influence the nutrition that a plant receives, depending on the plant species. For example, azaleas and gardenias and camellias and roses like acidic soil.
  57. N is nitrogen: It makes leaves and stems green.
  58. P is for phosphorus: It helps develop flowers and fruits.
  59. K is for potassium: It helps develop health root systems and disease-resistant plants.
  60. Know what cold hardy zone you are in before you purchase plants you want to over winter in your yard.  The USDA released a new zone map this year; Hampton Roads is now in Zone 8 and not Zone 7 like it used to be, meaning you can grow more tropical-type plants as perennials. But, local garden centers still say exercise caution in this area.
  61. When you grow a fruit from a seed, it may not taste anything like the parent plant. Fruiting plants usually require the presence of two different varieties of the same plant for cross-pollination to occur, although some new hybrids are self-pollinating. Even so, it's fun to try it!
  62. If you want to try collecting your own seeds, flower seeds are some of the easiest. Most are collected and dried using the dry processing method; flowers set seed after they bloom. To dry them, simple lay them out on paper in a cool, dry spot and let them mature. Keep them in plain white, labeled envelopes.
  63. Green seedpods aren't ripe; don't remove seedpods from the plant until they turn brown. Seeds must mature on the plant in order to grow when they are planted again.
  64. To ensure you don't lose seeds, make a homemade "net" to capture them. Simple cut the feet off a pair of panty hose, just above the ankle. Place the toe over the top of the seedpod, with the ankle danging around the stem. Use twist ties, string or a strip of the discarded part of the pantyhose to secure the bottom of othe material to the plant stem; be careful to not tie it too tight or it may damage the stem. Doing this, you create a little tent that prevents the seeds from dropping to the ground -- and birds won't eat the seeds, either.
  65. Small green roofs can be created anywhere -- top of a garden shed or the top of a fly-through bird feeder or the top of a dog house.  Sedums are the easiest to use.
  66. Old garden roses are classes of roses introduced before 1867.
  67. When you arrange fresh-cut flowers from your garden or favorite farmers' market, put them in unique containers ... old jars, botanical jars, even light fixutures turned upside down. Pottery is pretty, too, especially when its colors accent colors in the flowers.
  68. When arranging fresh-cut flowers, always use fresh, room-temperature or slightly cooler water in a clean vessel.  Cut a clean 45-degree angle so each stem drinks vase water, remove foliage from the potion of the stem that will be under water and display the flowers in a cool area away from direct sunlight.
  69. When you arrange fresh-cut flowers, don't think they have to look perfect. Instead, let them keep each company much like they do in the garden ... informally and in a friendly, cozy manner.
  70. Planning a rain garden is as easy as planning any type of grden' the main difference is the rain garden needs rainwater runoff and that determines what you plant.
  71. Before you dig in your yard, always first get your utilities marked ... for free ... by calling 811 nationally.
  72. Most rain gardens are composed of herbaceous flowering plants, mainly perennials. But, grasses, ferns and woody plants bring year-round interest to the plantings.
  73. Bypass pruners are the best to use because they cleanly cut plant material; anvil pruners crush plant material.
  74. Obedient plant is a beautiful plant but spreads aggressively and should be used with caution in small rain gardens ... or any garden that's moist.
  75. Plants to attract hummingbirds include: columbine, milkweed, lilies, cardinal flower, bee balm, wild petunia, cup plant, asters, blue vervain and blazing star.
  76. Plants to attract butterflies and their caterpillars include: moonshine yarrow, serviceberry, bluestar, milkweed, river birch, hackberry, eastern redbud, tickseed, purple coneflower, joe-pye weed, autumn sneezeweed, iris/blue flags, Virginia sweetspire, spicebush, bee balm, switchgrass, foxglove, phloxes and oak.
  77. Turning a roadside swale or ditch into a native wildflower planting improves water quality by slowing down and absorbing rainwater runoff.
  78. In addition, adding vegetation to a swale that drains into a catch basin cleanses runoff before it enters the storm drain system.
  79. Rain garden plants rarely or seldom damaged by deer include: moonshine yarrow, bugbane, blue star, columbine, milkweed, turtlehead, threadleaf coreopsis, sneezeweed, ostrich fern, cardinal flower, aster, foam flower, goldenrod, maples, serviceberry, river birch, hollies, oaks, bald cypress, viburnums and summersweet.
  80. If you don't have nice deep soil for carrots, try baby or round carrots.  Carrots can also grow in 12-inch deep containers.
  81. After you harvest broccoli, check for cabbage worms lurking in the heads by soaking them in a large bowl of well-salted water for 20 minutes; worms will float to the top.
  82. In August, plan and prep for your fall vegetable garden. Spinach, winter lettuces, collards and scallions are a few of the versatile, easy-grow types.
  83. A quick greenhouse or cold frame can easily be fashioned from old storm windows. They are easy to remove on warm winter/spring days, too, so your seedlings get fresh air and sunshine.
  84. Thrifty gardeners can use recycled juice or soda bottles to protect newly planted vegetables from late frosts or cold spring nights.
  85. When you go yard-sale shopping, take a second look at those punch bowls for sale. Turned upside down, they make great cloches for tomato and pepper seedlings.
  86. Interplanting vegetable crops is smart and easy: alternate rows of carrots and lettuce, mix tomatoes in with beet greens or edge broccoli and leaf lettuces with basil.  Interplanting maximizes space, minimizes weeds and can help fool pests by disguising their favorite host plant.  It also creates visual interest and attracts pollinators you need.
  87. Always, always, stake your tomato plants because it keeps them healthier.  Also, a light layer of mulch conserves moisture, and consistent moisture is vital when the plant is fruiting.
  88. Good organic soil amendments and nutrients for vegetable gardens, and any other gardens, includes: bonemeal for slow-release phosphorus, alfalfa meal for trace minerals, kelp for trace nutrients, blood meal for nitrogen, compost for overall good health and aged manure for moisture and nutrient retention.
  89. To keep production high in your vegetable garden, add a 1-inch layer of compost to the garden between successive crops.
  90. To keep your lawn healthy and vigorous, add a 1/2-inch layer of aged compost, instead of manmade fertilizer, each fall and let it over winter.
  91. A row cover is an easy way to protect tender crops from early-spring and late-fall frosts. Lay the light-weight fabric, sold through garden supply centers, on top of the plants or support them above the crops on hoops you can fashion from a bendable material, such as supple branches or twigs.
  92. Remember, you feed the soil, not the plant. 
  93. Embrace organics, even if you do it a little at a time.
  94. Instead of a large lawn, create large mulched beds of mixed plantings made with small- to medium-sized trees, flowering and evergreen shrubs and perennials.  Diversity is healthy.
  95. Avoid using too many fertilizers on your lawn. It's sad to see kids and pets playing on a lawn that's regularly treated with toxic chemicals.
  96. If you have a mostly sunny, southern-located lawn, opt for Bermuda, Zoysia, Centipede or St. Augustine grasses. Fescue browns out dormant during summer.
  97. Consider using a reputable lawn-care company for your lawn, especially one that follows environmentally friendly techniques. In the end, you will save money because you will use less chemicals.
  98. Create a yard environment that welcomes bees, birds and butterflies. Put out a bird bath. Install a birdhouse. Put up a bird feeder. And let the wonderful wildlife come. It adds song and heart to your garden.
  99. As you do all this, create some pathways that take you through your garden. Give yourself the peace and joy of experiencing it in the evening, in the morning, in the afternoon.
  100. A garden is work but healthy, pleasurable work when you plan, prep and care for it. It's a place to call your own, a haven of rest and relaxation when the day is done.

 

Posted by Kathy Van Mullekomkvanmullekom@aol.com

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