Country Lore: Favorite Gardening Tips

Get more fun out of your garden with these nine practical gardening tips.
By Lori Covington
April/May 2009
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We could all use a few gardening tips. This reader is contributing nine of them (items in the illustration don't map precisely to each one though).

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No doubt you have your own ideas about how to coax a cornucopia from a patch of bare ground. I certainly won't stand in your way. But if you're not so experienced in the ways of trowel, shovel, and hoe, (and even if you are, we can all use a reminder now and then, right?) I've put together a list of my own favorite gardening tips. 

1. Pick your favorite plants: If you don’t really like cabbage, don’t bother to grow it!

2. Balance delayed gratification with instant satisfaction: Buy some plants already about to flower and sow seeds around them. Buy some slow-growing perennials, but add annuals for quick, same-season color.

3. Don’t work harder than you have to. Why kill yourself digging rocky soil when you can import dirt and make a raised bed?

4. Ask around or barter for materials. We traded with our neighbors for wooden fish crates and bait barrels, which make fine planters and storage containers.

5. Get a wheelbarrow. This was our best garden purchase of the year, saving us hours of heavy carrying.

6. Collect manure, well-rotted compost, leaves, and seaweed to build your humus. Great soil maximizes your chances of having great plants.

7. Plant too much rather than too little. Widely spaced plants in empty beds look sad, encourage weeds, and need more watering. Fill up those beds!

8. Start seeds indoors to save money.

9. Get plants from friends, but make sure they’re healthy before bringing them home. Make sure they don’t include invasive weeds.

Lori Covington
Mill Village, Nova Scotia

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