Top 5 Gardening Hacks

1. Skip the Compost Pile

If managing a compost pile isn’t for you there is still a way to make use of those kitchen scraps. It’s easier than you think. Simply bury them in the garden. Yes, that’s right – dig a hole and bury your compostable material right into the garden among veggies, flowers or shrubs. Move the holes around to different locations so you don’t overload any one area of the garden. As they decompose, the kitchen scraps will add nutrients to the soil and improve soil health. Landscape trimmings can also be put directly to use. Lay cut vegetation or grass clippings on top of the soil around vegetable plants to serve as mulch. The cuttings will help retain soil moisture, cool soils and add nutrients to the soil.

2. Mirror, Mirror on the Fence

Interior decorators have long asserted the simply trick of using mirrors to make a room look bigger. Guess what. That works in the garden too. Hang mirrors on walls or fences to reflect light and plant materials and make an outdoor space appear larger. Integrate the mirror into a planting so it disappears among the surrounding plant materials. You can achieve a similar affect with a still pool of water which adds visual depth to the garden.

3. The Old “Slinky on the Birdfeeder” Trick

Do squirrels eat the lion’s share of birdseed from your feeders? Try encircling the pole of the feeder in an old Slinky®. Yes, I am talking about the children’s toy. Simply feed the pole through the center of the Slinky® and secure it to the top of the pole or bottom of the bird feeder. Let the Slinky® hang loosely down the length of the pole or secure the other end to the ground with a stake. This trick also works with a shepherd’s hook. Not only will birds regain control of the feeders, but you’ll also enjoy hours of entertainment watching squirrels try to conquer this new moving barrier.

4. A Bucket Full of Clean

Keep tools sharp and clean using a bucket filled with a mixture of sand and mineral oil. After use, rinse off excess dirt then stick the shovel, pruners or other tool into the bucket. The coarse sand cleans away remaining debris and helps sharpen edges. The oil keeps tools lubricated and prevents build-up of rust. Your tools will last longer and you won’t need to sharpen them as often.

5. Make Frozen Herb Cubes

Whether you harvested too much sage from the garden or are trying to beat an end-of-season freeze, sometimes you have more cut herbs than you can use. Drying extra herbs is okay, but the flavor of most herbs tends to decline with drying (oregano being the primary exception to this rule). To preserve better flavor try freezing excess herbs in ice cube trays topped with oil. Hard-leaved herbs like rosemary, sage, oregano and thyme preserve very well in olive oil. The individual cubes can be tossed right into soups, stews and other dishes for garden-fresh flavor. Tender herbs like basil and cilantro don’t hold up as well. It is better to process them into pesto before freezing in cubes. 

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