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The Grandma File - Ten Gardening Tricks from Grandma

Updated on June 17, 2014

In our second addition of the grandma file, we're looking at what grandma did to make such a great garden year after year. Helping a garden reach its full potential isn’t always an easy task, but she always made it seem like it was. In her file I found a few time tested tricks to keep bugs out and keep fruits and veggies in. There are even a couple that will take some of the aches and pains away after hours in the dirt.

Here's a new school planting wagon!
Here's a new school planting wagon! | Source

Tips to Keep a Tough Garden Growing

  • When a yard has limited exposure to light, whether it is due to trees, buildings, or other sun blockers, one of the most innovative ways to make sure that a garden gets its fair share is to plant it in a moveable container. Some options are old wagons, wheelbarrows, or flat bed trailers. This will allow the garden to be moved periodically to get the best exposure to the sun that is available in a particular area.
  • Is there a particular plant that keeps taking over the garden? Maybe an herb like mint or tarragon? If so, corral that little bugger by planting it in a pot so that the root system stays trapped in the confines and doesn’t spread like wildfire through an otherwise benign garden.
  • Here’s a good one if the garden is limited in space: double plant tomatoes and potatoes together. Start the tomato seedlings and then transfer them into Irish or Idaho potatoes. Do this by hollowing out a small section of the potato and placing a bit of soil and the tomato seedling inside. Then plant the potato in the garden. Harvest the tomatoes in the summer and then the potatoes in the fall. Twice the food for half the work.

Don’t Trash It, Repurpose It

  • Old mailboxes are the perfect place to store small gardening tools like a hand trowel or small shovel and a pair of gardening gloves. Place it directly in the garden, it’s unobtrusive and very convenient. No more wasting half an hour searching through the garage.
  • Trouble spacing out seeds in the garden? Use this old stand-by. Place the seeds on a roll of toilet paper, fold it over and wet it. When the paper dries it becomes a ready-made sowing strip. Just take it out, put it in the garden, cover with soil, and have perfectly placed plants every time.
  • Bring gardening up to a new level. Take an old length of gutter and attach it to a fence or garage wall. This is the perfect place to plant shallow rooted plants. Strawberries work really well like this. There will be no weeds and no bending to pluck the ripe berries. If there has been a problem with birds getting to the strawberries before they can be harvested put a few red painted rocks in the planter. The birds will peck at the hard rocks and eventually give up before the berries have even begun to ripen.

Free Fertilizers for the Garden

  • Want the best water for the garden? Use the water used to cook vegetables in. Let it cool and pour it out in the garden. The nutrients that leeched off into the water will be absorbed by the plants, no need to fertilize. Be sure that there was no salt used in the water, the salt will kill off the very plants that were supposed to be fertilized.
  • Are you friends with a barber? If not maybe you should be. Human hair contains 30 times more nitrogen than manure. Visit the barber and see if you can get some of that miracle fertilizer. You’ll probably even get it for free!

Two Quick Hints

  • Are dirty vegetables leaving a mess all over the kitchen? Try this, take a laundry basket out when it’s time to harvest. Before bringing the bounty in wash it off with a hose, the holes in the laundry basket will let the excess water out and take the dirt with it. Let the veggies dry before bringing them in.
  • Use barbeque tongs to hold on to roses or other pricker plants while pruning. This tip will help say goodbye to sore fingers.


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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wow! What great suggestions. I had never heard of the tomato in the potato thing. I'm going to try it this year.