Part 2 continues where Part 1 left off. We start here with Tip 14
14. Spur strawberries by rooting plant runners. All types of produce more fruit if runners are clipped allowing them to produce no more than three daughter plants each summer. When runners produce daugther plants, place them - still attached to the mother plant - into a small pot filled with soil When the daughters grow enough roots, simply clip them off the runner. Give the new plant away or start a new strawberry bed.
15. Safeguard compost from contamination. Avoid adding feces from dogs, cats, or pigs to your compost pile because it can carry harmful pathogens that can transfer to vegetables grown from that compost. But it is OK to use horse or cow manure that has been aged at least on year.
16. Eat your flowers! Learn which ones are safe to eat and only choose organically grownpetals. Nasturtium blooms add a peppery flaor to salads, minced snapdragon petals lend a confetti color to butter, and pea flavor tulips make a beautiful edible cup for tuna or chicken salad. Remember to remove the pollen-laden bitter pistils and stamens inside.
17. Help birds build nests by providing narrow grasses, fine strips of bark, thistle, burlap, or milkweed. Stuff a mesh onion bag with pieces of yarn 8" long or shorter, hair, feathers, or small twigs and hang it in a spot protected from rain and cats.
18. Make your own fertilizer. Collect leaves of comfrey and stuff them into a bucket. Compress the leaves with a brick or rock, cover the bucket and let the leaves decompose for 6 weeks. The result will be a black liquid that looks like motor oil but is a godsend for plants because it is high in potassium and nitrogen. Dilute with water (one part of the liquid comfrey to 15 parts water) and use the mix when watering plants, or spray it directly on leaves.
19. Plant annual geraniums in clay pots or planters, which tend to dry out faster than other types of plant containers. This is a good thing because annual geraniums need to thoroughly dry out between watering periods. For most other annuals, use ceramic, poly resin, concrete pots with saucers to retain moisture.
20. Design high impact containers with monochromatic color schemes. Stock with one color per pot, adding interest by filling companion pots with plants that have a related hue by different shape or texture. If you are unsure, group plants together in your shopping cart before buying to see how they look together; cool and warm tones of the same color sometimes don't blend.
21. Use your ingenuity when mixing up solutions to keep deer away. Deer learn quickly, so switch products frequently to keep them guessing. Try garlic spray, predator urine, and commercial deer repellents. All will work - for a while. Reapply often. The best solution may be to place motion-activated sprinklers in the garden. Deer never get used to being hit with a sudden blast of water.
22. Preserve fresh herbs for soups and stews. Fill an ice cube tray with chopped herbs, top with water, and freeze. When the cubes are solid, move them to a plastic freezer bag. Use as needed.
23. Till soil sparingly. Mechanical tilling is fine for a new bed or one that is heavily compacted. But continual grinding, year after year, will disrupt the soil structure, turning it into a powder that won't hold moisture. Till sparingly and be sure to augment annually with leaves.
24. Shake out the salt. Epsom salt can be an ally in the garden when scratched into the soil The salt's magnesium and sulfer help germination and flowering while improving the uptake of phosphorus and nitrogen.
25. Sharpen your edge by using the proper edging technique. Make a vertical cut with a flat-edge spade along the outside line of your bed. After making the vertical cut, move to the other side of the bed. About 3" away from the outside edge, angle the spade to about 45 degrees and cut to the bottom of the vertical-edge side. Shake off excess soil, then toss the remainder into a compost pile. Mulch to the edge of the inside cut. The edges keep the lawn at bay for about a year.
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