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Posted on Fri. Aug. 29, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

WHAT'S BLOOMIN'

Gardening column: A new use for duct tape and other tips

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Gardening tips are favorites of mine and the response I receive from readers tells me you like them too – so, here are a few ideas (some old, some new) that may appeal to you. Also these tips allow you to recycle some items found in your home:

*Got aphids? Who doesn't? We've all been told to use strong streams of water to knock them to the ground as well as other ideas of how to rid ourselves of these pests – but here's a new thought: wrap wide duct tape or strapping tape, sticky side out, on both hands. Run those up and down the stems and stalks and under the leaves of the plant where the aphids are lunching and remove wholesale lots all at once.

*Don't waste the water you cook vegetables in ever again. After it cools water plants with it – indoor or outdoor plants.

*If you drink bottled water – cut the bottom off, drill several holes in the cap, place cap back on the bottle and insert upside-down in the soil of your houseplants. The small bottles work well and when tucked in you can hardly see them. Fill once a week with water and twice a month add a little fertilizer (best fertilizer is the water from cooking vegetables, or your compost tea).

This idea is great when planting tomatoes and other plants in containers. It even helps direct the water right to the roots of those in the garden. Using larger liter bottles for garden plants makes it easier to keep moisture right where it is needed, and if you're going to be gone for awhile, your plants will still be watered.

*Are you preserving fruits and vegetables right now? Soak the rinds, peeled skins or any part of the plant you usually toss away, in a bucket of water for a day or two, and then save that liquid to water your houseplants (or outdoor plants).

*My tomato plants must know something I don't because they are all setting fruit in large quantities. I hope it isn't because they know cool weather is coming fast or another frigid winter is just around the corner. But whatever the reason, I will be freezing as many of them in quart-sized freezer bags as I can store in my refrigerator freezer. In fact, if you have room in a freezer or love to can, it looks as if you will have lots of extra tomatoes and other produce to preserve this year. Here is a link to a video on what and how to preserve those garden vegetables from The Old Farmer's Almanac site: http://www.almanac.com/video/how-store-and-use-extra-garden-vegetables.

*I talked about weeds last week, many of which are edible and can be enjoyed when mixed in a salad. Here are some examples: Young dandelion greens and the yellow blooms are great to mix with other lettuces for a delicious and nutritious salad. Chickweed – that pesky plant that lies close to the ground often in soil that nothing else seems to grow in – is also delicious in a salad. It is easy to gather and is similar to watercress.

*Even weeds that aren't edible can be useful (except weeds such as poison ivy or oak) and can be recycled productively. Pull and collect them in a bucket filled with water and let steep for a couple of days or so. The water can be used to add a natural fertilizer to your indoor/outdoor plants. Toss the leftover weed vegetation in the trash in case there were seeds present.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to bloominthing@gmail.com. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.


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