CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Most old-fashioned gardeners are a practical lot. They recycled long before it was hip. Compost? It's been a given, without all of the science and hype -- it's just where the dead stuff went that eventually turned into good soil. Garden plant gets too big? Divide it and share it with a neighbor.
So in the no-nonsense spirit, I've been searching for sensible tips that use everyday household items in unusual ways.
Keep that deck dry
I love this. Large containers on the deck often leave large dark stains from water. Even when the containers are on a plant stand, the water still dribbles onto the wood. I read an idea that makes sense -- the gardener used a dish drainer tray, placing the draining lip to run off the deck so the water runs out of the pot and off the deck.
Use the new silicone potholder gloves when transplanting cactus plants. Plants and hands will be happy. These gloves can be worn when cleaning the gutters as well, eliminating wet hands and scraped knuckles. I used mine this weekend when I repotted an aloe and there were no injuries!
Aluminum foil comes to the rescue. When growing cuttings, start them in a container covered with a sheet of aluminum foil. Poke holes in the foil and insert the cuttings through the holes. The foil will hold the cuttings upright and slow water evaporation.
Salt no more
Salt and commercial ice-melting stuff can really harm the concrete around the house. (Not to mention how it wreaks havoc on your plants!) Use baking soda to melt the ice on your steps and walkways. Add sand for traction.
I saw a photo that showed an old apple basket that had a rotten bottom that was put to good use. The gardener cut out the rest of the bottom, slipped it over her speedwell (Veronica spicata) and it not only looked pretty, it worked to support the tall blooms as well.