101 GARDENING SECRETS THE PROFESSIONALS NEVER TELL

Billed as 101 gardening secrets that the experts, retailers and chemical companies don’t want you to know this is a collection of practical tips which will act as a handy refresher course at the start of a new year. Maybe they are not quite as secret as the title implies, but this is a comprehensive compilation of information starting with seeds and soil then covering compost and fertilizers. The creator of this compendium is Chazz from the HubPages website.

If you’re looking to learn some gardening secrets, including ways to solve problems and stretch garden budgets, you’ve come to the right place.
This page divulges 101 gardening secrets that the pros, retailers, and giant chemical corporations don’t want you to know. Plus we’ve thrown in a few extra bonus tips as well.
They’re organized into general topics, but some tips overlap categories, so if you’re looking for something related to a section and don’t see it there, check through the others. This page covers a lot of ground (pun not intended), but does not duplicate topics covered in our other gardening pages.

A Preview of Some of Our Secret Ingredients

Left to right: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, Jell-O Gelatin, Peak Dry Whole Milk Powder, White Mountain Epsom Salt, McCormick Ground Cinnamon.
Left to right: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda, Jell-O Gelatin, Peak Dry Whole Milk Powder, White Mountain Epsom Salt, McCormick Ground Cinnamon.

Can You Guess What They Are for?

Have we piqued your interest?
Read on to learn the “recipes” for using these ordinary household products in your garden.

First Things First: Seed Starting

1. Before starting seeds, microwave moistened starting mix, roughly 10 minutes per two quarts of moistened soil. Or bake in an oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. (Do not use potting soil.)
2. Starting plants from seeds? Sprinkle ground cinnamon powder on the soil to prevent fungus that causes damping off.
3. Cover seedlings with an upside-down clear drinking glass or clear plastic cup. It will hold in moisture and protect the plant from cold air.
4. Rooting a plant in water? Adding an aspirin will help with water absorption and root growth.
5. Sowing seeds outdoors? Sprinkle flavored gelatin over them as you sow. Then cover the seeds as usual and water them. The sugar feeds helpful bacteria in the soil and the gelatin provides nitrogen for the plants.

Soil Basics

6. Don’t know what type of soil you have? Try this: Take a handful of moist (not wet) soil from your garden and squeeze it firmly in your hand. Then open your hand and observe what happens.
  • If it holds its shape but crumbles when you give it a light poke, you have loam and will be the envy of other gardeners.
  • If it holds it shape and doesn’t respond to being gently poked, you’ve got clay soil, which is nutrient rich but dense.
  • If it falls apart as soon as you open your hand, you’ve got sandy soil.

Once you know what you’re working with you can both improve it if necessary and choose appropriate plants.
7. No need to buy a pricey soil testing kit when you can easily do it yourself. Scoop some soil into a container. Add a half-cup of vinegar. If the soil bubbles or fizzles, it is alkaline. If there’s no reaction, scoop up some more soil into a second container. Add a half cup of water and stir. Then add a half cup of baking soda. If the soil bubbles or fizzles it’s acidic. If you want a precise pH measure, contact your local university extension office or watch the newspapers. Nurseries will sometimes run promotions with free soil testing.
8. Read your weeds if you want to know your soil’s pH. If you’ve got a lot of dandelions, dock, crabgrass, or plantain your soil is acidic. If ironweed, pennygrass and peppergrass are rampant, your soil is alkaline.

Compost

9. Did you know that lint from your clothes dryer can be added to the compost pile or tilled into your garden to help the soil retain moisture?
10. Do you use a shredder? Add some shredded paper to your compost pile (just avoid glossy printed material).
11. Have a pet that sheds? Or perhaps you’re a haircutter or know someone who will save a bag of swept-up hair cuttings for you? Hair is even higher in nitrogen than manure. Add it to your garden or compost pile.
12. Composting not moving along fast enough? Heat it up by adding some comfrey leaves.
13. Live near a beach? Gather some seaweed, rinse the salt off with a hose, and add it to your compost pile. (Do this in a paved driveway?do not let the runoff into your garden. The salt is not good for the garden, just the seaweed.)
14. No room to make compost, or need some in a hurry? Put a variety of food scraps (vegetable peels, apple cores, and so on?no meat or dairy products) in a food processor or blender and process to a liquid consistency. Dilute with an equal amount of water and pour on the ground around the plants. Cover with a layer of peat moss.

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