10 Hints from the Master Gardeners

First of all, let me say thank you for your patience as we worked a bit behind the scenes here at the Chickadee Nest the past few weeks.  I’ve missed sharing with you here, and hope to get back into the regular posting groove… lots of exciting things coming up!

Secondly… a confession!  My garden is a MESS this year!!  I knew I wasn’t going to have much time to devote to it this year, so I only planted a few things… a few varieties of bell peppers, some leeks and an attempt at Indian Gemstone corn (to enhance a study of the Mandans and Lewis & Clark from last school year).  And since we had an abundance of rain earlier this year, everything is running a bit behind the normal summer schedule.  So far, we’ve harvested one lowly little green pepper, and the weeds have become our preeminent crop.  Note to self: Must fix that soon before all is lost!

The kidlets, on the other hand, have had another great year of Garden & Grow through our local University Extension.  I know I’ve mentioned it here before as this is our third year of participating, and my main reason for not planting tomatoes in our own garden… because we get so much from the gardens the kids plant!  The class is taught by the Extension’s own Master Gardeners, and the kids have learned so much that I thought I’d share some of those great gardening tips here, in no particular order!

  1. Shredded paper and straw make the best (not to mention ecologically friendly!) counter-weed agent.  Lay it down between your plants and walk on it as you water and tend to your plants.  It also breaks down easily helping to enrich the soil for next year’s garden.
  2.  Rotate your veggies!  Don’t plant the same veggies in the same location every year.  Some plants, like corn, are nutrient-suckers.  Plant them in the same place and they may not do as well in the following years.
  3. Plant different varieties of the same veggie.  You may get better results with one than the other, then you will know for future gardens how to maximize your crop.
  4. Compost, compost, compost!  It’s not as hard as it sounds, and your plants will love it!
  5. One trick to use before the garden season begins is to “solarize” your garden beds. (I think I’ll have to use this one next year!) Water the soil, then put down a heavy-duty clear plastic sheet.  Weigh down the edges with rocks or bricks, then leave it in place for a few weeks.  Remove when you’re ready to till and plant your garden.  This method should kill at least 60% of all weed seeds in the soil.
  6. If you store seeds properly, they can last 5-10 years, if you’re lucky.  However, they grow best when 2-3 years old at most.
  7.  Planting Marigolds in your garden is a great way to help deter pests.
  8. Some crops cross-pollinate easily, so you don’t want to plant them next to each other.  For example, cucumbers and cantaloupe make an unusual looking but inedible cucalope. (Or is it a cantaber?) 😉
  9. When you water, make sure you get the soil and not the leaves.  Excess water on leaves can lead to mold issues.
  10. And my favorite tip of all… if (when!) you get a bumper crop of tomatoes… make salsa.  Lots of it!


How is your garden doing so far this year? Has this spring’s weather affected your area and/or your summer harvest so far? What are your best gardening tips and hints?  Make sure to check out our other Gardening posts!



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Topics: Gardening

2 responses to “10 Hints from the Master Gardeners”

  1. LK says:

    Thank you, Honey! Many good tips here. There is a tip I did not see above. Do not over water tomatoes or they will develop “black bottoms.” Must be some kind of mold. Allow the soil to dry out between waterings.

    My last addition is do not plant mint herb in a flowerbed unless you want it to take over everything. (Laugh!) Instead plant it in a large pot. You can harvest and dry the mint or put in the freezer and you will have it through the winter!

  2. chickadee says:

    Yes! There are lots of good hints…! I deccided to limit to 10, otherwise the post would’ve been a book instead! 🙂

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