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I’ve had it with the gardening hacks that get posted some social media sites these days. Granted, there are a few good hacks out there, but the majority range from the ridiculous to the destructive or disgusting. (Anyone see the diaper filling used as moisture control in potted plants? The filling could contain chlorine, dye, fragrance, etc.. Ewwww, no thank you!)  It’s no wonder many people give up on gardening before ever really getting started. At Rainbow Gardens, we rely on tried and true gardening techniques to offer you the best success in your gardening ventures. Gardening is an investment and we are invested in you. Your success is our success. So we are letting you in on 5 of our favorite hacks that we KNOW truly work.

5 Vegetable Gardening Hacks That Truly Work

1. Bye-bye weeds: Weeds compete with your veggies for nutrients and moisture in the soil. Keep them at bay by using newspaper. Soak sheets of newspaper (about 5-10 pages thick) and line them out between the rows of your veggies. Cover the papers with organic mulch to hide them. You’ve just created an extra strong barrier against weeds.

 

 

Pictured: Read the news, then take it to the garden!

2. Keep the chompers away: Create a barrier against squash borers and cutworms that crawl across the soil and burrow into the stems of your plants or climb up the stems and chomp them off at the tops before they even get started growing. Both of these hacks work, but I think the roll works best. You can place a stick next to the stem of your plant, or make a collar out of a cut toilet paper roll, slice it vertically so you can wrap it around your plant and wedge it partway into the soil to create a barrier against the unwanted pests. DON’T skip this hack. It will save you a lot of heartache down the line.

Don’t knock it til you try it.

3. Pepper explosion: I learned this following hack from Karen Gardner, San Antonio Bexar County Master Gardener and Vegetable Specialist. While it’s recommended to keep your water off of the foliage of most vegetables, peppers are an exception. For some reason spraying their foliage from time to time during warmer weather causes them to explode with fruit. I don’t have the science behind it, but Karen might. I just heard it at one of our Rainbow Gardens seminars and began doing it and for years now I’ve had peppers coming out of my ears.

 

Pictured: Not sure why, but these hot babies love to have a spray of water during the hot weather.

4. Scissors make the cut: When thinning plants, it’s very easy to disturb the roots of the plants you are trying to leave behind, causing deformed or malformed growth. Avoid this by using scissors instead of pulling the plants up with your fingers. Just point your scissors into the soil and snip just below the soil to remove the plants you want out of the garden. This leaves the remaining plants happily settled in with their roots intact.

 

Scissors can be used for more than snipping herbs.

5. Take turns: Don’t plant the same vegetable (or a vegetable in the same family) in the same area if it has been less than 24 months since it was planted there. (I go as far as waiting 3 years to plant a tomato in the same area). Follow this protocol and you will have less disease issues…period. So even if you had a great spot for that favorite tomato plant in spring and you are thinking about planting another tomato in that same spot. DON’T! Find somewhere else for them to grow in fall. Same thing goes for other vegetables.

The following are groups of plant families you need to find new homes for if planted in the past 24 months:

  • Tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant
  • Squash, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins
  • Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, mustard, turnips, and collards

 

Pictured: Rotate, rotate, rotate! This helps to prevent disease in the garden.

Hope you try a few of these hacks and see if they make your fall vegetable garden harvest the best yet!

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy