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The Plants and Gardening Page -- 

Lawns, Weeds, Garden furniture, Flowers, Vegetables, Tools, Houseplants, Herbs, Pests, Seeds, and more.

 Better Compost Heap: A layer of twigs with some pourous and non-rotting fibre placed over it is a good base for a compost heap or bin, I have even heard of putting a layer of cardboard instead of the fibre. My local garden centre has a suitable fibre avaiable, it is described as a path patio and drive stabiliser. Before I started using the fibre I had problems with weeds and other plant's roots growing upward into the compost bin ~~ DE

Green Gardening Tip. Take a bucket into the shower with you to use the water for the garden. You can then feel no guilt whatsoever when you use it for watering your plants -- JB

Turkey Baster. To avoid spillage and messing up the arrangement in a hanging basket use an oven baster. You can do this with indoor plants as well. ~~ John

Garden Furniture: If you have garden furniture on your lawn and you find it sinks in to the ground then use a lid of a container or the container itself under each leg ~~ John Devine, Ulster, UK

Seed potatoes.  Too late to buy seed potatoes for the new allotment or vegetable plot (its always good to start by deep digging or rotivating), just buy main crops like Desiree, King Edwards from a supermarket or greengrocer. Carefully select smaller round ones with good eyes. -- Sophie

Insecticides:- Try this, it's worked for me. Boil a whole bulb of cut up garlic until its soft. Put it into a gallon of water and add 1 tablespoon of biodegradable Detergent. Let it sit for a day, then strain and spray. Also, planting parsley around your roses will help keep aphids away. Anon

To prevent tulips from drooping too quickly as soon as you purchase them put pin pricks in the stem just below the flower head. Can someone tell me why my Anthurium plant has dark brown spots developing on the leaves?  (Nusrat Khan)

Thread Algae: My garden fish pond has thread algae clogging it up very badly. I heard that rotating a rough barked stick will get it out.  It worked fine, however it was was difficult to get it off the stick so I had my son cut a lengthwise groove in it and I can now cut it off with scissors. I recycle the algae in my herb garden-- Rosita V Cassie Dallas Texas

Algae Prevention - Howdy, I was reading yesterday and came across an article that says to use "barley straw" in water gardens/ponds to prevent algae. The article said it won't kill algae, but prevent it from growing and will last six months. Also, mixing 2 parts distilled white vinegar and 1 part water in a spray bottle is an excellent natural weapon against garden slugs. Spray slugs and they will fall right off your plants. Most wither, slither and die, but I have witnessed some larger slugs slime away...but they don't come back! I have not noticed any side effects to the plants, except being slug free and healthy. -- Don 

Seeds: When sowing fine seeds bury them close to the surface, and mix with sand for easier sowing. – Robert Edmunds

Coffee Grounds or Tea Bags can be used to make compost, however excessive use inhibits growth.  Caffeine is a naturally occurring herbicide. -- Scott Edmunds

Frost: To protect sensitive seedlings from late frosts cover with miniature greenhouses, made from plastic drink bottles with the bottoms cut off and placed around each seedling. Large drinking water bottles are particularly good for larger plants.– Anon.

Daffodils: Don’t mix cut daffodils in with other cut flowers as the daffodils produce a toxin that kills off the other flowers. – Anon.

Leaves: The most likely cause of older plant leaves dropping is under-watering whereas the most likely cause of younger plant leaves going yellow is over-watering

Bird or squirrel feeder for the deck. A post on the deck, balcony wherever squirrels can get to you'll need a plastic juice container, preferably a recycle code #1 a small tray, I used a suet container wide tape knife, razor to cut squirrels will follow cut a hole in the bottom of the jug, place the tray on a surface at base of post tape the jug upside down just above the tray just less than the trays edge height you will fill the feeder from the hole (in the bottom now on top. the seed will spill into the tray. if the tray is small enough, the shells/waste will drop outside the tray and the wind will carry it away. only enough seed fills the tray as it is eaten. If the area is in the rain, you may want to cover the fill hole. -- Harold 

House Plants If you have an aquarium, save the water each time you change it and water your house plants with it. You'll be amazed at the results.-- Andy P Smith  Nuneaton  England " Wolfie

Houseplants: To stop a windowsill houseplant becoming lopsided keep turning and moving it every couple of days. -- Anon.

Weeds

weeds. You can get rid of weeds and grass growing in the cracks in your sidewalk, driveway, flower bed or lawn by pouring boiling water on them. I have success by doing it once a day for about three days. -- Holland Family, 

Garden Tools and Furniture  

Safety: When using electrical equipment in the garden special care must be taken. Make sure that cables run behind lawnmowers, you must never cut towards a flex, or use it in wet conditions.

Safety: Never clean or adjust electrical gardening equipment while they are still plugged in, make sure they are switched off first. Never wash electrical gardening equipment with water.

If your plastic garden furniture gets stained, make a paste by mixing of baking soda and water and apply it for a few minutes before wiping it off. -- Cameron Sutherland

To preserve aluminum garden furniture, and metal tools over the winter apply oil (either cooking oil, or motor oil. Wipe them off before using again though. -- DE

When I plant flowers I don't like to wear gloves, so I take a bar of soap and scrape my fingernails over the soap, that way my nails don't get stained and I can work the soil around the tender plant roots  -- " scully. gene

Lawns

Salt for Weeds: Applying a teaspoonful of salt can individually kill a weed such as dandelion in your lawn. – Anne Gander Wembley England

Cracks in the Lawn: Where we live the soil is mainly clay and in summer cracks appear in the lawn, they can be very unsightly.  The cracks can be filled with a fifty-fifty mixture of sand and soilless compost or peat. You can re-seed at the same time.  It should not be necessary to repeat the exercise more than a couple of times  – Anne Gander

Lawn Patches. These can be removed by using spare bits of turf (cut from any new flower-beds, etc.) cut to size and fit into the gap. Add plenty of compost into the cracks, and water well. - Comi

Pests.

Cabbage Moth. Hi there, I live in Melbourne, Australia and nearly every plant in my garden has been ruined this year by the cabbage moth larvae. They will eat almost anything. I have tried natural methods, insecticides, all to no avail. I see the white moth fluttering around, and am considering buying a butterfly net to catch the little devils which seems to be the only thing left to do. Any tips -- sumanaju,

Ants. Try pouring a line of salt where you think ants are coming in to the house, and a pile where they tend to congregate (pantries, around dog food dishes). This won't get rid of the big nasty carpenter ants, but your average ant will be gone after a few days of regular application (and you won't kill your children or pets!) -- Viki (Viki Gonia)

Insects. I like to use more natural methods to get rid of greenfly and other pesky insects. Squashing them with rubber gloves works, but is a bit time consuming. If you do have to spray plants, use something more natural such as water infused with garlic, or even soapy water works. -- Mary Ashington

Pesky Cats: Unwanted cats can be kept out the garden by sprinkling pepper in the garden. Citrus fruit peel is supposed to work as well. – Anne Johns.

Moles: Stick open bottles into the middle of molehills to deter moles, as the sound of wind blowing over the empty bottle tops will scare the moles away. – Anne Johns.

Slugs and Snails: To keep slugs away from sensitive plants sprinkle eggshells around them. Ash and grit are also supposed to be effective. Sprinkle slugs with salt to kill them. It is also possible to trap slugs using containers in the ground that have some beer in the bottom. Empty grapefruit halves work as well. Vaseline smeared around plant pots stops slugs getting to the plants inside. – Robert Edmunds.

Pest Removal... Pour some grits on the ant hill.... when the ants take the stuff and eat it, it expands and kills them -- Psi Queue

Flowers. Azaleas. My azaleas like a bit of white wine vinegar added to their water every so often. They also like used teabags as fertilizer. -- Anon.

Roses. My rose plants love old banana skins placed around their bottoms as fertilizer. -- Anna Davis 

Sweet Peas: Pinch off the tendrils to improve the flowering capacity -- Vanessa Echols.

Fuchsias: Bury your fuchsia’s in the winter to protect them from the frost. --Vanessa Echols.\

Vegetables. Try Epson Salt (1tsp) around tomato plants to green up the foliage, (peppers also) -- (Raymond Campbell)

Save some seeds from small red peppers and plant two or three seeds at a time in yoghurt pots.  When they are a couple of inches high repot in a medium sized plant pot. You will soon have an attractive indoor plant - and a supply of chillies -- Simon Spicer

Leeks. I find my leeks grow a better when you add a bit of soot to their soil. I've also heard that they also like heavy beers like stout to drink as well, but I'm a bit sceptical myself. -- D Jenkins, Cardiff

Cucumbers: Avoid watering with cold or chlorinated water, leave it standing for a few hours. Keep a container for water in your greenhouse -- V E Webb

Keep cucumbers dry at the point that they emerge from the ground to avoid "Collar Rot" -- V E Webb

Potato Fruit: If you find something that looks like a tomato growing on a potato plant do not eat it, it is pretty poisonous. We found what looks very much like a tomato growing on a potato plant. We have the two plants in close proximity in our garden and initially we wondered if there had been some cross pollination going on. This should not be impossible as both plants are from the Solanaceae family. Further investigation ruled out the hybrid tomato explanation; aparently the genetic link is close but not sufficiently close to allow interbreeding. -- More

Useful Links: 

www.plantoasis.com Very useful houseplant resource website.
www.1-hydroponics.co.uk/video.htm Video on setting up a hydroponics system
www.1-hydroponics.co.uk/top-tips.htm  General hydroponics tips

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