Gardening tips and tricks

Sunday, April 20, 2008

* To prevent accumulating dirt under your fingernails while you work in the garden, draw your fingernails across a bar of soap and you'll effectively seal the undersides of your nails so dirt won't collect beneath them. Then, after you've finished in the garden, use a nailbrush to remove the soap, and your nails will be sparkling clean.

* To prevent the line on your string trimmer from jamming or breaking, treat it with a spray vegetable oil before installing it in the trimmer.

* Turn a long-handled tool into a measuring stick. Lay a long-handled garden tool on the ground, and next to it place a tape measure. Using a permanent marker, write inch and foot marks on the handle. When you need to space plants a certain distance apart -- from just an inch to several feet -- you'll already have a measuring device in your hand.

* To have garden twine handy when you need it, just stick a baLl of twine in a small clay pot, pull the end of the twine through the drainage holes, and set the pot upside down in the garden. Do that, and you'll never go looking for twine again.

* Little clay pots make great cloches for protecting young plants from sudden, overnight frosts and freezes.

* To turn a clay pot into a hose guide, just stab a roughly 1-foot length of steel reinforcing bar in the ground at the corner of a bed and slip two clay pots over it -- one facing down, the other facing up. The guides will prevent damage to your plants as you drag the hose along.

* The next time you boil or steam vegetables, don't pour the water down the drain, use it to water potted patio plants, and you'll be amazed at how the plants respond to the "vegetable soup."

Brought to you through the partnership of the Southeast Missourian and the Cape Girardeau County Board of Realtors.

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