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What is your best garden tip ever?

 
Deb Stephens
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Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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I was telling someone in a PM about something I discovered to stop vine borers attacking my squash, and I thought it was worth sharing. Then it occurred to me that some of you might also have great tips to offer as well. So... what is your all-time best garden tip?
Here is mine...

A little tip to save you heartache IF you have vine borers where you live. As soon as your baby squash plants get a few leaves on them, wrap up all the stem you can see from just below soil level. Keep wrapping the stems higher up as the plant grows -- but not so tightly it will be strangled as it grows. Wrapping foils vine borers from slitting the stems and laying their eggs inside. If you don't do that, especially if you plan to trellis the squash instead of allowing them to sprawl, you will end up with dead plants in short order. I used to tear strips from old sheets or t-shirts and loosely wind them around the stems, but it took forever and was always slipping down or blowing off. Then I discovered that vet wrap (a bandage roll made for wrapping horse's legs, originally) works perfectly. It's a kind of stretch gauze embedded with latex, so it stretches and sticks to itself, which allows it to expand with the growing plant and not to slip off. It lets air and water in, but doesn't stay wet, so won't cause rot the way cloth might in too much damp weather. You can buy rolls of vet wrap at any farm supply or feed store. Best thing I ever discovered for stopping vine borers in their tracks -- haven't lost a squash to those little buggers since!

By the way, old-time gardeners probably already know this, but over the years of my trying to get my squashes neatly off the ground to save space and make it easier to harvest the squashes, I have gone back to letting them sprawl. WHY? because squash has a built-in survival mechanism to help it foil bugs -- it readily puts down new rootlets along the stems. When on the ground, those rootlets find soil and dig in for water and nourishment. When bugs attack other parts of the stem, the squash uses its reserve root system to keep the rest of the plant alive. When you hang them neatly in the air, only the original stem has contact with the soil. If it dries out, gets damaged or infected, your plant has no backup and usually dies. Nature knows best! (And I am finally learning to listen to her.)

 
Ken Peavey
steward
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Location: FL
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Mulch.

You can mulch once or weed every week.
 
Deb Stephens
Posts: 375
Location: SW Missouri, Zone 7a
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Ken Peavey wrote:Mulch.

You can mulch once or weed every week.


Saves watering too! My only problem with mulching is that it gives blister beetles and squash bugs a convenient place to hide. I use living mulch as much as possible, to keep soil cool and moist and because I can see those darned bugs better to pick them off!
 
Leila Rich
steward
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Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Healthy soil takes time and effort!
When I first started the garden, my soil was weak and I had all sorts of problem bugs etc
Now I any I have are in small, manageable numbers.
My sandy, dead, organic matter-free 'soil' took at least three years and a lot of work to get healthy.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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My best single piece of advice for beginning gardeners : take care of your worms. For around here (I'm in Hawaii) that means:
...keep the soil evenly moist. Worms don't thrive in overly wet or overly dry soil.
...provide them shade via mulch to keep the soil cool enough.
...lightly till in food for them -- compost, manure, vegetation, on a regular basis.

By doing this, your soil will greatly improve, your plants will benefit, your garden will do fine.
 
Michael Cox
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Location: Kent, UK - Zone 8
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Mulch ++++

I'm fairly new to the joys of deep mulching and it makes a HUGE difference. I've basically beaten a massive bindweed problem with it's help.
 
John Elliott
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Add biochar.

Whatever you are doing in the garden, it needs more biochar.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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John Saltveit
gardener
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Feed the soil not the plant.
John S
PDX OR
 
Mark Livett
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Get a desk top diary and start writing everything you do into it, when you plant, what you plant, what the weather is like, what soil improvements you have made. Then write in what you need to do and the date on which it needs to be done.

I add seasol, a seaweed extract, and charlie carp to my various pots. Some you add weekly, some you add every two weeks until the growing season starts, some you do monthly for trees but weekly for lawns. So I write it all down and then I go through the diary and I write in when the next dose is required. So now I don't have to remember when I last treated the pots or the trees or the lawn, I just turn to this week's pages and I can see what needs to be done.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I never write anything down except for posting results on this site. I add amendments whenever I come into a good free supply and harvest whenever stuff is ready. I'm only gardening a few thousand sq. ft. As the size increases, I may need to keep notes.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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