How-To

Garden Advice for Summer

Issue #200 - June/July
Photo: courtesy of Julie Scandora

Winning Tip: Alternative to hog wire

Hog wire has become a popular fencing material for home gardeners, but I’ve found an alternative that’s better on several counts. Remesh—which is used to reinforce concrete slabs—is much cheaper, is thinner (and so is easier to cut or bend), and turns a nice rust color to match treated posts. The latter means that the remesh fades to the background and gives plantings prominence. Panels are 312 feet tall and 7 feet wide, cost about $10, and are readily available at home centers.

Julie Scandora, Seattle

Keep birds out of a wreath

Anytime I put a wreath up on my front door, birds—finches in particular—attempt to build a nest in the wreath, and their droppings make a mess on the porch. I have found that putting a plastic Easter egg somewhere on the wreath keeps them away. Perhaps they think, “This place is taken,” and leave to look for a new home elsewhere. The result is that I have a nice wreath and a clean porch to enjoy.

—Lynn Weaver, Topeka, Kansas

Gifts from your holly trees

I often find holly seedlings growing wild in the flower beds adjacent to my holly bushes. Rather than hoe them out, I transplant the miniature bushes into a sunny, uncrowded bed with loose soil until new growth ­occurs. Once reestablished, the young trees will overwinter successfully. These seedlings can also be potted and used for garden gifts.

—Mary Crum, Holland, Pennsylvania

Laundry-basket sifter
Photo: courtesy of Breanna Cheung

Laundry-basket sifter

I just discovered a handy garden tool. A mesh laundry basket can be used as an effective soil/compost sifter. It is much cheaper than products marketed to sift soil and usually has comfortable handles built in. I also prefer how deep it is for sifting, as the depth prevents me from losing soil over the edges. These baskets have other uses as well. They protect my freshly started seedlings from harsh sun and critters (or my crazy cats), and I’ve even used one to sift collected flower seeds.

—Breanna Cheung, Chico, California

Move mulch with a sled
Photo: courtesy of Loretta Clark

Move mulch with a sled

At 70 years of age I still love gardening, but it’s not easy for me to lift and carry heavy bags of mulch and soil. My 75-year-old sister recommended using a plastic sled. I still had one in the shed, and it worked like a charm.

—Loretta Clark, Catonsville, Maryland

Not just for fishing

I raided my husband’s tackle box for sinkers, which I use to gently pull over errant stems on my ornamental cherry until they hang over properly with the others.

—Carol Macaluso, Cape May Court House, NJ

Brown bag seed dryers

I dry the seed heads from my marigolds in brown paper bags to make sure the seeds don’t get moldy in storage. I pick the seed heads once they turn down on the plant and place them in a brown grocery bag in a ­layer no deeper than 1 inch thick. I place the bag in a dry area of the house or attic for three to four weeks, and when the seeds detach easily from the dry flower head, I transfer them into airtight bags or jars.

—Mary Crum, Holland, Pennsylvania

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