Are you eager to learn some gardening shortcuts? Yeah, we thought so! We asked Eagle, ID-based Advanced Master Gardener Gretchen Anderson, author of the soon-to-be published Secrets of the Lazy Urban Gardener to pass along her fave tricks – from weeding to harvesting to preserving – for creating a more manageable garden.
Are you a ‘lazy gardener’?
There are steps you can take to get you from point A to point B when you’re gardening that help make it a success. I by no means want to say that gardeners are lazy, but there are shortcuts. Who doesn’t want minimal effort with maximum outcome?
What advice do you give when people want to grow produce?
First of all, what do you like to eat? That’s what you should grow. If you eat tomatoes, grow several varieties. Don’t grow something you don’t want to eat. Why tend zucchini when you’re going to give it away?
Figure out a way to preserve what you’re going to grow. You can’t possibly eat all the tomatoes that come off of three plants. If you know how to can, fantastic. You can also dehydrate fruit and veggies, and they’re fabulous to eat all year long. To freeze tomatoes, pull them off the vine, wash them, core them on the top and score them on the bottom, and then set 8-10 of them on a cookie sheet. Freeze the tomatoes, then put them in zippered freezer bags.
How do you use dehydrated tomatoes?
I’ll season them with a little bit of garlic and herb salts, put them on top of avocados and on toast, or crunch them up for salads. I make them so they’re crispy; they’re like tomato chips!
What gardening chores do you find most tedious?
Probably soil help. I want my soil to have lots of organic stuff in it, because if you start with good soil, half your problems will be diminished. We compost everything that comes out of our house. I have three tumbled composters out back, each in a different stage of composting. Trench composting – where you bury organic waste into the ground about 18-24 inches deep – is a great shortcut, although I’m not doing it right now, because I live in a suburban area and I don’t want to attract rodents.
Any other tips to save time or effort?
If you have apple trees, you need to care for them weekly during growing season, so that you don’t get apple maggots or apple blight. Here’s a great idea: you know those nylon footies we use when we try on shoes? Home Orchard Society sells boxes of Fruit Sox and also a kaolin clay mixture – a natural pest deterrent. Soak the socks in the clay, and then tie them on when you’re thinning your apples. The apple will grow within that footie and you don’t have to treat it with any pest spray.
Gretchen is collecting gardening tips from across the country to include in her upcoming book. Have a great shortcut? Contact her at email@example.com.
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