Spring is in full swing, and that means that every extra minute I have is spent out in the garden. Every year I experiment with different tricks and techniques to eliminate pests and grow a bumper crop. Through trial and error I’ve come up with a few great tips. Here are some of my favourite gardening hacks so far.
Scott McGillivray is a real estate expert and host of HGTV Canada’s Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays.
Egg Carton Green Houses
Because Spring is very unpredictable in my neck of the woods, I like to sow seeds indoors. The best way that I’ve found is to use plastic egg cartons with a closing lid. They’re fantastic because as long as you poke a hole in the bottom of each cup, you’ll have great drainage, and the entire structure will work as a mini greenhouse. The heat and humidity speed up the process and get everything growing quickly.
Recycling Bin Potatoes
A few years ago I attempted to grow potatoes in a recycling bin. This is because I have a lot of tomatoes in my garden and the two don’t play well together. So I tossed some seed potatoes in the bin with some dirt and basically left them alone. The only thing I did was top up the soil a few times over the season to make sure they had room to grow (because potatoes grow upwards). The results were crazy. Enough potatoes to feed an army!
Split Up Roots
Sometimes individual seeds grow multiple plants. So when transferring the new plants from seed packs to the ground, I gently pull them apart and plant them separately. That way I get twice as many plants for half the price. Just be careful if you try this not to break the roots when you’re pulling them apart.
A little trick I learned recently is that when I’m planting rows of seeds, I raise the dirt up into a little hill and then put the seed in it. It makes the earth around the seed warmer and helps it to grow faster.
Raised Garden Beds
If you really want to protect your garden from rodents and pests, the best thing you can do is to put everything in raised garden beds. It’s not a total cure, but it’s a deterrent, and definitely helps. There are a lot you can purchase, but you can also build them really easily and cheaply.
I prefer to keep my garden as organic as possible (no chemicals or fertilizers), but this can make dealing with bugs a real pain. One thing I’ve found that helps control the pest population is ladybugs. For the last few years I’ve created a little habitat for them in the garden and then released about 1000 (we have a big garden). Since they eat other bugs like aphids, and don’t eat foliage, it’s a great solution.
Share Your Harvest
My last tip isn’t a hack, it’s a suggestion. Anyone who grows a big garden knows that you’re going to end up with more than you can eat. Rather than letting things rot on the vine, gather everything up and make regular trips to your local food bank or shelter. What you have too much of, someone else might be lacking, so help make a difference to someone else’s day.
HGTV your inbox.