Gardening tips and tricks

Or in my case, there’s lots I don’t know but I’m going to share what little I do know.

Last year, the Brit and I started our garden. It was a container garden due to the fact that there was no place to plant in our small yard and we knew we would be moving. Other than watering, we didn’t really do too much to our garden. We spent the month of June in the US, so our housemate watered for us. We must have missed berry season in June because other than our raspberries, none of the 6 other varieties of berries we planted bore fruit. Why did we have so many berry bushes in our limited space? Because the Brit bought every kind the nursery sold. Why choose 1 when you can choose all?

It wasn’t until the end of the season that we started pruning our tomatoes, which were wildly out of control and the Brit argued with me about it. We also didn’t use fertilizer because he was worried about over fertilizing. Looking back, I’m amazed we had any kind of harvest at all.

This year, we timed our move so that we could get our plants moved before they really started growing. We were going to tackle our garden head on and since we weren’t going home in June due to Covid-19, we could devote our time and attention to gardening. I can’t tell you how many hours we’ve spent watching youtube videos on how to grow basically anything that caught our eye, lol.

Last year we tried bamboo canes to try and keep our tomatoes somewhat contained but that was pretty much a big fail. Our tomatoes were out of control. This year I decided to cordon train the tomatoes. As my tomato plant is growing, I wrap the main stem around a piece of twine that I have secured and make sure to pinch out the suckers as well the lower leaves to allow air flow, help prevent blight and so that the plant can put more energy into the tomatoes. Oh, don’t forget to plant your tomatoes deep, so that it can form a strong root system (roots will grow off of the stem).

As I said, last year I didn’t know much about pruning but I’ve noticed the main stem is really strong now that I’ve been pretty diligent about pinching out suckers (a thing shoot growing between 2 main branches, see pic above). Now you can let the sucker grow and it will become a main branch and produce fruit but since it takes more energy, the tomatoes will generally tend to be smaller.

Even though I’ve been working on trying to keep the tomato plants a bit more contained by regularly pruning, I still end up with some pretty big branches or suckers I’ve cut off. I hate the thought of just throwing those branches into my compost pile and I have heard stories from people who have just planted suckers directly into the ground and have grown new plants so I stuck those suckers in a glass and now I have more tomato plants. I just potted them yesterday and they are bigger than the tomatoes I planted from seed, some of them even flowered while soaking in water. Probably pinched off the flowers so the energy could go into forming roots, but I’m curious to see what they’re going to do, and it’s not like I have a shortage of tomato plants. Now space, that’s another issue, but that’s why having a container garden is great. I’m constantly moving plants around to try and better optimize our yard.

Here’s another thing I’ve read about tomatoes, you can actually slice up tomatoes and just plant those in to the ground and they will grow. So if you bought an especially delicious tomato and would like more of it and it’s early in the season, why not try? Would be a fun experiment.

Another thing I’ve been doing is making banana peel tea. Banana skins have loads of nutrients, especially potassium which helps your tomatoes fruit. I throw my banana peels into a large jar along with water and let it sit there for 3 or 4 days and then add the water to my watering can, you can also pour directly onto your plants if you wish. You could add banana skins directly into your soil but you want to make sure it’s cut up (to help it decompose) and covered or you’ll get fruit flies. Ask me how I know. Now I just toss the leftover peels into my compost and I make my tea.

Coffee grounds are a great way to add nitrogen to your tomato plants but we don’t drink coffee so will have to use a tomato fertilizer. I heard a lot of coffee shops will give away their ground coffee to be used for the garden. Can’t hurt to ask.

Don’t toss your egg shells. They’re a great way to add calcium to your soil. Prior to planting my tomatoes, I ground up a bunch of egg shells and mixed it into the dirt. I’ve read that egg shells will help deter slugs but that wasn’t the case for me so I just use them to help my soil.

Another tip I read on a gardening site was using grocery store bags as containers. I had ordered a bunch of bags but due to everyone else ordering them, they were back ordered so these came in handy. And they were a lot cheaper! Only .45 pence for an Aldi bag vs 5 grow bags for £20. Will definitely be using these bags more often. Just make sure you make some cuts into the bag for drainage.

I think most people know you can get your green onions to sprout if you sit them in a couple of inches of water. You can then just cut the tops of the onions when you need them or you can plant them, once they start to root. We decided to do that with lemongrass. I bought some fresh lemongrass at the store. It didn’t have much of a base but decided to still try and soak it in water and hurrah, the roots started to grow. Normally you’ll see roots in a week but since there wasn’t much of a base, it took over 3 weeks for my lemon grass to grow roots but now we can plant these and grow our own lemongrass.

Currently we have ginger soaking in water since you can grow plants off of the nodules. Also just planted the base of a Napa cabbage. Not sure if that will do well since cutting off the bottom of a romain didn’t really produce a new head but thought we might as well try it. If you plant a carrot stem with some of the root, it will grow but you won’t get a new carrot off of it, what you will get is carrot seeds. We started to do this but since we already had carrot seeds, decided to use that precious garden space for lettuce.

In caae you can’t tell, a lot of our gardening is what the heck, let’s give it a try.

Would love to hear about your garden, what you’re growing, any tips and tricks that you have. I think we can all agree, gardening is the most stressful, relaxing past time out there. But we love it! Every morning the first thing I do is go outside to see how my babies are doing. I’m sure my fellow gardeners can relate.


I like to eat, sleep and experience the world, one meal at a time.

6 thoughts on “Gardening tips and tricks

  • July 3, 2020 at 10:57 am

    Love your gardening tips! My husband grows a small one every year. It’s hard to grow a larger one anymore since we flooded years back and the flood waters brought sand into our yard.
    I myself grow house plants. I am also trying my hand at avacoto trees. I currently have 4 growing in various stages. I bring them inside innthe winter. I might try your egg shell and banana peel tricks!
    One tip I would shoot out there for anyone growing peppers. I love banana peppers and bell peppers. My husband is Mexican and loves jalapenos. This year he planted all 3. Unfortunately he planted the jalapenos right beside the banana peppers and bell peppers. This is a big no-no.
    The peppers cross pollinated and my beautiful banana peppers came out hot! To hot for me to eat. I can handle them.mild but these were a little more then mild. My husband said his jalapenos were a little more hot then what he usually likes also. Lol
    Look forward to more about your garden.

    • July 3, 2020 at 1:11 pm

      Wow, I had no idea that planting spicy peppers next to non-spicy ones would do that, that’s crazy. Thanks for the tip!

      I would love to have an avocado tree but they get pretty large, don’t they? It’s why I haven’t tried to grow a tree from the pit, which would be fun.

      Have you thought about container gardening? Not going to lie, we’ve spent a lot on dirt this year but we will be able to use it again next year and we will mix in our compost to add more nutrients back into the soil.

  • July 3, 2020 at 2:45 pm

    Great tips! I feel more motivated! Hopefully some of my herbs will survive the heat this year!

    • July 3, 2020 at 2:54 pm

      I love your little herb garden. So happy that you started gardening.

  • July 4, 2020 at 3:22 am

    I love the enthusiasm for gardening and your tips! This covid-time has been a great chance to start a home veggie garden (or bake bread, yum) Great food-focused pastimes. I’m a volunteer Master Gardener here in Florida. Summers are a bit too hot for us to grow most vegetables, our growing seasons are fall and spring. I absolutely encourage everyone to give herbs and vegetables a try. Container gardening is a fun way to get started, no need to plow up the back forty. Get garden advice relevant to where you live. In general, veggies do best with 6-8 hours of full sun, choose varieties that work in your area, use good soil, and pick off the bugs.

    • July 4, 2020 at 6:53 am

      Ahhh another master gardener! Larry is one but in Washington, so a totally different climate. Do you grow any non-traditional things? I’d have loads of fruit trees if I lived in Florida.

      Gardening has been a wonderful outlet. I know I’m growing way too many tomatoes but I love the idea of growing and giving away food. If I had the space, I would have a community garden. I just love feeding people lol.


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