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Part 4

Esther’s Gardening Tips &

Park Gardener’s Handbook

Helpful Tips for Gardeners

1. Invest in several Gardening Books or magazines that will help you become a good gardener for your area.
Some I suggest are: How to have a Green Thumb without an Aching Back –Ruth Stout; Organic
Gardening Magazine – Robert Rodell; and Jerry Baker has a bunch of really good gardening books.

2. Begin with good, clean soil. To clear out the soil before using it, sprinkle 1
cup chewing tobacco to 4-6 feet of area (Fels Naptha is a good brand).
Before planting, clean out dead, diseased plants, and continue to clear them
away after new plants grow. The more water and good soil you give your
plants the more they will grow, but always make sure they also have good
drainage, because sitting in water also kills the plants. Don’t let them dry
out or they will die. Plants are like people, they need to be nurtured, cared

3. Make a compost pit, and put everything in it to improve the quality of your
soil: leaves, sawdust, animal manure, human waste, and anything that will break down and become good
soil (you can also pack these things into the bottom of large pots for potted plants).
You can throw dish water on your plants and soil. As long as it doesn’t have a heavy
amount of salt (Epsom & Sea Salts are okay); also Clorox, fluoride, cleanser are all
bad and whit, vinegar and Vaseline or mineral oils, and petroleum oil are bad for
your garden and plants. Items that are good for the garden: peelings, egg shells,
seeds, rinds, juices, wine, apple cider vinegar, Epsom salts, fish fertilizer, dog and
cat food, ironite or blood meal; ammonia; beer; molasses and sugar; gelatin; aged
manure; apple juice; coke with sugar; black tea powder; dish soap or shampoo;
baby powder; Diaperine (for bulbs), Pyrethrin Insect Spray. Ask for old fish parts
at the butcher shop and soak in water, and use the liquid as fertilizer on the plants. To activate compost:
add ammonia and coke.

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4. Purchase good seed: Look for disease-resistant varieties. Some good varieties
are: scab-free Potato varieties: Cayuga, Cherokee, Chieftain, Early Gem,
Menomince, Norland, Onaway, Ontario Russet, Burbank, Segalo, Seneca,
Superior; German Lady Fingers are found in Gerneys Seed Catalog; b. good
Tomato varieties: Early Girl, big Boy, Big Girl, Floramerica, Sweet 100 Hybrid,
Big Sandy, Manmoth, Garwan Gold, Lee’s Golden Girl, Abraham Lincoln (2 lbs),
Sumways Sensation (7 feet). Good snap bean varieties are: bush beans, Kentucky
Wonder is a good pole bean, Clark’s Green-seeded Bush Lima bean is good.
Excellent flowering plants are: Dianthus, Phlox, Poppies, Calendula, Alyssum,
Nemophila, Candy Tuft, Eschschaltzia, Bachelor’s Buttons, Clarkia Nierem
bergia, Gypsophila, and Nigella. Buy disease-free seed and Alaska early-producing
types. The best herbs to plant are: chives, parsley, dill, thyme, sage, mint, fennel, sweet marjoram, savory,
and coriander. For trees, buy disease-resistant, self-pollinating fruit trees, apricots, blueberries, plumbs,
sour cherries (sweet cherries need partners), peaches need partners (JY Hale and June Elberta, European
varieties are good). Buy evergreens for minimum care, maximum beauty. Lombard Poplar trees are
excellent for beauty. Pick perennials for beds, plants that are suitable for the area. Buy creeping plants for
ground cover and mulch, such as: chamomile (seed), common speedweed (divide), English ivory (layer),
angelica, anise, black-eyes Susan, caraway, carrot, coriander, daisy, dill, fennel, Jerusalem artichoke,
parsley, parsnips, Queen Ann’s lace, santalina, strawflower, sunflower, yarrow, horseradish, marigolds,
nasturtiums, oregano, chervil, borage, thyme, catnip, chamomile, hyssop, rosemary, sage, tansy, white
geraniums, basil, bee balm, candy tuff, California poppy, columbine, cosmos, foxglove, gloriosa daisy,
larkspur, stock and sweet alysses, coleus, fushsia, geranium, impatiens, scented geranium.

5. Plant at the right time for your area. Plan when you will plant, make a note of
it, follow your plan, and then note the results for next year; for instance in my
area: Sugar Snap peas should be planted outdoors May 13th; tomatoes and
peppers and others are started indoors Feb. 1st. I plant every seed I can get
my hands on, but choose what you like. A Farmer’s Almanac will help you
figure out when to plant in your area. (

6. To start seed: Indoors: Start about six to eight weeks before the last frost in your area: broccoli (Green
Comet is excellent), brussel sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, celery, collards, cucumbers,
eggplants, onions, peppers, squash, tomatoes and watermelon; also African violets are planted indoors
(usually kept in pots). Before planting, soak seeds overnight or up to 72 hours in a cup of warm black tea
water (the results are worth the effort and the extra day), and then plant indoors using potting mix. A good
potted plant mixture is 1 part peat moss; 1 part Vermiculite, 1 part Perlite, 1 part sand (washed builders).
Feed with a few drops of ammonia and coke. Plant tomato seeds in African violet soil indoors in paper
cups. After they get to be about 4” tall, pinch off all but the top layers
of leaves and plant in larger pots, placing them in deep so only the
leaves show. Let them grow to 9” tall, and then plant outside, again
remove lower leaves, and bury deeper than they were in the paper cup,
but don’t disturb the soil ball. Mulch with straw around the base, and
cover with wax paper cones or cut-off milk jugs until the weather warms
up, and the plants have taken root. Or to grow larger (or keep in pots),
use plastic 5-gallon pails with top and bottoms cut out, and plant the
pails in the garden. Use metal stakes and tie the plants to the stakes
with old nylon stockings (which have been cut into strips). Remove all suckers from tomato plants. Spray
tomato plants with Blossom Set before transplanting for bigger, better, more productive plants. Plant
tomatoes where they can have lots of sun. Cover or mulch tomatoes after four weeks. Smoker’s wash your
hands before handling tomatoes and potato plants. Use grapefruit halves to start new plants in, if desired.
Use Popsicle sticks for marking plants. Use berry cups for cucumbers, squash plants. Put newspaper on
the bottom.
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7. To Start Plants Outdoors: Plant these seeds early (about two weeks before the last frost in your area):
asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, celery, collards, garlic,
kale, kohlrabi, mustard, onion and garlic, peas, radishes, rhubarb,
rutabaga, spinach, strawberries, turnips and cover seed with plastic until
warmer weather. Sow peas in lightly tilled soil, then cover with straw
10-12 inches, plant near a fence. Plant about one week before the last
frost: lettuce, beets, carrots, cauliflower, endive, parsley, parsnips,
potatoes, and Swiss chard. Plant on Memorial Day: corn, beans,
artichoke, cantaloupe, egg plant, okra, peanuts, peppers, pumpkins,
squash, tomatoes, watermelon. Potatoes can be planted right on top of
the soil and covered with hay or straw or similar item. Plant in April to June 1st, and give each potato piece
at least two eyes. Plant squash seeds or starts in foot-high mounds of sandy loam soil.

8. To plant starts: Before putting plants that were started indoors outside, they need to be hardened, or set; to
improve yield. Spray the plants with Blossom Set, which contains an all-natural hormone that increases the
plants ability to thrive despite poor weather or other unfavorable
conditions. This is especially helpful for peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes,
beans, eggplants, melons, okra, and grapes. Use cut-off bottom of milk
jugs for mini-greenhouses to set out growing plants (tomatoes, peppers,
etc.) earlier. Peppers like a dry light soil in a sunny spot. Watermelons
like dry sunny locations with real good drainage, and remove any sick or
dried blossoms; Golden Midget watermelon is an excellent brand. Plant
raspberry starts in the spring in good well-drained soil 12 inches apart
and 4 feet between rows; trim the roots some then plant and mulch with
grass or straw. Feed 3 weeks later with Tomato Grow. Every spring after
you have fruit, cut back 3 inches to the ground and feed with liquid plant food, move the mulch and cut
out all but the strongest shoots and you will have a garden full of big, sweet, and fat berries. Plant
strawberry starts in good, rich, loose, light soil; about 12 inches apart in rows at least 4 feet apart. Put in a
small stone in the hole, then spread out strawberry plant’s roots on it – don’t plant any deeper then they
were in the nursery. Feed with a liquid garden food or dry food and pick off any blossoms the first year;
cover with straw in the fall; and uncover in the early spring, also use science Berry Set as directed.

9. To Plant Root Crops: Dig a truck 4 inches wide, and 8 inches deep; fill up
with ground up leaves and sawdust and sand and compost and plant root
crops, such as parsnips, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, radishes,
rutabagas, and beets. Good beet varieties are: Detroit dark red beets. Plant
when you can work the soil.

10. Plant the Right Depth and the correct number of seeds: Some seeds
don’t like to be covered, such as lettuce and tiny seeds. These plants don’t
mind if their stem is buried: tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, chrysanthemums,
coleus, impatiens. But these do mind: gerbera, gazania*, pansy, petunia,
primula, zinna, ageratum, begonia, cabbage, lettuce, and others. For plants
with vines, i.e. cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, watermelon, etc. plant 3 seeds
to a hill, and space about 2-3 feet apart. Pinch off the vine as needed to
improve plant strength and produce. *shown in the picture nearest the

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11. Protect the plants when outdoors. Use heavy material to cover seeds in hot
weather such as wet burlap or boards, then remove as seeds come up. Plant
winter-hardy seeds in the fall, such as spinach, but plant slightly deeper, and
apply a protective mulch as soon as the ground freezes. Use large fruit juice cans
to plant beans in with the bottom and tops cut off (9 inches apart). Plant
cucumbers near fences so they can grow upon them, and mulch their feet. Place
young melon plants on a brick, and it will speed up the ripening.

12. Use the Right Amount of Water. Water new plants and seeds with a light spray
every day until plants or seeds take root (about three weeks) then soak for up to 15 minutes, when signs of
wilting occur, but do not water daily unless they wilt. Use a sprinkler on the garden and let it soak roots, or
establish soaker hoses for each row of plants.

13. Fertilize correctly. Dig compost into the soil before planting, apply side
dressings of plant food after the plants are established (about 4 weeks), but
keep it 3 to 4 inches away from the plants. Add more after the plants go into
bloom. Dust peas and beans with Legume Aid before planting. Use
vegetable scraps and osterize with water, and pour on the plants and watch
them grow. Lawn clippings can be used to fertilize everything except
tomatoes. Feed egg plants with liquefied table scraps regularly as they are
heavy eaters.

14. Control Insects: Use all natural remedies, for instance, plant marigolds (Mexican) in between all plants that
bugs eat – beans, cabbage, etc. Use corn oil on soil to control Ninatoder,
and also sprinkle white sugar around plants. Use moth crystals around
bulbs to keep mice and rats from eating them. To kill slugs: Mix together
1 pint alumen sulfate and 4 pints peltized lime, sprinkle around plants
dry; or use 50/50 apple cider vinegar around all plants, spraying the
leaves with slugs on them. Use a mixture of cayenne, garlic, ammonia,
and dish soap on crocuses, daffodils, tulips, and gladiolas, for bug spray.

15. Perennials: These will come up every year without replanting if properly cared for. Sow seeds in the
spring, summer or fall so they have at least 4 months to mature before cold weather hits. After pre-annuals
have died back, cut off all the dead leaves and steams and cover plants to a depths of 6 inches of straw,
leaves, or pine bark or other light material, and place dead boughs over the mulch to hold it into place; do
this after the ground is frozen, a lasting snow cover is nature’s mulch.

16. Companion Planting: Certain plants complement each other,

research good combinations and times of planting for your area, for
instance: plant radishes near squash, melons, and cucumber plants;
carrots love tomatoes. Some plants antagonize others, for instance,
don’t plant beans near onions. Plant pole beans so they can grow up
the stalks of corn. Plant cucumbers, melons, and squash between the
corn. Broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower should be
planted in the same area. Don’t plant pumpkins near squash as you
will have some funny-looking offspring. Spinach can be planted as a
border around evergreen trees, they love shade (feed lawn food every 3 weeks).

17. Fertilize plants during their strongest production cycle, when blooming. For instance, when the blooms
appear on tomato plants, add all natural fertilizer elements on the soil around the plants, such as rotten
apples, fish fertilizer, oil, sugar, tea leaves, etc.

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18. Trim the plant to improve larger fruit: for instance, cut back tomato vines for larger fruit; pinch off
strawberry shoots for more strawberries. Pinch off top shoots, new growth to force plant to produce more
fruit after blooming. Smear saliva and dirt on wounds to seal them off, or use green house paint.

19. To increase number of plants, take cuttings of current plants, soak in water and
plant. To increase herbs: take cuttings of herbs 3-6 inches tall, strip off the bottom
leaves, insert in moist sand or soil, cover with plastic, and keep in bright, but not direct
sunlight, and they’ll put roots out in 3 weeks. To increase plants which have bulbs, such
as lily of the valley, mums, daisies, etc. divide up the bulbs and replant in the fall or
spring. Put manure on bulbs in the fall. Divide up roots, and plant in pots with good
potting soil. Put in the garage during the winter months. Use Epsom salts on all bulbs
and root crops such as tulips, irises, potatoes, and feed them with plant food.

20. a. For Healthy Trees, Shrubs: Plant shrubs and trees as soon as the ground can be worked, but make sure
to mulch underneath with woodchips or chopped leaves. Cut back
foliage to about half to help them get off to a good start. Fertilize/feed all
established blooming shrubs and trees with garden food, and the ones
with foliage, add lawn food each spring (1/2 lb. per foot of height)- do not
feed after July 15 where temperatures go below freezing. Place natural
fertilizing elements around the base; shredded bark (retains water) and
rotten apples, dried manure, or compost feed them; soapy water (spray
on) helps shrubs and trees be more hardy (kills spider mites and other
critters on roses). In established trees, dig small holes around the weep
line of the tree, and fill with sand or gravel or sawdust for drainage. Use
rolled-up newspaper in the spring, and beat the smaller bushes and trees
in the spring to improve circulation, shake dirt off branches, dislodge
insect nests, wasps, etc. (use a tree hook to shake the larger ones off).
Sprinkle 5 pounds of gypsum (calcium and sulfer) per plant in the fall
around the base of shrubs and trees. If you use ground-up fir trees as mulch, add lime also. Sprinkle
some lime around the base of walnut trees (every two years).

20. b. Recommended trees/shrubs: fast growing trees varieties: Chinese Elm,

Mulberry*, Hedge, Apple, Hackberry and Crab. Hybrid Elm is resistant to
Dutch Elm Disease. Basswood Linden trees (American) grow up to 80 feet; the
Little Leaf Linden tree grows to only 40 feet. Flowering Peach Trees do not
produce peaches, but is a beautiful tree. The showiest of all the fir trees is the
Concolo or Abies Concolor. The best wind and sound and privacy evergreen
varieties to create a screen privacy screen are Baker’s Arbivita and Dark Green
American evergreen. For hedges the Canadian or American Hemlock is
excellent. Plant Rocky Mountain Juniper as an excellent upright Juniper where
the terrain is very dry. Plant pink flowering Cardinal (Weigela florida rosea) as
the bees love it, and also they love Lilac bushes. The bees will help the plants to
germinate better. The best blue spruce is Kaster’s Blue Spruce, which is silver green.

20. c. To treat sickly plants or trees (or newly transplanted ones): add liquid fertilizer, and a bit of water mixed
with hydrogen peroxide. Also Epsom Salts are good. Apply
Dormant Spray Oil to keep destructive insect populations as well
as potentially deadly fungal infections under control, especially
important for fruit trees and roses. Wood ashes are excellent for
helping weak, sickly plants, especially if there are high levels of
toxins in the soil: save the ashes/charcoal from wood-burning
stoves, campfires, and sprinkle some around the base of plants and
trees, help feed the plants and improve soil quality. Coffee
grounds are good to put near beans, cucumbers, melons.
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21. Invite birds to your garden area. Plant berry-producing bushes
(Maytree or Bird’s Paradise*, has tons of berries for birds, looks good
and smells good), and put up wild bird feeders to keep them around.
They will help to keep down insects, slugs, beetles, grasshoppers, etc.
Other bird-attracting trees are Snowberry, High Bush Cranberry,
Coralberry and Barberry; and Honey Suckle, Red Gold Honeysuckle
look like mock orchids, and attract birds. The Hydrangea Petidaris or
climbing hydrangea smells great and looks great.

22. Discourage animals that destroy the garden. Wormwood is not

liked by cattle, horses, and other large animals, it can be planted along the fences. Spray Repell along
fence lines to discourage deer, goats and small animals (a little goes a long way). Sprinkle broken eggshells
along boundaries, and along walking paths to discourage cats and dogs from digging in the garden.

23. Discourage weeds from germinating. Use ground cover along

areas where not planting, a good one is crown vetch, because it
runs wild. For lawn, plant ground covering plants instead of grass
seed. Add Epsom Salts and Bone Meal to make a good clean
lawn. Lay plastic ground cover in pathways under small rocks,
sand, or wood mulch to discourage weeds.

24. To have beautiful roses: Roses are started in the fall from rooted stalks, or potted rose plants. Purchase
skinny rose bushes, not fat, big ones. Cut off two-thirds of the rose bush (just above an outside bud) before
planting it in the ground (or it will zap the strength out of the plant); use nail polish to seal off cut areas.
When you get the new plants, soak in a 2 gallon warm water, with 2 tbsp.
Epsom Salts added to it; and let it soak overnight, then plant them and water
with this water, in soil where there is excellent drainage, in a bright sunny
spot. Dig a $5.00 hole for a 50 cent plant (much larger). Put the rose plant
in, surround it with compost and soil, and pack in tightly, water and then
cover with a loose mixture of leaves. Feed them with a handful of garden
food once a month; water below and spray with soap and water once a week -
to discourage insects. Plant Grandi Floras roses, and you will have color
galore and big flowers and they are strong, also polyanthas are excellent roses
for hot climates. Cut off spent flowers if you want many more to form.

24. b. To make new rose starts: Take a summer cutting from a rose about 8 inches long, and remove all the
leaves (but 2 leaves or buds on upper part of the stem), put in water, with a bit of root starter, and let sit in
water for three weeks. Then place in the ground, in well-drained soil, burying halfway, and covering with a
mason jar, in a bright sunny location. Remove the jar when new growth
appears. Or plant bare root stock by burying the big knot of roots, or if you
have potted roses, mound up the soil around the plant as high as you can for
the winter. Prune roses in the spring (May) and add ½ cup Epsom salts per 4
square feet, add bone meal in the fall. Cut roses just above a five-leaf cluster,
or you won’t have many blossoms; keep the center open of the roses; this is
accomplished by cutting just above an outside bud in the spring, and above
and outside 5-leaf cluster when cutting and pruning roses, for bouquets or
spent blooms. Work the soil up under roses first, plant them, then mulch
them. Supplement roses with Green-Guard Micronized Iron in the spring.

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25. To Have More Strawberries: Plant strawberries in raised beds in a sunny location (not shaded). Pinch off
runners-spaced 3 inches apart; get rid of old plants; spray strawberries with soap for bugs; mulch
strawberries for winter protection (not too heavy), and remove in spring. Use a soaker hose on strawberry
plants to keep them moist. Add bone meal if leaves turn red. Use alfalfa tea on strawberries to get 3 sets
of blooms and berries.

26. To grow large onions: Plant onion sets in the green house early to set out later.
Pinch off seed heads of onion and in late August or early September bend over
the tops to stop the top growth. After planted outdoors, and they begin to grow,
just bend over the leaves or stems when ½ grown, and they will produce larger
onions. Pull up bulbs and let it dry in the sun for 2-3 weeks and then store in a
cool, dry place.

27. To make House Plant Food: In a small container, mix: ½ tsp. black tea; 1 pack
or tbsp. gelatin, ½ tbsp. hydrogen peroxide, ½ tbsp. dish soap, ½ tbsp. ammonia,
½ tbsp. molasses, ½ cup whiskey or beer, add the mixture to a one-gallon jug, and fill with water, and mix
well. When ready to use: mix ½ cup house plant food to 1 gallon of water, and use to feed plants as you
water each day.

28. For Flowering Plants and African Violets: add 1 tea bag (or instant
shampoo), ammonia, gelatin, Hydrogen Peroxide, Beer or Whiskey, and plant
food; put in 1 gallon water.

29. To increase Grape Crops: feed grapes wood ashes and sawdust, manure
and cover with straw or mulch.

30. To have a good Corn crop: After the last frost, plant corn in mounds 4
seeds to a mound, and about two feet apart; or if planting in rows, plant 2 corn seeds every 9-12 inches,
with two feet apart the rows, and at least three rows (for better pollination); and always plant corn on the
west side of the garden so the corn can protect the other plants from warm dry winds. Add fertilizer to
corn after it is 1 foot high, and again after the silk shows. Pull out the weaker plants and draw the soil
around the heartiest stalk to improve corn size and quality. Mulch corn with lawn clippings and/or straw
down the rows and through the plants. You don’t need to cultivate them.

31. For a Tomato/Potato Plant: For fun, and to reduce space needed in the
garden, cut a small hole in a potato start, and place a tomato seed inside.
Plant the potato, and let them grow. When the tomato plant is large
enough to produce tomatoes, you’ll have two plants in one.

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