On this page you can read from where I got the ideas and tips. In random order. Maybe interesting to know.
Compost container made of paving stones
My first compost container (1980) was made of wood. It was about 3 feet long, 3 feet wide and 5 feet high. Each 3 years I had to make a new one because wood was rotten.
Composting proces was good in the lower part of the container. At the higher part of the container the material was rather dry and resulted in slow composting. Emptying the compost container was a lot of work.
Many years later I got the idea to make a new container of paving stones in my garden. The compost heap is low, the composting process is good, it is easy accessible and the material does not wear out.
Sowing beans on moist absorbing paper
I used to sow bean seeds in the garden soil. Not all plants came up. Some seeds got rotten due to wet, cold weather. Other seeds dried at too warm dry weather. Then I had to sow new bean seeds between the plants in the row. Not so good.
At a “seed germination test” I laid bean seeds on moist kitchen paper in a warm room. The seeds germinated and after some days I had small bean plants. I put these bean plants in my garden soil and they growed to big bean plants.
Some years later I found out that germination goes well on kitchen paper in empty plastic boxes. When you put identical boxes on each other (on 2 satay sticks) you get a good air refreshment system. The moist paper does not dry too fast. An advantage is that you have to drill holes in the sides of the box and put in sticks.
Much easier and better is using the original lid on the plastic box (instead of another box on satay sticks).
Storing onions in boxes
At first I stored my onions in a “Onion rope“. That is a good storing method. But sand and leaves and onion shells dropped on the floor. My wife didn’t like that. So I had to find a better method.
Storing onions in cardboard boxes is okay. Sand, leaves and shells remain in the boxes. By putting the boxes on “plank bridges”, storage takes little room.
Tunnel of transparent corrugated plate
I started with a greenhouse made of wood boards at the sides and a glass plate on the top. Within some years, wood was rotten and/or glass was broken.
In a garden book there was a drawing of a greenhouse made of bent transparent corrugated plate. I made this greenhouse. The tunnel had slanting bamboo sticks in the garden soil to keep the tunnel in shape, like this: /n\ . At stormy weather the tunnel has been blown away. Cause: rotten bamboo sticks. Then I improved the tunnel using iron wire and iron pens. This is a good construction.
In the beginning I harvested small cauliflowers. In a book I read the “desires” of cauliflower: 1) loose, well manured soil that “never runs dry”, 2) plant deep in the soil against blowing down by wind, 3) add much cold tap water, 4) use cabbage collars around the stem against cabbag flie larva, 5) mix agricultaral lime through the soil against the disease clubroot.
Idea: put cabbage plants deep in loose, well manured soil. Mix Agricultural lime with the soil. Cabbage collar around the stem. Use a flower pot without bottom as pouring help. Put a thin layer of fresh manure around the stem; the soil does not run dry so fast and during watering, nutrients go to the roots of the plant.
Storage of winter carrots
I used to store winter carrots in the soil of my backyard garden. Dig a hole, put in carrots, lay on straw, put a roof of corrugated plate on, and put bricks on against blowing away. During cold winter weather (and snow on), it is hard to take carrots out of this storage.
Today, I put carrots in a plastic box filled with dry garden earth. I put the box in a cool room. During frosty weather I put the box in a barn.
“After sowing lettuce, put a small black flower pot on sowing spot covered with a thin layer of garden earth” is an advice from a gardening book. Under the flower pot, temperature is okay and seed germinates faster. This is my experience too.
The book also advised to spread the lettuce harvest. Sowing weekly is okay. I think that replanting of lettuce plants is not easily. After replanting, plants look very “miserable”, as if they will not survive. So I thought I better sow 7 lettuce seeds and pull out 6 lettuce plants later. And later I found out that indoors sown lettuce plants are frost proof under a tunnel in the garden.
Flower pot with insertion
It is hard to take out a plant with root ball out of a flower pot. Tapping, shaking and hoping that the plant will get out with complete root ball. Especially at plants with small root balls this is hard to do.
I decided to put an insert in a flower pot. And I tried again. Even with an insert in, the whole rootball did not come out each time. Or the root ball falls apart when taken out.
At first I put a small round piece of plastic on the bottom of the insert. That worked well. Then I thought let’s replace the round piece of plastic by a L-shaped plastic strip. You can loosen the root ball by pulling the strip. And you can write info on the strip.
Greenhouse made of margarine boxes
I used to put a small margarine box with sowing soil and pepper seeds on the central heating unit to let the seeds germinate. Temperatur during germinating is between 77 and 86 F (25 to 30 C). When you do nothing, sowing soil dries out very fast at this temperature. When you pour water too much or too often, seeds can rot. Better cover the sowing soil with something that prevents drying out and that is breathable. But what?
I discoverd that a big margarine box fits well over a small margarine box. At each short side there is an air opening. I made a greenhouse of 2 margarine boxes to germinate pepper seeds. That worked well. Sowing soil did not dry out and seeds did not rot.
Two elastic bands helped to keep the boxes fixed, so the big box does not go down over the small one.
Early summer carrots
How to shove a big piece of sowing soil with small carrot plants from a container into the garden soil. For lettuce plants one can use a flower pot with insert and strip. And take the root ball with plants between thumb and fingers.
You can not take an oblong block of sowing soil between thumb and fingers without falling apart. First I tried to shift the block of sowing soil aside. Works rather well. From a reaction about peas I tried to shift the block of soil at full length. Drama. You better shift the block of soil in 4 parts.
Growing early leek
In March I put the first leek plants into my garden soil. I used to buy leek plants in the garden shop. From 2012 on, I try to grow my own small leek plants. One of the reasons is the rather high price of the leek plants, €0.25 per plant. For that price you can buy a big leek for comsumption.
I found out when to sow, what species, which sowing mixture etcetera.
Growing strawberry runners in flower pots with cut bottom
I used to grow strawberry runners in the garden soil. Later, I tried to grow them in “normal” flower pots filled with compost or potting soil, as proposed on some internet sites.
In 2012, I tried to grow runners in flower pots just in the garden soil. The main problem is to make a “perfect” hole in the soil. The flower pot must exactly fit in the hole in the soil.
I made the holes using a bulb planter, but most times the holes were too deep or too shallow. When too deep, there is air under the pot. When too high, the soil in the pot dries out.
Idea: Remove the bottom from the flower pot. Push the pot deep enough in the round hole in the soil. Put garden soil and manure into the pot (and into the hole) untill full. The flower pot is at the right level and no air is “trapped” during this procedure.
This gave the biggest strawberry runner plants with big root balls.
Sowing tiny seeds
Each year I sow “summer flowers” to put into my garden. Some flowers have tiny seeds. I used to strew groups of many seeds in a tray with sowing soil. After germination, I replanted each group of plants into a flower pot. After some days or weeks, I pulled out all plants but one at each group.
Later I found out how this can be improved. Tapping against a sloping plastic margarine box makes seeds shove slowly. And one can drop them one by one on a white plastic spoon. When I was looking for a plate with small round holes, I found the solution in the sink; a rubber sink mat with holes.
Storage of sweet peppers
When peppers are stored for a long time, the fruits get soft. They evaporate water (dry out) while they do not absorb water. To keep the peppers firm during storage, they need to absorb as much water as they evaporate.
At my first trials, each pepper was stored with its stem in a cup of cold water. The photo above is on many Pinterest pages.
The same method: a plastic box with 7 peppers in cups of cold water.
Much work, cups with peppers easily fall over, much space needed.
A newer method was putting peppers with their stems on moist kitchenpaper.
And with this method peppers could ripen.
Method 1 and 2 were executed in the open air, so no lid on. These procedures were rather good. But much work to do; cutting a part of the stem, placing each pepper on the stem (in water or on moist paper), keep the pepper upright (no toppling). The water in the cups needed renewal each few days. The kitchen paper dried out fast. Regularly checking and water adding was necessary.
One day I put peppers in an open tray on moist paper (method 2) on the kitchen table. My wife needed more space on the kitchen table for her work. So I put another tray (upside down, as a lid) on the tray with peppers. And my wife could put some kitchen things on this lid.
To put on the “lid”, I had to lay some peppers aside. The “lid” was a little displaced to form a narrow air opening. This storage turned out to be super. Sweet peppers ripen and/or keep firm on moist paper and in moist air. And it is a simple method.
You can use a tray (with moist absorbing paper on the bottom) with plastic foil on top. There is an air opening next to the foil (right side of the photo).
Later I found out to transform a soft pepper into a firm pepper just by immersion in cold tap water or by pouring water into the pepper.
Sowing with a shift fall tray (with silicone nozzle), sowing stick and sink mat
The first design of the shift fall tray had a “thick” fall tube. When you sow with this tool and a sink mat, seeds are scattered (spread) under each mat hole on “bumpy” garden soil. This must be improved.
I got a comment in which one suggested to use a empty silicone nozzle. This works well. When I was sowing early summer carrots in a tray (tip 20), I wanted all seeds to fall exactly on the desired position.
I got the idea to use the sink mat twice; 1) (again and again) put a thin round stick through a mat hole into the soil to make sowing holes, 2) use the shift fall tray and (again and again) put the fall tube in a mat hole and drop one seed into the sowing hole underneath it. To prevent the fall tube from plugging, a simple rubber band around the tube prevents it from going too deep in the mat hole.
And later I made a tray with 3 fall tubes. To overcome plugging of the tubes by garden earth, I wanted the holes to end somewhat higher than the moist soil. This could be done by making a cocentric construction with 2 tubes per fall tube, the outher one somewhat longer.