When the earliest green shoots of crocuses and daffodils start to poke their heads...our hearts sing! These signs of spring are also signs of renewal, hope, and the endless capacity for small miracles—if you just pay attention.
When our hearts are singing and our lungs are filling with the subtly-warming fresh breezes that are gently carrying the subtle (narcissus) or not-so-subtle (Bradford Pear) scents of spring and we are literally spinning around with our arms out like Maria in the Sound of Music...that is often *right* when we notice SOMEONE HAS BEEN CHEWING ON OUR PLANTS!?
We get it. Everyone loves a salad, especially bunnies. But NOT our tulips, please, Peter! We aren't about to go all Mr. McGregor-and-a-sackful-of-the-Flopsy-Bunnies-destined-for-a-fur-coat on the situation BUT we aren't going to take it lying down. Lillian (whose nefarious nibblers have even taken to snacking on evergreens!) swears by this simple, all-natural, non-toxic rabbit repellent to keep those sweet friends hopping on their merry way—away from her carrots.
1 tablespoon Dried Garlic
1 tablespoon Red Pepper Flakes
(Lillian gets these in bulk from the market)
To a 750 gram Le Parfait or pint size mason jar. Fill with water and soak for a few days. Old Wives will tell you to put it in a sunny spot (and let's be honest, Old Wives know what is up).
Strain solids and add to a spray bottle, topping with a squirt of liquid dish soap.
We love our Foundry Amber Glass Bulk Bottles for this purpose—and you can be sure to label it "Anti-Cottontail" or similar with a wax pencil so no one accidentally tries to clean the counter with it (which would actually work fine, but the kitchen would smell even *more* like garlic than it already does).
Spray at will on plants you don't want munched! Some delicate plants may be sensitive to the zippiness of the red pepper, but we've found that this is aces for keeping fiends away from our beloved bulbs and early-tender-poking-perennials.
In the spirit of a good-old-fashioned knowledge-share (and, a little self-servingly, because our Foundry community always shows up with the best advice! See also: brilliant, community-sourced tips on cooking and cleaning) we asked for your most verdant GARDENING HOT TIPS and, reader, you blossomed! As always, we are honored to be on the receiving end of such a trove of information.
- Setting out water for squirrels in hot weather cuts down on strawberry/tomato theft (and is there anything worse than a tomato with a single squirrel bite out of it left in the dirt!?).
- Interplant narcissus in with anything that's getting chomped, rabbits and deer both dislike the scent—and we love it—so everyone wins.
- Sprinkle the hottest cayenne pepper OR ground black pepper in containers to keep squirrels at bay. Redo after rain!
- One Swedish grandmother had special wire cloches she would place over her tulips in the spring.
- Cover blooms in small, reusable organza gift bags to keep deer and bugs away.
- Place a bowl near the garden with soapy water to attract and kill Japanese beetles.
- To get rid of slugs: sink a jar lid into the dirt so that the rim is even with the soil and fill with BEER. The slugs will come in to party all night and don't come back out.
- A spray of castile soap and water keeps aphids away. Add a dollop of cooking oil to help the spray adhere to leaves.
- A multitude of options to keep deer away (unclear if any of them work but we are looking forward to trying): Irish Spring soap placed in a fabric bag and hung from a branch, human hair scattered around outdoor plants (?!), store wet coffee grounds in a bag for a week and scatter those around.
- Mammal Pee! (TMI?)
- 1 gallon white vinegar + 1 cup salt + 1 tablespoon dish soap=natural WEED repellant.
- One Foundry Family member uses the leftover salt-water slurry from making ice cream as a weed killer in patio cracks!
WATERING + CONTAINERS
- Water in transplant seedlings with mint tea. Squirrels hate the smell and won't dig them up.
- It's better to underwater than overwater! Easier to revive a dry plant than a drowned one.
- Garlic and onions can be grown in containers!
- Cut up old sponges (the perfect application for the gnarlies you may have laying around after switching to an all-natural wool sponge) and put in the bottom of pots. The sponges will absorb any standing water and create necessary air space. They also help keep water from flushing out the bottom. The sponge will then act as a water reserve, keeping soil moist longer.
- Use a coffee filter to keep dirt from coming out of the drainage hole in the bottom of a pot.
- Many plants love cool weather, so if you wait until late May to plant in MN it's actually too late.
- Sanitize your gardening tools regularly to prevent spreading disease.
- Swap split perennials with friends! Good for the plants, diversifies the garden, and is so fun!
- A "weed" is only a weed if you don't want it there. Rethink your relationship to dandelions, henbit, and vetch (or similar!). Often the humblest "weeds" are actually charming pollinator favorites whose desirability/detestability is a direct reflection only of the gardener's state of mind.
- If a plant isn't happy where it is, just move it. It *might* be you, but it's likely the conditions.
- Just plant more. Lillian's mom swears by planting half again as many bulbs as she "thinks" she'll need so, if she does get hit by rascally rabbits, it's no big deal. Worst case scenario? MORE FLOWERS.
Whew! We can't wait to get our hands in the dirt! You too? New gardening books, tools, and fresh seeds are right this way. Let's get growing!