Gardening with Micki: Gardening made easy for seniors

Ladybugs in your garden can help keep pests away from your prize tomatoes. 

A small 34-page booklet was in my mailbox recently. The title was intriguing — “Gardening Made Easy for Seniors.” Since I'm in that vintage category, the title was rather compelling. Besides, the story headlines were amusing. Among the crop — “Roses Go Ape Over Bananas.” “Try Some Jello-O for More Lush Leaves.” And “Give Houseplants A Sip of Tea, Not Water.”

I already knew ladybugs are good garden companions. They eat aphids, mites, and other pests right off your plants, especially tomatoes. And for years, I've tossed crushed eggshells into flower pots and used egg cartons as perfect starters for new plants.

But the pamphlet — a teaser for a 230-plus page book — was most informative. Here's a sampling of the savvy garden advice.

If you've ever encountered fire ants, as I did in the sixth grade playing jacks on the concrete playground, you know their bite stings badly. Feed them grits with water. They swell up and die.

Bothered by mosquitoes on your patio? Plant basil and pansies to chase them away.

Other garden pests will leave when you plant mums, garlic, marigolds, basil, mint and nasturtiums.

For healthier houseplants, tomatoes and peppers, give them an aspirin occasionally.

Common vinegar is an inexpensive weed killer. It also works to keep your hands soft after shedding your garden gloves.

Earthworms can turn bare garden spots into better soil.

An acidic drink will perk up gardenias, azaleas and rhododendrons.

If cutworms are snacking on your tomatoes, put a 10-penny nail in the flower pot or garden plot. Slugs also love tomatoes. Put a container of beer near their site. They can't resist. They guzzle the beer and die.

Place coffee filters in the bottom of your pots to keep the soil intact.

Plants love an invigorating boost of potassium and sulphur. Mix one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses in a gallon of water to make a spray.

Like people, plants have friends and foes. Marigolds and tomatoes are amiable. But don't plant thyme near potatoes.

Plant veggies in containers if your yard is too small for a garden.

All these tips are aimed at saving you money and garden heartbreak. Of course, I'm ordering the big book. The tips are true and fascinating. 

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