As I was brows­ing around over on Pin­ter­est this morn­ing, I was impressed with some of the solu­tions gar­den­ers found to com­mon gar­den­ing problems—organizing gar­den tools and sup­plies, pro­tect­ing and sup­port­ing plants, label­ing plants, nur­tur­ing and dec­o­rat­ing. I have also seen some fab­u­lous, clever and cheap gar­den solu­tions from gar­den tours in recent years, so I thought I would pull them out of the archives and share.

I have noticed that gar­den­ers are quite thrifty in uti­liz­ing and repur­pos­ing avail­able mate­ri­als. Twigs, sticks and vines can be used to sup­port plants, as trel­lises and even just for decor.

stick trellis or plant support

Sticks and vines clus­tered and tied to a cen­ter bam­boo stake make a dec­o­ra­tive and func­tional plant support

A series of larger sticks can be pushed into the ground for peas, sweet­peas and other plants that could use a bit of extra sup­port. One year we used branches from mimosa trees that had blown down in a storm to cre­ate a cucum­ber trellis.

sticks used as pea stakes

Sticks can also be pushed into the ground to cre­ate ver­ti­cal sup­ports for peas, sweet­peas and other plants that need support.

mimosa tree branches for trellis

Tree branches sal­vaged after a storm were used in our gar­den to cre­ate a rus­tic cucum­ber trellis.

If you need to block off a path or area to dis­cour­age foot traf­fic, a col­lec­tion of sal­vaged branches can accom­plish the same thing.

Salvaged branches assembled to block a pathway

Sal­vaged branches assem­bled to block a pathway

Unusual mate­ri­als can also be repur­posed in the gar­den for many pur­poses. I have often seen marine-grade rope draped to cre­ate attrac­tive sup­ports for trail­ing roses and vines.

marine rope for roses

Marine-grade rope can be used to sup­port trail­ing roses and vines.

How about repur­pos­ing sand­bags? They can be used to cre­ate tem­po­rary walls, gar­den seat­ing or raised beds.

raised beds from sand bags

Sand­bags can be used to cre­ate tem­po­rary and mov­able raised beds.

Tree stumps can be unsightly and expen­sive to remove. If it’s large enough, a tree stump can be repur­posed as a nov­elty gar­den seat, table or planter pedestal.

tree stump seat

A tree stump doesn’t have to be an unsightly eye­sore in the gar­den. Re-imagine it as a gar­den chair!

Aren’t gar­den­ers won­der­fully cre­ative and clever?

You can fol­low my board of gar­den solu­tions over on Pinterest.

 

 

Robin
Keep Reading

One of the many joys of gar­den­ing is that you get to exper­i­ment, explore and take risks. Often the cost is no more than a cou­ple of dollars—the price of a pack­age of seeds. This is the fru­gal side of gar­den­ing. (I can also show you the excep­tion­ally non-frugal side of gar­den­ing, but that, my friends, is a story for another blog post.) One of this year’s exper­i­ments in my gar­den was the cup and saucer vine (Cobea scan­dens).

cup and saucer vine Cobea scandens 2

The flow­ers on the cup and saucer vine begin as pale green lanterns and open to ivory or deep pur­ple flowers.

I don’t recall if this is one of the seed pack­ages I pur­chased or if it was included in a free­bie pack­age from Botan­i­cal Inter­ests, one of my favorite seed com­pa­nies. It seems like some­thing I would order because the descrip­tion promised this vine would 1) be a quick grow­ing, 2) grow up to 25 feet in a sin­gle sea­son 3) have flow­ers that open pale green and mature to ivory or deep pur­ple and 4) have a sweet scent.

Appar­ently the only thing this vine doesn’t do is grow hun­dred dol­lar bills on every other vine.

cup and saucer vine Cobea scandens

Before the flow­ers open they resem­ble small, green lanterns.

I like the idea of a quick-growing, dec­o­ra­tive vine as part of cre­at­ing sum­mer shade over the chicken run. The chick­ens have a cov­ered porch that allows them to get out of the rain or to shel­ter from the blaz­ing sun. But in the sum­mer some dap­pled shade over the rest of the run would improve the com­fort fac­tor in the rest of the run as well as shade their water cooler.

So how did the cup and saucer vine perform?

I’m think­ing of start­ing my own rat­ing sys­tem. For now, let’s base the rat­ing sys­tem on stars. I’ll fancy up the idea later.

What should my per­sonal rat­ing sys­tem include? An over­all rat­ing, cer­tainly. Beauty? Yes, I do think beauty is impor­tant. Pest/disease resis­tance in my gar­den? Yes indeed, that seems like a good idea too. I am over hav­ing pow­dery mildew on lilacs and Japan­ese bee­tles on pole beans. Toxicity/safety? This might not be impor­tant to some gar­den­ers, but it is impor­tant to me if I’m going to grow it over the chicken coop. I found a handy list of toxic/non-toxic plants assem­bled by the Cal­i­for­nia Poi­son Con­trol Sys­tem. The cup and saucer vine is, appar­ently, non-toxic—at least to humans. I didn’t find it listed as toxic to chick­ens any­where else on the Inter­net. And in my bold exper­i­ment here it is, appar­ently, non-toxic since the chick­ens have kept the lower parts of the vines pecked clean of leaves and flowers.

What else? Scent? Use­ful­ness? Edi­bil­ity? Okay, we’ll go with that for now.

Chicken coop with cup and saucer vine

The cup and saucer vine cov­ers the left side of the out­door run. The vine on the right climb­ing over the coop roof is a sweet autumn clema­tis, which will be cov­ered in tiny white flow­ers in the fall.

So, here is my rat­ing for the cup and saucer plant on a four-star (for now) rat­ing system.

***    Beauty — The flow­ers cer­tainly are beau­ti­ful, although they are some­what sub­tle. This is not a vine that will draw your eye from a dis­tance as some clema­tis do, for exam­ple.
**** Pest/disease resis­tance — No com­plaints here. The Japan­ese bee­tles are com­pletely unin­ter­ested. The vine doesn’t show any signs of dis­ease or other prob­lems this year.
**** Safety/non-toxicity — Cour­tesy of the Cal­i­for­nia Poi­son Con­trol Sys­tem and my own bold exper­i­ment.
**      Scent — The flow­ers do have a mildly sweet scent, but you need to stick your nose right into it to smell it.
**** Use­ful­ness — This is a work horse-type vine because it grows so quickly, pro­vid­ing a nice screen where needed in the sum­mer heat.
*        Edi­bil­ity — You can’t eat it (I don’t think). Well, you can’t have every­thing.
**** Over­all — A grand four-star rating.

The big­ger ques­tion might be, would I grow the cup and saucer vine again? Yes! And I would also rec­om­mend it to other gar­den­ers. It’s an easy, robust and pleas­ing vine. All for the cost of a pack­age of seeds.

 

Robin
Keep Reading

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.

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