Gardener-to-Gardener Tips

Sometimes, gardeners send tips to us via e-mail. Here's a selection of some of the great ideas we've received:

Cardboard Composter
If you have access to large, sturdy cardboard boxes like I do, use them as compost bins. Not only are they biodegradable, they're free. I use only the very thick (almost an inch) ones that are large enough to hold 3 cubic feet of material. Sometimes I need to cut the carton's dimensions so that I can easily turn the pile. You can leave the tops and/or bottoms on to protect it from the elements, or just use a tarp if you wish. Simply drill or poke holes with a screwdriver anywhere you want. I live in southern California, and my bins last an average of year or longer. When the sides get too soft, I just throw them in my new bin for compost. If you don't have these big thick boxes available, ask around at warehouses or maybe even those home improvement centers.
-Suzie, Torrance, Calif.

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Drought-Proofing Technique
I love the look of clay pots but they are not always the best choice for water loving plants, such as impatiens. I have found that the pots don't dry out as quickly when I line the pots with landscaper's fabric (dark plastic with many tiny holes in it) before filling them with dirt. This works especially well in my flower boxes. I use this along with the water-retention crystals and pots my pots don't go limp in the hot afternoon sun.
-Liz, Ill.

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Success with Avocados
The avocado in the back yard of our home in North Long Beach was beautiful but wasn't bearing fruit. I literally told the tree "if it didn't bear fruit next season...", the wood pile! It worked.
-Stephen, Los Alamitos, Calif.

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