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A dozen gardening hacks to keep things pretty
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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Sara Swida is director of Keep Liberty Beautiful, a part of county government.

When I was growing up, the word "hack" meant a couple of different things: cutting something, like hacking a log, or someone that is unprofessional or sleazy. When I looked up the word, I learned it has even meant coughing.

In recent years, hack also referred to breaking into a computer, but nowadays it means something totally different. It means a quick solution to a problem. So if you go on Pinterest or other social media sites, you are going to realize that "hack" is the word to use instead of good old fashioned words, like "tips" or "ideas."

So, if you are a gardener or a wannabe gardener, here are some pretty neat gardening hacks that often reuse items that might have ended up in a trash can!

Hack 1: Try using cut up strips of old t-shirts to tie plants, like tomato plants to dowel sticks or even just plain old sticks to help your plants grown vertically.

Hack 2: Do you have a bumper crop of herbs to harvest? After cutting them and giving them a good rinse. Let them dry and chop them up. Then use ice cube trays to freeze them in either water or oil — depending on the herb and your preferences — to preserve them until you need them to use for recipes. Leftover herbs are also great added to softened butter and stored in the freezer until you can them in cooking or as a finishing sauce for meats or vegetables.

Hack 3: Do you have a lot of seed packets? A great way to organize them and store them is to use a photo album. You could also add notes — or hacks that you have learned — from previous planting experience with the seeds.

Hack 4: Do you have some seedlings that are ready to plant? Start your seedlings in their own biodegradable ‘pots’ by using a half of a lemon rind that is left after scooping out the center. Add potting soil and your seedling and you can plant the whole thing in your pot or garden when you are ready.

Hack 5: Many fruits and vegetables can be re-planted. Take a green onion and slice off the bottom of the white onion. Place your onion in a small jar of water. In a few days, your onion will be sprouting roots and you will have you a new onion plant!

Hack 6: Leftover eggshells can also be very beneficial for your plants. Rinse them well and crush the shells. Sprinkle the crushed pieces over the soil around your plants roots. Not only will the egg shells deter some pests from hanging around your plant they will also enrich the soil with calcium over time.

Hack 7: If you have leftover rain boots from kids or grandkids, wash them up and then decorate them with spray paint, etc. Use each boot as a planter for herbs and other small plants. The boots can then be mounted on a fence or a pair could be a cute decoration on a porch or at a doorway.

Hack 8: Do you have a slug problem? Evidently, slugs cannot hold their liquor. To get rid of them leave a small dish or dishes of beer around your problem area in your garden. In the morning you will find a dish of dead or highly inebriated slugs awaiting to be discarded. At least they died happy.

Hack 9: A favorite hack of mine helps me because I really despise wearing garden gloves, but I hate to have dirty or stained nails. Before going out to work in your garden, dig your nails into a bar of soap so that your nails are full of soap so there is no room of dirt as you are working. When you finish, just wash your hands thoroughly and your nails will be clean and stain-free.

Hack 10: Consider painting your planters on your deck or in your yard with Glow-in the- Dark paint. It creates an interesting effect at night!

Hack 11: Use a clean disposable diaper or a piece of one in your planter as a base —absorbent side up —before adding your soil and plant. The diaper will help hold moisture in the planter.

Hack 12: Use an old colander as a hanging planter. Spray paint or decorate the colander to match your outdoor décor before adding your soil and plant.

If you would like to find out more information about gardening hacks that you will love, contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 880- 4888 or or check out

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