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Keep slugs and aphids away from window boxes with a homemade, nonchemical pest spray. Place one peeled onion, two peeled garlic cloves, and one teaspoon cayenne pepper in the jar of a blender. Add three cups of water, and blend until smooth. Let the mixture sit overnight, strain the liquid into a spray bottle, and coat plants generously. The solution will keep, refrigerated in the bottle, for up to one week.
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Protect the Tomatoes
These wire cage supports work even for the largest tomatoes. Wearing protective gloves, use a bolt cutter to snip cross-wires on one 6-foot edge of a 6-by-5-foot piece of concrete-reinforcement wire; leave a "fringe" of wire ends, each about 3 inches long. Repeat on other long side. Cut 6-inch fringe on one short side. Roll wire to form a cylinder, with long sides touching, so that the last complete grid sections on both sides overlap fully. Bend back fringe around cage to secure. To anchor, sink 6-inch fringe 9 inches into soil. Tuck back young branches into cage as needed.
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Shake Away Pests
Put a kitchen shaker to work in your garden; it's a great tool for dispersing horticultural-grade diatomaceous earth. This nontoxic pesticide, which has sharp edges that kill slugs and bugs without chemicals, can be difficult to spread. But a shaker lets you dust an even ring on soil around plants.
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Good soil is gold. But working it when it's too wet ruins the soil structure. To test yours, shape a handful into a ball, and drop it onto the ground. If it sticks together, wait. If it breaks apart, it's ready for cultivation.
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Kill Weeds Naturally
Pour boiling water on weeds growing between pavers of a pathway. Keep the kettle close to the ground to avoid splashing yourself -- or any nearby plants you want to keep.
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This airy shelter can be moved wherever you need to shield tender plants or seedlings from full sunlight until they're established.
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A quick hoop is a low tunnel that gives plants extra protection in cold weather. Quick hoops are like mini-greenhouses that allow you to grow vegetables year-round.
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Protect Plant Markers
Seed packets make excellent markers for seedlings because they are chock-full of information. But left unprotected, the paper will fall apart in the first rainstorm. Attach packets to wooden stakes by slitting the bottom of the paper with a knife and sliding the stake through; shield each marker under a small inverted mason jar.
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The metal and plastic screens that help keep mosquitoes and other warm-weather pests out of the house this time of year can also prevent soil from washing out of planters during rain or irrigation.
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Mind the Humidity
When combined with heat, high atmospheric humidity provides nearly ideal conditions for the breeding of fungal diseases. Wetting plant foliage increases the threat of infection even more. To irrigate during hot, humid weather, use a hose-end bubbler or a "leaky" soaker hose, and apply the water directly to the soil.
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