Have you ever heard of the meatloaf story? It goes a little something like this:
A mother is making meatloaf with her teenage daughter; a ritual they’ve been doing together for years. As part of the tradition, the two chefs cut the ends of each side of the meatloaf before putting it in the oven. One day, the teen asks, “Mum, why do we cut the ends off the meatloaf before we put it in the oven?”
Taken by surprise, the mum began to think. She had no good reason, other than that’s how her own mother did it and that was the way she learned. Together, the two called up grandma. “Grandma, why do we cut the ends off each side of the meatloaf before putting it in the oven?” After a brief laugh, the Grandmother admitted that she didn’t know the answer either. It was the way her own mother taught her. Tradition. It turns out her mother was living in a nearby nursing home, so they all went to visit.
Upon hearing the question, the 98-year-old great grandmother roared with laughter. “I have no idea why you are cutting the ends off the meatloaf! I only used to do it because I didn’t have a big enough pan!”
Our mums are our most favourite people in the world. It is a kind of love that is unsurpassed, and while we go through our “phases” in life, our mums stick by us through the best times – and the worst times – with an unrelenting love that can only be experienced by mother and daughter.
Who we are today is often formed by what our parents taught us, one way or another – whether it’s being similar, or the opposite! Traditions are passed down, tips and tricks of life are shared, and handy little secrets are taught – all designed to make our lives easier (well most of the time anyway!).
So when we asked our Facebook fans and customers what the best gardening tip their mum ever taught them in our recent Mother’s Day competition, we got a whole lot of responses that were uniquely awesome.
1. Cut roses above the first 5 leaf growth
Sadly my fingers are a bit brown…not green like mum’s. She knows all the Latin names for things and knows I’m good at following simple instructions. I think of her every time I deadhead my potted standard roses. She told me to cut just above the first five leaf growth on the stem and to ignore three or seven ones. Works every time and I get prolific flowers and regrowth.
2. Keep your old tea leaves!
My Mum always said use your old tea leaves in your potted plants as a fertiliser, I am not sure if it works but have had some lovely plant growth over the years, not sure if it is from the tea leaves but would love to think Mum shared a great tip….
3. Make a wish
My mother taught me to always make a wish before picking and eating the first ripe strawberry from the garden – and my father insisted on playing music in the hothouse to boost the growth and health of the plants inside. Although his three children grew up listening to jazz, the tomatoes thrived on classical music. We were very fortunate to have parents who knew that love and laughter coupled with a little magic, as well as growing our own food and feeling connected to the natural world, made the world a wonderful place.
4. Leave it to the elemental fairies
My Mother is not a gardener WHAT SO EVER. It’s outright disappointing ! I don’t know who I got my green thumb from, but it’s not her. Funnily enough though, all (outdoor) plants that I have ever given my Mum are flourishing. So she must be doing something right. Whether she leaves it to the elemental fairies and nature alone, or talks to them, whatever her trick is it’s working ! I will be sure to ask
5. Make your own organic compost
My Mum loves gardening ! She would spend all day outside if she could. We just bought and moved into a new house, the backyard is bare (and full of rubbish unfortunately) but Mum is digging it over and planting it up. Anyhow, her best gardening tip is, Make Your Own Organic Compost with whatever brown and green waste you have around the section, get in organic manure and seaweed if you need to, and when cured give the plants heaps ! They love it and will absolutely thrive. Healthy soil, healthy plants.
6. Pour leftover dishwater over roses to rid them of aphids. And tell your man it’s okay to wee at the base of a citrus tree!
To pour left over dish water over roses to get rid of aphids , also for a man to wee at the base of a citrus tree helps growth… Now I thought that was hilarious as a kid, and thought growth of what.. Them or the tree….lol
7. Dead head flowers
Dead head.take all the dead flowers off the plant and it grows more flowers.
8. Plant seasonal
Plant seasonal for the right season!
9. Have a system!
Have a system so you can keep on top of the weeds
10. Visit your local beach and collect seaweed for the garden
My parents were great fans of putting seaweed on their garden. I used to find this rather odd as a child and didn’t really enjoy helping them collect it at a local beach after a big swell. It used to smell too… but it must have worked because we always had a great abundance of vegetables every year.
11. Give your plants a touch of love
A touch of love will help the plants to grow because everything deserves a bit of love!
12. Use Epsom salts
Use Epsom salts for tomatoes and flowering plants
13. Use little clay pots as cloches
Little clay pots make cloches for protecting young plants from overnight frosts and freezes
14. Mix up fertiliser and compost into the dirt before planting
Mix up fertiliser and compost into the dirt before planting – not after something’s been planted on top as a conditioner. It’s more effective the other way round.
15. Piddle around the base of your lemon tree!
She taught us to put our piddle around the base of our lemon trees, yuk not sure if it worked but we did get lemons!
16. Where a weed will grow, a plant will grow
Where a weed will grow a plant will grow.
17. You can grow almost anything in a pot!
You can grow almost anything in a pot! Just remember that it’s like a dog – it won’t survive unless you water and feed it.
18. Line terracotta pots with plastic
Mum always spent ages lining her terracotta pots with plastic with holes in it. One day I asked why and she said that pouring water into terracotta is like pouring it down the drain. I’ve always remembered this!
19. Always plant Lavender
My mum told me that when I bought my first house I had to plant Lavender. She said that it attracts the bees which is good for the garden. I didn’t – so she came over and planted it herself. Haha.
20. Companion planting
Plant with a brain is what mum always used to say! She taught me which plants are best to plant with each other and when. So whenever I plant veges I always try to plant things that are harmonious with each other.
21. Avoid planting tomatoes in the same place as tomatoes that have had root rot or been diseased – for 2 years
I have a big planter which has always grown an abundance of cherry tomatoes. Then one year I planted beefsteak tomatoes and they all had what looked like rot at the base. Mum told me that I should plant my tomatoes in a different place the next year, and plant another vegetable in their place. This will ensure the disease isn’t picked up by the tomatoes a second time round. Fingers crossed!
22. Soak low germinating seeds like parsley
Mum always planted seeds rather than seedlings and so I picked up a few things over the years. One that sticks to mind is for to soak slow germinating seeds like parsley in warm water overnight to speed them up, and then plant them.
23. Bananas speed up the ripening process!
I always refused to eat brown bananas as a child. Mum even tried to tell me the brown spots were chocolate just to get me to eat them! Anyway, she sometimes put them in bags on the kitchen bench with other things like tomatoes and when I asked her why, she told me that it helps to speed up the ripening process. Now whenever I want avocados to ripen faster, I put them in a bag with overripe bananas!
24. Put coffee grounds on the garden
My dad drunk a lot of coffee and mum would always keep his coffee grounds and put them on the garden around baby plants. She said that it helps to keep the slugs off!
25. Drown ants in pots
I used to help mum in the garden and one time I pulled a plant out of a pot and all around the dirt and roots was covered in ants. I immediately dropped it (not sure if that one lived!) but mum told me they were okay they had just decided to set up home. So I guess it’s okay if ants are around the roots of a tree. Then dad told me to drown them in a pot of water – so I’m not quite sure which is right or best, but I definitely remember it!
26. Put banana peels in the garden
Put banana peels (dig them) in the garden. They release nitrogen which acts like a fertiliser. Except when the dogs are around. And then they are an excuse to just dig up the garden!
27. Store bean plants to avoid frost
We live in a colddd area that is always prone to frosts. Mum taught me that you can dig up bean plants up and actually store them where the can avoid the frost. Then re-plant them again after the frost and then they will keep on growing.
28. Make drains pretty with vines!
Mum’s garden was immaculate growing up, and my favourite memory is how she used to put frames up around the drain pipes and put flowering vines on them so that they looked pretty. Then she would put fairy lights on them up the drain pipe as well. Magical!
29. Car wax helps to loosen stiff garden tools!
I’m rather bad at leaving garden tools outside overnight and they always get rigid and stuck. Mum taught me that a little car wax can help loosen the joint parts and get them working again!
30. Plant around a pot and you’ve got a slow watering system
Mum went a bit overboard with all her crazy garden inventions but one I remember is that she used to put holes in a pot around the top, put the pot in the ground, and then planted seeds around it. She would then fill the pot up with water and it would work like a slow watering system. Not sure if it worked as I haven’t tried it myself, but it seemed to!
31. Aspirin can get rid of fungal issues
My mother used to mix up 2 aspirin in water and use it as a spray on plants that were having some fungal issues like the powdery or black stuff that you sometimes see.
32. Use a shoe organiser for your garden tools!
When mum would come to visit she could never find the gardening tools that she was after as they were never in the same place! So she went away and came back with one of those hanging shoe organisers and created labels for all the tools haha. She then told me that if they weren’t in their place when they arrived she would be very upset!!!
33. I had left plants in pots for too long, and mum shared this great tip
I had left plants in pots for too long, and they always seemed really dry – no matter how much I watered them they needed more water. So mum explained to me they were too root-bound and dense to absorb the water and that I need to re-pot them, but the problem would just continue if I didn’t fix the issue. She told me to soak the plant for a few minutes prior to re-planting.
34. Try not to water the plant’s leaves
I’m hopeless at watering plants – it’s terrible! I do it so sporadically but I’m so busy. But the one thing I do remember is to avoid wetting a young plant’s leaves, as it can lead to mold or rot.
35. Trim and prune!
Mum always drilled in to me to trim and prune my tomato plants regularly to allow for increased circulation.