25 Household Essentials for the Budding Gardener

At some point in your gardening career, you’re going to find yourself reaching for a ‘thing’ to prop up a sagging seedling, or a ‘thing’ to stow a broken seed packet, or a ‘thing’ to revive a disinterested parsley clump.

household essentials include a labeling kit

Labeling kit – cat not included

When that happens, the last thing you want to do is stop working, get in the car and drive to the big box garden center for a ‘thing’ — especially when you’ve already got practically everything you need stowed in your handy dandy catch-all box of ‘household essentials.’

  1. dry erase markers
  2. stick-on dry erase sheets
  3. toothpicks for securing potato cuttings and avocado seeds over water
  4. bulldog clips – I use them to clip watering instructions to the sides of pots
  5. zip storage bags – thousands of uses, including organizing your garden household essentials
  6. panty hose for tying stuff up
  7. glass jars for storing, seed soaking
  8. soda bottles make great impromptu watering cans
  9. yarn remnants for tying up stuff
  10. bamboo skewers for holding labels and aerating small soil pots
  11. twist ties for tying up sturdy stuff
  12. old serving spoons work great for stirring small bits of soil
  13. old colanders
  14. sturdy scissors
  15. an old white t-shirt if you don’t happen to have old panty hose laying around
  16. paper towels for cleanup – you’ll need ’em
  17. coffee filters for soaking seeds before planting
  18. coffee cans with plastic lids
  19. aluminum foil remnants can be used to make heat traps
  20. prescription bottles for storing loose seeds
  21. old spice jars with shakers for seed spreading
  22. paper towel cores
  23. painters tape
  24. eggshells – add calcium to water when sterilized and soaked into a tea
  25. Epsom salt – gives a magnesium boost to flagging plants

While Waiting for Sprouts to Sprout, Gather Household Essentials

While you’re waiting for that first seed to turn into a seedling, gather up a few “household essentials” from that list and stow them in a safe place in your garden center (yep, that shelf over there where you’re keeping those pots you’ll need in a few months).

Put a great big label on the side that reads “GARDEN HOUSEHOLD ESSENTIALS – KEEP – DO NOT TOSS!” This will stop some helpful soul from throwing out a box full of what appears to be junk to the untrained gardening eye.

Labeling the box as “household essentials” also keeps the contents from feeling like they’re refugees from an old junk drawer. Stuff loves to be repurposed!

Speaking of Labeling …

Addicted as I am to the painters tape-and-bamboo-skewer label method, there are times that’s not practical – and they don’t stand up well to water splashes – plus they can’t be repurposed. A label that says ‘Parsley’ will always be for parsley. So I’ve changed my approach to labeling.

I’ve recently become a huge fan of Avery Peel and Stick Dry Erase Sheets. I cut them into strips and attach them to the sides of boxes, flats, pots, planters – whatever I need to mark. They stay put, and come off when it’s time to repot (or reuse the label), and the dry-erase marker ink makes it easy to repurpose the label as needed. A full sheet attached to the wall lets me keep quick garden notes and shopping lists – and it removes without grief or damage.

The occasional dribble of water won’t damage the sheet or labels, and won’t make the dry erase ink run.

Of course, you can buy prepackaged fancy schmancy labeling kits that do basically the same thing. But since I only use an inch or so per label, these 8.5″ by 11″ sheets can make a LOT of labels. Use your bamboo skewers as posts.

Then I use neon ‘dots’ (actually I use Avery Round Color Coding Labels) to show which pots get watered daily or every other day. They stick right on the dry erase labels. (I also use these dots to mark the ‘up’ side of USB and micro-USB connectors — otherwise I can NEVER get them to connect without trying each direction multiple times. Dot ‘up’ and the connection is done.)

So, there you have it. A few ‘household essentials’ to gather and save for when you need them the most!

To your garden success! Casey – the Garden Lass

Woohoo! The -um – Something Hatched!

This morning was joyous and just a wee bit unsettling. Something sprouted, but I have absolutely no idea what.

In the middle of last month, while gardening was still a curiosity and not yet a full-blown commitment, I stuck a few seeds into three peat pots, which I watered, lit, watered, waited, sunned, shaded and -finally- shoved into an out-of-the-way corner in disgust.

Hi, Who are you?

I figured my attempts at growing tamarind (or tamarisk) and sumac (aka “sumach”) were doomed to end in failure, after happening upon the instructions for how to plant these recalcitrant beasts – and the guidance that if I don’t boil the seeds first, I might as well watch concrete grow.

Ahoy, Voyage of Broken Dreams: This passenger is heading ashore at the next port. The … one of the seed sets has sprouted!

Aye, that’s the rub. One of them did. But there’s no way to know which one.

You see, I was ever so careful to mark the pots when I planted each one, with perfectly penned missives relaying

  • What was planted,
  • When it was planted,
  • How (deep) it was planted,
  • What it wanted for water,
  • What it wanted for sunshine –

in short, all the pertinent details that’d help each pot of seed grow to its full potential.

That was then. This is now, a week after having given up all hope of anything ever coming of it, removing the pots from the shelf, removing the label from the shelf – and the matching label from the pots (redundant, yes, I know, but safety in case the pot didn’t make it back to the exact location).

So now I know that (a) something has sprouted, (b) it is a sumac OR (c) it is a tamarind, and (d) it is not a lemon tree since I didn’t plant any of those.

The coin is a United States quarter, by the way. I wanted to show how big it is on its very first morning aboveground. I’ll let you know if any rabbits disappear.

I would like to think this lack of forethought on my part could have been prevented by a decent plant marker. As it is, I don’t think the best plant markers in the world could have saved me from myself, but it would have at least reminded me of what a good idea it is to mark my seedling pots.

[PS. Follow the progress of this little fellow in the Tree Chronicle, where I’ll post regular updates about his progress. Got an idea what he is? Ring in!]