Gardening Tips you may have never known, from an Amish man you may never meet

I DO NOT have a green thumb…whatsoever! My husband knows not to buy houseplants because I kill them!! Everytime! He is the complete opposite.  He loves plants and will tend to them remarkably! Anyway, each year we plant our own ENORMOUS garden and buy a bunch of bare root fruit trees and bushes.  You can tell which ones I plant and which ones he has planted.  Mine are usually crooked, injured, and planted in a hole just big enough to fit the roots.  He digs a bunker for each tree and perfectly waters and spreads fertilizer on each one that he plants.  We have over 150 trees and bushes that he has planted around our property.  Some of them are big whopping trees that produce fruit and some of them I am unsure what they even are because they haven’t grown from day we planted them.

We headed to Medina to a Amish tree nursery where we buy super cheap bare root trees and plants.  I admire the amish in many ways.  They choose not to follow the world, they know EVERYTHING that pertains to living off the land, they are simple, their kids are admirably disciplined, they are super frugal, and completely domesticated.  All attributes that I greatly admire.  So we took the trek out there on Saturday.  If I had a nickel for everytime I said the words “stop it” to my kids in the car, I would be rich right now!  Road trips with 4 little boys usually ends in calamity!

Every year we order from this nursery, and we could easily just mail order from them, but we look forward to going there each year to glean some of the wisdom that this old amish man and his precious little wife have to offer.  So we spend about an hour there asking question after question, and I usually have to drag my husband and my brother out the door after that.

So here are some tips he gave us that I never knew:

1) Do you have a problem with animals chewing on the bottom of your tree trunks? You DON’T need tree protectors, just use latex paint.  That’s right, he told us just take latex paint and paint the bottom of your tree, it will keep all those critters away!

2) What should we use to fertilize our trees? NOTHING! We mulch around the bottom of our trees to keep the weeds out.  If weeds are growing around the bottom of the tree, it takes away from the nutrients that the tree needs to grow.  Mulching the bottoms of your trees will kill two birds with one stone.  It stops weeds and has what your tree needs for fertilizer.

3)Pruning…I hate pruning trees, it seems like such a waste to cut off all that growth.  But this guy has beautiful trees, I’ll take his advice! Clip the top of your tree and the branches that are growing upward.  Trees want to grow upward.  If you are growing fruit trees, you want the branches to grow lateral.  He clipped the vertical branches, then took the clippers and put a small incision right above the buds, he said this will give you a 90% chance to have a branch grow where you put that incision.  I don’t mean cut through your branch, but just a little nick above the bud where you would want a branch to grow out.

4)Deer Problems?  Don’t buy screens or any of the anti deer products, Just hang fels naptha soap from your trees and the deer will stay right away from them.  We cut the bar into little slices and hung them off the trees.  It worked great!

5)We often try to find the largest fruit trees we can find, it’s discouraging to start with small trees but he encouraged us that in order to get your trees to grow healthy, you need to clip all of the branches about a third of the way down, and leave only two thirds of all the branches.  It encourages a good sturdy tree rather than a tall and lanky tree.

6) He said that if you have a problem with critters in your vegetable garden, mix hot sauce with water and spray it all over your plants.  They critters will steer clear of your garden.  Although my husband would kill me if I used all of his hot sauce on my vegetable plants. I am going to give it a try though.

There you have it, wisdom that is tried and true from the amish who know what they’re doing!  Contact me if you ever want to know the name of his nursery for tree ordering.  You’ll love their hospitality when you go.



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