10 Gardening Tips from Catherine Castle

I’m thrilled to welcome award-winning author and award-winning gardener Catherine Castle to the Power of 10 series. Today, Catherine shares her favorite gardening tips.

Here’s Catherine!

I’m a gardener and a writer. In fact, I can actually claim the title of award-winning gardener, thanks to the Shaker Farms Garden Club who awarded my garden the title of 2009 Best Hillside Garden. I also have a gardening blog on my website called A Writer’s Garden—Through the Garden Gates with… where I highlight the gardens of other authors. Today, I’d like to share my favorite, and often used, garden tips. I hope you’ll find them helpful. Please join me sometime at A Writer’s Garden.


1. When a tall sprig of poison ivy springs ups in the middle of your prized plants, don’t risk catching the itchy stuff by pulling it up. Instead, insert a paper towel tube, wrapped in plastic storage wrap or tape, over the pesky weed and spray weed killer inside the tube onto the poison ivy. When the plant is dead, grasp the weed with the tube, remove the tube and plant, and toss them in the trash.

2. To help prevent the spread of fungus in the garden, experts recommend you dip your pruners into rubbing alcohol after each cut. Carrying a dish of alcohol wouldn’t be easy in my garden. Instead I drop a container of large alcohol wipes in my garden bucket and wipe off the pruner blades after trimming an infected plant.

3. Can’t find large container of alcohol wipes? Make your own by soaking paper towels in rubbing alcohol. Drop a few sections of toweling into a gallon ziplock bag, or an empty disinfecting wipes container, and soak the toweling with rubbing alcohol, and walah! Instant disinfecting wipes for your garden.

4. If full size shovels and rakes are too awkward to use in your raised beds, become a kid again. Purchase sturdy, metal and wooden, child-sized garden tools to use in your raised beds.

5. A gardener can never have too many buckets, but who wants to pay for them? Instead, ask friends to save their cat litter buckets. These plastic containers are perfect for storing dirt, leftover peat, or other garden materials. Best of all, they’re free!

6. Are bad knees making you unsteady in the garden? Use a walking stick, made from the handle of an old broom, to give you extra support and stability in the garden. Saw off the broom bristles and put a rubber cap on the cut end of the handles. You’ll be able to hike over any garden wall, hill, or uneven surface with confidence.

7. If you don’t want to spray weed killer in your veggie beds, use white vinegar instead. Simply, spray vinegar on the weeds. It might take several sprays to kill the weeds, but you won’t poison your vegetable garden. Be careful when spraying because the vinegar will do in your veggies as well as the weeds.

8. To prevent transplant shock when starting your plants from seed, plant the seeds inside potting soil filled eggs shells. The shell will deteriorate in the soil and add nutrients for your seedling.

9. Make organic insecticide by combining two teaspoons of dishwashing liquid or castile soap, a few drops of vegetable oil and a gallon of water. Spray this mixture onto plants in the early morning or late evening, when the sun is off of them. The insects are killed by direct contact with the soap.

10. To make sure your Christmas cactus blooms at the proper time without the hassle of putting a box over it every night, reduce the amount of water you give the plant starting in October. It will bloom in time for a colorful Christmas display.

TheNunAndTheNarc2_850 (2)

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes & Noble


catherinecastleAward-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing and gardening all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspirational romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award.

Where to find Catherine…

Website/Blog | Amazon | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Group Blogs

Stitches Thru Time | SMP Authors Blog Site


10 responses to “10 Gardening Tips from Catherine Castle

  1. Love the tips!
    I garden in raised beds and my brother-in-law made me a hand held hoe that is about 15 inches in total length—similar to a kid sized hoe….I call it my hoe-hoe:)
    Love the poison ivy tip too—so far so good this year. I’m not itching!

    • It also works for weeds in the middle of the flower beds where you don’t want to spray your flowers. I’ve got some honeysuckle in the daisy bed that I’m planning to attack next using this method.

    • Weeds are the bane of my garden! I’m constantly pulling them. And I hate using weed killer in my veggie beds. Vinegar works best on a hot day. The sun and the vinegar work together to burn the weeds.

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