Compost piles trap heat generated by the activity of millions of microorganisms. A 3-foot by 3-foot by 3-foot compost pile is considered a minimum size for hot, fast composting. Piles wider or taller than 5 feet don't allow enough air to reach the microorganisms at the center.
Want to check for surface feeding insects? Cut out both ends of a coffee can, screw it into the suspected area of infestation, fill it with water and a tablespoon of dish washing soap. As the water soaks into the soil the insects will float to the top.
Nitrogen encourages leafy growth, often at the expense of flowers and fruit. Don't use high-nitrogen fertilizers on tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants prior to flowering.
Wait until the ground has begun to freeze before mulching bulb beds. Mulching earlier will encourage bulb-munching rodents like mice and voles to nest there. A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch will help prevent freeze-thaw cycles that can heave bulbs out of the ground; however, mulching is not absolutely necessary except in coldest areas.
Deciduous trees with deep taproots are better companions for naturalized plantings than trees with shallow, spreading roots.
Moles don't usually eat plant matter, focusing instead on insects. However, rodents such as mice and voles use their tunnels like a subway, and they do eat roots and bulbs. As you plant, mix products made from crushed oyster shells into the soil surrounding the bulb. This makes for tough digging for the rodents, and they might be induced to look elsewhere for a meal. Some gardeners resort to planting bulbs in little cages made of hardware cloth (wire mesh) to keep critters from munching on the bulbs.
To naturalize bulbs in your lawn, choose bulbs that blossom and fade before grass grows vigorously and requires mowing: crocus, winter aconite, snowdrops, and scilla.
If deer are hungry enough, they will eat almost any plant. However, some plants are less appealing than others, depending on what your local population has learned to eat so far. Daffodils are often cited as being deerproof, along with glory-of-the-snow (Chionodoxa) and crocus. Unfortunately, tulips and lilies are deer favorites. You might ask some of your neighbors if they have had luck with any particular plants, then try those in small quantities as an experiment. Many gardeners use repellent sprays with varying success, but to be as effective as possible they must be applied and reapplied according to the instructions. Home remedies include using soap, blood meal, human hair, and so on, but in the end the only truly reliable solution is a deer-proof fence.
Annuals bloom better if the old flowers are removed. This prevents seed formation that normally makes annuals start to decline. The practice is particularly important when growing ageratum, calendula, cosmos, marigold, pansy, rudbeckia, scabiosa, verbena, and zinnia.
Making separate holes is time-consuming, so an easy way to plant a large area is to remove the top layer of soil to the appropriate depth, add low nitrogen fertilizer according to package directions, set the bulbs in place, and then cover the area with soil. For a natural look, some gardeners gently toss the bulbs in and plant them where they land.