In the Garden:
Inland Northwest, High Desert
April, 2004
Regional Report

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Gardeners have to brush up on their math skills to correctly mix garden tonics.

Gardening Sometimes Involves Math

Say what you will about garden chemicals. It doesn't matter whether you're "for" or "against" them, or whether you favor organic or chemical approaches. They all require the user to break out the old arithmetic skills.

It all works out great if you happen to be treating a large area and can use a hose-end sprayer with a dial you can set. But what about those times when you want to tote around a small spray bottle for the occasional spritz?

Let's Review Our Fractions
Most labels tell us to add so many ounces or tablespoons of the product per gallon of water. That's where the hose-end sprayers work well. Set the dial on top and away you go.

For smaller jobs, I carry a quart-size spray bottle I picked up at the grocery store. It's easy to carry, and the math is pretty simple. Since a quart is one-fourth of a gallon, I divide all amounts by 4. So far, so good.

If the product label wants me to add, say, 2 tablespoons of their product to a gallon of water, I can still divide. There are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon; 6 teaspoons in 2 tablespoons. Six divided by four is one and one-half. So I'll add 1-1/2 teaspoons of the product to my quart of water.

Know How to Break Down Measurements
Next time you're in a kitchen store, look for a table of measurements. It will break down teaspoons, tablespoons, and cups for you. Tape it up for easy reference. Or look in the back of your dictionary.

Knowing how to make these calculations will ensure that you don't use more of a product than directed on the label.


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