FYI: 10 Easy Hacks to Enhance Your Garden
The grass is growing, flowers are blooming, vegetables are fruiting… yes, this is certainly our favorite season! In celebration of the warmer, sunnier months ahead, why not spend some time tending to your garden? There are countless ‘hacks’ out there that provide big benefits for growing your flowers, herbs and veggies, so we curated 10 of our favorites just for you! Learn how using eggshells can prevent certain critters from accessing your plants, as well as which common kitchen ingredient you can use to keep seedlings thriving. We also explore how left-over coffee grounds—and even coffee filters—can be used in the garden, and more!
Whether you’re new to the hobby or a seasoned pro, these gardening hacks are known to work well and can be easily integrated into any outside routine!
Eggshells are more beneficial than you may think
Crushed eggshells can be used for many different purposes when planting a garden. Calcium, which is found in eggshells, is vital to all forms of plant life and is a “crucial regulator of growth and development,” according to the American Society of Plant Biologists. For a simple solution, place a powder made from finely crushed eggshells into a watering can and feed your plants as you would normally. Crushed eggshells work for all kinds of potted plants, like spider plants, ferns and ivy, and can be used in multiple ways, such as placing a layer of crushed shells at the bottom of a planting container! Additionally, blossom end rot is a serious problem that occurs when there is a calcium deficiency in soil. The condition generally leads to dark, rotted sores when growing tomatoes, peppers or eggplants. As experienced growers and farmers know, it can wreak havoc on plants—even decimating entire crops! Eggshells are a quick and accessible fix to this problem.
For more on which types of plants benefit most from eggshells, click here.
Protect your garden naturally with Cinnamon
Did you know your kitchen pantry may already contain herbs and spices that work just as well in the garden? Seedlings often struggle with a condition called “dampening off,” which covers a range of diseases that attack either before or after germination and cause a seedling to die. Thankfully, you can protect your garden naturally with cinnamon—a common spice that is just as powerful when used in the field. It’s an effective and much cheaper alternative to the chemical rooting hormone sold in garden retail stores, which is known to cause long-term damage to soil. Additional benefits include the warding off of various hungry animals—from ants and other insects to rabbits, squirrels or even moles. You can also use cinnamon oil to ward off flying bugs like mosquitoes—simply sprinkle cinnamon in the soil.
Want to learn more about why plants love cinnamon? Click here!
Left-over coffee is a great source of nitrogen
Many of us have heard rumors about coffee being a miracle tool in the garden, but there is some misinformation out there about how to use it properly. Many websites say to use coffee grounds as a source of nitrogen, which affects the acidity of the soil. However, it’s not the grounds but the coffee drink itself that contains the nitrogen. Therefore, we recommend using left-over coffee from your morning pot to ‘fertilize’ your garden. This is a great way to reduce waste if you are someone who tends to have left-over coffee occasionally.
For more information on why you should never use coffee grounds, click here!
Use coffee filters to line your pots
It may be hard to believe, but our green friends may actually benefit from an item regularly found in medicine cabinets! Tossing an aspirin into a vase of water reputedly keeps cut flowers fresher longer. This exciting discovery suggests it is possible to activate a plant’s natural defenses to protect them from fungal, bacterial and viral infections.
The findings may also shed light on why plants actually make their own salicylates—the family of compounds which aspirin belongs to. They suggest that salicylic acid behaves like a hormone, and may trigger other processes inside plants. The name ‘salicylic’ comes from the willow tree, Salix, which North American Indians used to make headache remedies. But until scientists began studying it more closely, no one knew what plants used their natural aspirin for.
You can read more about plant biology and the science behind aspirin in the garden here.
Painted Rocks as Garden Markers
Painting rocks to look like vegetables is one creative gift that looks great in any garden! They are an inexpensive way to mark where seasonal grows are located in your garden—especially when they’re still seedlings!
Learn how to paint your own from this tutorial!
Use stale ice cream cones as biodegradable planters
In addition to eggshells for your starter plants, stale ice cream cones also make a great biodegradable option when planting your starts. Just be mindful of which varieties you choose for using this method. “This works best for seedlings that grow within a few weeks,” says gardening expert Heather Rhoades.
For more, please check out Heather’s blog at Gardening Know How.
Produce sweeter vegetables by surrounding your tomato plant with baking soda among other uses in the garden.
There are very few household products more common or versatile than baking soda. It’s a simple, natural product that is made of sodium bicarbonate—a high-alkaline substance that produces a carbon gas when combined with something acidic. This gas causes ingredients to rise, which is why it is used for making bread. Baking soda has other uses around the home besides in the kitchen, too! For example, it can treat fungal infections, as well as other diseases. It can also be used naturally outdoors as a clear, deodorizing garden tool, a weed killer, a pH testing agent for soil, and even an insect repellent. It can even revive plants and flowers, among others!
Learn more about baking soda and its uses in the garden here.
Map out your Sunlight
Sun mapping your plots will help you not only buy the right type of plants, but it also teaches you the right spots to place them in your garden! Plants grow best if you give them the right amount of sun, but the only way to do this is to know exactly how much each of your plants need—which means you need to know how much sun each of your garden spaces get throughout the day.
Check out Suncalc.org for an easy solution to sun mapping! You can enter your location to see the sun’s path around you, as well as the amount of sunlight your area receives. This data allows you to have a deeper understanding of your environment and which plants and flowers will do best in your garden.
Epsom salts dissolved in water to provide magnesium and other benefits
You’re probably familiar with the healing benefits of Epsom salt for your own body, but did you know these similar benefits can enhance your garden too? Epsom salts—the common name for the magnesium-sulfate compound (MgSO4), or Magnesium-sulfate (which looks like ordinary table salt), can help increase nutrient absorption in plants. It can enhance your garden in a number of ways, depending on how it is used.
For starters, magnesium-sulfate is perfect for seedlings. Scientific data indicates that magnesium-sulfate can also increase cell uptake of key minerals, including nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur, which boosts seed germination by strengthening cell walls and providing increased energy for growth.
Epsom can be used when transplanting roots and requires a delicate hand. To prevent root shock, which causes wilting and leaf discoloration, mix one tablespoon of Epsom salts for every one gallon of water and apply to the roots of newly re-potted plants until saturated. Mineral deficiencies can interfere with photosynthesis, leaching green color from leaves and interfering with nutrient absorption. If more mature foliage is yellowing or curling, this may indicate a magnesium deficiency.
Epsom salts can be used in routine gardening maintenance, as well! Each month during the growing season, mix one tablespoon of Epsom salts to each gallon of water and apply liberally to the roots of fruit and nut trees, grapevines, and berry patches as routine maintenance!
For additional details on how magnesium can boost your home garden, click here.
We hope this collection can be of assistance in your life to make gardening a little easier, more enjoyable and fruitful!