Gardening may be a practical pastime, but it’s also a profoundly rewarding one. Whether a casual hobby or an outright passion, it allows you to spend time outdoors, play in the dirt, and express your creativity.
Generations of gardeners and growers have passed down tricks for more bountiful, beautiful crops. Though some of these DIY tips are based on old superstitions, others work quite well and can help solve some of the common problems gardeners face.
It’s true. Cinnamon contains alkenes, esters, ketones, and other compounds that can deter ants that invade your garden, greenhouse, or houseplants.
Some gardeners recommend sprinkling a thick line of cinnamon around your plants as well as on top of the anthill. Others swear a spray of ¼ cup of vodka, ¼ cup of water, and 20 to 25 drops of high concentration cinnamon oil is a super-effective option for getting rid of garden ants.
For decades, gardeners have been adding kelp to their gardens, lawns, containers, and houseplants. Kelp contains high levels of cytokinin, a natural growth hormone that stimulates cell division and improves the overall health of your plants. Add it to the soil when planting.
Alternatively, create a kelp tea to add to the soil around any plants. It will give a boost to plants that aren’t thriving. Some gardeners even soak seeds in kelp tea for a few hours before planting them.
Some tomatoes are sterile, but you can sometimes propagate a new tomato plant from a tomato slice — though they won’t always bear fruit. Nonetheless, it’s a simple process and worth a try.
Romas, beefsteaks, and cherry tomato slices usually work best. Fill a container with potting soil. Place tomato slices — cut to about ¼ inch thick — in a circle over the soil’s surface. Lightly cover with additional potting soil. Within seven to 14 days, you’ll see lots of tiny seedlings ready to replant.
If you live in an area where the local critter population wreaks havoc on your beloved garden, plant plastic forks, pointy sides up, in the soil around your plants. The goal is to cut down on the available ground space around your plants. This method creates a less pleasant space for animals to explore and tromp through and they’ll move on to easier pickings.
If you’re plagued with snails, slugs, red spider mites, aphids, cutworms, whiteflies, or any of the thousands of other insects that love to feed on your plants, you can try ending the problem with a simple but effective DIY spray.
Mash up two heads of garlic and three cups of mint leaves, add two teaspoons of dry cayenne pepper, then bring it all to a boil in a large pot of water. Turn off the heat and let the mixture sit overnight. Strain the mixture into clean spray bottles or a larger gallon sprayer, add a few squirts of dish soap, and mist the plants well.
If you lack yard space or time for a full-size garden, create a compact, vertical version that you can hang just about anywhere. The pockets in a shoe organizer are the perfect size for planting a collection of your favorite herbs.
Poke a few tiny holes in the bottom of each compartment to provide adequate drainage, then fill them with soil, and plant your choice of herbs. You can even label each pocket with the name of the herb it contains.
Many gardeners don’t consider the best ways to store their garden tools, even though they’ve invested money in and depend on them throughout the growing season. To keep equipment rust-free, clean, and ready for garden chores, spray them with a bit of mineral oil after each use and store them in a bucket of sand.
The coarseness of the sand combined with the mineral oil keeps them clean and sharp. And, the bucket makes for easy transport in and out of the garage and around the garden.
Research shows that adding cornmeal to the soil provides a food source for fungal species that fight off common plant pathogens like Rhizoctonia, the cause of root disease.
Cornmeal is a source of carbohydrates and provides energy to microbes and earthworms. Another product, corn gluten meal, works well as a fertilizer in home gardens and container plants.
Weeds and grasses pushing their way through cracks in sidewalks, porches, and driveways are not only unsightly, but they can also permanently damage the masonry or concrete.
Pouring salt inside the cracks, then pushing it into the soil, will eliminate any vegetation growing in them. The plants’ root systems absorb the salt, which disrupts their growth cycle, although it may take around 10 days. Some experts suggest using vinegar as well.
Take a six to eight-inch cutting from a mature rose cane that has flowered or produced a bloom. Keep it moist in a can or jar of water. Some growers label the jars with the name of the rose bush they cut them from.
Cut a round hole into the end of the potato. Dip the end of each rose cutting into a root hormone compound, then stick them immediately into the hole you made in the potato. Plant the entire potato and the rose cutting under about three inches of soil.