Whether you're just starting to plant or your garden is in full swing, check out these unique tips to help you grow better, healthier plants. These tips are eco-friendly, organic and mostly free!
1. Create a natural fertilizer by crushing up old eggshells in a food processor or blender. Sprinkle the shells into your garden to enrich the soil. Eggshells contain calcium that some plants like tomatoes and eggplants need to avoid rot. The extra calcium helps combat this.
Eggshells also combat slugs and other pests, as well.
2. Keep weeds at bay with vinegar and salt. If you have a large area of weeds you'd like to get rid of, pour vinegar on the leaves and salt on the roots. Make sure to keep away from things you DON'T want killed. The salt will leave the soil dead for several months. It is a great way to kill plants in the fall and prepare an area for spring planting, however.
3. Layer old newspapers three or four layers deep onto areas where weeds are a problem. The paper will smother the plants and keep them from getting any of the sunlight they need to grow.
4. Try making your garden some tea. Chamomile tea is perfect for keeping bacteria and fungus at bay. Pour a cooled batch of chamomile tea onto the roots of plants to help keep veggies and flowers healthy.
5. Save the water after you boil vegetables, and even noodles. The leftover water is full of nutrients and vitamins that your plants will love to drink. Just let the water cool down before using it on plants.
6. Document your success as well as your failures. A gardening journal is the best way to make sure you remember the great things you've done, as well as helps to keep you from duplicating the mistakes the next growing season.
7. Give your plants some friends. Companion plants really can help grow your garden to its fullest potential. Fragrant herbs repel pests while nectar-rich plants, like sunflowers and zinnia, attract beneficial insects that help pollinate.
8. A well-placed soaker hose lets water seep slowly into the soil around your plants. This is a great way to get much-needed water to the roots on a steady schedule. Water your plants easily in the morning and evenings, avoiding midday sun. This method also helps your plants avoid bacteria and fungus that can appear from shock and spot watering.
9. Give your plants support by tying them up to a stake, cage or even fencing. Use old pantyhose for the best way to camouflage the ties in the garden while giving them a little bit of flexibility with the stretchy material. Great way to recycle ripped or torn stockings as well!
10. When it gets down to it, your hands are the best and most effective weed deterrent. For small, intermittent weeds, a little elbow grease and some manual weed-pulling goes a long way. It's a great way to commune with your garden and get down and dirty to investigate if there are any problems you may be overlooking.
Twinkle VanWinkle has more than 20 years of professional cooking under her apron strings, feeding thousands of friends, family and other folks. She baked apple pies for the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and has appeared on Food Network's "The Best Of..." Along with producing dynamic lifestyle content for LIN Media, she is a mother, urban gardener, chef, musician and social media fanatic.
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