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21 Garden Hacks You Can’t Live Without
Looking for creative garden ideas and hacks that will make your garden more environmentally friendly, grow better and even help to save you money? We’ve put together a list of our 21 favourite garden hacks that will help your plants to thrive and look better than ever, whilst making gardening easier and less time consuming for you. We’ve included everything from home brewed, natural insect repellents and fertilisers, to watering hacks and ways to make the most of your kitchen waste.
1. Eggshell Planters
Next time you crack open some eggs, refrain from throwing away the shells, they’ll be useful in your garden. If you keep the eggshells, you can use them to plant your seedlings, rather than using plastic pots. Not only does this mean you won’t be using plastic pots around the garden, but the eggshells are bio degradable and will add a little calcium boost to the soil as the self compost.
2. Water with Wine... Bottles
We all enjoy a nice glass of wine to relax, but next time you finish the bottle, don’t throw it out. You can purchase little terracotta stakes, that allow you to take your empty wine bottle, fill it with water and use it as an irrigation system. The water will slowly be absorbed through the terracotta stakes and keep the roots of your plant moist.
3. Stop Unwanted Draining
Are you sick of watering your potted plants to find all the water just drains right through and out the bottom of the pot? Well, we are too, so why not start adding coffee filter paper to the bottom of your pots, this will slow down the amount of water that drains through the soil and out of the pot, giving your plants more time to soak the water up.
4. Homemade Fertiliser
Not everyone is into composting, but if you save scraps of kitchen waste, such as egg shells, banana peels and even vegetables etc. you can create your own fertiliser to help your plants grow that little bit better.
5. Citrus Peel Planters
Similar to using egg shells to start your seedlings, you can also use lemon peel. Once you;ve squeezed your lemon, rather than throw it out, you can remove the centre and use it for your plants. Again, lemon peels are bio degradable and can be planted to give the soil a little extra boost.
6. Water Bottle Irrigation
Another simple way to ensure your plants are always getting enough water, is to use your old plastic bottles as an irrigation system. If you put holes into the sides of your bottle, you can plant it in the soil close to your plant. Leaving the top of the bottle exposed allows you to re-fill the bottle, while the holes in the side of the bottle means that water is able to trickle out of the bottle and water your plants.
7. Cinnamon Powder Power
Most people love to use herbs and spices in their kitchen to spice up the flavour of their food, but did you know you can use it to prevent plant diseases – Cinnamon has anti-fungal properties, meaning it can be sued to prevent diseases spreading to your seedlings.
If you ever find yourself in need of a water can, but without one to hand, don’t worry. You can easily turn an old milk bottle into a great watering can (One you might never want to stop using), simply pierce a few holes in the cap using a hot needle and fill with water.
9. Coffee Pesticide
If you’re looking to keep bugs and critters away from your freshly grown plants, then coffee grounds could be your saviour. Coffee grounds have been shows to prevent ants, slugs and even snails, keeping your crops pest free. On top of this, coffee grounds are also an effective fertiliser and over time will give your plants a nice dose of nitrogen.
10. Eggshell Shield
Another great hack for keeping pests away from your plants is to crush up egg shells after using them and sprinkle the shells around your plants, essentially creating a barrier, that slugs, snails and other soft bodied pests wouldn’t dare to cross. Plus, ground up egg shells will give your plants a helpful calcium boost.
11. Keep Plants Watered
Another great way to keep plants watered without you needing to get involved is to use tissue roll and a container of water. Place the end of a line of tissue in the container of water, make sure the tissue stays in one strand and doesn’t break, then lay the tissue across the base of your plants. The tissue will absorb the water and as the tissue lying at the plant base soaks the water up, the soil will also start to absorb the excess water from the tissue.
12. Kills Weeds with Vinegar
If you’re looking for an all-natural way to kill weeds, vinegar could be the perfect solution. For the best homemade weed killer, simply combine vinegar with salt- you’ll need around 4.5 litres (1 gallon) of white vinegar and 450g (1 cup) of normal table salt. Some recipes also call for a small amount of washing up liquid – around 1 tablespoon. Then, simply decant your solution into a spray bottle and start spraying weeds with them. The vinegar’s natural acidity will kill unwanted weeds by drawing out their moisture, and it will wither most plants in just a few days.
13. Garlic and Chilli Insect Repellent
If you’re tired of bugs munching away on your leaves and ruining your plants, try this organic insecticide. Bugs will be repelled by the pungent smell of the garlic, whilst the capsicum in the chilli provides a further line of defence. To create this spray, puree 2 bulbs of garlic in a food processor with some water. Mix in 2 tablespoons of chilli powder or crushed chillis and stir in 2 litres of water. Finally, add a tablespoon of liquid soap and mix together thoroughly. Spray any infested plants and enjoy watching them return to their full glory.
14. Attack of the Clones
Want to start cloning your plants? With cuttings you can! A wide range of plants can be grown from cuttings, including herbs like sage, thyme and basil, flowering plants such as holly, rose and hydrangeas, and even cacti and chilli plants. Plants grown from cuttings will generally grow faster, enabling you to grow your garden more quickly. Just make sure you do your research beforehand; cuttings need to be taken and prepared in certain ways for the best results and it varies between different species.
15. A Shot of Vodka
Believe it or not, vodka can help cut flowers stay fresh for longer as it slows down bacteria growth. You only need to add a few drops to the water in the vase for this to work.
16. DIY Frost Jackets
Plants that aren’t frost-hardy won’t last long if the mercury drops too low. A late frost can take us all by surprise though, so if one strikes and you don’t have a horticultural fleece or cloche for your seedlings, simply cover them with a terracotta plant pot to protect them from deadly temperatures. This should only be left overnight; uncover them in the morning so they get the light they need to grow. Similarly, an empty milk bottle can make an effective greenhouse!
17. Soak Tough Seeds
Large seeds, wrinkled seeds and seeds with a hard coating can take a long time to germinate. If you soak them in lukewarm warm overnight, their protective coating will break down and when planted they will germinate more quickly. This technique works well on tough, big seeds including peas, pumpkin, squash, cucumbers and squash. Smaller seeds generally won’t benefit from this treatment and the water can make them too slippery to work with.
18. Make Your Own Plant Markers
Tired of forgetting what’s what in your garden? Broken roof tiles, plant pots stones and even wooden spoons can make attractive and fairly hardy recycled plant markers – much better than the free paper ones you get at the garden centre. You’ll never get confused in your garden again.
19. Design Your Garden With Flour
Want your garden to be neat, organised and laid out according to plan? Flour can be used to create guidelines when planting. It’s non-toxic and shows up fairly well against soil.
20. Collect Rainwater
Rainwater has a lot of benefits for your garden, as unlike tap water it doesn’t contain chlorine and fluoride – chlorine in particular can poison plants. Furthermore, tap water can be hard or soft. Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium and this is sometimes remedied with sodium. Unfortunately, sodium is also toxic to plants and can also affect soil integrity.
Rainwater, on the other hand, is always soft. Any minerals are at a much lower concentration and it also has higher levels of oxygen which will help your plants to flourish. Using rainwater is also better for the environment and you’ll never have to worry about a hosepipe ban again! You can actually make a rainwater collection barrel from a standard plastic bin and a few other materials – check out this guide.
21. Attract Pest-Eating Insects
Not all insects are a scourge on your garden. Ladybirds will actually eat pests like aphids, mealybugs, scale insects and mites. These bugs are all a danger to plants and can ravage an entire garden. You can actually buy ladybirds online to release directly into your garden. Alternatively, plant flowers and herbs like sunflowers, marigolds, geraniums, dill, fennel and chives – ladybirds adore the pollen. If you fancy trying your hand at some DIY, you can even make your own ladybird feeder with just a few materials and tools.