Monday, March 16th, 2009...12:39 am

Home Remedies for the Garden

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G 365/2 Reading Matter by LittleBlackDuck

G 365/2 Reading Matter by LittleBlackDuck

The other day, TheGardenLady received in her mail a request to buy a book that has home remedies to use in the garden. These “recipes” can all be found online, so TheGardenLady wouldn’t waste her money buying the book. (Or it can be borrowed from the public library.) Certain reference books are good to own; but TheGardenLady does not recommend this one.

Still many of these recommendations can be effective; though some may not be so effective- that is why chemists are always trying to create improved methods. I know some horticulturists who sneer at this author’s work and some of the home remedies. However, many seem fun to read and even to try. TheGardenLady hasn’t tried them all. Though most of these remedies seem safe or benign, some might not be. Be wary. Remember even home remedies can be harmful. For example TheGardenLady would never recommend using salt to get rid of weeds.  Salt can be very damaging to plants.

TheGardenLady is offering this column as a fun read. If these items work for you, they can be very economical. And who doesn’t want to save money? For example, read about the value of coffee grinds for your garden. You can ask for the used coffee grounds that are given away free at Starbucks.

Vinegar seems to be a popular cheap item that can be used in the
garden.

You can find, on line, things to do, mostly on garden tools, with WD-40. Most of the items in this post are from the Readers’ Digest.  The Readers’ Digest has 100′s of uses for common items that are in your home. From the Readers’ Digest comes:

Give your plants a mineral bath
Don’t throw out that leftover club soda. Use it to water your indoor and outdoor plants. The minerals in the soda water help green plants grow. For maximum benefit, try to water your plants with club soda about once a week.

Fertilize plants
Don’t throw out those old coffee grounds. They’re chock-full o’ nutrients that your acidic-loving plants crave. Save them to fertilize rosebushes, azaleas, rhododendrons, evergreens, and camellias. It’s better to use grounds from a drip coffeemaker than the boiled grounds from a percolator. The drip grounds are richer in nitrogen.

Worms like coffee almost as much as we do, and the nutrients in the grounds will help them live longer.

Keep cats out of the garden
Kitty won’t think of your garden as a latrine anymore if you spread a pungent mixture of orange peels and used coffee grounds around your plants. The mix acts as great fertilizer too.

Boost carrot harvest
To increase your carrot harvest, mix the seeds with fresh-ground coffee before sowing. Not only does the extra bulk make the tiny seeds easier to sow, but the coffee aroma may repel root maggots and other pests. As an added bonus, the grounds will help add nutrients to the soil as they decompose around the plants. You might also like to add a few radish seeds to the mix before sowing. The radishes will be up in a few days to mark the rows, and when you cultivate the radishes, you will be thinning the carrot seedlings and cultivating the soil at the same time.

Make plant leaves shiny
Professional florists use this trick to keep houseplant leaves shiny and clean. You can do the same thing at home. Just rub a little mayonnaise on the leaves with a paper towel, and they will stay bright and shiny for weeks and even months at a time.

In the Garden Stake delicate plants
Give your young plants and trees the support they need. Use strips of pantyhose to attach them to your garden stakes. The nylon’s flexibility will stretch as your seedlings or saplings fill out and mature — unlike string or twine, which can actually damage plant stalks if you tie it too tightly.

Store flower bulbs in winter
Pantyhose legs make terrific sacks for storing your flower bulbs over winter, since they let air freely circulate around the bulbs to prevent mold and rot. Simply cut a leg off a pair of pantyhose and place your bulbs inside, knot off the end, and place ID tags on each sack using a strip of masking tape. Hang them up in a cool, dry space, and they’ll be ready for planting in the spring.

Prevent soil erosion in houseplants
When moving a houseplant to a larger or better accommodation, put a piece of pantyhose at the bottom of the new pot. It will act as a liner that lets the excess water flow out without draining the soil along with it.

Support melons
Keep small melons such as cantaloupe and muskmelons off the ground — and free of pests and disease — by making protective sleeves for them from your old pantyhose. Cut the legs off the pantyhose. As your young melons start to develop, slide each one into the foot section, and tie the leg to a stake to suspend the melon above the ground. The nylon holders will stretch as the melons mature, while keeping them from touching the damp soil, where they would be susceptible to rot or invasion by hungry insects and other garden pests.

Keep deer out of your garden
If you’ve been catching Bambi and her friends nibbling on your crops, put up a “No Trespassing” sign they will easily understand. Simply fill the foot sections of some old pantyhose with human hair clippings collected from hairbrushes or your local barbershop — or, even better, use Rover’s fur after a good brushing. Tie up the ends, and hang up the nylon satchels where the deer tend to snack. They won’t be back for seconds. The hair or fur will lose its scent after a while, so replace every four or five days as needed.

Clean up after gardening
Here are two recycling tips in one: Save up your leftover slivers of soap, and place them in the foot section of an old nylon stocking. Knot it off, and hang it next to your outdoor faucet. Use the soap-filled stocking to quickly wash off your hands after gardening and other outdoor work without worrying about getting dirt on door handles or bathroom fixtures inside your house.

Cover a kids’ bug jar
What child doesn’t like to catch fireflies — and hopefully release them — on a warm summer night? When making a bug jar for your youngster, don’t bother using a hammer and nail to punch holes in the jar’s metal lid (in fact, save the lids for other projects). It’s much easier to just cut a 5- or 6-inch (15-centimeter) square from an old pair of pantyhose and affix it to the jar with a rubber band. The nylon cover lets plenty of air enter the jar, and makes it easier to get the bugs in and out.

Rid your garden of snails and slugs
These little critters are not good for your plants. But there’s a simple solution. Take a container of salt into the garden and douse the offenders. They won’t survive long.

Use as plant food
Give your flowering, alkaline-loving plants, such as clematis, delphiniums, and dianthus, an occasional shower in a mild solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda in 2 quarts (2 liters) water. They’ll show their appreciation with fuller, healthier blooms.

Let TheGardenLady’s readers know what you have used successfully in your garden or indoor plants. We would like to know which items have come out of your pantry and are cheap.

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5 Comments

  • Love good natural remedy and complementary medicine blogs like this one, we really need more of them to more readily educate the people. Keep up the good work!

  • I’ve been told that a drink of diluted vinegar (I use a cup to half a gallon) will help acid loving plants. I used white vinegar, time will telll if that helps the leaf yellowing on my gardenia.

  • Wow what great information! I will definitely be using many of these garden remedies. I’m having an issue with a family of ground hogs and raccoons. I put down cayenne pepper and epsom salt today.

  • Thanks for the info ;)
    I’ve used oats porridge with some success for ants. You can also use other dry cereals such as maize, flour etc. Another one that works quite well is diatomaceous earth – often used in pool filters and available at hardware stores, works well on ants and other hard bodied crawlies such as beetles, by drying them out the same as salt but without damaging any plants ;) Hope this is of use to someone ;)

  • ok now garden lady vinegar will kill the plants and weeds!!!

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