A trip to the garden center can put a real dent in the budget, but you might be surprised how many convenient things are in your house, right at your fingertips. Using household items in the garden frees up money for the important stuff, like more plants! Here are 7 surprising household items that can be used in the garden and pique your creativity.
1. Newspapers make terrific mulch. Lay the papers around the base of your plants to discourage growth of weeds and invite beneficial earthworms, then add a layer of mulch to camouflage the paper. If weeds are stubborn, use a double or triple layer of newspapers. The newspapers will eventually deteriorate into the soil.
2. Water your plants with unsalted, cooled potato water for an added nutritional boost. That’s right, you can actually irrigate garden plants with water used from boiling potatoes, eggs, pasta, broccoli, spinach, squash or corn.
3. Fertilize plants with banana peels. Banana peels are a rich source of potassium, and also provide decent amounts of calcium and phosphorus. One of the easiest ways to use banana peels is to chop them up in little pieces and dig them into the top 3 or 4 (7.5-10 cm.) inches of soil. You can also dry the peels, grind them up and sprinkle them around your plants.
4. Save those tea bags for your plants. If you’re a tea drinker, your plants will love the soggy innards of used tea bags. Just open the bags and sprinkle the contents around plants. The tea improves soil structure and feeds earthworms. Used peppermint tea bags are a great deterrent for ants, either inside or out.
5. Help plants fight off infection with aspirin. An old-fashioned aspirin tablet can help fight fungal diseases and produce healthier plants. To use aspirin in the garden, dissolve a couple of tablets in a gallon (4 liters) of water, then pour the water on the soil around your plants. You can also use the mixture as a foliar spray, but don’t overdo it, as the too much may scorch the plants.
6. Plants enjoy coffee too. Coffee grounds provide all sorts of nutrients, including nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and antioxidants. Rake the coffee grounds into the surface of the soil or mix them with mulch such as leaf mulch or compost. Spread the coffee grounds to dry first, as wet grounds may mold. You can also water plants with leftover diluted coffee.
7. Baking soda fights unsightly powdery mildew and other fungal diseases. Just mix a teaspoon (5 ml.) of baking soda to 1 gallon (4 L.) of water. You can also add ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml.) of dish soap to help the solution stick to the plants. Spray the mixture on plants every week throughout the growing season.