Close up tools used for gardening
ECO gardener

Regardless if you are a new or a seasoned gardener, gardening becomes a lot easier when you know the tricks of the trade. Good thing we’ve got several gardening tips and tricks up our sleeves and we’re willing to share! If you love getting your hands dirty, try any of these outrageously smart gardening tricks:

Lining the planters with coffee filters

Line Your Planters with Coffee Filters

A good planter should drain the soil well so the plants will not drown from standing water. Unfortunately, most planters have large holes at the bottom so bits of dirt tend to drop from the holes, leaving a muddy mess in the garden.

Usually, adding a layer of gravel or small pebbles help contain the potting soil but if you just ran out, try this trick: line your planters with coffee filters. Just pop a coffee filter at the bottom of the planter and add the potting soil. The coffee filter will strain the excess water from the soil without the mess!

Coffee Ground as Natural Fertilizer

If your mornings are not complete without a cup of freshly brewed coffee then you are probably throwing used coffee grounds in the trash. Don't! You can use the coffee grounds as a natural fertilizer! Adding the coffee grounds in your garden soil is a cheap and easy way of enriching the soil! You see, coffee grounds are naturally rich in nitrogen.

Apart from enriching the soil, coffee ground improves the soil's drainage and water retention. It also aerates the soil, helping beneficial microorganisms, like earthworms, to thrive while keeping slugs and snails at bay. Using coffee grounds as a fertilizer may increase the acidity of the soil, which is perfect if you have many acid-loving plants in the garden.

Plants sprouting from a lemon rind

Plant Seedlings in Fruit Rinds

While most gardeners use seedling pots or trays for growing seedlings, you can use fruit rinds as eco-friendly seedling pots! Sure, you can buy biodegradable seedling pots at your local nursery but using fruit rinds will reduce your household waste.

Just like commercial seedling pots, you can bury the fruit rinds directly into the soil, enriching the soil with a host of nutrients that will keep your newly planted seedlings healthy and strong.

From orange rinds to avocado, lemon to pomelo rinds, these fruit rinds are big enough to handle small to medium size seedlings. To make your own biodegradable seedling pots using fruit rinds, cut the fruit in half and then scoop the center out.

Clean the hollowed rinds with running water and then drill holes at the bottom of the rinds using an ice pick. Plant the seeds according to the package’s instructions and you’re done. When it’s time to plant the seedlings, just bury the rind in the ground along with the seedling.

Matchsticks for Enriching the Soil

It seems crazy to use matchsticks to enrich the soil but this old -timey gardening trick works like a charm! Matchsticks contain phosphorous and phosphorous sesquisulfide, nutrients that are essential for growing green peppers.

Green peppers prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. If your soil is not acidic enough, the phosphorous in matchsticks will add acidity to the soil. Planting several matchsticks near the green pepper plants will definitely lead to a bountiful yield season after season. We recommend planting about 10 matchsticks (head first in the soil) two inches from the base of the plant. Never plant the matchsticks in the same spot as the plant, just near it.

Epsom salt

Epsom Salt as Organic Fertilizer

Who knew this kitchen staple makes a wonderful plant fertilizer? Epsom salt is packed with magnesium that germinating seeds need to strengthen cell walls. As an organic fertilizer, Epsom salt enriches the soil with nutrients while improving moisture retention without harmful chemicals.

Epsom salt is also used to counter transplant shock, prevent leaves from yellowing and/or curling as well as deter garden pests. Using Epsom salt on fruit-bearing plants could lead to sweeter fruits.

Flowering plants, on the other hand, will grow bushier with a little Epsom salt added to the soil. Adding Epsom salt to vegetable plants lead to larger, more bountiful yield.

Milk as Organic Fungicide and Pest Deterrent

Milk makes a useful addition to any garden. As a natural fungicide, milk protects plants from powdery mildew that cripples the plants' ability to grow. Powdery mildew refers to a group of fungal diseases that affect plant leaves, stems, and even the flowers. Powdery mildew will not kill the plants right away but it could weaken the plants leading to a slow die-off or a poor yield.

Plants infected by powdery mildew are unable to conduct photosynthesis because the fungi blocks light exposure and inhibits the leaves' gas exchange process. Worse, the infection could quickly spread from leaf to leaf, plant to plant.

Although science has yet to explain how milk works in preventing the spread of powdery mildew, some believe the milk proteins interact with the sun to create a "brief antiseptic effect" that burns any fungi.

To use milk as a natural fungicide, just mix one part milk to 2 to 3 parts water in a spray bottle. Spritz the solution liberally on both sides of a healthy plant's leaves then let the plant soak up the sun until dry.

As a fertilizer, milk enhances the soil's ability to hold moisture and nutrients. It protects the plants from pathogens, seasonal diseases, and destructive insects like aphids. It also enriches the soil with calcium, preventing blossom end rot.

A basin of water

Hacks for Watering Plants

Contrary to popular notion, collecting rainwater is not illegal. It’s actually a great way to conserve water if you have a garden! There’s nothing to it, just get a couple of buckets with lids.

When the rain comes, set the buckets at the downspout so the water goes directly into the containers and not down the drain. Once the buckets are filled to the brim with rainwater, replace the downspout. Cover the buckets with the lid and set them near the garden so water is always accessible.

Apart from collecting rainwater, you can also recycle the water you used for washing your fruits or steaming/boiling your vegetables. The water you used for steaming your veggies are teeming with nutrients that will help your plants grows strong and healthy! If you have a fish tank at home, you can reuse the fish tank water to water your garden.

Fish tank water is packed with nitrogen and phosphorous, nutrients that aid in healthy plant growth. These gardening ideas are perfect for places that either experience droughts regularly or get little rain every year.

Controlling Invasive Plants

Some plants have the tendency to take over the entire garden if they are not trimmed often enough. A great way to keep invasive plants in their rightful places is to contain the roots using a bottomless planter. To do this, just snip the bottom of a plastic planter with a cutter.

Choose a spot where you want to plant the invasive plant in question then dig a hole. The hole should be large and deep enough to fit the planter. Bury the planter in the ground, plant the invasive plant then cover the roots with more soil. The planter will act as a barrier that will keep the plant’s root system from spreading to other parts of the garden.

Gardening tools

Keeping Your Gardening Tools Sharp and Rust-Free

Keeping your handheld gardening tools nice and sharp is one way to make any gardening task easier but if the upkeep is too much to handle, try this trick: make your own cleaning and sharpening tool holder. It’s easy!

Use any of your free terra-cotta pot as a gardening tool holder. Fill the planter with a mixture of sand and mineral oil. The sand is abrasive and it will keep your tools sharp every time you take them out and place them back in the tool holder. On the other hand, the mineral oil added to the sand will lubricate your gardening tools, protecting the finish from rust and dirt.

Keeping Grass and Weeds at Bay

Weeds and grass rob plants of much-needed nutrients so you have to dig and pull them out regularly. If the thought of pulling grass and weeds for long stretches of time is not your idea of a good time, consider investing in raised beds. The borders of the raised beds act as a barrier that protects your precious plants from weeds.
Since the plants are set in sections, weeding isn’t as taxing as it used to be. Best of all, you can control the quality of the soil by using raised beds. And if grass grows persistently in the raised beds, just cover the beds with black plastic, creating holes for the plants. The grass should be dead and easy to remove within a few weeks.

Growing a garden is such a joy when you’re seeing great results! Just keep these clever gardening tips in mind to simplify your gardening tasks and ensure am impressive yield!

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