Growing your own plants, whether delicious fruits and vegetables or lush greenery and flowers, is a rewarding and relaxing pastime. Here are a few novel ideas to use while tending to your garden.
1. Identify plants with sticks and stones. These materials add a natural touch to the look of your garden while allowing you to easily find and identify what you’re growing. Find a variety of rocks with smooth surfaces on which you can paint the name of each plant. Alternately, pick up some wide sticks and shave off an area of bark, leaving a flat surface on which you can write plant names with permanent markers.
2. Use tape to banish aphids. These small, greenish-yellow insects feed on a variety of fruiting and flowering plants. You can purchase special yellow tape to use near these plants; the insects are attracted to the color and become stuck. You can also use duct tape to wrap the bases of fruit trees, sticky side out. This keeps ants from climbing the tree and feasting on the sticky substance excreted by aphids–it also keeps ants from protecting them. Finally, masking or clear packing tape wrapped around your hand makes a great tool for removing aphids from plants manually.
3. Use the cooled water from steamed veggies to water plants. Vitamins and minerals leach from steaming vegetables into the water, creating a nutrient-rich broth that’s perfect for watering thirsty indoor plants. Ensure that the water reaches room temperature before using it, or else you could scald the plant.
4. Use the grounds from tea or coffee to add acidity to soil. Certain plants like azaleas and blueberries grow best in soil that is slightly acidic. If your soil is very alkaline, balance the pH by amending the soil with the grounds before planting. Your plants will also benefit from a boost of nitrogen, as well as the earthworms who will use the grounds for food.
5. Keep fungus–and fungus gnats–at bay with chamomile tea. Simply brew tea using a single tea bag to 2 or 3 cups of water, allow it to cool, and add it to a spray bottle, spritzing the foliage of plants affected by fungus. Chamomile contains natural fungicidal properties. As an added bonus, the gnats that feed off plant fungi lose their primary food source.
6. Use your car to dehydrate herbs. The internal temperature of your car can easily reach 120 degrees or higher on a hot day. Lay the leaves of the herbs you want to dry on baking sheets lined with paper towels or paper bags, and set the pans on the seats of the car, rolling up all the windows. Within a few hours, you will have perfectly dried herbs to use in tea or spice mixes.
Cultivating your own plants, edible or otherwise, is a popular and practical way to spend your leisure time. With these helpful hints and clever ideas, you can make the most out of your time in the garden.