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Every gardener has his or her own gardening hacks and materials they use to make it as easy possible while giving the most return in the garden.
I have my own garden hacks and I check the internet from time to time to see if I can use tips from other gardeners.
Here are 20 gardening hacks I learned from other gardeners.
Recycling pots is quite obvious if you want to start from seeds. You need quite a big amount of pots to get all the seedlings started.
You don’t only have to recycle your own gardening pots. There are many options when it comes to gathering and recycling pots.
Plastic yogurt pots in our country, just have the right size to start seedlings in. I personally take all the pots I can get from people who know I recycle pots. I even have some people who wash out their yogurt pots and bring them to me.
We also have a special recycling system where plant-sellers have a special bin where people can put in there used pots for other people to recycle.
That way I can sell my plants, for the non-profit, in pots I don’t have to pay a penny for because pots can be quite expensive if you have to buy them in small quantities.
make your own markers
Yes, make your own markers to set next to the seedlings you grow. I personally use recycled bottles and cut markers out of them. It doesn’t cost me a penny and I always know what grows where.
Some ice creams have wooden sticks you can use as a marker. It’s even compostable.
I have seen many creative ways of making markers. Some using stones, tiles or even branches to make markers off.
use paper pots if necessary
You can use paper pots where needed. I use paper pots to sow turnips and peas that don’t like to be transplanted. There are a lot of plants you can transplant in paper pots or toilet rolls which otherwise are not transplantable. Just make a hole in the ground and put the whole paper pot inside. It’ll decompose while the roots search their way down.
watering with a bottle to avoid dry soil
Do you have big pots that tend to dry out too fast? Maybe you live in a really hot climate and the plants suffer because of drought. You can easily poke some holes in a bottle and put the bottle in the ground next to the plant. Fill the bottle with water and close the cap. The water will gently seep out and water the plant the whole day.
The above method has the same impact as using ollas.
recycle bottles to use as cloche against freezing temps
One of the gardening hacks consists of keeping cut up bottles to use as a cloche when freezing temps are threatening young plants. Just cut out the bottom of the bottle and set it over the young plant. Keep the cap off so fresh air can circulate around the plant.
For the above-mentioned technique, you can use a whole bunch of different bottle sizes.
put seeds in water to speed up germination
Seeds like pea seeds and beans can take quite some time to sprout if you just put them in the soil without any preparation.
Take the seeds you need and put them in a jar filled with water for about 12 to 24 hours. Let them soak up the water. After this period, you can gently sow them in place or in a pot (paper pot if necessary) and they’ll germinate a lot faster.
use small soda bottles as seedling pots you can sell at no cost
If you need a lot of seedling pots and you can’t afford to buy pots. Or you don’t find any recycled pots, use small soda bottles as seedling pots. They are free and it only takes some cutting to start them as pots. Make sure you poke in enough holes to drain the water.
use the internet to find the right sowing time of plants, the internet has everything
Are you sick of looking through the books to find out when to sow your seeds? use the internet with the name of the plant you’re looking for. You’ll have a 100% success rate if you type in:”How to grow …..?” in google. The days of books are over, you can find everything on the internet and in most cases it’s free.
start vermicomposting to make your plants healthier
Composting with worms or vermicomposting is already well known, but still, a lot of people don’t see the advantages of vermicomposting. Let me give you some of the advantages.
Vermicomposting is easy and cheap.
It makes a great compost/fertilizer that doesn’t only fertilize but it also helps your plants to stay healthy.
You can compost your kitchen scraps, instead of tossing them in the garbage.
You can sell composting worms. Do you know you can ask up to 35 euros for 2 pounds of worms in some countries? You should check if you are one of the lucky ones.
use eggshells for calcium
Eggshells are a great addition for the garden. Eggshells contain calcium and a lot of soils lack in calcium. Keep the eggshell in a pot until you have enough to grind up or just pulverize with your hands and throw around your calcium-loving plants.
If you want to sterilize the eggshells, do this. Wash out the eggshells with warm water to dissolve any protein still in it. Keep them in a pot until you have enough egg shells. If you have enough eggshells, spray them so they are wet and put them in the microwave for 5 minutes on maximum temp. Let them cool off and your eggshells are sterilized.
use coffee grounds as natural fertilizer
Did you know that coffee grounds have an average N P K value of 2-0.3-0.3.
Although the P and the K value are really low compared to the nitrogen, it still is a really good amendment for the soil. You can easily grow lettuce on normal soil with only coffee grounds as fertilizer.
If you combine your coffee grounds with leaf mulch and kitchen scraps like banana peels and weeds like comfrey, you can make a full spectrum fertilizer.
compost banana peels as magnesium fertilizer
We just talked about banana peels combined with coffee grounds. Well, banana peels are a great fertilizer if combined with other fertilizers.
Banana peels don’t contain any nitrogen but that doesn’t make them less useful. They do contain 45% potassium and 3,25% phosphorus. It also contains small amounts of trace minerals and micro-nutrients. So, stop throwing banana peels in the bin, throw them in the compost pile or next to your favorite plants.
Do you know that there’s a practice to get whiter cauliflowers?
Just pull the leaves together over the cauliflower head and bind them together.
When the head doesn’t get any light, it will turn white again.
We talked about cauliflower. Well, the same principle works for endive. Just wrap the outer leaves together or put a bucket over the plant for 7 days and see your endive turn white again.
The above-mentioned practice does have some warnings. Don’t try this when it’s humid outside or when the plant leaves are wet because this can start fungal growth on your plants.
clean name tags with rubbing alcohol
Are you using plastic tags to put next to your plants? You can reuse them by cleaning them with rubbing alcohol. Don’t toss them in the bin yet, they can look like new after cleaning them.
use your lawnmower to compost faster
the smaller the parts in the compost pile, the faster everything breaks down. Just use your lawnmower to grind up leaves and small branches and you’re good to go with the compost.
use newspaper or cardboard to smother weeds
Have you ever heard of lasagna beds? No, you can’t eat those. But lasagna beds have their name due to their layering system.
One of the principals of lasagna beds is the use of cardboard or 6 pages of newspaper to smother the weeds. On top of this layer, you can layer grass clippings, compost or aged manure. You’ll have far fewer weeds and no worries about the grass you covered.
Newspaper and cardboard decompose rather quickly and are not dangerous for your soil. By the way, worms love cardboard.
use a burner to get rid of weeds
Burn down your weeds with a special burner. Yes, it does take time and it has to be done quite often. But you don’t kill your soil with weed killers that way.
use or make growing bags
Growing bags can be made of plastic or weed blankets. You can make them yourself or you can buy them online. Growing bags made of weed blankets breath and your plants will grow bigger and healthier in those bags.
Some people don’t want anything else anymore than grow bags to grow potatoes in.
mulch your paths to avoid weeds
Keep mulching your pathways to cover weeds. You’ll have beautiful natural pathways and it’ll be totally decomposable. Many gardeners that tend gardens have far too much wood chips. Try to make a free deal with them so they can get rid of the woodchips and you can benefit from it. Mulching your paths with woodchips is like a dream come true.
gardening hacks extra: join seed swapping communities
Save the seeds of some of your plants and join some seed swapping communities online or offline. You’ll never have to buy seeds again.
So this is it for this article on gardening hacks. I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share on social media, with friends, and other gardeners.
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Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.