As we move deeper into Spring a lot of folks are spending more time out in their gardens. From vegetables to herbs to flowers, I’m seeing a little bit of everything already peaking out of the ground around here. For all the gardening enthusiasts out there, I thought it would be fun and interesting to share some of the more “strange” yet totally ingenious tips, tricks, and creative growing ideas that have been passed along our direction through the years:
Pipe Planting – Mint is an extremely useful and tasty herb but it can also be extremely invasive. You can effectively keep it and other prolific plants from taking over by growing it above ground though. Simply drill some holes in a PVC pipe, plant it vertically and fill it with dirt. Roots have to go down a long way to invade the rest of the garden.
Jar Planter – If you’ve run out of room on the ground, it’s time to start growing things in the air! Any sort of glass jar will work for this. Alternatively, you can also use old bottles by cutting a hole in the side. First, figure out how you want to hang it. Twine wrapped the lip works just fine. You can also fashion a collar made from picture wire or metal clamps. I’ve even seen people use old wire hangers! Put a layer of small rocks or pea gravel on the bottom, fill the jar with dirt, stuff a plant inside, and hang it wherever you’ve got enough room and sun. You can obviously just hang them from hooks, but there are countless creative ways to display them.
Bottle Watering – This is a totally genius way to make sure your potted plants don’t dry out by creating a reservoir with any inverted long-neck bottle, like wine bottles. You want to attach some sort of spike to the top. A couple of ideas – fasten PVC or copper pipe via a waterproof silicone adhesive. There are some good instructions HERE.
Deter Pest with Peppermint Oil – Not only does peppermint essential oil repel ants and spiders, but it can also help keep aphids, beetles, caterpillars, and even mice at bay. To use this to your advantage in the garden, add 15 drops of peppermint oil to a small glass spray bottle, then fill the remainder of the bottle with water. Spritz your peppermint spray around the perimeter of your garden, or around the outside of your pots. Shake the bottle before each use and reapply often.
Save Your Eggshells – Instead of tossing out empty eggshells, save them to use in your garden! Eggshells make a great fertilizer because they’re rich in calcium and other minerals that your plants need. Sprinkle crushed eggshells into the holes before planting, or sprinkle them around the base of established plants every few weeks. You can also scatter crushed eggshells around your vegetables and flowers to deter common garden pests like slugs, snails, and even stray cats!
Pipe Watering – This is a great trick for thirsty tomato plants. Start with 4” to 6” PVC drainage pipe, cut into about 18” lengths. Drill 1/2” holes along the length and all around the pipe and bury it vertically, leaving around 3 inches above ground – you want this elevated. Once the weather starts to get warm, fill that pipe up about once a week. The water seeps out slowly and encourages the roots to grow deeper, allowing the plants to grow taller and also protecting them from dry topsoil. About once a month, toss some nutrients down the hole to really keep your plants happy.
Creating a Grid – Do you struggle to plant everything in perfectly symmetrical rows in the garden? Try using a muffin tin to map out a perfect grid by pushing the outside of the pan deep enough into the soil to leave an easy-to-see impression!
Plastic Fork Pest Deflector – Struggling to keep the bunnies and other unwelcome nibblers out of your plants? Stick plastic forks in the ground around them – handle in the ground with the prong side up. Ouch!
Metal Spoon Garden Markers – Create your own custom garden markers out of old silverware! If you don’t have any lying around, check out the thrift store where you can usually find it for next to nothing. You’ll want to flatten them a little using a hammer – do this on a hard surface with the rounded side facing you. It’s not necessary to smash them completely flat. You just want them mostly not rounded, as the paint will stick better. At this point, your imagination is the limit. Decorate them with regular acrylic paint ; decoupage some artsy veggie pics onto them; or just use some regular mailing labels and a sharpie. Whatever you go with, make sure to seal it with several layers of an acrylic top coat.
Moss Graffiti – This is fun and different. If you’ve got a bare shady spot you want to brighten up, moss could be the “living” solution. Basically, you make a “paint” out of moss, buttermilk, and sugar. You can then apply it in any design you can think of using a paintbrush or even a spray bottle. There are good detailed instructions HERE.
Use A Milk Jug To Protect Plants – Cut the bottom off of an empty milk jug and use it as a “mini greenhouse” of sorts. Set it over small, tender plants to protect them from frost during the early part of the growing season. You can also use it to keep bugs and pests away from those temptingly tender leaves of young plants.