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Monday, June 10, 2024

50+ Strange Gardening Tips That Really Work

Estimated reading time: 12 minutes

50+ Strange Gardening Tips That Really Work

Gardening isn't just about planting seeds and pulling weeds; it's an adventure filled with bizarre but brilliant tricks. Ever thought of using human urine as fertilizer? Sounds strange, but it’s a surprisingly effective way to give your plants a nitrogen boost!

From lining planters with diapers to using CDs to scare birds away, this article is packed with ingenious gardening tips that might make you do a double-take. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a curious newbie, you'll find that these garden hacks are both creative and practical.

We've divided the tips into the five categories listed below. Get ready to explore and experiment with these out-of-the-box ideas that promise to make your garden thrive in the most unexpected ways.

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Human Urine as Fertilizer

Believe it or not, human urine is a surprisingly effective fertilizer thanks it its high levels of nitrogen and traces of phosphorous and potassium. To use it in your garden, dilute it at a ratio of 10 to 1 (water to urine) and apply it to the soil around your plants.

Aspirin Water

Dissolving aspirin in water and using it to water your plants can help boost their immune systems. That's because aspirin contains salicylic acid, which helps the plant resist disease. This is particularly good for prevent fungal diseases and can also promote overall plant health.

Molasses in Water

Using molasses in water is a great way to boost soil microbes, which are essential for healthy soil. Molasses provide sugars that feed the beneficial bacteria and fungi in the soil. To do this, mix 1-3 tablespoons into a gallon of water, then pour a cup or two around the base of each plant. Be sure it's unsulfured molasses as sulfur can harm soil microbes.

Cooking Water for Plants

After boiling vegetables, don't pour the remaining water down the drain. Instead, let it cool off, then use it to water your plants. Why? Because the water is rich in nutrients that leached out of the vegetables while you were boiling them. These nutrients will act as a mile fertilizer for your plants.

Powdered Milk as Fungicide and Fertilizer

Sprinkle powdered milk around your plants, or mix one part powdered milk to 9 parts water, put it in a spray bottle, and spritz your plants with it. Doing this serves two purposes: It acts as a mild fertilizer thanks to the calcium, and it works as a fungicide, helping to prevent diseases such as powdery mildew.

Plant Copper Pennies

Copper is an essential trace element that helps plants access the nutrients they need for photosynthesis. If your soil is lacking in copper, planting a penny can actually help. However, make sure it's a penny from before 1982 as that's the year they started making pennies primarily out of zinc.

Baking Soda for Sweeter Tomatoes

Sprinkle a little bit of baking soda around the base of tomato plants. This will reduce the acidity of the soil, which means sweeter tomatoes. But do it sparingly because too much baking soda can harm your plants.

Crushed Eggshells

Crush up some eggshells and spread them around your garden to give the soil some extra calcium, which is crucial for preventing blossom end rot in peppers and tomatoes.

Banana Peel Fertilizer

Put 1 cup of water per banana peel into a blender and blend it until it's as smooth as possible. Strain it through a sieve, then pour it into a spray bottle and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it. Spray it on plants to give them a potassium boost. This is especially helpful for flowering plants.

Epsom Salt as Fertilizer

Add 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to a gallon of water and stir until dissolved, then use it to water your plants.

Use about a cup of the mixture for small houseplants and as much as a gallon of water for each outdoor plant. Do this every few weeks for plants showing signs of magnesium deficiency, such as yellowing leaves between the leaf veins.

Bury Banana Peels

Bury banana peels in the soil near the roots of your plants. This will slowly release potassium, which is an essential nutrient for plant growth. This method is easy and turns waste into food for your plants.

Bury Used Tea Bags

Bury used tea bags near acid-loving plants such as roses, blueberries, and azaleas. The tea bags slightly acidify the soil, and the tannins in the tea provide a nutrient boost.

Aquarium Water

If you have a freshwater aquarium and it's time to replace some of the water, use the old aquarium water to water your plants. This is good for plants because the water is rich in nitrogen and other nutrients that act as a natural fertilizer.

Pest Control

Plastic Forks as Pest Deterrent

Stick some plastic forks with the tines pointing up into the ground around your plants. This will deter some pets and wildlife from stepping onto your garden bed. It can also prevent animals from digging up the soil around seedlings.

Pennies to Deter Slugs

Spread pennies around your garden to deter slugs. The copper in the pennies will react with the slime on a slug's body, creating a mild electric shock that discourages them from crossing over the metal. However, make sure to use pre-1982 pennies as pennies made since then are primarily zinc.

Strong-Smelling Soap to Deter Deer

Hang bars of strongly-scented soap around your garden to keep deer away. the strong scent will mask the smell of your plants and confuse the deer.

Cinnamon on Soil to Fight Mold

Sprinkle cinnamon on your garden soil to help prevent mold and fungal growth. Cinnamon has natural antifungal properties and acts as a simple, safe, and natural fungicide that is particularly useful in damp conditions.

Beer Trap for Slugs and Snails

Bury a cup or shallow bowl in your garden so that the top is level with the ground, then fill it with beer. The yeast in the beer will attract slugs and snails which will fall into the beer and drown.

Cayenne Pepper to Deter Pests

Sprinkle cayenne pepper around your garden to deter animals like rabbits and deer. The spicy scent will make them want to turn around. This can also help prevent ants and certain types of beetles from entering your garden.

Vinegar for Weed Control

Carefully apply vinegar directly onto any weeds you want to kill. The acetic acid in the vinegar will dry out the plant's leaves and kill them. However, be very careful not to spray it on your garden plants because it will kill them as well.

Chalk to Deter Ants

Use chalk to draw lines around your garden, or sprinkle chalk dust around your garden to help deter ants. This works because chalk interferes with pheromone trails, which ants use to navigate, so they're unlikely to cross it.

Mint to Repel Mice

Plant mint around your garden can help keep mice away. Mint has a strong smell that mice hate, so it acts as a great deterrent. However, don't plant mint directly in the ground as it will grow and spread out of control. Instead, grow it in containers and place them around your garden. Be sure to prune them regularly.

Oatmeal to Deter Slugs

Sprinkle oatmeal around plants that are susceptible to slug damage. The oatmeal will attract slugs which will eat it, then swell up and die. It's an easy and non-toxic way to control slug populations.

Cinnamon Sticks to Deter Ants

Place cinnamon sticks at garden entry points or sprinkle cinnamon powder anywhere you see ants. The strong scent will disrupt ant pheromone trails and make them avoid the area.

Wool Yarn to Deter Rabbits

Spread wool yarn scraps around your garden to keep rabbits away. The smell and texture of wool are unpleasant to rabbits, so they tend to avoid areas where wool is scattered.

Mustard Powder to Deter Cats

Sprinkle mustard powder around your garden to keep cats away. Cats hate the smell of mustard, so this will discourage them from using your garden as a litter box.

Human Hair to Deter Deer

Spread human hair clippings around your garden to keep deer away. The scent of human hair will make the deer think a human is nearby, so they'll likely stay away.

Aluminum Foil Strips to Keep Birds Away

Hang strips of aluminum foil around your garden to keep birds away from your plants. The reflective surface and the noise of the foil in the wind can scare birds away, protecting your fruits and veggies.

Old CDs to Scare Birds Away

Hang old CDs from trees or posts around your garden. As with aluminum foil, the reflective surface creates moving light patterns that disorient and scare birds away.

Caring for Seedlings

Orange or Lemon Rinds to Start Seeds

Use hollowed-out orange or lemon rinds as biodegradable seed pots. Just fill them with soil, plant your seeds, and place them in a sunny spot. Once the seedlings are big enough, you can plant them directly in the garden, including the rind, which will decompose and enrich the soil.

Eggshells as Seed Starters

Start your seedlings in eggshells. Just crack open your eggs carefully to keep half the shell intact, then fill then with potting soil and plant your seeds. The eggshell will provide calcium to the seedlings and can be planted directly into the garden.

Ice Cream Cones for Seedlings

Plant your seeds in ice cream cones. Yes, the same ones you eat! Simply fill them with soil, plant your seeds, and once they sprout, plant the cone and seedling directly into the ground. The cones will decompose and become part of the soil.

Toilet Paper Rolls as Seed Starters

When your toilet paper is gone, save the cardboard roll to use as a seed starter. Cut it in half, stand it up in a tray, fill it with soil, and plant a seed. Once your seedling is ready, transfer it and the cardboard directly to the ground where the cardboard will decompose.

Gelatin for Seed Starting

Dissolve 1 tablespoon of plain gelatin in 1 cup of hot water and stir until it's fully dissolved. Once it's cooled, use it to water seeds you've just planted. The gelatin will help retain moisture in the soil and provide nitrogen as it breaks down.

Cornstarch to Help Seedlings Grow

Mix a little cornstarch with the soil when planting seeds (about 1 tablespoon per gallon of soil). The cornstarch will help keep the soil moist, which is important for germination.

Milk Jugs for Seedling Protection

Cut the bottom off a milk jug and use it as a mini greenhouse for your seedlings. Simply place the jug over the plant with cap removed for ventilation. This will protect your seedlings from wind and cold weather.

Clear Plastic Bottles for Warmth

Fill some clear plastic bottles with water and place them around your garden. During the day, they'll absorb heat from the sun, then slowly release it at night, protecting seedlings from cold weather.

Watering Techniques

2-Liter Bottle Drip Feeder

You can create a slow drip irrigation system with an old 2-liter bottle. Just fill it with water, put the cap on, poke a few holes int he cap, then bury the bottle upside down near the roots of a plant. It will slowly release water and keep the roots moist.

Kiddie Pool for Vacation Watering

If you need to leave town for a few days and don't have anyone to water your plants, just fill a kiddie pool with a few inches of water and place your potted plants in it while you're gone. The plants will soak up water from the bottom as needed.

Cooking Oil and Water for Fruit Trees

Cooking oil can create a barrier that protects against pests and diseases by smothering insect eggs and fungal spores. To use it, mix 2 tablespoons of cooking oil and 1 tablespoon of mild dish soap with a gallon of water. Shake it up, then spray your fruit trees with it.

Wine Bottle for Gradual Watering

Fill a wine bottle with water, then turn it over and push it neck-deep into the soil near a plant. The water will slowly seep into the soil, providing a steady supply of moisture to the plant roots. This can be a huge help during hot, dry weather.

Ice Cubes for Watering

Place ice cubes on the soil around potted plants, especially those sensitive to overwatering, such orchids. The ice will melt slowly, allowing the water to spread evenly across the soil and prevent root rot.


Packing Peanuts for Drainage

Before filling a planter with soil, put a layer of packing peanuts at the bottom. This improve drainage and prevent water from pooling around the roots, which can lead to root rot. Plus, it will make the planters lighter and easier to move.

Coffee Filters to Keep Soil In

Line the bottom of your planters with coffee filters before adding soil. This will prevent the soil from spilling out of the drainage holes while still allowing water to drain out.

Chamomile Tea for Seedlings

Spritz your seedlings with chamomile tea. It’s a natural fungicide that can help prevent damping off, a fungal disease that can wipe out young plants.

Cut Pantyhose for Garden Vines

Use pieces of old pantyhose to tie up garden vines. They’re soft and stretchy, which prevents damage to growing plants while providing strong support.

Baking Powder as Fungicide

Dust your plants with baking powder. It acts as a fungicide that can prevent fungal diseases such as leaf and fruit rot.

Cornmeal to Prevent Weeds

Spread cornmeal in your garden to prevent weeds. The cornmeal will inhibit seed germination, which can stop weeds from sprouting. Just make sure you don't use it in areas where you've sown seeds that you want to grow!

Sponges for Moisture Control

Place a dry sponge at the bottom of your planters before adding soil. The sponge will absorb excess water and release it back into the soil as needed. This will help regulate soil moisture and prevent overwatering. One sponge should be enough for small planters, but you can use more for larger planters.

Diaper Lined Planters

Line the bottom of a planter with a clean, unused diaper before adding soil. The absorbent material in the diaper will retain water and keep the soil moist longer so you don't have to water as often.

Strawberries in Rain Gutters

Take a section of rain gutter and mount it on a fence for the perfect place to grow strawberries. It will take up very little space and keep your strawberries safe from slugs.

Storing Tools in Sand

To keep your garden tools sharp and rust-free, store them in a bucket filled with sand and a little bit of motor oil. The sand will keep the blades sharp and the oil will prevent rust, making your tools last far longer.

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