Yep, you saw that right, there are diapers in the garden. And I put them there on purpose! Just one of my favorite 15 gardening hacks to make life in the garden a tidge easier. Whether you are a gardening pro, or a novice just venturing out for the first time, this list is a must-have for everyone and relevant at any experience level.
Garden Hack #1: Egg Shells!
You might have heard about this hack before, but do you know why it’s so famous? One of the main reasons is fertilizer! It all comes down to calcium, one of the major building blocks for the “bones” of the plants – their cell walls! Soil is often lacking in calcium, so crushing up eggshells and incorporating them into the compost, soil, or even sprinkling them around the bases of the plants is a fast and easy way to keep the soil rich with calcium. One thing to note, eggshells do take several months to break down in the soil, so it is recommended you till eggshells into the soil in both fall and spring, to ensure there is calcium in the soil year-round. Alternatively, you can use the crushed eggshells as a layer of mulch and weed control when spread in a thick(er) layer around the plants on top of the soil. So, be sure you are saving those eggshells for recycling in the garden!
Garden Hack #2: Coffee Grounds!
Another hack you’ve probably heard of, but might not know the reasoning as to why you are encouraged to do it. Just like the eggshells, the coffee grounds can be used as part of the fertilizer. Except, while the eggshells provide calcium, the coffee grounds incorporate nitrogen into the soil. You can either put the used coffee grounds into your compost pile or incorporate them directly into the soil. Another bonus: you can even put the used coffee filters into the compost pile too! Adding coffee grounds to the soil also increases the organic material into the soil, which helps with water retention and drainage, and aeration of the soil. The grounds also promote microorganism growth which attracts the earthworms. What else can you do with the coffee grounds? You can sprinkle them around the top of the soil for use as mulch, slug, and snail deterrents, and even potentially preventing cats from using your garden as their own personal outdoor litter box. So many great uses!
Garden Hack #3: Cheap, easy, and cute labels? Clothespins!
Straight from my grandmother’s vintage garden, I like to use clothespins to label plants and help me stay organized. Let’s face it, I have the memory of a goldish. Consequently, this means I tend to forget what I have planted, where! In order to help with this, my grandmother passed along the idea of clipping a clothespin to a strong stem of the plant with the plant name inscribed with a permanent black marker. What easier way could there be to keep things straight??
Garden Hack #4: Trick the birds
One thing we really struggle with in Enumclaw is the birds. And not the Alfred Hitchcock type of issue, but a little less creepy problem with them eating our fruits and vegetables. Well, all thanks to Pinterest, I read about putting in red, hard objects throughout the garden BEFORE the fruits mature, which in essence teaches the birds to not eat the fruits. They peck on the hard objects thinking they are fruits, which they then don’t enjoy, teaching them to stay away from our fruits. I swear this works! We’ve painted rocks red and hung red ornament balls throughout the garden right when we plant things in the Spring and don’t have many issues with birds the rest of the season.
Garden Hack #5: Seed Storage
Got a bunch of old prescription bottles in your bathroom cabinets? Time to empty them out (safely – link to pill disposal recommendations) and use them to store your seeds! This is a great way to keep your seeds organized and moisture-protected for use year after year. Be sure to label them so you know what they are!
Garden Hack #6: Diapers??
I bet you were wondering when I was going to mention the diapers. Well, here we are! So, why do I like to put diapers in my garden, on purpose? They help with moisture control, obviously! Okay, maybe not an obvious use for them, but they really do work. I like to put them at the bottom of a pot or a plant hole in the ground, then plant on top of it. They then work perfectly absorbing water from the soil and getting that water into contact with the roots that grow around it. It might go without saying, but you should start with UNUSED diapers of course.
Garden Hack #7: Drip Feeders
If you’re not into the diapers, another easy way to ensure you are getting enough water to your plant roots includes an old soda/water bottle. This is especially important for plants that like water delivered directly to the roots, rather than to the leaves (hellooooo, peppers!) You can poke holes throughout the bottle, bury the bottle in the dirt up to the top, leaving the mouthpiece exposed. You can then plant the plant right next to the bottle. To water, simply add water to the bottle from the mouthpiece.
Garden Hack #8: Pot in Pot Planters
There are some plants that SPREAD! Two of our major offenders are thyme and mint. While we love having these in our garden (they are so easy and have so many uses!), what we don’t love is how quickly they spread and take over the entire garden. So, what can you do to have your mint and drink your mojito too? (See what I did there? Cracking myself up over here). Plant the mint and thyme in a little pot, then plant that into the ground! While the mint and thyme will still spread, they spread significantly less, and are much easier to pull up and trim back, should you desire.
Garden Hack #9: Baking Soda for Tomatoes
People tend to grow tomatoes to harvest sweeter, juicier tomatoes than you can buy in the grocery store. I know I at least do. One thing I’ve always done to ensure my tomatoes are as sweet as can be is incorporating baking soda into the soil (be sure to only put it in the soil and not get it on the plant directly). How does this work? Science! Baking soda is a basic compound, while tomatoes are acidic. Combine the two to neutralize the acid and you get sweeter tomatoes.
Garden Hack #10: Plants to Repel Mosquitos
Little fun fact about me: I am allergic to mosquitos. Yep, it’s a thing. When I get bitten by a mosquito, the bite swells up and looks like a golfball under my skin. Sounds pleasant right? All the more reason mosquito control is a big priority of mine every Summer. I plant containers of mosquito-repelling plants all around my entire patio to keep them at bay. Helps prevent the need for using unnatural, carcinogenic bug sprays. They really do work! You can read more about mosquito-repelling container plants to plant here.
Garden Hack #11: Lighter Pots
Ever tried to move a pot once it is full of dirt and plants? Yeah, it can be quite the arm workout and back injury risk. Therefore, I don’t recommend it! What I DO recommend is putting packing peanuts on the bottom half of your pot. Cover this with a small piece of porous landscape fabric, then fill the rest with dirt and your plants. This has multiple benefits: it can help with water drainage and aeration, reduces the amount of soil needed and thus mitigates costs, and, most importantly, keeps your pots lighter and more easily moved!
Garden Hack #12: Seeds in the Instant Pot??
There’s a reason my husband calls it our Magic Pot, it really does do everything. Even helps germinate your seeds! We tried this recently and it really does work, in half the time. We placed our seeds in a wet paper towel, wrapped them loosely in foil to keep them separated and organized, placed them in the instant pot on the lowest yogurt function for 24 hours, and voila! Germinated seeds.
Garden Hack #13: More coffee filters
Easily stop dirt from falling out of your pots by placing unused coffee filters on the bottom of the pot, over the hole, and putting your soil on top of it. Easy, cheap, and saves you from having to constantly hose down your patio to rid it of dirt seepage.
Garden Hack #14: Make a DIY Wasp Trap
While we love the bees that pollinate the flowers, we don’t love the wasps! We like to make these easy and simple wasp traps to keep this problem under control and prevent it from becoming an even bigger problem. You can follow this tutorial for a step-by-step how-to.
Garden Hack #15: Ladybugs for pest control
One thing we do every year that is quite a crowd-pleaser with the kids are the introduction of ladybugs. We purchase them at our local nursery, place the container in the garden, and let them spread out and eat all of the pests as they grow! It is an easy, inexpensive, and natural pest control that works quite well. Not to mention, you then have ladybugs all around the garden that the kids love to look at! You can read more on the benefits of ladybugs here.
And there you have it! My favorite 15 gardening hacks that are cheap, easy, and quick resolutions to many of your pesky problems. Comment below with any of your own special gardening hacks that are your go-to tricks in your garden!