Start With What You Have

By Teresa Cortes

March 6, 2015 5 min read

Starting your own garden doesn't need to be expensive or complicated. If your goal is to create a beautiful and abundant garden in your own backyard, you'll be happy to know that there are a number of items around your home that can be used to help you start your own garden, as well as help it thrive and remain healthy. Read on for a few unanticipated ways in which common household items can be utilized in your garden today.

*Simple Seed Starters

Egg cartons are wonderful tools that can make it incredibly easy to get started on any gardening project that you may have in mind. Simply cut off the top of the carton and lay down your seeds and soil in the bottom carton. It's really that easy. Egg cartons are a smart choice because they are biodegradable. What this means when it comes to planting your seedlings is that all you have to do is cut each individual piece from the carton and plant it directly into your garden. The carton will one day degrade into the soil, eventually leaving behind just the plant.

Toilet paper and paper towel rolls are guaranteed to collect in abundance in any house. Lucky for you, these seemingly useless items can also be used as seed starters. Two seed starters can be made out of each toilet paper roll, and four seed starters can be made out of each paper towel roll. All you'll need besides the cardboard rolls themselves are a pair of scissors and a small piece of tape. First, cut your toilet paper roll in half (or your paper towel roll into fourths). Next, you'll need to make four 1-inch slits along one end of the roll. Now you should be able to fold each piece of the roll down until you have all four pieces folded into one another. Use a piece of tape to secure the bottom, and fill it with your seeds and soil. Just like egg cartons, toilet paper and paper towel rolls are biodegradable and can easily be planted in the soil with the plants themselves.

*Deter Garden Pests

Now that you have your garden planted, it's vital to work at keeping your plants healthy and safe from intruders. Common household soap is one solution for a repellent that can be used against pesky garden intruders. For larger pests, such as rabbits and deer, Irish Spring soap has done the trick for many gardeners. Simply slice cubes of about 2 inches and place each piece in a small drawstring bag. You can choose to either hang these bags on wooden stakes around your garden or place the bags directly into your garden instead. The soap works as a repellent because of the simple fact that most animals dislike the smell.

When it's pesky insects that you're dealing with, pure Castile liquid soap works as a wonderful deterrent. Pure Castile liquid soap can be purchased at health food stores, as well as even most big-box stores nowadays. Simply mix 1 teaspoon of pure Castile liquid soap with enough water to fill a spray bottle. Spray the leaves of the plants showing signs of having recently become insect food, making sure to spray the undersides of leaves, too.

*Eliminate Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is another unfortunate common garden affliction. It can be found covering the leaves of plants such as zucchini and tomatoes. Eggshells are one known option for eradicating mildew from plants. All you need to do is crush the eggshells, boil them and pour the water on the afflicted plants. In as little as a week, you should be able to see vast improvement. Gardening expert Paul Rodman explains that it's most likely the calcium in the eggshells that is responsible for their ability to cure plants of a disease called blossom-end rot, which is known to be the result of calcium deficiency. So the next time you make an omelet for Sunday's brunch, remember to save those eggshells!

Along with eggs, milk is one food item that is almost guaranteed to be found in any refrigerator. However, most people are probably unaware of its ability to cure plants of mildew disease. Mix 1 ounce of milk with 9 ounces of water to make a spray that can be used as a preventive measure on plants or every three to four days on infected plants. Golden Harvest Organics explains why milk is useful when it comes to treating mildew on plants: "This works by changing the pH on the surface of the leaves, so they are less susceptible to mildew." Milk apparently not only does a body good but also does a plant good.

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