Get your vegetable garden in tip-top shape using minimal time, effort, and money with some special tips and tricks. While not all gardeners are big fans of taking shortcuts, a few simple vegetable gardening hacks can help remove the stress from your daily tasks. So, whether you consider yourself a newbie gardener or have a seasoned green thumb, we think you’ll love these eight gardening hacks. Let’s dig in!
Upcycle containers for your seeds
While it’s generally easy to pick up a plastic seed tray or container, you can use a range of upcycled items to start growing your plants if you want to create a truly sustainable garden. Our favourite? An egg carton. If planting spring onions, cut out a little hole on the top of each section, fill it with a little water, and drop your onion cut-off in. The edges will hold it straight as it grows. Of course, a plastic carton is recommended in this case.
However, if you only have access to a cardboard carton, you can still use it to start your seeds. Fill an empty eggshell with compost, keep it in the carton, sow your seed, and ta-da! All you have to do is wait as your seed germinates. Once it’s ready, you can transplant it straight into your garden while it’s still within the eggshell. A nifty (and organic) little trick!
Use vinegar to suppress weeds
Another handy trick to save money and keep your garden in shape is using vinegar to suppress weed growth. There’s no need to splash out on fancy weed killer when regular household vinegar and a little dish soap will do the trick. Plus, it’s much more gentle on the environment and works great if you’re determined to keep your fruit and vegetable garden organic. Just follow the recipe below:
- 1 litre of white vinegar (at least 5% concentration. For quicker results, opt for 10%-20%)
- 3 tablespoons of mild dish soap
- 3 tablespoons of salt
- A spray bottle
- Mix the white vinegar and salt in a container until all the salt has dissolved.
- Add the mild dish soap and continue to stir.
- Pour into your spray bottle and give a good shake.
- Spray on the affected areas. Avoid spraying directly on your plants, as it will harm them.
- Re-apply as needed, especially after rainfall.
Make use of your scraps
Don’t underestimate the power of scraps. Whether it be your leftover coffee grounds, spring onions, or leafy greens, you can always make the most of your kitchen waste. For instance, sprinkling coffee grounds around your plants can repel common garden pests like aphids. They are also high in nitrogen and would be a great addition to your organic compost.
You can even save money by growing from food scraps. It’s simple, especially for veggies like onions, lettuce, and herbs. You usually need to cut off the bottom of the plant and place it in some water before eventually transplanting outside. If you want to learn more, you can check out our entire post dedicated to the subject, available now on our knowledge hub.
Place sponges in your pots
Save time and keep your plants hydrated by placing some thin sponges at the bottom of your plant pots. Just the thing to prevent over or under-watering, the soaked sponges will slowly release just enough water to hydrate your plants. This is a particularly useful hack if you are forgetful or lead a busy life and don’t have the time to constantly check in on your plants.
Sow with ease
As much as we love watching seedlings sprout, sowing seeds can be a real pain. Time-consuming and fiddly, getting them spaced out just right is a challenge. So, to help save you time, we recommend making your own seed tapes. Just follow the instructions below, and before you know it you’ll be watching new plants spring up in your garden.
- Your seeds of choice
- Toilet paper
- Washable, non-toxic glue
- Plastic zip-lock bags
- Roll out your toilet paper to match the length of the area you want to plant. Remember, if you are planting a long patch of soil, it’s better to break up the sections into manageable chunks instead of doing one long piece of seed tape.
- Place small dots of glue onto the toilet paper, spacing out according to what is recommended on your seed packet. Feel free to use a ruler to help you measure.
- Drop your seeds onto the glue dots. To help you, feel free to use the tweezers to pick up and place the seeds.
- If you have chosen to space your seeds in a straight line, you can fold the toilet paper over as the glue dries. Don’t worry; your seeds will be able to sprout through the paper.
- Once your seed tape has dried, store it in the plastic zip-lock bag until you are ready to bring it outside and use it.
- However, if you are ready to use it immediately, unroll it and place it on top of the soil.
- Cover it over with a layer of soil and mist with water. Within a week, your seeds should be sprouting.
Use forks to help with pest control
It may seem a little strange at first, but placing forks in the ground around your plant’s base can deter small creatures from causing havoc with your young plants. Squirrels, raccoons, and even family pets love to have a dig in the garden. Yet, placing old or disposable forks around your plants will make it much more difficult for them to dig around and disrupt your leafy greens and other fruit and veggies. Just remember to place them with the pointy ‘fork’ bit up and place the handle in the ground, this will be most effective.
DIY a watering system
There’s nothing worse than going away on holiday and panicking about who will water your plants. Luckily, this hack will save you from busting out the phone book or booking a house sitter. You can create your own system to water plants by using a plastic bottle with a lid. Pierce a hole in the cap and fill the bottle with water. Then, place the cap back on, flip the bottle upside down, and plant it into the soil beside the plant you wish to keep hydrated. It will then slowly release water to your plant.
You can use a 500ml bottle to water a potted plant inside or place several 2-litre bottles around larger fruit and veggie plants in a raised bed or in your garden. This should be enough to keep your plants as right as rain for the duration of your holiday.
Use CDs to deter birds
Birds commonly plague fruit and veggie gardens, swooping down to pick at freshly ripened fruit and destroying crops before they can even be harvested. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of setting up nets or covers, there is a simple hack that can work wonders. Using the reflective power of old CDs can keep birds away from your plants.
This technique may at first seem counterintuitive – after all, aren’t birds supposedly attracted to shiny objects? However, placing several reflective objects together can appear highly threatening. So, all you have to do is gather some string and a few old CDs and get to hanging them close to your fruit and veggie plants. Carefully observe your garden for the next few days to ensure that you have placed the CDs in the correct location and adjust if needed.
Excited to try out these fantastic hacks? We can’t blame you. Check out our fantastic range of plants and accessories for everything you’ll need to get started. Or, learn even more ways to make your garden great by checking out our knowledge hub. Plus, don’t hesitate to contact us on social media (@gardeningexpress). We would love to hear from you!