10 Tips for Amateur Gardeners

“Gardening can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get physical activity, beautify the community, and grow nutritious fruits and vegetables.” And though we completely agree with everything, it’s not us who said it, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (check out their page on Gardening Health and Safety Tips).

If you’re reading this article, you most likely by now know about the benefits of gardening for the health of your body and mind. But let’s go through them one more time. According to several studies, gardening has mood-boosting benefits, it is a healthy form of aerobic exercise, it decreases the risk of dementia, it increases hand coordination and strength (which is important especially in older people), it boosts the immune system and gets you that necessary daily dose of vitamin D. There is even an article from NASA focusing on the beneficial effects of gardening on improving feelings of isolation, loneliness and stress, which are common in astronauts who are part of long-duration missions in space.

Ready to get back to your plants? Just hang on for a few more lines. We’re going through some useful tips and tricks that every gardener should know and use.

  1. Be creative with your pots

You don’t have enough pots for your seedlings? No problem! Improvise! You can use citrus peels (cut the lemons or the oranges in half and use a spoon to remove the pulp without breaking the peel; you can also use pomelo peels as permanent pots for smaller plants), any metal or plastic cups, or even egg shells. Pierce a hole at the bottom of your pots to drain excess water and you’re good to go!

2. Protect your tools

Don’t let your tools get rusty – literally. To protect your gardening tools, put them in a clay or terracotta pot filed with sand mixed with mineral oil.

3. Protect your plants while you’re away

If your plants are planted directly in the ground, they will probably be just fine for a week or so, even if it doesn’t rain. The roots can reach the deeper soil layers of the ground. If they’re in pots, you can improvise a simple homemade system to keep the soil moist. Roll a paper towel and put one end of it on the ground, in the pot, and the other one in a glass of water. The paper towel will gradually absorb the water and distribute it to the plant.

4. Get more plants for free

You can grow more plants from basil, thyme, mint, oregano, lavender, lemon, sage or rosemary simply by cutting some branches and holding them in a glass of water until they grow some roots. Then just plant them and you’ll have a new bunch of plants without any extra expense!

5. Repel mosquitos and house flies

If you want to get rid of mosquitos and house flies, plant basil, lavender, mint, rosemary, citronella, lemon balm, marigolds, peppermint and geranium! They smell and look great and they are the best known natural bug repellents.

6. Contain your plants

Some plants tend to grow large roots, which can affect the other plants around them. A simple solution for this is to remove the bottom of a plastic pot (use one that has some depth), put your plant in it and bury the pot in the ground. This will give you control over the size of the root system of your plant.

7. Use milk as a fertilizer

The proteins, vitamins, calcium and sugars in milk are beneficial for plant growth. Just be careful when you “feed” them! Milk can stimulate the growth of bacteria and it can stain the leaves. Mix a cup of water with a cup of milk, spray your plants with it, wait for a few minutes then wipe all the leaves that haven’t absorbed the solution.

8. Prevent mold

To prevent mold from forming in your pots, all around your plant, mix together some crushed eggshells and coffee and sprinkle them on the ground.

9. Try a homemade fertilizer with egg shells, banana peels and Epsom salt

Banana peels contain potassium, phosphorus, calcium, manganese, sodium, and magnesium, which are essential for plant growth. Epsom salt is also rich in magnesium and sulphur and the egg shells contain high quantities of calcium. For this recipe you will need 4-5 banana peels, 2-3 egg shells and 1 spoon of Epsom salt.

Leave the banana peels and the egg shells in the sun and let them dry. When they’re completely dry, crush them into a fine powder. Add the Epsom salt. This quantity is sufficient for approximately 33 fl oz of water. Put the water and the powder in a spray bottle, mix thoroughly, and then fertilize your plants. Do not spray the leaves, but just the soil around the plant.

10. Keep it clean

To prevent the soil from escaping the pots through the holes at the bottom of your pot, you can put a coffee filter inside each pot, underneath the soil. This will still allow the water to drain, but will keep the soil in.