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Wait Wait…Don’t Toss That

Our favorite nurseries and garden shops are brimming with products that promise to deliver the lushest of foliage, the healthiest of roots, and little to no lingering pests.

There’s no doubt that there are some fantastic options out there, but you could take your garden to new heights for FREE. So, before you pull out that wallet, consider these easy options that won’t cost you an extra dime.


orange-peelOrange Peels – One Pleasant Pest Preventor

We’re all familiar with the power of oranges thanks to all its Vitamin C. It’s no surprise that this fruit can help boost the nutritive qualities of your soil and compost, which is always a good thing, but it serves as a strong pest deterrent too.

Aphids, ants, and even cats are known to detest the citrusy scent of oranges. You can grate peels or simply tear them into pieces to be placed around affected plants. In the case of aphids, orange peels may be wrapped around the stem of the plant for an easy, aromatic fix. If cats are the problem, you can gently work peel pieces into the surface of the soil so kitty has a citrusy surprise the next time she’s digging around.


Eggshells – Simple Little Seed Starters

eggshellInstead of throwing your empty eggs in the trash, keep them around for seedlings. Clean eggshells make free seed-starting pots that won’t just save you money. They’ll also provide your plants with important calcium that will boost soil quality and ward off blossom-end rot.

When you’re done making those Saturday morning omelets, give your eggshells a good rinse with warm water. Grab your bag of seed-starting medium, and pour some into a bucket so that it can be lightly dampened with water. Add the soil to your eggshells until they’re nearly filled to the top. Sprinkle seeds on the surface of the soil, and gently press them into the starting medium. Water your pots daily with just a few drops of water. When your seedlings outgrow their eggshell, you can simply move them into a larger pot. Gently crush the eggshell pot so that roots may extend out, and they’re ready to move into their new home.


Coffee – A Soil-rific Addition

coffee-groundsGardeners everywhere make regular trips to Starbucks, and for good reason. This popular garden additive helps boost soil quality by aiding with drainage, water retention, and aeration. While used coffee grounds won’t spike soil acidity as is popularly believed, they will provide your garden with important nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

Thanks to their rough texture and slight acidity, coffee grounds are a natural slug deterrent. Try making a circle of grounds around your slug-loved plants as a cheap defense system. If you have some extra eggshells around, crush those up and sprinkle them in too.

If you have a compost pile, then it’s worth making a stop at the local coffee shop for a free bag of garden grounds. Coffee gives your compost a cup of nutrition that every plant will appreciate. If you want to learn more about how or why to use grounds for compost, take a look at Oregon State University’s great list of tips for composting coffee grounds. It’s a rare opportunity to maximize benefits with minimized efforts.


Wood Ash – Garden Harmonizer

If your soil is on the acidic side, then wood ash is your garden’s best friend. Used liberally, it can help balance soil’s pH. As an added benefit, dry wood ash can also scare off insects like snails and slugs.

Being a former plant itself, ash provides an excellent source of nutrients that make a great addition to compost and tomato plants. However, you do need to use it with caution because of its pH level. New plants can be traumatized by sudden soil changes, and it won’t make friends with acid-loving plants like blueberries. Basic tendencies aside, it’s still easy to use and it comes with plenty of benefits. So, give yourself a minute to read tips on using wood ash, and then you can get to work cleaning out that fire pit.


Pallets – Creativity and Function Have No Limit!

We’ve all drooled over the amazing pallet projects being shared on Facebook and Pinterest. While the uses and thriftiness of wood pallets are old news, they’re potential is being taken to a higher level each and every day. If you’re not on the bandwagon yet, these garden projects are sure to turn you into a pallet hunter.

Are you itching to grow more plants, but you’re short on space? Pallets can be turned into a vertical garden in just minutes. Add in some paint, stains, and easy modifications, and you have yourself an attractive addition to any landscape.

If you’re trying to get creative with filling an empty space or covering up a mud zone,  then put a pallet to work. You can pull it apart with fancy tools or a simple hammer and a crow bar, providing you with a supply of wood slabs that can be put to all sorts of creative use.

Whether you’re looking for a garden workspace, or a safe and sunny spot for growing seedlings, pallets can do the job. You can make your garden table as fancy or as practical as you need, and you can pull it off with a matter of dollars and minutes.


Now that we’re armed with garden tips, let’s get to work! We still have a few weeks to put our new tricks to the test, especially if you follow Jessica’s tips on prolonging harvest.

Photo Credits:
Flower Egg by David Pacey
Fine Guatemalan Black Powder by Niall Kennedy
Triple Spiral One-Piece Orange Peeling by Fdecomite
Pallet photos courtesy of Design Rulz

Posted By: Ashley Stevens, Behnke’s Guest Blogger


Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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