Not everyone is born with green fingers but these tips will have you gardening like a pro.
Gardening is a terrific stress reliever and, if you get it right, you could even enhance the value of your home. Unfortunately, not everyone is born with green fingers, but there are ways of hacking your way through gardening chores like a pro. We have come up with some clever tips to help you be the master of your own garden.
Eco-friendly ways to keep the bugs away
Environmentally-aware gardeners don’t like using poisons in their gardens. Fortunately, there are ways to keep pests away without drenching your garden in toxins. Many everyday household products come from plants that have developed a range of substances to stop bugs from eating them. For example:
Cinnamon has anti-fungal qualities and will help prevent diseases spreading on seedlings.
Garlic is a terrific insect repellent. To make a garlic spray simply take two whole bulbs of garlic and blend in a food processor with four cups of water. Allow the mixture to stand overnight before straining into a jar and adding ½ a cup of vegetable oil, a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid and another cup of water. Use one cup of the basic mixture with four cups of water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray liberally on affected plants, especially on the underside of the leaves.
Chilli powder is another repellent and can be used to repel a variety of pests. The mix can be made by either using fresh chillies or chilli powder. Simply blend half a cup of fresh chilli (the hotter the better) with a cup of water. Add four additional cups of water and bring the mix to the boil. Add a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid to the mix. Strain and decant into a spray bottle. If using powder, mix one tablespoon of chilli powder with four cups of water and a couple of drops of dishing liquid. Remember to wear gloves and eye protection when working with chillies.
Eggshells offer an effective barrier against pests such as snails and slugs. Simply coarsely crush the shells and sprinkle around the bottom of plants.
Homemade organic fertiliser
Shop-bought fertilisers tend to be expensive. For a cheap, effective alternative mix banana peels, egg shells and ground coffee residue in a blender and blitz for a couple of minutes. Use the mixture on plants as required.
Organic weed killer
There are a number of ways to rid your garden of weeds without poisoning the soil in the process.
One of the easiest, most effective ways of getting rid of weeds on driveways and paths is by pouring boiling water into the cracks where the weeds appear. The result is even more effective if you add a tablespoon of salt to the boiling water.
Creating the perfect lawn
Prevent clumps of wet grass from sticking to the lawnmower blades and housing by applying a cooking spray to the surfaces concerned.
Mow the lawn regularly to the correct height – this will depend on the type of grass. If you mow it too low you’ll damage the roots, but if you leave it too long you’ll have to mow more regularly.
Aerate the lawn during the summer months. This will allow the grass roots to penetrate the soil more deeply as well as making it easier for rain water to soak into the soil. Traditionally a garden fork is used for this tedious task, but there is an easier, faster hack available. Hammer 6-inch nails into a sturdy sheet of plywood, spacing the nails randomly. Place the board on the lawn with the nails facing down and walk on it to drive the nails into the soil. Lift, move and repeat around the grassed area.
For those who want the best results, fertilising your lawn is an absolute must. While we haven’t tried this ourselves, we have it on good authority that you can concoct your own lawn fertiliser with the following household ingredients.
One bottle of beer
One can cool-drink
½ cup mouthwash
½ cup ammonia
½ cup dishwashing liquid
Mix ingredients into a hose sprayer and water your lawn as usual.