Homemade garden fixers save plants, money

Homemade garden fixers save plants, money

I find home remedies fascinating. They usually work so well that the ideas have been passed down from great-grandparents. They don’t cost much, if anything, and they are just downright interesting. We want our gardens to thrive, not just limp along. Farmers did well with no purchased pesticides for hundreds of years, so maybe we can too?

Spray to deter bugs 

Mix 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon liquid dishwashing soap, and 12 cloves chopped or crushed garlic into a spray bottle. Fill bottle with water. Let set for a day or so. Strain and use. Garlic and onion planted in your garden help keep pests at a distance, too.

Spray to help pepper plants

Dissolve 2 tablespoons Epsom salts in a spray bottle of warm water. Shake well. When flowers start to form on plant, spray lightly. The magnesium in the Epsom salt helps the pepper hold on to its fruit.

Spray to get rid of weeds

Buy the gallon size of plain white household vinegar and fill spray bottle. Add 1 teaspoon liquid detergent to spray bottle. Heavily spray vinegar and soap mixture onto weeds. Vinegar first kills the leaves of the weed so you may need to spray again in a few days to kill the roots. Take care to avoid spraying on plants that you love.

Method to keep animals away

Weird but true. Begin to save hair from your hairbrush or if you have a lot of chutzpah, ask for cut hair at local hair salon. (I know, I said it was a little weird.) Spread the hair around plants that you want possums, raccoons, cats and rabbits to stay the heck out of. The theory is that they don’t like our scent. The hair will eventually need to be replaced since it breaks down into compost.

Spray to keep fungus at bay

In 1 gallon of water, add 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing detergent. Mix and spray onto plants that have fungus or mildew issues. Use sparingly. By the way, flour and baking soda mixed together can be sprinkled around the garden to deter cabbage worms and aphids.

Egg shells

Save eggshells to amend your soil. They are high in potassium and calcium and work like lime to change soil to slightly less acidic. Rinse the shells, dry them and turn them into a powder in a blender. Add the powder of a dozen eggshells to a spray bottle of water. Eggshells can be added directly to garden soil too.

Coffee grounds

Used coffee grounds can be sprinkled on soil for acid loving plants like tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas. Or you can let 6 cups of coffee grounds set in a 5-gallon container of water for 2-4 days and then use to water.


You can add molasses to any of the spray recipes above. It is great for fertilizing. Add 1 ounce of molasses and 1 ounce of apple cider vinegar to a gallon of water. Let cure for 24 hours, then use to water plants. The website Frugal Days/Sustainable Ways has even more great homemade gardening recipes and tips that you might like.

For your calendar

Don’t forget to get out to Jack Brooks Regional Airport on Friday, Feb. 17, from 8-11 a.m. The Campbell Group of foresters is again generously giving away hundreds of one-year-old hardwood seedlings for free, according to event chairman Glen Watz of Culinary Adventures. Watz will be joined by many other volunteers from the Master Gardener group of Texas Agri-Life Extension Agency in this very popular annual event. Watz said, “Look for Shummard Oak, Cherrybark oak, Sawtooth oak, Nuttall oak and cypress seedlings.” 

He added, “Its best to get there early.”

More free trees

Anyone who joins the Arbor Day Foundation in February 2017 will receive 10 free Colorado blue spruce trees or 10 free redbud trees to plant when the weather turns warm.

The free trees are part of the nonprofit Foundation’s Trees for America campaign.

“These trees will help beautify your home for many years to come,” said Matt Harris, chief executive of the Arbor Day Foundation. “The trees will also add to the proud heritage of your state’s existing Tree City USA communities.”

The Tree City USA program has supported community forestry throughout the country for the past 40 years.

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting, between March 1 and May 31, with enclosed planting instructions. The 6- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow, or they will be replaced free of charge.


To become a member of the Foundation and receive the free trees, send a $10 contribution to Ten Free Colorado Blue Spruce Trees or Ten Free Eastern Redbud Trees, Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Avenue, Nebraska City, NE 68410, by February 28, 2017, or visit arborday.org/february.