Frugal gardening hacks to improve soil, plant health

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Spring is here! Time to shed those layers and dust off the gardening tools. Soon it will be time to get back into the garden and watch patiently as your little seedlings begin to grow.

Everyone strives to have a happy, healthy and bountiful garden. Wouldn’t it be great if you could accomplish this without breaking the bank? Well to all you frugal gardeners out there, you can!

There are so many everyday items that can be used to improve your garden. Some improve the physical qualities of your soil while others can change the chemical components.

Soil test

The first step to improving any garden is to first know what you are dealing with. You can gather about a cup of soil from your garden and have it tested to find out what the pH is and what nutrients you have for your plants. It’s hard to know how to fix your soil if you don’t know what is wrong with it in the first place, so soil test.

Balance pH

After receiving the results of your soil test we can begin to remedy the issues. You want the pH of your soil to be about 6.5. So what can we do if it’s lower than this, or more acidic? Well this is where the frugal you can flourish!

Dig into your kitchen cabinets and get out your baking soda. Baking soda is an alkaline substance so when added to an acidic soil it will actually neutralize it.

Wood ash can also have the same effect on your garden soil. If your soil turns out to be at the other end of the spectrum, with a high pH, you can add vinegar which is slightly acidic, to the soil to bring the pH back down.

Nutrients

You may have all the nutrients in the world in your garden (wishful thinking), but without the proper pH, your plants won’t be able to use those nutrients. Your plants love and need nutrients.

Since we are frugal gardeners, let’s search our kitchens and backyards for some cheap nutrient options. Eggshells are usually thrown out with the trash but can be ground up and used as a calcium source in your garden. Used coffee grounds can also be used in your garden as a nitrogen source. It’s also suggested that the caffeine content in the grounds will repel pests. The wood ash that we talked about earlier is not only neutralizing our soil pH but it’s also adding phosphorous, calcium and potassium.

A super cheap way to supply nutrients to your plants is to water them with the water that is left over from cooking your vegetables for supper. When you’re done soaking your achy joints from pulling weeds all day, use some Epsom salts around your tomatoes and peppers to give them a magnesium boost.

Look outside

Now let’s take a look at what we have in our backyard that can help the health of our garden. Leaves and grass clippings can be added to the soil to increase organic matter and water retention. Also, that compost bin that you stirred multiple times during last year has produced some amazing compost that is high in nutrients and will help your plants thrive.

More baking soda uses

Baking soda has so many garden uses. We already know that it can raise your soil pH, but it can do so much more. When sprinkled around the base of plants, it can actually repel some pests. It can also be used to battle and prevent powdery mildew when diluted and mixed with liquid soap and sprayed on your plants. If used at full concentration it can be used as a weed killer. Just like in your kitchen, baking soda can be used in the garden or compost bin to neutralize odors.

Embrace your thrifty side and help your garden be all it can be this year. There are so many ways to save money while gardening. You just have to know which kitchen cabinet to look in.

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