In our house, when there are chores to be done, I usually have two happy pint-sized participants (and the two or three stuffed animals they bring along for moral support) begging to help do a project and create something. And so it goes… mundane things like mopping the floors lead to mop karaoke and or sock slide competitions. It may take some extra time, but at the end of the day, we have clean floors and active, happy kids, so win-win, right? The same goes for our garden. As a mom, I’m always searching for ways to get my kiddos involved and excited to see what is happening in our yard and so they can be curious enough to ask “how” and “why.” This mindset often has me scouring the internet for creative “hacks” that can add a little more functionality and fun to our routines. And this brings me to my game-changing garden hacks that anyone can pull off, even my five-year-old.
First things first.
Just what are “garden hacks” and why use them? The primary purpose of a good hack is to save money and streamline your lifestyle. So let’s dive in and hack your garden into a well-oiled machine.
You Don’t Need to Break the Bank
I’ll let you in on a little secret. Most of the things you need for these hacks are either already in your pantry or available with a quick trip to the local dollar store. In my opinion, if it’s over 10 bucks, it’s not a real hack. Our goal is to streamline your garden experience without breaking the bank.
Cost: $1 Compare: 16.99
Ok, so maybe pantyhose aren’t your thing, but trust me your melons and gourds will love them. When you string them up on your trellis so that they are basically swinging in a hammock, they’ll achieve vertical garden growth, and you’ll avoid all types of fungus while keeping pests out of reach.
Cost : $1 Compare $25.96 Seeding Square
Muffin tin cheat sheet
For me, one of the hardest gardening tasks is transplanting and spacing our plants and seeds after we get home from the nursery. This hack is easy and fun, and it’s as simple as stamping your soil. The trick here is to use the back of a Dollar Store muffin tin to imprint the ground to the perfect spacing! This tool is great because it’s washable and when you are done, you can make some cupcakes, because… well, vegetables are essential, but for a balanced diet, you need cupcakes.
Cost: $1 Compare $24.95
A long day at the beach or an overnight trip to a theme park can often leave our plants stranded and thirsty, so this is a great trick to keep your favorite plants happy and hydrated for days at a time. Just grab an old plastic bottle, poke some tiny holes all around the surface area, and saw off the base of the container. Carefully dig around your roots and plant the bottle upside down. Once it’s in, fill up the bottle, and slowly, the water will seep out the holes and water your plant while you are away.
The Magic of Eggshells
Like clockwork, my three hens produce the most beautiful eggs ever laid. Ok maybe I’m a little biased, but they are delicious, and their magic doesn’t end there. Their shells can live on in many different shapes and forms.
After you make your scrambled eggs, you can wash the shell, pop a small hole in the bottom, and plant some new seeds in the center. The shells serve as upcycled pots and biodegradable planters that can be placed directly into your soil, avoiding a harsh transplanting process.
Add to the compost pile
Rich in calcium, crushed or ground eggshells are a great alternative to store-bought fertilizer for your vegetables. Make sure you really mix the shells into the soil, and after the plant takes on some age and or fruit, you can dress the top of your soil for extra nutrients. The shells added to your soil and compost serve as a tool for aerating your soil mix and as a great bonus, deter slugs and snails.
From Trash to Tools
Cost: Less than $1 Compare: $11
We are big coffee drinkers in our house, so we love our Keurig, but I always feel guilty throwing out those plastic cups. My mission has been to find ways to repurpose those k-cups. I recently discovered that the cups can be used as mini planters or even better, safe storage for seeds.
No Drop left behind!
Having a large property comes with a hefty water bill, so I’m always conscious of how much water is wasted in our family’s daily routine. One useful tip on using water smarter is to reuse the water from drained pasta or boiled veggies. Just drain your water back into a pot, let the water cool and then feed your plants the water rich in starch and nutrients.
Cost: $2 Compare: $18.29
To protect your plants from the harsh elements by cutting the bottom off of a 2-liter bottle and covering them to prevent damage. Just like that, you can create a miniature greenhouse for your favorite greens.
Raid your pantry
Cost: Less than $5 Compare: $27
Stop throwing away overripe fruits and veggies and start feeding your garden the organic material it craves. Even though that banana looks sad and brown, it can be blended or juiced and added to your soil for a potassium boost.
Other roots and stems that more times than not get tossed into our compost pile can be put back in water and regrown on your window sill. Celery, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, pineapple, and avocado can all be regrown from scraps and bulbs. This is a science project all kids will love and gives new life to something that would have otherwise been trash.
You know his music, but his passion for farming is even cooler (if that’s possible) to follow and learn from. Check out Jason Mraz’s family farm feed on Instagram to gather some incredible inspiration.
One of my favorite feeds to follow right now is Cosmic Apple Gardens, their photos and videos give you real-life lessons of the hard work that goes into farming and the delicious fruits of its labor.
For more garden hacks check out 101 Organic Gardening Hacks: Eco-friendly Solutions to Improve Any Garden, and see how Shawna Coronado transforms an ordinary garden into something extraordinary.