Even with a garden shed full of tools, you may still be struggling more than you need to with your garden tasks. Learn some uncommon uses for household items in the garden and have better results with less effort.
However sometimes you just need to think outside of the garden shed and find some household items that make your life easier.
None of these require you to buy anything although in some cases you don’t want to use the item for both the garden and the inside of your house. But I’ve included some tips on where you can pick up an extra one relatively inexpensively so that you don’t annoy the other people in your household.
So let’s have a look at 5 items to begin with. There are probably many more but I’ll save those for a future post.
Vacuums suck! But that is what makes them useful in the household and in gardening.
However you may not want to use the good household vacuum for some of these tasks. In fact whoever is running the household will likely not agree if you do try to use it!
I recommend you use a dedicated vacuum that you can pick up at a garage sale or flea market for a few dollars. Then you don’t need to worry about it getting dirty or having it mess up your partner’s priceless Persian rugs if you forget to clean the nozzles.
If you will be vacuuming up any wet things or use the vacuum for water, you definitely need a wet-dry vacuum. You may already have one in the garage or workshop for vacuuming up messes so you can use that one in the garden too.
So here is a list of some things you can use a vacuum for:
- spiders and spiderwebs
- leaves and debris in hard-to-reach areas – works great in the greenhouse or on the deck or patio
- emptying the last bit of water from a birdbath or pond or water barrel
- sucking up the slugs, snails and stale beer from the yoghurt container traps you set out. You may want to use a clothespin (see next section) to keep from gagging
Time to raid the laundry room! Clothespins are versatile and useful for many things in the garden.
There are the usual wooden clothespins with a spring that open fairly wide. These can actually be modified to open wider but this is a bit tricky to do.
Instead there are larger plastic clothespins that open really wide. You’ll just have to see what is available and perhaps buy a bunch if you don’t have the right ones on hand. Should only cost you a few dollars and you won’t annoy the person who does the laundry that you’ve taken all of their clothespins!
So let’s see what you can do with clothespins:
- hold row cover and plastic covers onto thin supports
- clip plant stems to stakes
- pin together your nostrils (just remember to breathe through your mouth instead!) to avoid the stink of
- liquid fish fertilizer
- slug gunk (see vacuum cleaner section above)
- mammal droppings
- fresh manure you are composting
- anaerobic bacteria in your compost, etc. – you shouldn’t have this in the first place, but it can happen
Salad or deli containers
What’s better than having a convenient container with a lid to keep in moisture for starting seeds? A convenient container with a lid for starting seeds that is free!
If you ever pick up a salad (oh, the travesty – don’t you know you are supposed to only eat salads made with your own homegrown lettuce, tomatoes, etc?) or other meal or snack at a deli or grocery store, you have the perfect seed starting container.
All you need to do is
- clean the container well
- poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage with a pen or chopstick (foreshadowing alert!).
- fill with seeding soil
- plant the seeds
- water well
- put the cover on
And in a few days you likely will get sprouts. The seeds will stay damp longer and the soil will stay warmer, perfect environment for most seeds.
You can of course also use the containers when you pick berries, cherry tomatoes or other small fruit and vegetables. You can put them straight in the fridge since they have a convenient cover.
And finally you can make a slug trap by cutting holes on the top rim of the container, fill it with cheap beer and put the cover on.
Surprise! Well I did already allude to this one above. Yes, chopsticks are useful in the garden, not just to scarf down that steaming hot Chinese takeout food in those handy cardboard boxes with the wire handle. Actually come to think of it, those takeout boxes are also useful in the garden to raise seedlings in. But I’m getting sidetracked here.
So chopsticks, whether they be the cheap wooden ones you get everywhere either with Chinese takeout or sushi or the fancier plastic ones, have lots of uses. Let’s make a list.
- stake up small transplants so they don’t flop over (and get eaten by crawling insects)
- remove individual transplants from their seeding pot
- mark locations of seeds, bulbs or herbaceous perennials (those are the ones that literally disappear in winter from above ground only to grow new growth in spring)
- wrap string around to have on hand for tying plants to stakes
- holder for your clothespins
- pick up slugs and snails
While the blender is great for making green smoothies, it can also be used for another purpose.
You’ve probably noticed a trend in this post. All of the items above can be used to deal with slugs in your garden. So you may think I will suggest blending up slugs and water into a glop that you put on your plants to deter slugs. Supposedly that is not that effective.
There is another use though that will help you deal with slugs and snails.
Now don’t do this with the blender you are using for smoothies and other kitchen uses. Instead you can pick up a really cheap blender at a garage sale or flea market. You don’t need a fancy model that can grind ice or hard nuts, etc. Just one blending speed will do the trick.
All you do is add some egg shells and water to the blender. And pulse it up so that the egg shells turn into tiny sharp shards. Spread that around your plants and slugs and snails won’t crawl over it to reach your plants.
Another bonus use for the blender is to grind up kitchen scraps, again with some water, to make a compost slurry. Some people put this directly on their garden but I recommend instead putting it on your compost to let it decompose a bit before you add it to your garden.
Obviously you are not going to do this with large quantities as that would be quite time consuming. But for a quick boost for your compost, this works well.
As you can see, just looking around your house can yield several household items that are useful in the garden. There are of course many more items and a future post will share what those are and how to use them.
What other household items have you used in the garden? Please share in the comments.