12 Garden Bargains
12 thrifty ideas for the resourceful gardener.
Here are 12 thrifty tips that really work—from backyard gardeners across the country.
Bargain #1: To kill thistles in your yard, sprinkle a little table salt in the center of the thistle. It works best on warm, sunny days. If done in the morning, the weeds will be dead by nightfall. (Be careful to apply only to the plant, so you don't damage the soil for other desirable plants.) —Joy Westphal, Pecatonica, Illinois
Bargain #2: Use coffee grounds and leftover coffee on your houseplants and watch them thrive. I've been doing this for a long time, and it really works. —Delores Koland, Pelican Rapids, Minnesota
Bargain #3: To keep a hanging plant from drying out rapidly, line the pot with a clean disposable diaper (absorbent side up) and fill with soil and plants. The diaper holds water, then releases it as the soil begins to dry out. Plants stay perky with half as many waterings. —Linda Scharer, Deerfield, Michigan
Bargain #4: Instead of buying expensive trellises for my climbing plants, I bought an old decorative wicker screen for $10 and removed the hinges. Now I have three trellises that are quite attractive. —Janice Meisner, Cottage Grove, Oregon
Bargain #5: Plastic soft drink bottles can be cut into long strips 1/2-inch wide for inexpensive plant markers. I use them in my cold frame and when starting plants in the house. They can be moved to the garden, too. —Mrs. Harley Andrews, Nenzel, Nebraska
Bargain #6: We lay 2-foot-wide strips of old carpet around our tomato plants to help prevent blight. It keeps dirt (that may carry the fungus) from splashing on the plants. It also keeps moisture in, weeds out, and it's nice to walk on when picking tomatoes. —Deallis Rykhus, Garvin, Minnesota
Bargain #7: To kill dandelions in my strawberry patch, I cut both ends from a 2-liter bottle, place it over the weed and spray with Roundup (or other total vegetation killers that do not stay in the soil). This keeps the herbicide off the strawberries. —Ralph Summers, Mountain Grove, Missouri
Bargain #8: I use old spoons from garage sales to dig and plant bulbs, seeds and small plants. They're less expensive and much easier for me to handle than other garden tools. —Ann Ward, Naples, Florida
Bargain #9: Need a watering can? I use an old fabric-softener bottle. I punched holes in the lid and two more in the jug right above the handle to draw in air as water is poured out. —Sharon Nolt, Bethel, Pennsylvania
Bargain #10: When I misplaced my knee pad, I had to find a replacement quickly. So I cut my grandchildren's old swimming pool toy, called a "noodle," into two 12-inch pieces. Then I cut them once lengthwise to open the tube. I tied them to my knees with shoestrings. This worked even better than my old cushion. —Louise Harrison, Anderson, South Carolina
Bargain #11: To keep shoes dry and clean, place a plastic grocery bag on each foot and tie them around your ankles with the handles. When finished, throw the bags out. —A.R. Capalupo, Utica, New York
Bargain #12: I use old tires to make raised flower beds. Take a roofing or utility knife and remove one sidewall of the tire by cutting near the tread. Then place the tire upside-down. It helps keep plants moist and their leaves off the ground. —Naomi Ochs, Independence, Missouri