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Simple Garden Hacks to Improve The Health of Your Plants

Simple Garden Hacks to Improve The Health of Your Plants

Home Sweet Home is presented by The Washington State Housing Finance Commission

Amateur to expert gardeners all want the best for their plants so they can grow to be strong and healthy. However, the current dirt in your potted containers and garden may not give your plants the necessary nutrients. Check and improve your plant’s nourishment with these steps and easy hacks. 

Steps for Improving Your Soil’s Nutrients

Test It. 

Purchase home kits online or from improvement stores, or send the soil away to a local Cooperative Extension. You can also do a home test. Almanac.com describes how to use a jar to measure the amount of silt, sand, and clay in your dirt and test for alkaline with vinegar or baking soda for acidity. 

Add Needed Nutrients

Soil testing will determine if your dirt needs more nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, or other minerals. Compost, natural manure, and fertilizers are some of the best ways to add these nutrients. We’ve shared ideas for making your own, plus listed some other gardening hacks below. 

Add Mulch

Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil and prevents weeds from competing with your plants for nutrients. Garden mulch options include woodchips, pine straw, grass clippings, and newspaper, each with its benefits. 

Nutrient Adding Hacks

Source Manure 

As we mentioned, manure is one of the best sources of needed nutrients for your garden. You can buy bags at garden centers and home improvement stores. You can also ask local farmers or anyone raising cows, chickens, horses, goats, sheep, or rabbits if they give manure away for free. Never use fresh manure as it will be hot and can burn plants. It’s best to compost or age it first. 

Start Composting

Compost can also be bought at local stores or made in your backyard. Making compost is free and great for the environment because you add less waste to landfills. To create your own compost, you will need a place or bin to store it, high-carbon materials such as dry leaves or straw, high-nitrogen components such as grass clippings or over-riper fruits and vegetables, and water for moisture. 

Photo: Alexander Raths via 123RF

Add Coffee Grinds

Not ready to start full-on composting yet? Start with using leftover coffee grinds instead. It is an excellent way to begin using something most of us have a continuous supply of in our homes. Plus, they contain the nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus your soil needs. Be aware that some plants like tomatoes are not a fan, that non-caffeinated is overall better, and for plants that don’t like acidity, wash the grounds first.

Fish Emulsion

Using fish emulsion (the fluid remains of processed fish) as a fertilizer to add nutrients to your soils has several benefits. First, it uses a natural resource, fish. It provides the primary nutrients for healthy soil (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). It has micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, and sodium that plants also need. As a mild additive, it is less likely to burn or damage your plants. 

Save Your Grass Clippings

Gather grass clippings after mowing the lawn and add them to your garden. Wait until clippings dry and use sparingly as a mulch in your garden. Or mix with other composting ingredients to add additional nutrients. 

Sprinkle Eggshells on Your Soil

Eggshells add needed calcium and other nutrients to your soil and can lower the acidity level. They are known to ward off deer, prevent blossom-end rot, and encourage root growth. How you prepare the shells will depend on whether you are using them as mulch, compost, fertilizer, or pest deterrent.  

Water with Club Soda

A study at the University of Colorado found that plants watered with club soda grew faster and had healthier shades of green. This is likely because soda contains minerals that plants need, such as phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, and sodium. So, before tossing that uncarbonated drink, consider watering your plants with it to give them a bit more pep. 

Water with Epson-Salt Solution

Epsom salt is helpful to add to a soil that is low in magnesium. It can also assist seedlings in growing more robust, increase uptake of needed minerals, prevent root shock, and control pests. Epsom salt is perfect for tomatoes, sweet peppers, house plants, and roses. It is always a bright idea to test your soil first to ensure it needs more magnesium. Mix one tablespoon of Epsom salt with a gallon of water, wear gloves and keep the salt and mixture away from pets and children. 

Ready to improve your soil so your plants can thrive? Get that soil tested so you can add the needed nutrients with these fun and creative hacks!

Home Sweet Home is brought to you by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission’s Washington Homeowner Assistance Fund. The Homeowners Assistance Fund helps homeowners who have fallen on hard times because of the pandemic. Call 1-877-894-4663 for more information on how they can help.