Gardening, for the avid green-thumber, can become an expensive hobby, but making your own pesticide could help to reduce costs.
Soil, amendments, equipment, and plants can all run up a hefty bill. Then, there are the sprays: dormant oil, insecticides, and fertilizers. Thankfully, there are many ways to cut down on some of the expenses incurred to feed the gardening habit, and there is not a thing wrong with being a frugal gardener. Keeping your house and garden looking good rather than in need of a facelift is something to strive for in most people’s cases.
Make your own insecticidal soap to get rid of mealybugs, aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites. Use liquid dish soap, such as Dawn or Ivory or, for an organic garden, Desert Essence or Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Soap. Use 2 teaspoons of dish soap in 1 gallon of water.
If using the organic soaps, use 2 tablespoons to a gallon of water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray the infested parts of the plant, especially the undersides of leaves, until they are drenched.
Allow it to sit for an hour or two, and then use the hose to rinse off the soap. Be careful when applying these insecticidal soaps to plants with hairy stems or foliage as they may burn them. You may have to reapply the insecticidal soap every week until you get the pest infestation under control.
Grow new plants from cuttings. It’s so easy to propagate many plants just by taking a cutting at the right time of year, sticking it into some soil, and keeping the soil moist. Some plants that propagate readily by this method include roses, hydrangea, most shrubs, and even trees.
Rooting cuttings is a way to get new plants for free. If you’d like to learn how to propagate plants, there are many articles on the subject all over the web.
Solarize the soil instead of using herbicides to rid an area of weeds. This is an easy process, but it takes a bit longer than were you using a herbicide. Mow the weeds as close to the ground as possible.
Use a gardening fork or tiller to dig up the top 6 inches of the soil, turn it, and crush large clods. If you turn up any rocks or big roots, remove them from the area: water, the area, heavily-at least a good 10 inches in depth. Lay down a piece of transparent plastic sheeting, large enough to cover the entire area.
Put soil or rocks around the edges to hold the plastic in place. The plastic should be tight and as close to the soil as possible. If you do this during the hottest part of the summer, it should take eight to ten weeks to kill all the weeds.
If the weather cools off during this time, allow the tarp to remain another week when you remove it-voila! Dead weeds and soil that is ready to plant.
Reuse old potting soil by sterilizing it. Spread a 4-inch layer of the potting soil in a metal or glass baking pan. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and stick a meat thermometer through the foil and halfway into the soil.
Place the pan in an oven set at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. When the soil reaches 180 degrees on the thermometer, allow it to remain, at that temperature, for 30 minutes. Let the soil cool but leave the foil covering on it until you use it. Make sure to open the windows before you begin this process, as it tends to get a bit stinky.
Get free seeds from a seed exchange. Many gardening websites have casual seed exchange forums, such as southernexposure.com or gardenweb.com. Or you can visit seedsavers.com. On the latter website, you post what you have to swap with others or what you are looking for.
Whether you garden to feed your family or as a hobby, there are many ways to save money.