Your favorite frugal gardening tip

atokadawn(7)April 2, 2009

What is the ones you like to use the most.

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I posted one of my favorit tips on my blog. see it at

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 10:17PM
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Great thread topic -- I hope a lot of people offer their tips... Then I can share some of them on my own blog.

As for me, I like to re-purpose used kitchen items.

Tongs make good critter pickers to pluck bugs (the unwanted variety)from your plants.

Spatulas work well for seedling flats.

My favorite is -- much to my wife's chagrin -- a broken crock pot that I now use for a spider house (great garden foot soldiers), but that could also be used for free flower post -- complete with drainage hole, thanks to this clumsy hubby. I dropped a drinking glass into the crock and put a hole in it. The glass survived somehow.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 11:26AM
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cannahavana(z7a Knoxville)

We make our own potting soil. A lot cheaper and I know what is in it!


Here is a link that might be useful: Potting Soil Recipe

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 12:11PM
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You can't get much more frugal than free!

Lavonne and I (as well as a lot of you) have landscaped our yard for free for 7-8 years now from our friends at the MTPS.

We make our own rich compost for free too out of kitchen scraps, shredded paper, leaves and grass cuttings.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 12:38PM
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cannahavana(z7a Knoxville)

BOV, the MTPS is definitely NOT on the frugal list for us, LOL! But, oh so worth it!

We compost too.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 4:38PM
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I second the kitchen utensils method. :) I use old tupperware containers for seedlings sometimes. I alsp have a few random utensils I use for transplanting, spooning out fertilizer, etc., etc..

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 7:04PM
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I use the plastic containers you get from buying produce. Wash them out, usually I spray some bleach in the water, then it will depend on how you want to use them. If you have two the same size you can punch holes in one to plant seeds or transplants, and use the other one for the bottom pot.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 8:39PM
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Opps, Forgot about the medicine bottles. If your seeds are completely dried, we use our yellow colored medicine bottles ,labeled to store our seeds we save from one year to the next. Just keep them in a dark, cool place, ours are in a container kept in a closet that is on the North side of our home.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 9:12PM
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here are a few of my penny pinching pointers.
1. newspaper & cardboard for weed barriers
2. plastic forks, spoons, & knives for plant markers
3. cut rootball of large rootbound ferns in half, & plant in two containers
4. use sponge fragments,shredded paper, (bills, statements, etc) to pots, & planting holes, for added moisture
5. empty yogurt cups & empty 2 ltr soda bottles for taller cutting. the narrow, deep containers don't require as much soil as the wider containers
6.MOST IMPORTANTLY: keep a shovel, & hand pruners in each vehicle you own at all times- you never know when you may run across a much wanted plant or cuttings in your many travels, in woods, ditches, side of the road, etc.
wishing you all- flower power!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 9:25PM
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Slats from vinyl window blinds make great plant markers too. Just cut them to desired length & use permanent marker to identify.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 10:13PM
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Dryer lint works really well in the bottoms of pots/containers also.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2009 at 10:33PM
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Dryer lint - who would have thought! You win the prize in my book!

Here is a link that might be useful: Garden tips, birding, plant and art articles

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:14PM
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Wow...never knew there was a use for that stuff, especially in gardening! =)

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 12:51PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I'm confused, what does the dryer lint do?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 1:16PM
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dryer lint probably keeps moisture longer than just soil. i saw something once about putting the part of a diaper that collects moisture under tomato plants to keep them watered better.

i learned in boyscouts that dryer lint is also an excellent fire starter. i always keep a 35mm film canister of it somewhere.

my tip. if the city or your local electric department is trimming trees you can get them to drop the mulch at your place when they are done. it will save them a trip to the dump and they are more than happy to do it. just make sure you got a place where you dont have to move it, im just halfway done moving what i got a couple weeks ago.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 2:34PM
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I use many of the ones listed above but I like to propagate my own plants. It's a great way to make more very cheaply.

Also I tend to buy plants smaller and let them grow. In the end it evens out since they adapt quicker to the ground soil than larger ones.

I look for cheap plants on the discount racks at the end of various seasons. I picked up a fantastic 'Oranges and Lemons' Gaillardia this way last year!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 9:59PM
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buying smaller plants especially shrubs can also save your back as well as your pocket book, just so long as you are patient!


    Bookmark   April 6, 2009 at 10:48PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Many people don't know that small trees frequently outgrow larger ones. There are, of course, some limits to this and it depends on other factors like the species of tree, but it's not unusual for a healthy smaller tree to overtake a larger specimen of the same kind in just a few years. As Dvtown said, they usually become established much quicker.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 8:33AM
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Dryer lint will hold both the soil in the pot, and help keep the moisture for the plant. I have been known to not only add it to the bottom of the pot. But to also mix it into the soil.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 11:36AM
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Dryer lint! I love that!

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 2:21PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

I'm amazed that it can hold soil. My dryer lint is more like dust than fabric.

I've always heard to use aluminum or plastic window screen wire or pantyhose to cover the hole in the bottom of pots.

Speaking of pantyhose, that is all I use now to tie trees with. It stretches to allow the tree to have some natural movement, it won't cut into the tree, it allows some air to get to the bark underneath the tie, and it's relatively strong.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 2:54PM
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You can also put the foot of pantyhose over a seed pod to catch the seeds when it burst........maybe we need to start a thread 101 uses for pantyhose in gardening.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 4:38PM
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cannahavana(z7a Knoxville)

Sandal or reinforced toe :)? Control top?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 5:53PM
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ladybug37091(z7 Tennessee)

I use a coffee filter to hold the soil, cheap yet effective.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 5:55PM
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Check with anyone that is connected to construction.They can tell you if they are removing a old house. It can mean free plants for you.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2009 at 11:32PM
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Paper egg cartons make great seed starting cups. You can either tear off the damp paper when you're ready to transplant or put the whole little cup in the ground to decompose.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 8:08PM
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Old t-shirts cut into strips make great ties for plants since they are so stretchy, especially if the t-shirt was greeen, grey or blue. I use them to tie up clematis, wisteria, tomatoes, and so forth, and if the t-shirt is cotton, it will just rot in a couple of years and completely disappear.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 2:53PM
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Is newspaper ink safe for organic gardening?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 6:23PM
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Thanks to new EPA guidelines, all paper ink is plant safe now.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 11:46PM
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Buy a bag of 15 bean soup mix at the grocery store for about $1.50; plant some of them and see what comes up. I found that the prettiest bush was from the garbanzo's, something I wouldn't have planted ordinarily.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 7:31AM
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beachgrub(4 northern michigan)

I went to my local cement yard (Elmer's) and they have huge piles of broken cement and concrete pieces from excavation jobs free for the takijg. Most towns have them. I constructed a beautiful path leading from my driveway to my house that looks like a pic from Better Homes magazine for a total cost of $60!! I just had to buy the thick black plastic edging which i sank down far enough that the grass hides it. The path is about 60 ft long and 3 1/2 ft wide. An estimate to have done professionally using bluestone was $1400.
Not exactly about gardening per se but to me my whole lawn is part of the garden.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 3:01PM
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To treat powdery mildew, use
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp liquid soap

Place these ingredients in a gallon of water, shake well and use a hand sprayer to get rid of this condition. This does not harm other plants and the beneficial bugs will love you for it.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 3:05PM
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calokie(6B OK)

Dryer lint in an old orange bag, hang it in a tree or bush for the birds to use for nesting material. Also, check Craigslist for access to free rotten manure in your area. Watch your area for rocks and other materials that look unwanted, available for new flowerbed edging, lots of places---just don't be embarassed to ask!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 2:16PM
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Newspaper pots for starting seeds. Take a small plastic container (a one cup dry measuring cup is perfect), fold one sheet of newspaper in half. Press the paper into the container, fold the edges down and across the bottom. Place sterile soil into the cup, moisten until the paper is damp. Plant seeds. Gently remove the paper liner and soil and place in a tray (I use old take-out containers). The paper will wick water from the tray. Be cautious to not over water!! You can place the entire paper pot right in the ground. This is great for plants that do not like their roots disturbed and I find it to be WAY better than peat pots.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 10:06AM
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brit5467(7b/8a Coastal VA)

Great idea beachgrub. I did the same, only with pavers for a patio. Went to local rock, gravel, stepping stone & concrete. Been years ago so don't remember if they cost me, but if so, it was minimal. Had to crawl up a giant mountain of discarded solid bricks and pick out ones out without concrete stuck to them. But in the end, I was able to handpick some beautiful ones and was quite proud of my patio. Bonus was, they had character since they were 'used'

Another moneysaver for is - since it takes my shower water so long to heat up and I hate watching it just go down the drain -- I keep gallon jugs from Arizona Tea sitting beside the tub. I get 3/4 of a gallon of what would be wasted water each time I shower.

I then use it to pre-mix my plant food for houseplants or for my hanging baskets on the porch, so I always have food ready for my babies.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 10:31PM
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I love the dryer lint idea! I found that when I began gardening the best way to save money was to rely on local knowledge, and wonderful plants that spread quickly, but not too quickly. I bought daffodils cheaply, and found that they spread rapidly and what was one bulb is now 10-20. I wish I hadn't bought so many, but I share every year with old and new friends. Local knowledge saves money, because you don't buy plants that won't grow!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 7:12PM
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I went to my local nursery store several years ago and asked one of their experts for advice as to how to keep deer away from my apple trees and other plants. . . and I have been following their advice since.
Purchase Bounce fabric softener sheets at the store. Take several out and stack them about three sheets deep (still folded). With sharp scissors cut, with the length, one inch strips. Unfold the strips and tie them with an easy knot onto the ends of the budding branches of the plant (tree). Tie lots of them, but not too tight. After about 4 months, depending on the rain, you will want to replace them. The deer will avoid the smell and the smell last for quite a time . . . or is it that the deer don't like soft things!
It works like a charm!!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 5:12PM
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Try selling your divisions on craigslist. I started a few years ago by selling some perennials that the previous owners had planted-- full sun plants like daylilies, rudbeckias and hydrangeas that were never going to grow in our mostly shade yard. I made probably $300 that first year just selling off their dumb plant purchases.

Since then, I've started selling divisions of whatever I have too much of-- lily of the valley, lily bulb babies, heuchera, groundcovers, ferns, out-of-control herbs, etc etc. Every year, I grow most of my annuals from seed with a grow-light shelf system in my laundry room. There are always extras, so I sell those too. I'm amazed at how much $$$ I make just from those at $1 each. I also pot-up and sell the extras from too-large packages of summer bulbs like glads, lilies, callas, dahlias etc. My yard has so few sunny spots, I just don't have room to plant the quantities I have to buy to get the three bulbs I want. Often, I end up paying for the ones I keep just by selling two or three extras.

I don't think I've ever sold a single plant for more than $6, but over the last four seasons, I've made over $800 selling plants on craigslist. And most of that with plants I probably would have just throw away. It was a bit nerve-wracking at first-- inviting strangers to your house on a daily basis for pretty much the entire month of April. But so far, the craigslist plant buyers have all been good peeps, and often very interesting to talk to. Some people have bought from me on multiple occasions, and there are three women who've asked me to email before posting so they don't miss it. It's a bit of work, but the $$$$ I bring in continues to surprise me.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 12:34PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Be aware that selling plants in Tennessee without a license is illegal and punishable by a hefty fine. All it would take is one call from a neighbor who doesn't like what they consider a "mess" in your yard or one dissatisfied customer. Selling a diseased or infested plant (whether you know it or not) can get you in even more trouble.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 9:47PM
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I save toilet paper rolls and start seeds in them. You just plant them out and the cardboard quickly breaks down.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 10:18AM
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I went on freecycle and to this day we have gotten over 600 lbs of aged horse manure for free!!! We are starting a new big garden bed and needed to amend the soil and this will do great! I have peas and broccolli coming up now in the big garden and garlic, onions, turnips and beets as well as spinach in the raised bed I amended with the manure
I also had friends save me their 2 litre soda bottles and they will be my mini greenhouses when I plant the summer veggies 6 weeks early!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2012 at 3:16PM
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I use chop sticks for water meters, but then again a pencil will work as well.

I also use chop sticks to hold up plants especially my Sansevieria if I don't want them to turn, I use them to position the leaves the way I want them to grow. I use plastic covers for cakes as mini greenhouses, as well as the plastic used for precooked chiken. These make great seed starters boxes if I punch holes in the bottoms.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2012 at 5:11AM
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I've got two that I posted recently. One for mixing up your own seed-starting soil, and making your own seed-starting pots from newspapers. Both can be accessed through the link provided. Enjoy!

Here is a link that might be useful: mix your own seed-starting soil

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 12:32AM
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Dryer lint and other soft materials like shredded paper can be put in an old birdhouse with the entrance hole made smaller,for bumblebees. Brady

    Bookmark   April 4, 2012 at 1:09AM
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I am always on the lookout for seed pods when I walk and run in the neighborhood. Many of my yard plants have grown from free seed.

Also, a word of caution on free horse manure. We collected well composted manure from friends barns for a couple years. We had to completely dig out a couple veggie beds this spring because our tomatoes, beans, and other things started curling up and dying. We found out from a local organic gardener that horse and cattle feed have herbicides in them that kill certain things. The good part though was we could spread it on our grass and if it kills anything there, it will be the weeds.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 3:28PM
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uschi(z9 Florida)

Are you really frugal, build yourself a solar water heater, your power expense will be cut into half. You need a sheet of metal, copper is best, but roofing aluminum works too. Mount a 1" pipe in the bottom, one on top, into a 4"x8" insulated box combine with 5 smaller pipes running straight up, on the large 4x8 metal sheet(s) from bottom to top pipe, works for one summer with black plastic pipes, but better with metal, again copper is best, connect bottom of collector, with bottom of hot water tank, top with top of tank, insulate pipes with pipe wrap, or whatever you find, this is most important.
Have a slight incline for the hot water into house, and place into best sunny spot you have. Just make sure to drain when temperature falls below 24F or -5C. and put clear cover on: we use glass. We have one in z9 and z5. home made. Hard water causes built up of calcium, clean with CLR.
Start with a garden hose laid out and learn of the amazing sun power We also use it to supplement our heating cost with another box, in both zones. The angle to the sun has to be altered in zones 9+5.
A little experimenting might be needed, but very rewarding.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 4:56PM
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I use old discarded vinyl mini-blind slats cut in half or thirds for seedling markers

I have not been able to read this all the way through so apologies if this was already mentioned

    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 4:10PM
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debrah(7B Alabama)

Please don't leave dryer lint out for the birds to build a nest. The chemicals can cause the babies to dies. When dryer lint gets wet it eventually solidifies and is very hard to remove from birdhouses (if you have birdhouses).

It is a wonderful idea to help the birds with their nest, but unfortunately dryer lint may do more harm than good.

But putting them in the bottom of planters, I had never thought of that. Thank you for the suggestion.

Lots of good ideas! Thank you.

I pick up old pool liners I see on the side of the road. I have used them for:
my aisle between rows in my garden to keep down on weeds
Used as a tarp for my lawn stuff (tiller, mowers, etc)
Put under my porch to store things.
Covered my garden to kill weeds, unwanted plants, etc...
I actually built me a pond using liners instead of buying the pond liner (beware of possible 'leaks', most people don't get rid of a pool line simply because they want a new one, there is usually a hole somewhere in it).

I have seen several people using pallets as a 'wall' garden. I am trying it this year.

Old tires as a potato bed. Trying it this year as well.

Have you seen the commercials for hanging 'bags' to grow things in? Instead of buying them use a 5 gallon bucket. Cut your slits in the side of the bucket, stick your plants in the slits.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 1:08PM
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Frugal has at times been a necessity here, but most of what I have done have been mentioned already.

1. Composting, whether spending matter or not, nothing is better than real good compost, and it is rarely if ever for sale.

2. Taking cuttings and suckers from roses. At times these have been my best and most interesting varieties; New Dawn, Alba Maxima, Charles de Mills, Comte de Chambord, Jacques Cartier, Great Western. Some varieties are even better ownroot.

3. Buying seeds from Ebay and places on the web. Sometimes a good offer for lots of Sweet Peas and seeds you need a lot of turn up. Buying seeds have made me able to have loads of pansies, violets, snapdragons, lobelia, alyssum.

4. Rainwater barrel in summer, we used to have a large one on the corner of the house, it was great to have in periods when the government ordered water saving.

5. The cheapest organic fertilizer here is pelleted chicken manure, I have used in on the lawn, for summer flowers with great success, but only ever so little on the roses.

6, Taking advantage of the good offers that present themselves in spring and early summer. They are often well worth it.

7, Remembering to fertilize spring bulbs as soon as the pop up in spring, they reliably bloom the next year, and sometimes multiply. Daffodils, crocuses, snow drops and some tulips respond very well to fertilizing. They will return for decades and decades then.

8. Years a go there was an area outside the garden that had really bad soil, if it even could be called that, nothing would grow there. I sowed a blend of greenmanure seeds and let it grow there for a few years. I think it was flax, red clover, white clover, grass, buck wheat, yellow and blue lupines.

9. I still pick nettles, yarrow and comfrey and make a sort of compost tea some times. It stinks, but its organic, free and plants respond to it like any fancy brand fertilizer.

  1. Using free manure where I could get it, horse mostly but cow and sheep at times too. Later I have read a lot of famous rose gardens does the same.

  2. At the cottage we collect seaweed, every spring we clean the tiny bay area where we have our boat. It is composted or used straight in the soil. Great soil improver.

  3. Taking advantage of tidy-up sales at the end of the autumn, here we often get the sacks of organic fertilizer at half price when christmas decorations start taking over the garden centers.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2012 at 1:50PM
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Love them all, keep them coming.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 1:18AM
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Make a friend and swap seeds n transplants. Especially if you've got a small garden (heaven knows I don't need/want 6 zucchini plants).

Pallet boards. Tons of things can be made from them (planter boxes, compost bins, pathways, etc.)

Save seeds or buy them at the dollar store.

Make your own compost (check Craigslist for manure)

Vinegar + saltwater + soap = weed killer

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 12:13PM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

Using vinegar as an herbicide is not recommended by many experts for a variety of reasons. First, it only kills the top of the plant, so many plants can resprout from the roots. Secondly, it often takes the more concentrated form (horticultural grade) of vinegar to have significant results, AND this form of vinegar can have specific dangers. Third, using kitchen vinegar as an herbicide is actually illegal (although I'm not sure how many people really care about that one).

Using salt is not a good idea, because it can make your soil unusable for growing more plants. I would think of salt (as in saltwater) as more of a soil sterilizer than as an herbicide. I'd even be hesitant to use it on a rock driveway or somewhere like that, because of possible runoff and accidental contamination of surrounding areas. The good news is that salt's effects will wear off as the salt is eventually washed down through the soil with rain.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2012 at 9:57PM
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