Use kitchen staples in the garden

June 21, 2006 lawanda Newspaper Columns

      There are many basic items on your kitchen shelves that can be used in the yard or garden to enhance growth or discourage pests and diseases without resorting to the use of poisonous chemicals.

      The most obvious things that go from kitchen to garden are those that can be made into compost either in a bin or by being buried in the garden.  These include peels, rinds, cores, skins, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grounds and peanut shells.  Another idea – instead of dumping the water in which you’ve cooked vegetables down the sink, let it cool and take it outdoors to water and nourish a plant.

      My favorite kitchen item for use in the garden is baking soda.  Mix ½ teaspoon per quart of water and add a few drops of liquid soap.  I use baking soda spray as a first defense any time I see something that looks like a fungus on any plant in my yard.  More often than not the problem clears right up.  Funguses can look like red streaks, brown or yellow spots, small brown squares or fuzzy patches.  Use baking soda spray on roses once a week to prevent black spot. 

      Milk has antibacterial properties.  Sprinkle powdered milk in the bottom of the holes when you plant tomatoes or onto the soil around the plants.  Or spray milk on the foliage to prevent bacterial diseases.

      Vinegar has several uses in the garden.  Mix one cup vinegar and 1/3 cup molasses with enough water to make 1 ½ quarts total.   Put the mixture in a plastic milk jug in which you’ve cut a large hole in the side and hang it in your apple tree to attract coddling moths.  Instead of laying eggs that produce larvae that burrow into your apples, the moths will drown in the milk jugs.

      One cup of vinegar in one gallon of water can be used to water acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons and blueberries.  One tablespoon of molasses in one gallon of water provides a spray-on boost of potassium and sulfur for plants.

      Coffee grounds make a nice-looking mulch and are rich in nitrogen.  Sprinkling coffee grounds on carrot plantings repels root maggots.

      Finely chop ½ cup of garlic, onions or chives.  Blend into one pint of water and strain.  Spray on plants to repel flea beetles, thrips, leaftiers and mites.  Garlic has antifungal properties too.  Puree several garlic cloves with a little water in a blender.  Add to a gallon of water and spray on plants to prevent downy mildew, cucumber rust, tomato blight and other fungal diseases.

      Aphids are tiny green or yellow insects with pear-shaped bodies that suck juices from young leaves, fruit and stems.  Hot pepper spray is an effective control.  Mix ½ cup finely chopped or ground hot peppers with one pint of water.  Strain and spray on plants.  Another option is to dust the undersides of the leaves with flour or baking powder.  Reapply after rain. 

      To keep dogs away from treasured plants, sprinkle the area with cayenne pepper.

      There are many more uses in the yard for kitchen staples.  Do a little internet research or a talk with an organic gardener to find out more.

Organic gardening

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