Budding Home Farmer? 25+ Clever Ideas To Check Out

DiggingDid you know you can make your own rooting hormone using willow twigs? Or that geraniums can be overwintered? How about a few ideas for soil savers, pest control and fighting weeds? You’ll find all that and more in this collection!

First, here’s an interesting tip I came across while reading the book “The Essential Urban Farmer”, did you know that willow trees contain a lot of natural rooting hormone that you can tap into for your own cuttings? Here’s how to make it:

15 to 20 thin twigs (any variety of willow tree)
gallon of water

Directions: Place the twigs in a bucket then top with water, cover with lid. Let this sit for at least 24 hours then strain out the twigs.

To Use: Place cuttings in the water solution a day before potting.

Storage: Can be refrigerated for up to one month.

Ready to check out the rest of the goodies? Here’s a bunch that I’ve handpicked from around the net or highlighted from here on Tipnut…(and don’t miss the vintage tip at the bottom of the page for growing your own dishcloths with luffa gourds!).

PS: I’ll be adding more goodies to this list as I find them so you may want to bookmark this page!

ladybirdln.com
ladybirdln.com
Diaper Liners: Line the bottom of baskets and pots with a disposable diaper to help retain soil moisture.

14 Simple Tricks: Includes a great idea to mark long handles on garden tools so you can use them as measuring sticks.

hgtv.com
hgtv.com
marthastewart.com
marthastewart.com
Kitchen Shaker Idea: Keep a shaker filled with diatomaceous earth and dust soil and plants evenly as needed (pest control).

Coffee Filters: Line flowerpots with coffee filters before adding soil, this will help prevent soil leakage through the drainage holes.

thisoldhouse.com
thisoldhouse.com
bhg.com
bhg.com
Planting Tomatoes: (slide #3) Plant tomatoes on their side to give them an extra strong root system.

Tablecloth Mover: (slide #5) No wheelbarrow? No problem! Use a tablecloth to move heavy bags of soil.

bhg.com
bhg.com
tipnut.com
tipnut.com
Don’t have much space for growing potatoes? Try growing them vertically in towers! Here’s How.

You can combat aphids, spiders and other pests by steeping onion or garlic skins and peels in water then using as a spray. Plenty more helpers on this page.

tipnut.com
tipnut.com
thisoldhouse.com
thisoldhouse.com
Foam Peanuts: Use packing peanuts to fill the bottom of large pots, this helps save on soil and make them lighter.

Staggering Bulbs: Plant bulbs in layers for weeks of blooms (choose varieties that flower a few weeks apart).

thisoldhouse.com
thisoldhouse.com
pinterest.com
pinterest.com
Overwintering Geraniums: Place geraniums upside down in a box and cover with newspaper and replant in the Spring.

You can test soil to see if it’s acidic or alkaline by using vinegar and baking soda. Details found here.

tipnut.com
tipnut.com
marthastewart.com
marthastewart.com
Testing Seeds: You can test seeds to see if they’re still viable by sealing them in plastic bags with moist paper towels.

Use For Plastic Nursery Pots: Save the six pack or nursery pots, bag them up and use to fill the bottom of large pots (soil saver).

awaytogarden.com
awaytogarden.com
bhg.com
bhg.com
Boost Tomato Growth: Wrap a wire mesh cage with clear polyethylene to act as a mini greenhouse during cool weather.

Kill weeds with common household items such as vinegar, salt, liquid detergent and more. Lots of ideas are found here.

tipnut.com
tipnut.com
thisoldhouse.com
thisoldhouse.com
Sponge Idea: Help keep potted plants moist by lining the pot with a sponge.

Leftover coffee can be sprayed on plants to help deter slugs. More ideas listed here.

tipnut.com
tipnut.com
rosemaryonthetv.com
rosemaryonthetv.com
Newspaper Barrier: Lay down sheets of newspaper before topping with mulch, this will help prevent grass and weed growth.

Water Bucket Warmers: Unexpected cool nights? Warm your garden naturally with buckets filled with water.

budget101.com
budget101.com
flickr.com/photos/megz/
flickr.com/photos/megz/
Isolation Bags: Keep seed collection true by using tulle or cheesecloth bags tied around the plant.

Plastic Milk Jug Ollas: Bury plastic milk jugs that have holes in the bottom and fill with water for an easy irrigation method. More ideas on this page.

howstuffworks.com
howstuffworks.com
funinthemaking.net
funinthemaking.net
Thumb Controlled Watering Pot: Cool idea! Water flow is controlled by pressing your thumb over the cap. More clever diy gadgets are found here.

DIY Watermelon Sling: Support swelling melons with slings made from old t-shirts.

oregonlive.com
oregonlive.com
gardengatenotes.com
gardengatenotes.com
Twig House: Protect newly planted perennials with a handful of pliable branches to make a dome-like cage.

Easy Digging: Moisten the ground a few hours before you start digging and the job will be easier.

philadelphia.cbslocal.com
philadelphia.cbslocal.com
beeskneesbungalow.com
beeskneesbungalow.com
Soil Saver: Large tubs and planters can first be filled with aluminum cans and discarded plastic.

Bagged Tomatoes: Grow them right in a bag of soil, add a cage and you’re set to go.

cookingwithmykid.com
cookingwithmykid.com
hortmag.com
hortmag.com
Stockier Bushier Tomato Plants: Trenching tip (planting on its side to force stem upwards).

Grow Mushrooms In A Laundry Basket: A nice tutorial showing you how to get started including how to pasteurize the straw, load the basket, cloning and more.

velacreations.com
velacreations.com
cozylittlehouse.com
cozylittlehouse.com
Pine Cones For Drainage: Layer some around the bottom of the pot before topping with soil.

Pot-In-Pot Planting: Lots of reasons why this is so smart, you’ll find more info on this page.

floridafriendlyplants.com
floridafriendlyplants.com
bluebirdgardens.com
bluebirdgardens.com
Dried Banana Peel Shakes: Save banana peels, dry them then blend with a couple cups of water to make a promising plant pick-me-up.

Do You Grow Dishcloths? Luffa Acutangula Gourd

*First published October 30, 2009 and moved to this page for better organization

The gourd Luffa acutangula is easily grown from seed and produces a very satisfactory, sanitary dishcloth. Most seed catalogs list it.

Wikipedia.org
Image Source: Wikipedia.org

Plant the seed of the Luffa vine about the middle of May, or the time you plant your cucumbers should be right.

In the fall the gourds produced on this vine may be cut open lengthwise, the fibrous mass inside taken out, thoroughly washed in hot soapy water to remove pulp and seeds, then dried in sun and there you have the dishcloth ready for use.

These are very durable and easily kept sweet and clean as long as they last. Dirt and grease do not penetrate the fibers as they do in an ordinary cloth, this makes it more desirable for separator and milk utensils.

When saturated with water the Luffa is agreeable to the touch. The smaller ones may be used for bath sponges, those of medium size for dishes, and the largest for “rags” to scrub automobiles. I have heard of people selling the prepared “rags.”

These vines are vigorous growers. One or two vines, if given room, will produce many gourds, which are often a foot or more long.

Let the children have plants of their own. Any child who can handle a small saw or a knife to whittle, can make handles for Luffa dish mops. Our children had lots of fun preparing these mops and giving them away for Christmas presents.

Source: The Farmer’s Wife (May, 1933)

You’ll find tips for growing this plant at groovygreen.com.

Related Posts

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Comments

    • Richard Fries
    Reply

    On the packing peanut idea. I have a home business and many businesses that ship are environmentally aware. Many of the packing peanuts that business are using will dissolve in water. Many will include a note saying that the peanut will dissolve, many won’t bother, though they are fun to watch dissolve to nothing in the sink. When the peanuts are trashed the rain will dissolve them to a corn flour or rice flour mixture, not harming the environment. If you want packing peanuts to stay around May want to toss some in water first to see if they dissolve. Otherwise on the first watering in a garden they will be gone! 🙂 RJF

      • Saundra
      Reply

      Richard is corrrect. You want the S shaped peanuts not the figure 8 shaped ones.

        • sarah
        Reply

        i was told to use milk jugs to do thiw

      • Clare Rannigan
      Reply

      I put the peanuts in a heavy duty plastic bag and tie it closed before putting in the bottom of a large pot or planter, usually taking up the bottom third of the pot. Then I add potting soil, super phosphate, plant food and I’m ready to plant.

        • Bonnie Miller
        Reply

        I used mesh fabric so the roots could use the space but like this better. Makes fall cleanup much easier with the peanuts controlled & they are reuseable then too.

    • Deborah
    Reply

    I found these gardening tips to be very helpful. Thank you!

    • Cathy
    Reply

    These hints are great especially like the slings for acorns ,last year mine climbed the trees and were hanging about 15 feet up..

    • Jet
    Reply

    However, putting packing peanuts in the ground that aren’t biodegradeble is a stupid idea, same with the diapers.. It’s putting plastics in the ground! A better idea is to just put in some rocks or shards from pottery –> old way to do it. The plastic nusery pots might work better because you can more easily seperate. Otherwise, some very nice ideas, especially the luffa plant, didn’t know how that worked!

      • Mel
      Reply

      They didn’t say to put the packing peanuts or the diapers in the ground, they said put them into a pot. They are great ideas. Thank you tipnut.

        • dianne
        Reply

        yes in a large pot you put the packing peanuts , actually if they are placed in a mess bag at the end of the season can be saved to reuse.

        • mary
        Reply

        I love this idea!!!

      • June
      Reply

      The purpose of the diapers are not for drainage, but rather to retain water, especially, helpful in hanging baskets. I love the idea.

        • jim carton
        Reply

        I make “Green” bluebird houses that have a garden for the roof. As the roof is only 2 1/2″ deep, a diaper (or part of one) helps retain water (what they were intended to do)
        and makes watering a lot less frequent.

        • mary
        Reply

        I do to!!!!

      • Shari
      Reply

      Besides, they said it was to make a large planter lighter in weight if you needed to move it from time to time in your yard. You could also put the peanuts in old pantyhose legs (cut) to make them more manageable. As for me, I used crunched 1 gal. milk jugs and 2 qt. juice jugs (lids on) in my huge planter and it worked like a charm. I too, will be using the diapers in my hanging baskets.

      • Jen
      Reply

      I put the disposal diaper in my hanging baskets (not the ground) to retain water. My plants look great this year! Usually they start drying out when it gets really hot and I water them daily. I was using the crystals that absorb water, but that didn’t work nearly as well.

      • Jocelyn
      Reply

      these are not for drainage but rather to take up some space in pot. If you are using an actual container soil in your pots the drainage will be fine. Gravel or broken pots were used in the day when ordinary garden soil was used in the pots. this is NOT a good idea as the soil will pack hard and drain poorly. Always use a potting mix.

    • Linda
    Reply

    Read the above comment about dissolved peanuts….what do you think about using wine corks – we have millions and that might be a way to use them?

      • Samantha
      Reply

      Wine corks will mold

    • Eleanor
    Reply

    Would love to have some of the corks.

    • erica
    Reply

    I noticed that the type of hanging planter that was pictured in the diaper advice portion is one that I used every year and every year my plants die.
    I water religiously but find that those type of planters promotes quick drainage so the heat and sun here fries the plants anyway. so for me I will be trying the diaper idea!

      • Ellen
      Reply

      I have used diapers in all of my hanging baskets for years. It does help, but I have found once we get into the hundred degree days, because they are on the west side of my house, they still need a lot of water. I soak them every morning around 5:30 and then a brief shower in the evenings as the sun is going down. If they are on the north or east side or temperatures are below 100, one watering a day works just fine. Good luck!!

      • Jan
      Reply

      I have been using diapers in my potted plants for years. However I take the plastic cover off and mix in the cotton and water absorbing crystals directly in to the soil

        • Janice
        Reply

        I also have been using this for years and agree to take the plastic cover of. I also soak the jel pack in water before adding to the damp soil. Wonderful for all potted planters and indoor plants.

    • Lynn
    Reply

    I use plastic pots inside my coconut husk lined baskets to help retain water. I’ve also heard put the packing peanuts inside a dollar store laundry bag–so when you empty your pots the peanuts are “contained” inside the bag. Would work for the corks too.

    • Laurie
    Reply

    To help keep fire ants out of potted plants, line the bottom of the pot with some weed barrier cloth, the kind that allows water to pass thru. Then add the layer of pebbles and fill the rest of the pot with dirt. Putting a piece of the weed barrier under the pot helps some too. I have pets so I try and avoid the use of fire ant poisons and I definitley can’t us Amdro and similar poisons around my potted herbs.

      • Pat
      Reply

      THANKS FOR THE TIP ON PREVENTING FIRE ANTS FROM GETTING IN POTS. tHEY ARE IN MY STRAWBERRIES AND HAVE CHICKENS ROAMING SO CAN’T USE ANT POISIN.

        • Brenda
        Reply

        I learned a great trick for the ants. I filled a turkey baster with baby powder and stuck it into the ant bed and squeezed it deep into the bed. The powder dries out the ants even the queen. I had a large ant mound move into the middle of my eggplants shortly after they were planted. I also sprinkled the powder around the mound so when they came out they had to cross the powder. It worked like a charm. I have since eliminated a few other mounds around my property.

          • Janice J
          Reply

          Thank You, Brenda for the great tip. I Have ant mounds everywhere and have tried a lot of things to no avail. When it came to the ant traps I watched a couple go in when that happened I saw the other ants immediately bury the traps. I would uncover them and they would bury them again. I was amazed at how wise they were for insects.

          • Karin
          Reply

          When we live down south, we were told to take a shovel scoop from one ant hill and replace it with a shovel full from another ant hill, they will kill each other off. We tried it and it worked

          • dianne
          Reply

          I use splenda to get rid of the ants now since I do not use the product for myself anymore. Funny how it kills ants.

      • Donika
      Reply

      Sprinkle instant grits over a fire ant hill. When the grits get wet they expand, killing the queen in the mound.

        • dianne
        Reply

        what is grits?

    • Rebecca Burlingham
    Reply

    I have used the packing peanuts to take up room in the bottom of big pots. Either anchor the pot to the ground, or put a few bricks or rocks in the bottom. The pots can get top heavy. Also, put the peanuts in recycled grocery bags and tie them shut. Otherwise they get mixed in with your soil and you have to sort them out when you turn over that soil the next year. (All hints learned the hard way.)

    • Marlene
    Reply

    We use the packing peanuts in a very large outdoor pot,not only to reduce the amount of potting soil needed, but also to keep the planter weight down to a managable limit.

    • Carrie
    Reply

    Maxi pads work also. Just toss them in the garbage at end of season.
    Be careful with the non- biodegradeable peanuts when emptying pots at end of season they will blow around when you dump the dirt…

      • Cheryl
      Reply

      Also be careful if you toss your old potting soil into the compost heap. I did not consider that when I used them, and ended out having to pick through the soil, which was a pain in the rear! Alternately, you could dump the soil out over a sifter and sift them out, but again, a lot of work.

        • donna
        Reply

        to make it easier to clean up at the end of the season put the peanuts in an old onion bag or nylons.

    • Ellen
    Reply

    If packing peanuts are an issue for you, I suggest milk jugs or 2 liter bottles in the bottom of your big pots. It really reduces the amount of potting soil you use. Of course they are reusable year after year.

    • Nai
    Reply

    Useful tips! Thanks for compiling. Also, FYI, the loofa pod is edible. Pick before pod turns fibrous, peel and use in soups. Makes a naturally sweet, delicious, healthful soup.

    • simone
    Reply

    I dont think i would use packing peanuts/diapers/plastic containers or cans in any garden. All of those things would leach toxins damaging your soil. I definitly would not use any of those things when planting edibles. I could see them used in containers for flowers only.
    I do like the loofa tip. I think i will try planting some of those!

    • Teri Giese
    Reply

    I garden almost everyday because I live I so calif , gardening is on of my great loves and I found your ideas to be wonderful !!! Thank you very much

    • JERRY ALLEN
    Reply

    I HAVE FOUND A TREATMENT FOR FIRE ANT STINGS…
    THOROUGHLY WASH ANT STING AREAS WITH PEROXIDE. WHILE STILL WET, THOROUGHLY MASSAGE TOOTH PASTE ON THE STINGS. IT WILL TAKE A SHORT WHILE BUT THE STING PAIN WILL SUBSIDE AND THERE WILL BE NO PLACES TO ITCH OR WEEP.
    IT WORKS!!!

    JERRY A.

    • citten
    Reply

    I have found all these ideas so useful I will be trying all of them this year!

    • Darlene
    Reply

    I live in a warm arid climate with lots of cobble rocks. I put medium size rocks around my tomatoes to keep them warm at night.

    • Patsy Montero
    Reply

    How do I keep squirrels away from my garden ? They eat everything!

    • Sharon
    Reply

    Wonderful and creative ideas. Thank you for sharing them.

    • cora
    Reply

    I live in New England and find the growing season is not long enough for the loofah. May only be my area.
    The other ideas I find super esp. putting diapers in hanging pots.

    • Eileen
    Reply

    I cut up black plastic bags lawn bags to fit inside coconut husk baskets. I put a few holes in it for drainage and add the soil. Everything fits perfectly and it is inexpensive.

    • Debbie
    Reply

    Yes the toothpaste idea has helped me on numerous occasions for many bites, not just fire ants. (But that method I will try if I get stung)
    However, as a small note: the toothpaste should be the paste kind, not a gel kind.
    I have a small tube in my camping “gear”!

    • Sherry
    Reply

    When using the packing peanuts I put them in old panty hose and tie the end so when you empty the pot it`s easy to seperate the soil and peanuts.And you can also wash out all the dirt with a water hose an hang up to dry to reuse again next year.

      • Mona
      Reply

      How about using Styrofoam, broken into pieces to fill a third of a large planter to lessen the weight? Any danger for the plants?

    • Ashley
    Reply

    Thanks so much for the helpful Tips! I was so excited when I saw the post about growing your own dishcloths! I have heard of these gourds but didn’t know what to look for! Now I can’t wait to order so seed and try them out! AWSOME!!! Thanks Again!

    • Bernie
    Reply

    The willow tree cutting. When you cut a limb from the tree, you can put it in a pot of soil. Keep it watered and it will root on it’s own.

    • DAN
    Reply

    FOR MY MEDIUM AND SMALLER SIZED POTS, I HAVE USED OLD WINDOW SCREENS CUT TO FIT. I PLACE A FEW NOT TOO BIG ROCKS IN TO HOLD THE SCREEN AND CAREFULLY PLACE THE SOIL IN AT FIRST. ALLOWS DRAINAGE W/OUT SOIL LOSS. DISCARDED PLASTIC STORAGE CONTAINERS, ETC., MAKE FOR DIFFERENT & INTERESTING PLANTERS. JUST DRILL SOME HOLES IN THE LOW SPOTS AND COVER WITH THE SCREEN!

    • Ginny
    Reply

    I have noticed ants coming and going from one of my potted plants on my driveway. . . does that mean they are fire ants? should I take the pot away and replant or am I asking for trouble?

    • Deb S.
    Reply

    I love the idea of milk jugs in the bottom of large containers. I acquired 2 very large cast iron cauldron type pots and had been wondering about cutting down on the weight issue with rocks and soil. This idea works perfectly for me. Thanks!!

    • Sharon
    Reply

    I wouldn’t use soda cans or plastics around garden that produces food – chemicals leach into roots, same for using old rubber tires.

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