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Budding Home Farmer? 25+ Clever Ideas To Check Out

Did 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!


Diaper Liners [1]: Line the bottom of baskets and pots with a disposable diaper to help retain soil moisture.

14 Simple Tricks [2]: Includes a great idea to mark long handles on garden tools so you can use them as measuring sticks.



Kitchen Shaker Idea [3]: Keep a shaker filled with diatomaceous earth and dust soil and plants evenly as needed (pest control).

Coffee Filters [4]: Line flowerpots with coffee filters before adding soil, this will help prevent soil leakage through the drainage holes.



Planting Tomatoes [5]: (slide #3) Plant tomatoes on their side to give them an extra strong root system.

Tablecloth Mover [6]: (slide #5) No wheelbarrow? No problem! Use a tablecloth to move heavy bags of soil.



Don’t have much space for growing potatoes? Try growing them vertically in towers! Here’s How [7].

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 [8].



Foam Peanuts [9]: Use packing peanuts to fill the bottom of large pots, this helps save on soil and make them lighter.

Staggering Bulbs [10]: Plant bulbs in layers for weeks of blooms (choose varieties that flower a few weeks apart).



Overwintering Geraniums [11]: 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 [12].



Testing Seeds [13]: 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 [14]: Save the six pack or nursery pots, bag them up and use to fill the bottom of large pots (soil saver).



Boost Tomato Growth [15]: 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 [16].



Sponge Idea [17]: 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 [18].



Newspaper Barrier [19]: Lay down sheets of newspaper before topping with mulch, this will help prevent grass and weed growth.

Water Bucket Warmers [20]: Unexpected cool nights? Warm your garden naturally with buckets filled with water.



Isolation Bags [21]: Keep seed collection true by using tulle or cheesecloth bags tied around the plant.

Plastic Milk Jug Ollas [22]: Bury plastic milk jugs that have holes in the bottom and fill with water for an easy irrigation method. More ideas on this page [23].



Thumb Controlled Watering Pot [24]: Cool idea! Water flow is controlled by pressing your thumb over the cap. More clever diy gadgets are found here [25].

DIY Watermelon Sling [26]: Support swelling melons with slings made from old t-shirts.



Twig House [27]: Protect newly planted perennials with a handful of pliable branches to make a dome-like cage.

Easy Digging [28]: Moisten the ground a few hours before you start digging and the job will be easier.



Soil Saver [29]: Large tubs and planters can first be filled with aluminum cans and discarded plastic.

Bagged Tomatoes [30]: Grow them right in a bag of soil, add a cage and you’re set to go.



Stockier Bushier Tomato Plants [31]: Trenching tip (planting on its side to force stem upwards).

Grow Mushrooms In A Laundry Basket [32]: A nice tutorial showing you how to get started including how to pasteurize the straw, load the basket, cloning and more.



Pine Cones For Drainage [33]: Layer some around the bottom of the pot before topping with soil.

Pot-In-Pot Planting [34]: Lots of reasons why this is so smart, you’ll find more info on this page [35].



Dried Banana Peel Shakes [36]: 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.

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 [37].