Gardening tools, That Save You Money and Grow Better Plants

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 12:00
Posted in category Outdoors
<div class=\"postavatar\">Gardening tools, That Save You Money and Grow Better Plants</div>

Post written by Tanya Doyle

Gardening tools, That Save You Money and Grow Better Plants

Plants are expensive. So why pay hundreds of dollars for gardening equipment when you probably have some garden tools just lying around your house?  There’s no need to spend all of your hard-earned money on new and fancy gardening tools! Check yard sales, estate sales, and to see what gardening tools are available.  Second-hand gardening tools are an amazing value and if the tools are older, the quality is usually far superior to the shiny new tools you’ll spend an arm and a leg for at your local Home & Garden Center. Also check out  Their website states, “Freecycle is a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns.” I don’t know about you but I’m all about FREE!

Stone Plant Markers:  Tired of paying for those labels and tags to keep track of your plants?  Instead, make your own natural tags that appear as if they are part of your landscape. Look for flat, smooth stones, wash and dry well then label each one using alphabet stamps and permanent ink, which you can find at crafts stores. Place each stone near its corresponding plant or in it’s proper pot.  Seed Packet Storage Box:  It’s easy to lose track of seed packets, especially if you save them from season to season or buy from several different sources. If you have an old recipe-card box or a floppy-disk holder with a clear plastic top, you can recycle it into the perfect seed-packet storage system. File your packets either alphabetically or by sowing date, from earliest to latest-whichever floats your boat… or sprouts your seeds.

Garden Dibble:  You can spend a bundle on a seed-planting device called a dibble, also known as a dibber or dibbler.  It’s basically a blunt pointed stick used for “drilling” a hole into the soil to plant seeds, seedlings, and bulbs.  Or you can use an old trusty screwdriver to perform the same function for free.

Ink stamped rock for use as a plant marker

Ink stamped rock for use as a plant marker

Sprouting seeds and avocados:  I’ve Googled ‘how to sprout an avocado pit’ and always get the same difficult sprouting method using toothpicks and a bud vase (which has never worked).  If you want to sprout an avocado pit or check the viability of some older seeds, spread them out on a doubled paper towel.  Wet it with warm water so it’s more than damp but not dripping and fold it over the seeds or pit then zip it into a resealable bag.  Place in a fairly warm spot, such as on top of the fridge or the laundry room.  Check every few days and transfer to pots once they’ve sprouted.  The avocado will take several weeks to sprout.  Pot it up once you see the green sprig starting to show.

Mini Greenhouse:  You can turn an old torn umbrella you haven’t thrown away yet into a cloche or mini-greenhouse. First, cut the fabric away and then open the umbrella completely and stick the handle in the soil of your garden. The umbrella frame will form a big dome over the ground. Plant your transplants in the soil within the spines, and wrap a sheet of clear plastic around the outside where the fabric used to be. Secure it at ground level with a bungee cord. This will also give direct-seeded new greens a spring jump start.

Grow Light and Seed Cart.  Grow-light setups cost hundreds of dollars, but you can make one that works just as well for free. You probably have one of those ugly fluorescent light fixtures hanging around in the garage or basement. Give it a second life as a grow light. If you have a rolling cart, attach the shop light so it hangs under the top shelf and lights the shelf below. It’s a good idea to attach the shop light with chains so you can raise it up as the seedlings grow. Use full-spectrum daylight bulbs or one warm and one cool bulb, roll your cart in front of a bright window, put houseplants on the top shelf, and you’re good to go!

Seed Starters:  Plastic or styrofoam egg cartons make great seed-starting cups. Just punch a small hole in the bottom of each egg cup for drainage. Cut off the top of the carton and place it underneath as a water-catching tray.

Plant ties:  Most people usually have a bunch of leftover bread ties lying in a drawer somewhere.  Use them as plant ties to secure leggy stems of tomatoes, pole beans, peas, and other climbing plants to their stakes.  They will eventually disintegrate but they should last the whole season.  Just be sure not to twist them too tight or it will pinch the stems in half.  To secure heavier vines and stems use old pantyhose, knee high stockings or your little girl’s tights.  Those holey hose are good for something!

Themed Flower Vases:  Make a matching set of flower vases by painting metal cans in muted hues or covering them with contact paper or wallies. You can use soup, tomato and coffee tins in assorted sizes and slide drinking glasses or plastic cups inside to prevent rusting. To cover with contact or wall paper simply measure, cut and apply.  To paint, use a nylon brush and apply two coats of semi-gloss latex paint then let dry overnight. Insert your holder into each container, fill with water and arrange your flowers.  

Turn a tin can into a decorative vase

Turn a tin can into a decorative vase

Bamboo Hose Stand:  A simple bamboo pole elevates a sprinkler to another level, so each plant gets its fair share of water. You will need an oscillating spigot meant to be jammed into the ground, a bamboo pole, and two zip ties. Cut the bamboo pole to the length you need: for low vegetables, 2 to 3 feet; for tall flowers, 4 to 6 feet. Push bamboo about 8 inches into soil to secure it. Rest metal spigot plate on top of bamboo; spike will hang down bamboo side. Tightly fasten spike to the bamboo with zip ties then attach the hose. 

Elavate your sprinkers for watering better coverage

Elavate your sprinkers for watering and better coverage

Soil-Saving Plant Screen:  The metal and plastic screens that keep mosquitoes and other bugs out of the house this time of year can also prevent the soil from washing out of your planters. Unroll a piece of lightweight screening and set your flowerpot on top. Run a pencil or chalk around the pot’s rim and the cut out with scissors (for plastic screens) or tin snips (for metal screens). Push the screen down inside the pot to cover the drain holes, and then add soil and plant.

Bushel Basket Planter: Bushel baskets from the garden center make charming and inexpensive containers for a mix of annuals. Their wooden slats provide built-in drainage, and they can be recycled after the plants have had their season in the sun. As autumn draws to an end, the basket can be composted once you remove the wire handles. 

Bushel basket planter are inexpensive and recyclable

Bushel basket planters are inexpensive and recyclable

Bentwood Twig Edgers:  Frequently found in English gardens, these bent twigs do the same job as a “Keep Off the Grass” sign, but are much friendlier and more attractive. 

Bentwood Twig Edgers, attractive, friendly, "keep off of grass" sign

Bentwood Twig Edgers, attractive, friendly, "keep off of grass" sign

Vining Bean and Pea Plant Support: Bean poles can get really expensive, especially if you need a lot of them.  Instead plant a mammoth sunflower seed next to each vining plant.  As the vine grows secure it to the growing sunflower so that the stalk serves the same purpose as an ordinary bean pole.  This would also work for other annual vining plants such as morning glories, sweet peas, moonflowers, etc.

Homemade Hose Guide: Keep your garden hose from cutting into flower beds when snaking around a corner by adding a homemade hose guide.  Hammer a 24-inch length of rebar (used for cement installation) into the ground; cover with 1 1/2-inch-diameter copper tubing, cut to fit, and a copper cap. The copper spins as the hose moves past, and keeps the hose from catching and tearing up your flowers and plants.  

Rebar hose guide during installation and use

Rebar hose guide during and after installation

Chalkboard Pots:  Organize all your plants and seedlings and keep track of herbs by painting the collars of clay pots with stripes of chalkboard paint.  Once dry, pot up your plants and label them with chalk.  It makes identifying young plants easy!

Chalk board painted pots easily help you organize/identify your plants

Chalk board painted pots easily help you organize/identify your plants


Let’s face it, those slugs are truly slimy creatures and they can make short work of your plants in just a few nocturnal eating binges.  Try some gently crumpled newspaper and leave it in your garden overnight. The paper will draw earwigs, sow bugs (aka pill bugs) and even those slimy slugs. Just pick up the paper in the morning and toss it in the garbage along with the bugs and slugs.

To keep bugs off of your prized roses simply spray the foliage with warm water and a drop of dishwashing soap swished in.  Leave the dead aphids on your roses since the dying aphids emit sounds that keep other aphids from coming to dinner.  To prevent black spot and mildew, spray the leaves with a mixture of warm water and a tablespoon of baking soda.  This creates an environment where the fungus can’t grow. 

To fend off white flies, wrap a soup or coffee can with yellow paper, cover with a clear plastic bag smeared with Vaseline and secure in your garden. The white flies dive bomb the yellow paper and get stuck in the Vaseline.  Lady bugs and other beneficial insects are smart enough to stay away from the goo.

To keep cats out of your garden, sprinkle around some crushed red pepper flakes.

To keep those pesky, voracious deer out of your garden, try the luck o’ the Irish.  Irish Spring soap, that is. Deer have very sensitive noses and can’t stand the strong odor of Irish Spring.  Just place a bar around the perimeter of your garden about every three feet or so.  You can get a big family size pack at Costco or Sams Club for a lot less than buying smaller packs or individual bars.

At the end of the day whether it is a little paint to make a pot look nicer or a flower that doesn’t get destroyed by a garden pest, saving a little money, growing a better garden comes down to finding out the little tips and tricks, secrets that we all have to share. We look forward to you sharing some of you best tools and shortcuts that help you grow better plants.

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51 Responses to “Gardening tools, That Save You Money and Grow Better Plants”

  1. tobbebobbbe says:

    July 28th, 2010 at 11:16 am

    This is absolutely great Thanks for putting this online

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