11 Secrets You Won’t Learn at the Garden Center

You can grow beautiful, healthy plants by using these common, inexpensive household items when you garden.

Adapted by Alyssa Jung from Extraordinary Uses For Ordinary Things
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    Newspaper makes excellent mulch.

    • Lay several sheets of newsprint over soil and then cover with mulch; they'll help retain moisture and suffocate weeds.
    • Ripen end-of-season tomatoes perfectly by wrapping in a couple sheets of newspaper once they're off the vine. Store in an airtight container in a dark cabinet or closet, checking every few days.
    • Add wet, shredded paper to compost to remove odor.

    Tea is natural plant food.

    • Water your ferns and acid-loving plants like hydrangeas with brewed tea for luscious-looking leaves.
    • For an added boost, sprinkle new or used tea leaves around these plants and cover with mulch—when you water, nutrients from the tea will release into the soil.

    Banana peels are a rosebush's best friend.

    • Keep aphids off your rosebushes by burying dried or cut up banana peels an inch or two deep around the base of the plant. (Whole peels will attract animals, who will dig them up.)
    • If you want more butterflies in your garden, place overripe bananas or other fruit on a raised platform. Be sure they're above head level and not centrally located, because they will also draw bees and wasps; and bring the food indoors before sunset to avoid unwanted hungry critters.

    Aluminum foil deters insects.

    • Mix strips of aluminum foil with mulch and you'll keep bugs away. The foil will also reflect light back on the plants, which encourages growth.
    • If crows or birds are a problem, hang foil strips on plants to scare them away. You can also take strips of foil or foil-wrapped seashells, and string them from branches to startle bigger animals. 

    Salt is a natural pest killer.

    • Kill snails and slugs by dousing them with salt—they won't survive long.
    • You can also prevent the growth of weeds in walkway cracks by making a solution of 1 cup salt to 2 cups water, and pouring it directly on the plants.

    Your Comments

    • Juschmid

      Endless screwing around looking for these eleven tips to no avail. And yes I know what links are, they just don’t show up in my iOS devices. Id love to see them. However, I don’t understand why some sites make it easy and this one is always an endless source of headaches. FAIL

    • nmcleod

      I give up trying to find the 11 tips. I have no patience for these links that have to be so difficult. Disappointed

    • Why???

      This article literally does not show up on Chrome. As an IT manager, I can tell you that a magazine as prominent as Readers Digest should have a better site and it should be better-tested than this. Every time I have linked to one of these gimicky “this many things….” articles, it doesn’t show at all. I realize you get paid per-click but at least make sure your information shows up so we have a reason to click!!!

    • Melody Ethridge

      Man, love your site and can not believe the ignorance of many viewers. If they don’t know how to follow a link or read more than one thing on a page…why must they complain, just move on and quit clicking. I learn something new everyday from your posts and share often! Thank you so much!

      • Vivian

        Not ignorant just where is the info above? i click on a link from facebook and oh yea it talks about it but doesnt show anything! so where are these 11 secrets………..oh wait they’re secret so lets make em look for em!

      • rowdy1

        I didn’t want to allow java to run, but had to allow to read the article.

      • Robert Channing Smith

        I would love to learn something new as I am fairly new to gardening. I am also no stranger to following links. The article does not show on chrome, as the IT guy said below.

    • hatehypocrisy

      There actually are 11 tips…it just took 6 pages to show them…

    • Jgorish

      11 tips promised, six delivered. Bait-and-switch?