Super easy and simple gardening tricks using plastic that actually work! Especially if you are new to gardening, or don’t have a green thumb (like me).
I’ve never proclaimed myself to be a great gardener. In fact, I’m much closer to the other end of the spectrum and consider myself lucky if my three remaining zucchini plants collectively produce just one zucchini for the season.
There’s a reason why I grow more food in water than in dirt!
Like the growing number of home gardeners, I’m all ears when it comes to learning the tricks to a successful garden and I’ve already learned a ton. In addition to watering the garden for free, I have new gardening tips to share!
5 Ways to Use Plastic for Gardening
Tip #1: Insulate tomatoes with plastic wrap
Tomatoes thrive in stagnant, hot weather.
Wrapping the bottom two rungs or steps of the tomato cage with plastic wrap simulates a greenhouse. The heat is trapped inside the plastic wrap and the plants are blocked from the wind. By the time the plants reach the top of the plastic wrap, they’re strong plants and well adjusted to the temperatures and wind!
How to do it:
Step 1: Have someone hold the end of the plastic wrap onto a vertical stake with two hands.
Step 2: Wrap the plastic wrap around one full time.
Step 3: Then continue wrapping around as you work your way down or up the cage (we started at the top and worked down).
Be sure to wrap at least two layers to get the full effect and make the plastic wrap stick to itself. I used the plastic wrap I had in the kitchen, but you might want to consider a 20″ heavy duty plastic wrap if you have several plants to wrap.
Tip #2: Insulate smaller plants with milk jugs
Here is another way, you can use plastic for gardening, MILK JUGS! It’s the same concept as the tomatoes, but we’re using it on bell peppers in our $15 raised garden bed. Bell peppers also need warm weather, but we’re hoping that insulating them with the milk jugs gives them a fighting chance through our cooler springs so maybe, just maybe, they might bear fruit come summer!
How To Do It:
Step 1: Using a pair of scissors, cut off the top and bottom of a used milk jug.
Step 2: Rinse it out well and place it over/around the plant. Be sure to pack a little bit of dirt against the outside edges of the milk jug so that it doesn’t easily knock over when the wind blows.
Tip #3: Catch pincher bugs with oil
Also known as earwigs, pincher bugs like to eat the leaves of the plants. We tried to lure them and drown them with oil – and it worked! Our three remaining zucchini plants are doing much better and now stand a chance to meet the goal of one zucchini for the year!
How To Do It:
Step 1: You’ll need an old plastic container with a lid. Think yogurt, sour cream or cottage cheese.
Step 2: Using a pair of scissors, cut a oval-shaped hole about 1″ from the top of the container.
Step 3: Repeat. So that there are 4-5 holes in the container.
Step 4: Bury the container in the garden so that the holes are ground level.
Step 5: Fill the container. Use 3 parts cheap cooking oil to 1 part soy sauce. The bugs will be lured in by the soy sauce and will drown and get stuck in oil. (To help gauge, we used about 3/4 cup oil and 1/4 cup soy sauce for a 32 oz yogurt container.)
Tip #4: Deter other bugs with cayenne pepper spray
While the homemade earwig traps are working well, there are still some bugs in the garden that are chomping on leaves. While the damage isn’t too bad, we’re taking precautionary measures and keeping them away with sticky cayenne pepper spray!
How To Do It:
Step 1: Combine 1 tsp of cayenne pepper with 1 cup of hot water.
Step 2: Stir to dissolve the cayenne as much as possible.
Step 3: Pour into a spray bottle and add about 1 tsp of liquid dish soap.
Step 4: Fill the bottle with water and swish gently to combine (don’t shake otherwise you’ll just make a lot of bubbles).
Step 5: Spray directly onto the leaves of the affected plants.
Note: Reapply the cayenne pepper spray every 2-3 days, or after watering, or as needed. I recommend getting durable spray bottles that you dedicate just for the garden and keep outside so they’re there when you need them. Otherwise it can be a pain walking back and forth from the garden to the house / garage / shed every time you see a bug.
#5: Deep water tomato plants with a broomstick handle
Plants need water down at the roots, and watering at the surface level is fine for most of the time, but tomato plants especially benefit from a really good, deep water every few weeks or so. I came up with my own method for getting down deep into the roots.
How to do it:
Step 1: Taking the handle of a broom, align it with the edge of the container and plunge it all the way to the bottom.
Step 2: Move the handle in a circular motion until you have a hole that is just a bit bigger than the broom handle.
Step 3: Remove the broom and repeat to make 4-6 holes in the dirt, depending on the size of your pot.
Step 4: Water directly into the hole until the plant is saturated!
Tip #6 (BONUS!): Fertilize the tomatoes while you’re deep watering
While you’re making deep holes near your tomato plants, go ahead and take advantage by adding a liquid fertilizer to the roots. I make fertilizer tea for free, otherwise I recommend an organic liquid fertilizer.
Gardening Tips I Haven’t Tried (Yet!)
- I heard you can deter ants by boiling citrus peels in water. This might come in handy since they’re in the flowers of my zucchini plants quite often.
- I also want to make a watering can out of a milk jug for the kids, so that when they help me water, more water ends up in the plants than the ground!
- We tried the “newspaper trick” in order to keep the earwigs away (where you roll up a newspaper, get it slightly damp, place it in the garden bed, then bright and early the next morning you remove the newspaper and dispose of the bugs). Apparently “bright and early” is much earlier than when we wake up, so there were never bugs inside.
- If you want a more potent yet natural solution, I highly recommend Neem Oil. One bottle lasts at least a full season, and it’s taken care of a whole array of garden pests for us!
Milk jugs for watering, milk jugs as a mini greenhouse (as shown above) and you can also create a garden scoop,, a plastic bottle into a planter with a self watering system, the possibilities are endless!
Yes, you can!
Use plastics that are free from BPA and other harmful chemicals.
Yogurt, sour cream, egg cartons, tupperware, bins, etc.
More Gardening Advice:
- 10 Ways to Regrow Food in Water
- How to Vacation Proof Your Garden
- 50 Ways to Fertilize the Garden For Free
- How to Build a Raised Garden Bed For Under $15