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10 Secret Kitchen Ingredients That Can Help Your Garden Grow

Who knew that these pantry ingredients were so good for the garden?

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Make flowers bloom like crazy with baking soda

If there were an award for most versatile of pantry ingredients, baking soda would certainly be a nominee. In addition to this baking soda hack, you can sprinkle it on the surface of your soil to make your geraniums, coneflowers, daylilies and clematis bloom like crazy. That’s because baking soda is alkaline, and those flowers thrive on alkaline soil. Next, check out 24 more gardening hacks you’ll be glad to know.

Grab a bulk pack of baking soda here.

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Repel ants with cream of tartar

No one wants to share their outdoor dining table with ants, but if you’re not inclined to use chemicals to keep them away, you can use cream of tartar instead. (Get a new jar here!) Simply sprinkle a bit of cream of tartar on the perimeter of the table or wherever you want to “dust their trail,” recommends the Farmer’s Almanac.

In case you’re wondering, here’s what cream of tartar actually is and how you can use it in the kitchen.

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Repel squirrels with cayenne

Squirrels are adorable until they start digging up your daffodil and tulip bulbs. To deter them, sprinkle cayenne pepper around your bulb gardens. Reapply when you see the squirrels returned.

If you don’t have a garden of your own, you can still bring brilliant farmer’s market flowers into your home. Here are some tips for finding and caring for farmer’s market flowers at home.

Is your pepper past its prime? Re-stock your kitchen with McCormick Ground Cayenne Red Pepper.

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Erase algae with white vinegar

Forget renting a power washer! All you need to get rid of that unwanted icky green stuff on your patio is to spray it with full-strength distilled white vinegar. Stock up on vinegar here.

Vinegar, like baking soda, is a pantry superstar—here are other ways to use it at home.

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Use baking soda for sweeter tomatoes

A more alkaline soil makes tomatoes sweeter. To grow sweeter tomatoes, simply sprinkle baking soda on the surface of your soil in your tomato garden.

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Clean and condition garden tools with olive oil

Rub olive oil onto the cutting and digging surfaces of your garden tools, as well as on your lawn mower blades. This will repel dirt and rust and make it easier to clean them next time. Check out 11 more landscaping hacks that will save you time here.

Grab a bottle of olive oil here.

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Fight fungus with baking soda

While baking soda doesn’t kill fungus, you can use it to prevent fungus because its alkalinity creates an environment hostile to fungal growth. Simply stir a teaspoon of baking soda into a liter of water and spray the leaves of your fungus-prone plants (these include tomatoes and lilacs).

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Turn pink hydrangeas blue with vinegar

Unlike baking soda, distilled white vinegar is acidic, and acidic soil is the secret to turning your pink hydrangeas blue. (Note: This doesn’t work on white hydrangeas.) Vinegar also enhances the soil of acid-loving plants like azaleas, rhododendrons and gardenias. Use a cup of white distilled vinegar to a gallon of tap water.

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Say goodbye to beetles with liquid dish soap


My biggest complaint with Japanese beetles is how they can quickly turn beautiful zinnia leaves into lacy remnants of their former selves. They also decimate over 300 other types of garden plants. Unfortunately, the best way to get rid of them is to hand-pick them off your plants…and drown them in a mixture of water and dishwashing soap. Sorry…not sorry….we’re talking zinnias here! Get a big bottle of Ajax soap here.

For your own safety, these are the safest dish soaps you can buy.

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Attract earthworms with coffee grounds

Adding coffee grounds to your soil benefits your soil by attracting earthworms and microorganisms (both of which make your soil healthier and more fertile). But note: fresh coffee grounds are acidic, whereas used coffee grounds are neutral. If you are enhancing the soil of an alkaline-soil loving plant (such as geraniums or sweet tomatoes), then used coffee grounds are the way to go.

Stock up on Folgers for all of your coffee needs.

Next, check out all of the common household items you can upcycle into seed starters.

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Originally Published on Taste of Home

Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly in The Huffington Post as well as a variety of other publications since 2008 on such topics as life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. She is also a writer of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.