There are few things as sweet as enjoying the simple pleasures of growing and tending to one’s own garden. There is really nothing else quite like having your own little patch of green where you can grow flowers, vegetables, and fruits to your heart’s content!

All of that said, maintaining a garden can be a real challenge, even for the most passionate of green thumbs. Not only does maintaining a garden require a ton of time and effort, but buying the right tools can get pretty expensive. As it turns out, however, you already have some great gardening tools in your home, and there’s no better place to start looking than in your kitchen!

1. Create a naturally slow-draining planter using a colander and some coffee filters. This is another great hack for how to use your strainer in the garden. If you don’t want to waste new coffee filters, dirty paper towels work just as well, as does peat moss.

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Once the filters or paper towels are in place, add springtime flowers to the mix and hang them somewhere for a beautiful outdoor decoration. It can be a lot of fun to match the color of your strainer with the colors of the flowers! 

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2. Toxic bug sprays can be harmful to both you and the environment, but there are some all-natural ways to keep pesky insects from ruining your outdoor space. Citronella plants are a great bug repellent, and they’ll make your yard bright and beautiful.

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If you don’t have the time or space to maintain a whole plant, you can also make your own citronella candles using orange peels. Not only will the orange peels add an extra nice scent, but it’s also a perfect excuse to chow down on some delicious oranges.

3. For another citrus-y solution, cut lemons in half and stick whole cloves inside them. Place them by your food while you’re outside, and let the combination of acidity and spice keep the bugs away.

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3. Use wine bottles to create a walkway—and to prevent kids from trampling your seedlings. They’re both attractive and functional if you stick them in the dirt neck-first. Make sure you pick wine bottles that are a bright color so they’re both visible and chic!

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4. Going away on vacation, but you can’t find someone to water your plant? Simply punch a hole in the cork of a clean wine bottle, fill it with water, and then quickly turn it over and push it into the soil. Bonus: this is a great excuse for stocking up on wine.

5. There are many other plants aside from citronella that work wonders to fight pesky mosquitoes. Keep bundles of lavender, mint, and sage nearby to help ward off the blood-sucking creatures.

6. If you are the king or queen of the bbq, you definitely want to try out this trick. Simply keep a bundle of sage leaves in your grill for an ever-present mosquito repellent. Now everybody can really focus on your incredible grilling skills.

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7. Push the bottom of a muffin tin into soft soil in order to plant well-spaced seeds and plants. You’ll need to make sure that the ground has been freshly tilled in order to make the most out of this technique. You can start your digging once you turn it into a proper grid!

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8. When people look at an empty soda can like this, it’s hard for them to see it as being anything other than garbage. However, cans like this can be a saving grace in any garden! Grab an empty can of soda and use a can opener to cut out the top like this…

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Be careful when using the can opener; while it will take off the top in a snap, these cans aren’t designed to be used this way. Now, simply select your favorite spray can color and paint the cans, making sure that you completely cover any text or logos.

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Once the spray paint has dried, use a screwdriver or knife to pop tiny holes in the bottom of the can— just a few will work. After that, add fresh soil, plant seeds for your favorite herbs, and sprinkle them with water! Presto—you’ve got a garden in a can. 

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9. Inside every kitchen utensil drawer is a handful of spoons that no one uses anymore. But did you know your old silverware could find new life in your garden? It’s easy! First, use a hammer to flatten the spoons you’d like to reuse…

Once you’ve hammered down your spoons, select your favorite paints and paint pens, choosing colors that are bright and fun. Dip the spoons in the paint, and use the pens to draw designs and to write the names of herbs and vegetables in your garden.

10. If you want to keep the party going after the sun goes down, consider using LED lights on your porch in place of regular light bulbs. The softer glow is less attractive to bugs, so they won’t gravitate as much to the lighted area.

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11. Also less attractive to mosquitoes: lighter colored clothing. Bugs gravitate to warmer bodies, so lighter colors like white, gray, and pastels will keep your body temperature cool and the insects at a distance.

12. If your home or apartment doesn’t offer much space, you might think a garden is out of the question.—but it’s possible! Simply create a lovely hanging bottle garden instead. Cut a hole in the base to make space for the necessary soil and plant seeds. 

13. If you dry out eggshells for three days and then add them to the soil in your garden, they can provide young seedlings with much-needed calcium. It might seem strange at first, but if the shell was able to help nurture a chick into life, surely it can help plants, too!

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14. Here’s another way to reuse all those empty egg shells. If you’re able to crack them at the top, you can transform them into teeny cups to start your new seedlings. Simply fill each shell with soil and the seeds of your choice and watch them grow! Egg-cellent!

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15. Once you have all your precious seedlings going you certainly don’t want anything to harm them. Slugs and snails can be a nuisance to your garden, but Epsom salts will drive the slimy pests away without harming your plants at all. 

16. These tricks are great for keeping away most outdoor bugs, but what if you need to get rid of a specific kind of pest? If you have an unwanted wasp nest in your house or yard, spray it with peppermint oil, dish soap, and water. The mixture will kill the wasps quickly. 

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17. Plastic takeout forks stuck in soil, weirdly enough, can scare away creatures that would want to snack on your budding vegetables. Seeing forks all lined up like this may look a little creepy at first, but it truly works.

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18. If you’re looking to add a beautiful wind chime to your garden or backyard, you need not spend hundreds of dollars on a piece of blown glass art. You can actually turn your old metal strainer into a wind chime by hooking spoons onto the base. It’s that simple!

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You can also dress up your wind chime by filling it with flowers. Just make sure to keep the soil nice and fed and regularly watered. The strainer’s many holes offer a ton of drainage, which prevents your plants from being overwatered.

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19. Don’t throw out your banana peels! Compost them instead; they can be just what your plants need to flourish. The peels are full of calcium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphates, potassium, and sodium. Just be careful not to slip and fall!

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20. Plants need a little pick-me-up in the morning, too. Bring your used coffee grounds to the garden every morning and mix them directly into the soil. If you can’t make the trip out to the compost every morning, you can use a compost bucket and make fewer trips.

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21. Just because you decided to redesign your bathroom, that’s no reason you need to throw away the sink! After tying off the plumbing ends, even the most retro sink can find a second home as a cool, shabby chic-style planter.

22. How adorable are these tomatoes? You don’t need to be a botanist to grow fun shapes like these. All you need is to slide your favorite cookie cutter shapes around the tomato fruit while it’s still nice and small. As it grows, it will take the shape of the cookie cutter surrounding it.

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23. Are you worried you planted your new garden too early and you’re scared a snap frost will kill your new plants? No need to panic! Try cutting the bottoms off your old milk gallon cartons and place them over your sensitive plants. The cartons act as great insulation during those tricky, chilly spring nights.

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24. White vinegar is an incredibly versatile kitchen staple, both in cooking and cleaning around the house. It also packs a punch outside of the house, too. If you have weeds cropping up in your driveway and you want to avoid pesticides in favor of an all-natural deterrent, a dose of vinegar will stop them in their tracks.
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25. Do you have a plant that needs to be watered constantly? Your soil may not be doing its job of holding in hydration. A quick fix to this problem: line the bottom of your terra cotta with diapers. Yes, diapers! They are super absorbent and will trap the water, making sure your plant stays nice and hydrated.

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26. Make beautiful plant rows using old wooden pallets: First, place the pallet where you’ll start your garden. Then fill the slots with soil, plant your flowers, and watch as your garden becomes perfectly organized in no time.

27. Use a ladder to save space and make a beautiful standing garden shelf: This one’s so easy. All you need to do is buy a few sheets of plywood and lay them across the steps of your ladder. Now, you’ll have space to keep tons of lovely green plants!

28. Fertilize your garden with cooking water: The next time you’re going to flush your pasta or vegetable water down the drain, don’t! Instead, after letting it cool, use it to water your garden and allow the nutrients and starch to enrich your plants.

29. Make a watering can from an old milk jug: Instead of spending your money on a store-bought watering can, drill some small holes into the lid of an old milk container and fill it with water. You can even decorate it, and it’s a nice way to reuse plastic.

30. Use newspaper and mulch to say goodbye to weeds: After you’ve pulled the weeds in your garden, place newspaper and mulch to cover the affected area. This will work to keep the weeds from growing back. Best of all, the degradable newspaper will naturally break down over time.

31. Get rid of fungus with a little cinnamon: Believe it or not, that delicious cinnamon in your cupboard also contains some anti-fungal properties. Try spreading a little around your garden to keep them from contracting any fungi.

32. Say goodbye to fungus with hydrogen peroxide: Before you go dumping a bottle of the stuff on your plants, just be sure you’re only using a three percent solution when doing so. Then, put it in an empty spray bottle and apply a small amount every day to prevent fungus from growing.