Look to your kitchen for gardening tools

Statesman wire servicesSeptember 12, 2013 

In need of some new garden tools? Check your kitchen drawers.

Table utensils like spoons, forks and knives are tough and sharp enough to do many gardening jobs without causing damage.

Use them to separate flats, lift seedlings and tease apart dense root balls. Knives can also make a slim path for tiny seeds to fall into.

Even something as innocuous as old nylons can be reused in the backyard to tie up floppy plants or line the bottom of pots so water can get through but dirt cannot.

Packing peanuts are also a good drainage medium, and lighten the load when large pots need to be moved around, says Stacy Tornio, editor of Birds & Blooms magazine.

Old wives’ tales abound for solving all kinds of garden problems, from pesky deer to acidic soil, but many of them actually work.

Coffee grounds, for example, can be sprinkled at the bottom of any plant to improve drainage in clay soils, and especially plants that like rich, moist organic soils like azaleas and blueberries.

Soap can keep deer from feasting on trees and plants. Tornio suggests breaking a bar of soap into pieces and hanging them from strings or in old nylons or net bags on trees or other structures near prime deer feeding areas. The scent could also keep other pests away.

Use the guts left over from fishing trips as fertilizer in the gardens.

Finely crushed egg shells can be used as compost or a way to add calcium to soils, while larger pieces keep snails and slugs at bay.

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