Secrets of a Cheapskate Gardener

I love a beautiful yard, but I hate spending money to get it that way which explains why I am always looking for do-it-yourself cheap ways to kill weeds, grow flowers and feed lawns.

I have come across some very clever tips and tricks, not the least of which is to reclassify the dandelion as a low-maintenance, hardy ground cover!

DANDELIONS

While you ponder that suggestion, take a look at these clever ideas to make your own landscape supplies.

LAWN FOOD: Mix four pounds magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) with a bag of your favorite lawn food that covers 2,500 sq. ft. Now feed your lawn only half the amount of this mixture as recommended on the lawn food bag You’ll save a lot of money because you’ll be using less than half the normal amount of fertilizer and this formulation cuts down on the nitrogen which makes your lawn grow so fast. You’ll have the wonderful deep-green color, better root structure and you won’t have to mow as often.

LAWN SNACK: Try this on your lawn every three weeks during the summer. (With every third snack, add 1/2 cup clear corn syrup or molasses to the mixture.)

Pour the beer and shampoo (and corn syrup when it’s the third snack) into a 20-gallon hose-end sprayer jar; fill up the jar with ammonia and apply, following the instructions on the hose-end sprayer. You’re going to have very happy grass.

YUMMY TREAT FOR VEGETABLES: If you want some startling growth in your vegetable garden, mix up a batch of this artillery punch. All of this smelly stuff goes into that 20-gallon hose-end sprayer:

Apply to vegetables (using the hose-end sprayer, of course) early in the day, one time  half-way through the growing season.

BUG-ZAPPER: This is a preventive measure to keep diseases and bugs away. Start using it early in the season on everything—lawn, flowers, shrubs, vegetables and fruits.

Wait! You don’t have to start chewing and spitting to make this recipe. Sneak into the store and buy a container of chewing tobacco. Dump it into an old nylon stocking, tie it off and steep uncovered in one quart of boiling water until the water turns disgustingly brown. Put a cup of it along with the other ingredients into your trusty 20-gallon hose-end sprayer; fill balance of jar with warm water and apply to about 2,500 sq. ft. Keep the kids and pets away while applying. Any remaining mix or tobacco juice should be clearly labeled and kept out of reach of children.

BACKYARD BIRDBATH: As long as you have a beautiful yard and garden you might as well invite some songbirds to splish-splash and entertain you. In addition to hanging birdfeeders, delight your family with a birdbath.

Pick up a large 12- or 16-inch diameter drip tray (the kind used under a potted plant). Put the tray on the ground in a sheltered part of the garden, positioning rocks or small logs around the perimeter. Put a large rock in the middle of the bath to act as an island. Fill with water and wait for the action. Flush out water every two or three days.

Question: How ready are you for Spring?

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