We know how beneficial bicarbonate soda can be when it comes to indoor cleaning and deodorising. But surprisingly, it is just as handy outdoors. From controlling weeds to treating fungal infections, here are other ways how you can use your box of baking soda in the garden.
1. Controls Garden Weeds
Are you tired of weeding your backyard, only to find new ones sprouting after a few days? Some gardeners would use vinegar or lay down newspaper to control them. Or you can use baking soda in the garden to solve the same problem! It’s 100% better than using harmful chemicals.
First, moisten the weed with water. Next, sprinkle about a teaspoon of bicarb soda on top of the entire weed, then do the same thing for every weed you see. It should kill it and prevent new weeds from growing. A similar technique also gets rid of crabgrass growing in your garden beds or lawns. Just make sure to keep baking soda away from the garden plants you want to preserve.
2. Prevents Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew typically affects crops like cucumbers and squash or flowering plants like zinnias and impatiens. If you are in a humid region, it can severely ruin your garden and rot your plants. So, to control powdery mildew, you need a spray with bicarbonate of soda.
In a spray bottle, combine baking soda with water and liquid dish soap. You can check this article for the homemade garden fungicide recipe. Make sure to dilute everything well. Then spray it on one or two leaves first and wait for two days before spraying the entire plant. If everything’s okay, use it every week. But try not to use it when it’s too sunny to give time for the protective layer to form.
This baking soda solution also protects your tomato plants from fungal diseases like leaf spot and tomato blight. Why does it work? Because gardening with baking soda can alter the pH of your plants, making it harder for fungi to grow and adhere.
3. Checks Soil pH Levels
One of the steps in starting a vegetable garden is to check your soil pH to ensure that it will keep plants healthy. You can do this with a store-bought pH kit. However, checking your soil is also one of the many uses of baking soda in the garden.
Here’s what you need to do. Prep two plastic cups, then put a scoop of garden soil sample in each. Now, measure half a cup of vinegar, baking soda and water each. Next, do the following procedures:
- Pour the vinegar into one of the soil samples. If it fizzes, your soil is alkaline (above pH 7).
- Pour the baking soda then water into the second sample if there’s no reaction. If it bubbles, you have acidic soil (below pH 7).
- Healthy soil should not result in any reaction from either test.
4. Keeps Pests Away
Using baking soda in the garden is effective in handling harmful insect infestations. The best part is, bicarb-based pesticides are cheap, non-toxic and easy to do. Plus, you get to save money and preserve the environment. Here are some garden pests that you can repel or get rid of with sodium bicarbonate:
- Ants, roaches and slugs. Use a flour sifter or powder dispenser to sprinkle some baking soda on the soil. Make sure not to put some on your plants to keep beneficial insects safe. If you want to take care of an ant infestation in your garden, combine five teaspoons of baking soda and powdered sugar with a teaspoon of water. The sugar will attract the ants, but the baking soda will kill them after ingestion.
- Cabbage worms. If you are growing cabbages in your vegetable garden, keep pesky cabbage worms away by sprinkling sodium bicarbonate mixed with equal amounts of plain flour. The worms will still eat your plants, but the concentrated mixture should kill them off.
If you want to attract beneficial insects, you can make and hang a bug hotel in your garden, too.
5. Makes Flower Bouquets Last Longer
Decorating your home with freshly picked flowers is one of the perks of gardening. But they can only stay fresh for a few days. You can make them last a bit longer, though, by adding a pinch of salt and baking soda into your vase with water. Some flowering plants also grow better in alkaline soil. Try adding a little baking soda into your watering to make perennials like lavender, daisy, mums and asters display more vibrant blooms!
6. Freshens Bins for Yard Waste
Gardening with baking soda does not only benefit your plants and soil. You can use it for outdoor cleaning and deodorising, too. For example, after emptying your garden bins, wash and dry them, then heavily dust the bottom with baking soda. This extra step should get rid of any funky odour. You can even do this for your regular garbage bins at home, too.
7. Removes Grime and Odour from Hands
If you love gardening, chances are you often have to deal with hardworking but dirty and smelly hands. You can solve this by cleaning your hands with soap and water, then rubbing baking soda on your still wet hands. Use a nail brush for tough spots.
This washing technique should remove the unpleasant dirt odour. Try it after working in the kitchen and handling smelly ingredients, too. Your large indoor houseplants can benefit from some bicarb as well. Add a pinch of baking soda into a litre of water. Moisten a soft cloth with your solution, then gently wipe the leaves clean.
8. Cleans Outdoor Furniture and Clay Pots
A beautiful garden is not complete without furniture, decorations and accessories. However, being exposed to natural elements means they will be grimy over time. Here are ways to use baking soda in the garden for cleaning:
- Resin and wood garden furniture. Combine 3.8L water, half cup baking soda and a tablespoon of liquid dishwashing soap. Then use your solution to clean your garden furniture. You can also make a paste by mixing baking soda and castile soap to clean extra dirty items. Just avoid using either mixture on metal as it will lead to rusting.
- Birdbath. Rub some of your baking soda and castile soap paste on its surface, then use a scrubbing brush to remove grime and debris. Rinse your birdbath well before refilling it with clean water. It won’t leave any harmful residue, so your birds can safely use it.
- Plant pots with salt marks. Mix enough baking soda with water to make a paste with a lotion-like consistency. Apply it to your clay pot and leave it for about 20 minutes before rinsing.
We don’t have to rely on a store-bought cleaning agent or chemical pesticides every time to maintain our garden. All we need is to do a little research to find cheaper and more eco-friendly solutions. For example, are you looking for an all-natural cleaner or polish for your cooking pots, wooden furniture and leather shoes? Try these olive oil cleaning hacks!