When you are trying to maximize the potential of your plants while sticking to a budget, it can be easy to turn to a variety of items for a quick fix.
Sometimes common household or hardware store items may seem like a good idea, but there are often unintended consequences that should make you think twice. Here are some of the more commonly used fixes that should have no place in your garden.
One of the more popular items found in grows are bamboo stakes. They are cheap, they work, and if they break, it’s not a big deal. Unfortunately, bamboo can carry fungal spores from wherever it was grown.
These spores can contaminate your grow, introducing mildew and mold that can one day lead to an outbreak of powdery mildew on the leaves of your plants. Bamboo is also porous, which means it will catch and hold moisture. After repeated use, the odds of your stakes becoming infested with mold go up.
Twine and Wood and Cork
Another item often found in home gardens is twine. Twine can be used to secure plants or as a trellis to offer support. However, much like bamboo, twine soaks up water and moisture and can lead to problems with mold. If you need a trellis or to tie off your plants, always plastic, metal, or something else that won’t capture moisture.
Avoid items like wood and cork. They also hold moisture, and the only thing that should hold moisture in your garden is your soil. If your garden is elevated, using wood instead of an aluminum frame will undoubtedly lead to mold and mildew.
It may seem like a good idea to use twist ties to secure your plants for support—that is, until you realize that they girdle your plants. Girdling occurs when the outer layers of your plant are stripped away at a single point.
Since twist ties don’t expand as the plants grow, they choke the plant and effectively cut off nutrients from going up and unused nutrients from recirculating to the lower limbs of the plant.
Some growers use advanced girdling techniques to produce abnormally large yields; however, this is not a common practice and for most of us, girdling equates to plant death. So, instead use a flexible support, like rubber ties, that will expand as your plant grows.
You wouldn’t think that a generic lawn fertilizer would make its way into a garden, but a quick peruse of some horticulture forums will show you that too many people have tried using lawn fertilizers to grow their crops. Growing vegetables or herbs is far more of a precise science than maintaining your lawn.
A vegetable garden is going to have specific nutrient requirements that lawn fertilizers just can’t match. Specifically, household lawn fertilizers are heavy on nitrogen to ensure lush, green grass, meaning you run the risk of shocking your plants—perhaps even causing nutrient burn—with the high levels of nitrogen. Always stick to the good stuff when it comes to fertilizers.
Sometimes newer growers will turn to household items to save a few bucks or because they just don’t know any better. Sometimes you can get away with using household items, but you usually can’t. Take the time to go through your garden and ditch the stuff that may cause you problems.