We are all familiar with the many uses of vinegar in the kitchen or as a cleaning solution around the house. But what about in the garden? There are many great ways that you can use vinegar for plants to support your garden’s growth and protect it against a variety of unwanted visitors.
The best part? It’s chemical-free! That makes it a great option for vegetable gardening.
Here are 7 different reasons why you should incorporate vinegar into your daily gardening efforts. Once you try it, you’ll never look back!
Vinegar is often seen as a solution for deterring, repelling, or killing things off. But this natural option can also be used to promote growth right from the start of your gardening efforts. Being acidic, vinegar can be used to help soften the hard shells on most seeds, making it easier for the seeds to germinate and sprout. It is a way to speed up the process for those interested in growing their garden from seed while also helping you to achieve a higher success rate with your seeds.
To use vinegar to aid germination, start by mixing 1 cup of water with ½ cup of vinegar. Place your seeds into a wide, shallow container and pour the mixture over so that there is approximately twice as much of the vinegar/water mixture as there are seeds.
Allow this to sit overnight, or for approximately 18 hours before draining the mixture. Be careful not to soak the seeds for too long as it can damage them. Rinse the seeds off carefully to remove all vinegar before planting them.
With many outdoor lovers focusing on living a green-friendly lifestyle, the chemicals that were previously used in gardening are falling out of favor. It includes the use of chemical weed killers. For an environmentally friendly option, try using vinegar to get rid of weeds from your outdoor spaces. This is a safer alternative not only for the environment but also for any family pets and young children that may have access to your yard. Unfortunately, it won’t be as effective on larger shrubs, trees, and those that are hard to kill. But it is a great choice for those smaller weeds that often pop up in our garden beds.
To create your own natural weed killer, mix 1 gallon of white vinegar, 1 cup of table salt or Epsom salt, and 1/8 cup of dish soap in a spray bottle. Shake the mixture to combine everything fully and then allow it to sit as the bubbles deflate. When you are left with nothing but a liquid mixture, spray the solution on any weeds or grasses that you want to kill off. You may have to reapply the mixture several times before the plant dies entirely.
Be careful, however, not to spray the mixture onto plants that you plan on keeping.
Fight Fungi on Plants
The growth of mildew and fungi on your garden plants can quickly destroy all your hard work unless it has been addressed. However, our plants are outdoors and exposed to a wide variety of different diseases. So, how do you keep them safe and healthy? If you notice colored spots of fungi growth on your plant leaves, you can create an antifungal spray using vinegar to help clear up the problem.
Combine 3 cups of boiling water with ¼ cup of dried chamomile in a heat-proof bowl or pot. If you use chamomile tea bags, this would be the equivalent of approximately 4 or 5 tea bags. Allow it to sit and steep for 24 hours. Remove the tea bags or strain out the dried chamomile. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar and stir your mixture to thoroughly combine everything. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and apply it liberally to all areas of the plant where you can see fungal growth and allow your plant to air dry.
If you need to reapply, wait at least 3 to 5 days to avoid stressing out your plant.
Increase Soil Acidity
As you get more seriously into gardening, you may start to explore the concept of soil quality and how you can make changes to improve the health of your garden. It includes testing the soil, taking note of the levels of important nutrients, and understanding the pH level. Each of these points can either give your plants a much-needed boost or prevent them from thriving (or even growing) in the environment.
If your biggest concern with your soil right now is the pH level, vinegar may be the perfect solution! A little vinegar can create the perfect conditions for plants that love acidic soil, such as blueberries, hibiscus, gardenias, and hydrangeas. All you have to do is mix 1 cup of white vinegar with 1 gallon of water and then use that mixture to water your plants. It will offer a quick improvement for the plants that are currently planted without creating any lasting change or problem with the soil in that area.
Break Down Hard Minerals
Another way to use vinegar for soil correction is to address a high mineral content in your garden. Minerals and lime can be beneficial to your plants, but there is too much of a good thing! Before planting your garden this season, make use of a soil test kit. If you find that the levels of minerals and limes are too high, mix full-strength vinegar directly into the soil. Work it in carefully to be sure that there aren’t patches left unaddressed.
Allow your garden to sit for 1 week before retesting. If the count is still high, repeat the process. If it has reached acceptable levels, you are ready to start planting.
Deter Ants and Other Insects
Are you struggling with an ant infestation in your garden? The presence of these tiny invaders isn’t all bad. Ants can benefit your gardening efforts in some ways. They can help to improve pollination, reduce the number of other insects you’re seeing, and help to aerate the soil with their tunnels. On the other hand, it’s not all good either! In large numbers, they can take over your space, damage any wooden fencing or structures, and, depending on the type of ant, they bite!
If you’re dealing with a larger infestation that needs to be dealt with, you can use vinegar both to kill off ants as an insecticide as well as to repel them moving forward.
To create your insecticide, combine 3 cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar, and 1 teaspoon of dish soap in a spray bottle. It can be sprayed directly onto ants and other insects to kill them in place of chemical solutions but be cautious around the more delicate plants in your garden. You can pour straight vinegar into any anthills, around the fencing of your garden bed, or in areas that are highly populated to keep insects at bay. But, you should avoid doing this too close to plants as the change in soil pH could be harmful.
Keep Unwanted Visitors Away
Insects aren’t the only visitors kept at bay with the help of vinegar. The acidic smell of vinegar is also a deterrent for many unwanted guests, including snakes, rabbits, raccoons, possums, and other wildlife. For the animal-loving gardeners among us, this is a great way to keep these animals out of the garden without causing any harm. Simply spray full-strength vinegar along the perimeter of your garden area to create an invisible boundary.
If you notice that your unwanted visitors are drawn to one specific area of the garden, you can take your efforts a step further. Soak rags or kitchen sponges in full-strength vinegar and set them out in the area in a bowl or cup. The scent will be concentrated in this space, making it unpleasant for the local wildlife and discouraging them from hanging around.
Take Your Gardening to the Next Level with Vinegar
If you’re looking for a greener, more environmentally friendly solution to your gardening needs, look no further than your kitchen pantry. Incorporating vinegar (and other natural options, like hydrogen peroxide) into your gardening is a great budget-friendly way to improve soil quality, control weeds, protect your plants from insects, and more.
By removing unnecessary chemicals, you can create a pet-friendly garden that’s safe for the whole family, including young children and the family dog.
When you stock up your garden shed this season, don’t forget to include spray bottles and vinegar!