20+ easy gardening secrets every gardener needs to know

Gardening can be a very rewarding activity. Imagine the feeling of seeing the plant you cared for grow and blossom into something completely new from a baby seed. No matter if you are a novice or experienced gardener, that feeling is what connects all gardeners together.
That said, the cost of gardening can really add up. From creating your gardening bed to soil to tools to fertilizer, everything can get pricey fast. Luckily, it's possible to enjoy the fruits of gardening without breaking the bank.
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We've compiled the best tips from experienced gardeners everywhere! So, start saving your money, and let's get started:
1. Use dryer lint and newspaper as mulch
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Rather than purchase mulch in bulk, save your dryer lint in a container instead. Further, you can shred your newspaper as well.
2. Milk jugs are a cheap alternative to a watering can
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Instead of tossing out that milk jug, next time use it as a watering jug. All you need to do is poke some holes in the top, fill it with water, and you're ready to go.
3. Turn a wine bottle into a self-watering planter
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Using a nail, poke a hole through the center of a clean wine cork, creating a hole that goes all the way through. Fill a recently cleaned (and preferably sterilized) wine bottle with water and insert the cork into the neck. Flip the bottle upside down to make sure water flows through the hole and then place the neck into the soil, angling it towards the roots. If you've accidentally gotten rid of the cork you can quickly flip the bottle over uncorked and jam it into the soil, yielding a similar effect.
4. Save your old egg cartons and use them as seed starters
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Why use an egg carton? Egg cartons are easy-to-use and already compartmentalized. Plus, they are free. Who says you can't perform gardening and benefit the environment at the same time?
5. Use cheap coffee filters to line the bottom of your pots
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Coffee filters aren't just cheap but they can help prevent soil from going all over the place. Think of this like lining a baking sheet before you bake something in the oven!
6. Use human urine to deter deer
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Sure, motion-activated sprinklers also can deter deer, but those are expensive. As a cheaper alternative, save some urine, and pour it around the edge of your garden to deter against deer.
7. Use soda cans to aerate large planters
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Yes, we all love large planters with flowers and favorite plants, but maintaining one can be expensive, especially considering the amount of soil alone. Instead of spending money on the soil, try this tip instead. Fill the bottom of your planter with clean, empty soda cans. Be sure to press down a bit so the cans are settled, making it easy for air to move in between the gaps. Your plants will get more oxygen this way, too!
8. Use newspaper sheets to prevent weeds
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Weeds are one of a gardener's biggest nemesis. You pull one out and 10 more crop up. Here's the secret: Not only should you take care of your weed problem early, but make sure to use newspaper! Yes, lay newspaper around your plants before adding mulch to prevent weeds from cropping up. Cardboard can also work if you don't have newspaper on hand!
9. To deter pests, stock up on Irish Spring soap
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The soap only works on pests like mice, rabbits, and deer. Cut up some of the soap and secure it to wooden stakes which you can then scatter around your garden. Deer, in particular, are put off by the scent of animal fats in the soap. If you can't get your hands on Irish Spring soap, try any scented soap made with tallow, which is derived from animal fat.
10. Place a sponge in the bottom of a planter for water control
The absorbent nature of a sponge makes it the ideal addition to the bottom of a planter. Cut the sponge to size and position it in the bottom of a growing pot before you add soil and the plant.
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The porous material will quickly soak up excess water while remaining damp, which assists with plant growth over time. A sponge in the bottom of a planter can also be beneficial for fake plants. Use the plant to keep the stems in position and pick a sponge color that reflects grass or ground for even more natural appeal indoors.
11. Use Epsom salt as a fertilizer for your garden
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Epsom salt, also known as magnesium sulfate, works well in the home garden because it gives fertilizer and soil a much needed boost of both magnesium and sulfate. The additional minerals enable plants to receive more nutrition from the soil they are in. This in turn increases the plant’s output.
12. Use zip ties to secure your garden structures and plants
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Zip ties don't get more versatile than this. Use them to secure climbing plants or really tall ones that need to be put in place. Zip ties also work great on gardening structures. Best of all? They are cheap!
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13. Use sand and WD-40 to easily clean your dirty tools
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Worried about cleaning your gardening tools? Try this trick:
1) Fill a pot with dry sand and spray on some WD-40.
2) Place your dirty hand tools vertically into the sand with the handles sticking up. The metal blades should be completely covered by the sand.
3) Leave your tools in during the winter season, and they will be clean by the time spring rolls around!
14. Protect seedlings from disease with cinnamon
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The antifungal properties in cinnamon make it a great tool for protecting seedlings from rot and disease, also known as damping off. Keeping moisture at bay is key; dusting the seeds with cinnamon and using a doming tactic can protect the seeds until they grow.
15. Use a mounted pallet for organizing your gardening tools
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This project is super simple, as it's only going to require some minor adjustments. If you want to make it look even better, though, simply paint it. Expert tip: Add some hooks to the front slats to hold smaller shovels, gloves and more.
16. Kill weeds with vinegar
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Instead of spending a lot of money on toxic chemicals to get rid of the weeds in your garden, try pouring vinegar directly on the weeds. The acetic acid will stop weed growth without damaging the soil.
17. Keep the pests with plastic utensils
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It turns out that plastic forks do a good job of keeping pests away from your precious gardens. Yes, this includes the family cat that you love.
18. Plant beer can slug traps
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Slugs are a pesky problem in gardens, munching on tender, young plants. One of the easiest ways to get rid of them relies on luring them to their demise with cheap beer. Sink a container with a large opening -- or cut the top half off of a beer can -- into the ground, putting the rim just above soil level. Fill it with beer -- they are attracted to the yeast.
19. Spray Himalayan salt water for spider mites
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To treat a spider mite infestation, mix two tablespoons of pink Himalayan sea salt in one gallon of warm water. Spray on infected plants.
20. Get rid of ants via cornmeal
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A cheap and easy solution, cornmeal is often sprinkled around places were ants are known to congregate. Although they are incredibly attracted to the smell, once ingested, the cornmeal cannot be broken down and the ants slowly starve. Keep in mind that this method takes time to work effectively.
21. Perfect plant spacing with a muffin tin
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No more stressing over perfect spacing between the seeds in the garden. Or rummaging through the garage to find a measuring tape to mark the distance out. Use an old muffin tip and push it slightly down into freshly tilled soil, creating divots. Drop seeds in the holes, following packet planting instructions, and cover loosely with soil.
22. Make your own seed starter containers using a toilet paper tube
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Biodegradable containers for starting seeds can be expensive to purchase. Make your own by closing the end of a toilet paper tube, filling it will potting soil and then planting seeds in the soil. The entire tube can be planted in the ground when the temperatures are safe to move seedlings outside.
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