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Garbage In, Garden Out, More Kitchen/Garden tips from the Recycling Gardener

Updated on February 19, 2015

Old Iris


Use line chalk as a barrier to ants, snails, slugs around plants

By ‘line chalk” we mean playing field chalk, that used around sports fields to delineate the field and boundaries.

Ants, slugs, and snails don’t like powered dry substances. For snails and slugs it dries them out, for ants, it sticks to their feet and collapses onto them or into holes. You can use this to bury an ant hole, or to fill a crack that is frequently used by ants.

Old Cabbage? Make a Slug Trap.

Put old cabbage outside in the garden for a few days as a slug trap using the cabbage as bait, then just pick it up and throw it away, slugs and all, or better still, simply bury the cabbage covering it at least 3-4 inches deep to kill the slugs and snails that have accumulated there. This doesn’t work well with red cabbage, but for green cabbage, it attracts snails and slugs.

Got Soda Pop?

Use excess pop in liter bottles as a slug trap. Simply lay it on its side in the garden. Be careful to ensure the slugs and snails have a way to get into the container, then, after a few days, dig a small hole and pour the pop into the soil. Most soda pop has phosphoric acid which depleted calcium from your bones, but makes your flowers bloom. Hmm, let’s see, do I want weak bones of flowers…

Citrus Rinds

Grapefruit and orange rinds make good bait for slugs, snails, earwigs, even pill bugs. Simply put half fruit “bowl” left from eating the fruit or large segment of skin face down in the garden for a few days, the turn the soil over with a spade to bury it all.

The bugs add some nitrogen to the soul. The fruit rind, sugars for fungi and bacteria, and carbon for the plants. If you can remember to, break up the rind as much as you can to speed its biodegrading.

Old Potatoes

Old potatoes can be sliced then places around the garden to attract insects of many types. Again, simply spade them into the ground after a few days. This might even result in potato plants!


Ashes sprinkled around the base of a plant keeps snails and slugs at bay while it remains. It also adds minerals (pot-ash-ium) to the soils and carbon when it it watered, as carboxylic acid, which plants love.

If you can add some carbohydrates to the mix you will speed its breakdown into the soils.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth is a great way to control sucking insects on pets and in the lawn. Summer fleas or ticks? Sprinkle on your pet, rub it in, sprinkle in the garden for insect control. It pierces the exoskeleton and the bug simply dries up. This is safe for the home, use it for spider mites, use it in the garden, fruit trees, as a spray, put it into pet food to kill worms, a teaspoon in their food for three or four days will de-worm the pets. You don’t want to breath too much of this, but a little dust won’t bother you or your pets.

Boric Acid

Boric acid for ants and roaches is a great way to control them. Mixing Boric acid with diatomaceous earth is an effective combination for most bugs.

A little added to your vegetable garden will also strengthen that vegetable stalks, especially un cruciferous vegetables.

Got Milk?

Buttermilk, that is.

Make a thin mixture of buttermilk, instant potato or potato flour and water. Spray plants to suffocate the mites. This also feeds the fungus in the soils and even helps mulch if it is on the ground. If it is unsightly after several hours, simply wash it off. Any food starch can be used rather than the potatoes such as flour, corn starch, white rice, or Arrow Root.

Got Beer?

Pour a pint for me snails mate!

To control snails and slugs (until you get the black snails) pour some beer into an aluminum pan and set it into the ground or onto your ground cover so snails and slugs can have a little brew. They love it! They love it so much they will stay in it until the drown. Then just tip it over into the garden.

Dull, Lifeless Leaves? Try a Vegetable Oil Non-Stick Spray

House plants get a lot of dust, and sometimes leaves outside do also.

Many people use mayonnaise and water, a very good solution to the problem, but a faster way if you are in a hurry, is simply your non-stick vegetable oil spray in the kitchen cabinet.

Just give them a very light spirit and then wipe the leaf with a soft cloth.

Also though, consider things made of leather that may be exposed to weather, or left outside or in a shed or garage, like a bike seat. These vegetable sprays, especially the olive oil bases sprays make a good leather conditioner.

Lastly, how about those noisy hinges? This is much less expensive than some lubricating sprays that can actually contain water, and can often work just as well.

Got Glue?

Make a glue spray using 2 quarts of water, mix in 4 ounces of white or wood glue and let it stand overnight. Spray in on plants infected with mites. As it dries and flakes off it kills the mites without poison and doing no harm to the plant. Do this in the evening, not in the hot sun during the day.

Anchovy Paste

What to do with old Anchovy Paste?

If you are like us, we use Anchovy Paste from time to time and, sometimes we will replace a tube that just seems too old. Yes, I know, many of my old Sicilian friends would tell me it doesn’t go bad, but after a while, it just seems like the right thing to do.

Think of this as a small fertilizer paste. Then ask: Where can you use a little fertilizer?

Potted plants can use this added to the soil for a slow release fertilizer. Simply bury it several inched into the potting soil. If you distribute this to several plants, the smell it generates will never attract much attention from your cat or from your friends.

This is probably not the fertilizer for houseplants unless you rotate them outside for a week or so after you dose them.

Got Mites?

Garlic, chili pepper and soap sprays can help reduce mite populations out of doors or in areas you don’t have pets, especially dogs who can sniff it up and cause considerable discomfort.


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    • RonaldANewcomb profile imageAUTHOR

      Ronald A Newcomb 

      3 years ago

      Thanks so much!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I had heard of some of these the beer for snails and slugs...but not all of them. Very useful hub! Pinning it to my gardening section and will also share.


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