You’ve doused a plate of fries and salads with it and probably rinsed it through your hair at least once before, but did you know that vinegar has even more uses in the garden?
A tasty treat, a hair conditioner, and a multipurpose garden aid – yep, that’s vinegar for you!
What’s more, vinegar provides a cost-effective alternative to the expensive garden aids you might find at your local garden center. If you want to discover the wonders of vinegar in the garden, read on!
The Many Uses of Vinegar In The Garden
From cleaning mucky garden pots to acting as an effective ant repellent, here’s a list of the top 10 ways you can use vinegar in your garden.
1. Clean Off Rusty Garden Tools
Nothing is worse than heading outside for a day of gardening to find that your favorite hand spade and fork have a nasty coating of surface rust on them. The good news is that surface rust is no match for undiluted white vinegar!
Simply soak your rusty garden tools in white vinegar – or spray them with it. Allow the tools to sit, dripping in the vinegar for a few minutes. Then, wipe them down, and your tools will look shiny, clean, and rust-free.
The acetic acid in white vinegar has a chemical reaction to the rust, producing a water-soluble salt that can be easily wiped off. This process, called neutralization, is a simple and safe method of removing surface rust.
2. Get Rid of Weeds Between Paving Stones
Pesky weeds sprouting through cracks, between pavers, and taking over cobblestone areas can be an eye-sore.
Pour pure undiluted white vinegar into a spray bottle with half a teaspoon of dishwashing soap, and get to work spraying weeds individually. You’ll find the weed dies off and dries out, making it easy to remove and sweep away.
How does it work? First, the dishwashing soap breaks down the outer cuticle of the weed, allowing the vinegar to attack the plant better. The acetic acid in white vinegar sucks the moisture out of the weed, thus drying it up and killing it.
3. Remove Grimey Water Lines from Used Vases
Your cut flowers have died off, and you’re ready to refresh your display only to find a very unattractive white line circling the inside of your favorite glass vase! What now?
You can remove water lines from vases with vinegar by diluting 50% water with 50% white vinegar and allowing it to stand in the vase for 15 minutes before rinsing it. Alternatively, soak a paper towel in vinegar and wipe the inside of the vase well.
It is usually salts and minerals that cause white lines on vases from plants. The acetic acid in vinegar has a low pH, making it possible to dissolve the stain-causing salts and minerals.
4. Boost Acidity-Loving Plants
Did you know that you can boost an acidic-loving plant with a dash of vinegar? Keep in mind that not all plants can survive vinegar, but hydrangeas, gardenias, and rhododendrons love acidity, which means vinegar is a good pick-me-up for them!
Don’t pour plain vinegar onto your plant or soil. Instead, mix one cup of pure white vinegar with a gallon of water. Simply water the plant with this and prepare to be amazed at the results.
5. Use Vinegar as an Ant Repellent
Ants have a penchant for the sweet sap from some plants and decaying fruit. That said, ants are necessary for a healthy ecosystem because they aerate the soil, allowing water, nutrients, and oxygen to get to the plant roots quicker.
They also help with the decomposition of organic material that helps fertilize plants. In short, we need ants but don’t particularly want them attacking our plants – we need to keep them at bay.
Vinegar deters ants because ants move around by following the scent trails of other ants. By wiping the area down with vinegar, they can’t follow the scent and will stop crossing that particular surface.
In a spray bottle, mix half water and half white vinegar. Mix well and spray the mixture on door frames, along doorways, and around surfaces that usually attract ants. The presence of vinegar will deter the ants and allow your plants to thrive.
6. Keep Freshly Cut Flowers Fresher for Longer
It seems a waste to display fresh-cut flowers from your garden for just a few days before they wilt and die off. Without roots, your beautiful flowers cannot be provided with nutrients that keep them fresh and full of vitality.
Filling a vase one-fourth full with water and adding two tablespoons of white vinegar and two tablespoons of sugar will pep the flowers up and prolong their lifespan.
When you add vinegar to a vase of cut flowers, you’ll be lowering the water’s pH. Lowering the pH increases acidity, which creates an environment that’s not suitable for bacteria growth.
Bacteria are often the reason fresh-cut flowers wilt and die off quickly.
7. Keep Bird Baths Clear of Algae and Pathogens
If you’re a fan of feathered friends in your garden, you can lure them in by providing fresh fruit, seed, and water. Bird baths filled with water will attract both bird and insect life, making them the perfect place to gather algae and pathogens.
Keeping the water and bird bath clean is easily done by mixing one part water with one part vinegar in a bucket. Rinse the bird bath, then pour in the mixture and give it a good rub before rinsing it again.
Rinse thoroughly before adding water for the birds to enjoy once more. Acidity is death to algae.
8. Boost Germination of Hard-to-Germinate Seeds
Every gardener wants their garden space to thrive with beautiful fruits, vegetables, and flowers. And believe it or not, vinegar can help by boosting the germination of some seeds that prove hard to get going.
Mix one cup of water with ½ a cup of vinegar to pre-soak seeds for a few hours before planting. Eight to twelve hours of soaking is sufficient (don’t soak for longer than 24 hours). Drain and rinse the seeds before you plant them.
Vinegar can soften hard seed coats, which boosts germination. In fact, using vinegar can increase the number of seeds that germinate.
9. Counteract the Presence of Hard Minerals In the Soil
Minerals and lime in the soil aren’t necessarily a bad thing. These minerals can be a good thing, but at certain times, moderation is key.
For instance, if you have high lime content in the soil when planting seed potatoes, they may develop unsightly scabs on the skins.
If you’re working with a garden with high mineral content or the water is hard or over-limited, you can use vinegar to tone down the hard minerals, lime, and salt deposits.
Simply pour full-strength white vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the soil’s surface, using a garden fork to work it in. You can repeat this process twice or thrice, deeply turning the soil. Let the soil sit for at least 7 – 10 days before planting.
10. Obliterate Mildew/Fungus on Plants
Nothing is more disheartening than checking on your much-loved plants only to find that mildew has settled in.
Unfortunately, mildew/fungus can mean sure death for many plants, but if you act quickly with a homemade vinegar recipe, you may turn the situation around to save your plants.
You can make your own antifungal treatment by steeping two to three chamomile tea bags in 3 cups of boiling water. Allow to cool for 24 hours; remove the tea bags and then add two tablespoons (no more) of white vinegar.
Pour this mixture into a spray bottle and spray down the affected plants.
The acetic acid in white vinegar will change the fungus’s pH, effectively killing the disease. However, if you mix the vinegar too strongly, you may burn the plant, so be moderate when applying the mixture.
Vinegar is somewhat of a miracle product, providing a multitude of uses while being one of the most affordable household products the average gardener can get their hands on. If you’re looking for an affordable product that can serve a myriad of uses in your garden, look into vinegar – recommended by even the most seasoned gardeners!