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SPRING has sprung and warmer weather is on the horizon – but as Brits gear up for BBQs and garden parties galore new problems are sprouting up too.
Slugs, mosquitoes and weeds love this time of year and can easily wreak havoc on your backyard – but thankfully there are some handy hacks to help you avoid falling foul.
Gardening experts revealed that you can start growing plants in old egg shells and egg boxesCredit: Getty
Others use old milk cartons as a cheap way to create a mini-greenhouse and keep your seedlings shielded from the wind and predatorsCredit: Getty
They revealed top tips and an array of unusual tactics including hanging water balloons to repel bugs and using your own hair to scare away pests.
With tasty homegrown veggies up for grabs, slugs will be emerging in search of a quick meal.
But thankfully TV horticulture expert Michael Perry, 42, known as Mr Plant Geek, has a few handy pointers for keeping them away.
“Broken eggshells are a natural deterrent for slugs so sprinkle them around – but you can also grow sacrificial plants and lettuce,” he told The Sun.
“This will lure them away to one spot and save other parts of your garden, and they will only eat what they want, leaving other areas to grow freely.”
Even better, egg shells are a natural fertiliser – sprinkling them around plants helps them get absorbed by the soil and allows them to trap water.
Crushed eggs shells can be springled around plants as natural garden fertiliser and to keep slugs at bayCredit: Getty
Typically water bombs are associated with sunny weather, screaming kids and getting soaked – but think again, as they can be used to repel flies.
Adam Fairley, of JG Pest Control, told The Sun: “If you hang a clear plastic bag full of water by the door, bugs will think it’s a wasp nest and keep clear. My parents and others swear by it!”
Believe it or not, taking loose strands from your hairbrush and freshly trimmed cuttings from the barbers repels cats, foxes and rabbits.
Michael Clarke, from home help site Pulled, told The Sun: “The human scent from the hair repels these animals and as the hair breaks down, it adds nutrition to the soil.”
Planting with cake trays
Creating the perfect, equally sized holes to plant your seeds in is no easy task – but thankfully there’s help on hand.
Thrifty Mom explained that by pressing an old cupcake tin into the soil, your holes will be evenly spaced and a perfect depth for most plants.
Growing things with your rubbish
Ice cream cones can be very useful spots to grow plantsCredit: Getty
Thinking about throwing away old ice cream cones, egg shells or lemons? Think again.
Just clean them out and you’ll have perfect little pods to initially nurture and grow young seedlings.
The same can be said for a plastic milk carton, which can be transformed into a mini-greenhouse.
Just cut off the bottom of the bottle, force it into the soil over the top of your young plants and take the lid off.
Similarly, don’t discard over-the-door shoe organisers as they can be perfect spots to grow lettuce and flowers without taking up too much space.
Over the door shoe organisers are perfect for growing lettuces and some plantsCredit: Instructables
Surprise use for nappies, sponges & tampons
Helping your hanging baskets to flourish is not easy as people often use containers that are too small – to avoid this Mr Plant Geek suggests getting one no smaller than 12 inches in diameter.
He says it’s vital to buy good-quality compost because plants will struggle to grow through cheap soil due to its rigid texture. It will also contain less nutrients and be less able to hold moisture.
The gardener suggests mixing compost with slow-release fertiliser and water-retaining crystals, but there are also a couple of “madcap ways” you can try too.
“You can line a hanging basket with a clean nappy to ensure moisture remains in the soil, or for pots put in an unused tampon, they are unusual but they will work,” he said.
For a slightly less whacky alternative, you could line the bottom of your plant pots with cleaning sponges or coffee filters.
Sponges can be used to line pots and they will hold water in your plantsCredit: familyhandyman.com
Herb heroes & floral fighters
For centuries gardeners have struggled to find natural ways to rid mosquitoes, ants and pests without damaging the surrounding habitats.
They discovered herbs are not only useful to cook with but can also repel unwanted insects, Tanya Klien, from Anta Plumbing, told The Sun.
“Mint is the most common as it grows fast and offers a wonderful smell, basil wards off mosquitoes and flies, and lavender is hated by insects and fleas,” she said.
“Leafy produce and other vegetables can be saved from pests by planting marigolds, which also deter rabbits and repel plant lice, aphids and mosquitoes.”
Sandra Nanka, from Mudbrick Herb Cottage, also says that red spider mites don’t like coriander so mix it in a 1:4 ratio with water, boil for 10 minutes and spray around your plants.
She added: “Flowering dill, fennel and coriander also attract beneficial predators which love to feed on undesirable pests”
Help bugs croak it
Mr Clarke claims there’s “one really clever way” to rid bugs that many people don’t consider – allowing a couple of frogs to live in your garden.
“Frogs feed off of bugs but won’t eat your vegetables so they are great for guarding your garden,” he said.
Weed out the competition
To stop those irritating green stems shooting up in your plant beds the best thing is to “simply plant more plants,” according to Mr Plant Geek.
The TV expert said: “Weeds only appear when there is more exposed soil, if there isn’t much space they won’t be able to grow.
“More plants will keep moisture locked in and starve weeds of sunlight. You can also fill gaps with chopped bark chippings, gravel or decorative slate to make it harder for them to grow too.”
Beer baits & coffee catchers
Slugs love your freshly grown plants but you can keep them away with beverages you likely have in your own home.
Morris Hankinson, of Hopes Grove Nurseries, told The Sun: “Spare beer placed in a small container and put in the ground among your plants will attract slugs to a yeasty demise.
“Fresh coffee grounds do the opposite, they deter slugs when sprinkled around plants and also slow down rot, which helps to improve your soil.”
Slugs will be lured away from your vegetables and into a small container of beerCredit: Getty
One messy spot
Due to mass use of garden pesticides “you’re literally only poisoning yourself” rather than pesky bugs, according to Matt Mountain, of Terra Aquatica.
Instead, he claims it’s better to allow “just 10 per cent of your garden to be wild” as natural predators will come and rid you of hoverflies, ladybirds, lacewings and others.
Matt said: “If you leave a small area of longer grass with a variety of plants, you will have a healthy ecosystem on your backdoor.
“The natural predators will take care of the situation and will keep things in a healthy balance. If they are contained to one area you can treat that spot too.”
TV star Mr Pant Geek, aka Michael Perry, gives his top tips to The SunCredit: Caroline Horne Suffolk Photography