Vinegar Uses In The Garden

greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

During the colder months I try to do a lot of research, planning and preparing for my next garden season. Many years I can get started planting in February or March, especially when we have a warmer winter (in the 20's and 30's most of the time).

Since I do live in a cold weather climate, surrounded by mountains on two sides and hills on the other two, it tends to stay chilly here a little longer than it does just a few miles down the street.

But that's OK since my cold-weather crops have learned to thrive in this type of weather since I always use season extender methods to protect them.

But what I won't use is chemicals...ANYTHING! So I'm always testing new methods (to me) to find what works for my area. So here's a list of what I do use because it works and I added two new methods which I am going to try:

  1. weed control - full strength vinegar poured or sprayed onto weeds will kill the above ground vegetation but it will grow back as it does not kill the root. So for spot cleaning it works well.
  2. acid loving plants can get a mid-season boost when the soil is side-dressed with a combination of 1 cup white distilled vinegar to 1 gallon of water
  3. The above method can be used also as a foliar spray for acid plants ONLY
  4. Wash and sanitize all your clay or terra cotta pots etc by soaking them in a 1:1 ratio of water and white distilled vinegar.
  5. Soak any rusty or unused garden tools to remove build-up on them for a few hours. Rinse and dry!
  6. NEW: I'm going to try this... Reduce pet traffic in the garden area by soaking a few old T-shirts or long socks in straight vinegar. Tie them to a stake and place it around your high-traffic garden areas where you need help controlling the animals. Change them approximately every week or after a good soaking rain. Remember though be careful of your placement. You don't want it near vegetation because straight vinegar can kill vegetation.
  7. Also NEW to me: Ants, slugs and snails can be deterred by spraying straight vinegar around the edges of flower and vegetable beds by creating an inhospitable barrier around your plants. Repeat as needed or after rain.


  • herbantherapy
    herbantherapy Posts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    Nice! I soaked cotton balls in vinegar and placed around a flower bed a local bunny was using as a lunch cart and he stopped going into that bed!

    I use vinegar to clean my windows too. Oh! Yes the ones on my house but in the garden I use old single pane windows to help jumpstart the season on my raised beds like mini greenhouses.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @herbantherapy I just made some of those window boxes for my garden thie last couple of months this summer so I got several rounds of cool season crops out of them in the last two months. They worked very well.

    And good to know that vinegar will work as a nuisance deterrent in the garden. I still have a colony of cats that think the shade is nice during the hot months and the loose dirt is nice as a litter box. The row covers make great kitty hammocks and even certain varieties of crops make good daily snacks. I love them all but they still have to learn their boundaries also.

  • merlin44
    merlin44 Posts: 426 ✭✭✭✭

    @greyfurball I did a test run with vinegar on a plant that I need to eradicate. From my reading, vinegar and water will kill the plant, adding salt and a small amount of dishwashing detergent to the mixture will kill the root. The plant was still green but already gone to seed so I sprayed a small area with the vinegar/salt mixture. Within 24 hours the plant was dead. Come spring, I'll know if it's roots were killed as well.

  • greyfurball
    greyfurball Posts: 591 ✭✭✭✭

    @merlin44 let me know if the addition of the salt and soap did work for you if you remember next Spring because I have already tried that also and it did not kill the root.

    As far as I've always heard the salt's purpose is to dehydrate the plant thus killing off the vegetation more rapidly. The soap's purpose is to help your salt and vinegar to adhere to the vegetation instead of just running off into the soil. Neither of these will actually guarantee the formula you are spreading is ever going to get to the root. So that is why I say it never helped me with killing off the root.

    I also tested mine (over the last three years) with different strengths of vinegar. The normal supermarket variety has the least strength and it will work for most small weeds OK. I purchased 20% and 30% (known as horticultural vinegar) acidity also and tried those and all I got was my weeds died faster and stayed gone longer. But eventually they were right back again anyway.

    So no this wasn't a permanent solution, I just consider it a temporary touch-up.

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