At this time of year gardeners start to plant seeds in the hope of seeing them bloom by springtime. If you’re getting ready to plant your flowerbeds, pots or windowbox; here are a few brilliant gardening hacks that can boost your gardening efforts without costing you a penny.

Soak seeds in warm water

Fed up of planting hundreds of seeds, only to see a couple of measly sprouts? One of the simplest and most effective ways to encourage growth is to actually soak your seeds before you sow them.
Seeds naturally start sprouting when they’re exposed to enough moisture. Germination inhibitors within the plant are drawn out by water, which then allows the plant cells to kick in to action. Though in nature they rely on wet soil to start the process, you can give them a jump start by popping them in their own little bath and ensuring each one gets plenty of the liquid it needs.
Start them in warm water from the tap, allowing it to cool naturally to warm temperature. Then soak for 12-24. Check the instructions for recommended soaking times for your specific seeds, but try not to leave them any longer than 48 hours or the seeds will drown. Plant them as soon as you remove them from the water.

Plant seeds in egg shells/citrus peel

So your seeds are soaked but you’re not sure yet about just throwing them in the cold ground of your flower beds. Instead of purchasing lots of little plastic plant pots, use an old eggshell from your breakfast omelettes. As the saying goes: “you can’t grow a healthy garden without breaking a few eggs”.
Half egg shells are the perfect size for starting off your plant growth, plus they add a calcium boost to the soil which aids strong growth. Not an egg fan? Then try using half a lemon, lime or orange after you’ve squeezed out the juice and removed the flesh. Poke a hole in the bottom for drainage, fill the peel with compost and you’ve got another easy, self-composting plant pot that will add more natural nutrients in to the soil.

Fit coffee filters in to your plant pots

If you’ve ever forgotten to put a tray under a plant pot and found that water just drains straight out and ruins your windowsill, then you’ll appreciate this simple hack. An absorbent coffee filter underneath the soil fits well in small plant pots and will significantly slow down water drainage. Excess water will still get out, if you’ve overwatered but you’ll have more time to catch it and it will have more time to be absorbed by the soil.
But wait, there’s more! Put on a pot of coffee because there’s another element to this clever hack. Old coffee grounds make an excellent fertiliser, and are effective at keeping away pests. So when that coffee’s brewed, make sure you keep that old filter. Your plants are going to want it.

Use wine bottles to water plants

Ah wine, the solution to all life’s problems. If you just don’t have the time to constantly monitor the moisture levels of your plants, then this is a handy trick for ensuring they stay watered without being drowned.
Simply fill up an old wine bottle with water (once you’ve removed the wine of course…), flip it upside down and push the end of the bottle in to the soil, resting the bottle on the edge of the plant pot. The soil should block up the end of the bottle, allowing the water to slowly drain in to the plant pot, saving you from worrying about it drying out.
After all this clever gardening, you deserve a glass of pinot!

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