Baking soda is one of those amazing natural products that has a myriad of uses around the home and garden so if you like the idea of using natural pest and weed control, here are just 21 ways to use baking soda in the garden.
Baking soda is basically just sodium bicarbonate. This is made up of 57.1% sodium, 27.4% oxygen, 14.3% carbon and 1.2% hydrogen.
1. As A Path And Driveway Weeder
Sprinkle or sweep baking soda in a thick layer into the cracks of your paving, paths and driveways. The soda should kill small weeds already growing and will prevent new ones from coming up.
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2. To Treat And Prevent Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is a white fungal infection which is mainly found on vegetables like pumpkin, courgettes, cucumber, peas, beans and even Swiss chard. It can also attack flowering plants like impatiens, lilacs and zinnias.
While baking soda won’t actually kill the fungus, it can be used as a preventative to stop fungal spores from taking hold.
So, before you reach for the baking soda to make a spray, remove as many of the affected leaves as possible and throw these in the trash. Once the leaves are infected, there’s really no effective natural control that will make the fungus disappear.
Once you’ve removed the infected leaves, make up the following solution to use as a preventative to stop further fungal spores from latching onto the leaves.
Mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 gallon of water, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid. Spray this onto your plants weekly and try to apply on overcast days to avoid burning the foliage.
3. To Control Cabbage Green Caterpillar Or Cabbage Worms
These bright green caterpillars are the larvae of the white cabbage butterfly and love to munch on your brassicas like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbages.
Mix together 50% flour with 50% baking soda (equal parts) and dust onto infected plants. Much easier than picking off the little culprits by hand!
4. As A Preventative For Black Spot Fungus Found Mainly On Roses
The best way to handle black spot which discolors your foliage and can be quite unsightly, is to first remove the infected leaves and remember to put them in the trash NOT the compost heap.
Then make a spray of 2 tablespoons baking soda, 2 tablespoons white oil and 1 gallon of water. Spray your plants and then remember to spray again as new foliage starts to appear. You can also use this mixture on grapes and other vines when the fruit first appears.
Important Fact: While baking soda will not kill the fungal spores that are already infecting your plants, it does have the capacity to prevent future fungal spores from infecting your plants. This is why it’s important to spray any new foliage that appears to limit fungal infection. The reason this works so well is that the baking powder solution will actually change the pH on the leaves and this inhibits fungal growth.
5. As A Crab Grass Killer
Crabgrass can be very difficult to remove so try this method.
Firstly wet the crabgrass and then dust it with baking soda from the box. You can also make a paste with water and then apply it to the crabgrass with a paintbrush.
6. Keep Your Tomatoes Safe From Pests And Diseases
Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda around your tomato plants when they’re young to deter pests such as snails and slugs. Or, make a diluted mixture of baking soda and water to spray on your plants to get rid of aphids.
You can also make up a spray with vegetable oil to prevent fungal diseases such as leaf spot, powdery mildew and early blight. Mix 1 gallon (4 litres) of water with 1 tablespoon of bicarb and 2 and a half tablespoons of vegetable oil. Add a little dish soap to the mixture so that it adheres better to the plants.
7. To Kill Slugs
Sprinkle bicarb directly on slugs to kill them. You can also sprinkle some on the soil around your plants to deter slugs and snails from eating your precious plants. Remember to be very careful not to get it on your plants though as straight baking soda will burn them.
8. To Clean And Freshen Your Waste And Recycling Bins
Because baking soda absorbs odors, it’s the perfect solution for cleaning those smelly waste and recycling bins. It’s also mildly alkaline and this helps to dissolve dirt and grime more easily.
So, try putting a thick layer of baking soda in the bottom of your waste bins after you’ve washed them out. They’ll smell much better!
9. To Clean And Freshen Up All Your Garden Furniture
Just mix up some bicarb with some dish soap in water and wipe generously over your outdoor furniture before rinsing off. All the dirt and dust will come away easily and your furniture will look like new again.
For really stubborn stains, you can make up a paste of baking soda and dish soap to give your furniture a good scrub. However, avoid using baking soda on metal furniture as this can cause the metal to corrode.
10. Cleaning And Sprucing Up Your Bird Bath
We all know just how effective baking soda is as a cleaner. Therefore, because it’s non-toxic, it’s the perfect solution for cleaning your birdbath. Just mix the baking soda with some pure soap flakes and use a scrubbing brush or damp cloth to clean away dirt, mildew and other stains. Your birdbath will look like new again and the birds will happily frolic in it once you fill it with clean water.
11. Make Up A Mixture To Control Aphids And Other Sap-Sucking Insects
Here’s a simple mixture you can make up to spray on your plants to help control aphids and other types of sap-sucking insects.
In a 2-gallon bucket of water, throw in 3 tablespoons of bicarb, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of pure soap flakes. Add 2 tablespoons of vinegar to the mixture and stir well.
You can then pour this concoction into a smaller spray bottle and use it to spray all your plants on which sap-suckers like to congregate.
Just be careful not to spray any beneficial insects such as aphids, bees or hoverflies.
If you see these on your plants, stop spraying immediately and let these take care of the pest insects for you.
12. Keep Your Cut Flowers Fresher For Longer
If you love having freshly cut flowers in the house, then I’m sure that you’ve heard about putting sugar in the water to make them last longer. Well, you can do the same thing by adding a little baking soda to the water.
Just make sure you change the water and re-cut the stems every few days.
13. Get Rid Of Squash Bugs On Your Vegetables
These annoying pests can wreak havoc on your vegetable crops especially things like squash, pumpkins and zucchinis. As sap suckers, they cause damage to young plants and those that are flowering and can be quite difficult to get rid of.
You can try to get rid of these annoying and damaging pests by making up a solution of baking soda and neem oil. You could also add some minced onion and garlic to this mixture. This should make it unattractive to many bugs in your garden.
Make sure that you dilute the mixture with water before spraying it on your plants to get rid of the bugs. Remember though, that this will not get rid of or kill the eggs of these pests.
Therefore, you have to be vigilant and continue to spray your plants with the mixture until all the bugs are gone and there are no eggs left to hatch.
14. Use It As A Hand Deodorizer
If you’re not in the habit of wearing gloves while you’re working in the garden, your hands are likely to get quite dirty and will also absorb the odors from strongly scented plants.
Even if you do wear gloves, you might find that your hands will absorb the odor of the gloves! You can remedy this quickly and easily by using baking soda.
Just wash your hands normally with soap and water and use a brush to get any dirt from under your nails. Then, sprinkle some baking soda on your palms and rub this into your hands. Rinse off the baking soda and your hands will feel good as new.
Top Tip: Baking soda is very good at absorbing odors, so if you’re in the kitchen and have just cut up some onions or minced some garlic, you can use this same tip to remove the lingering odor from your hands.
15. Clean Those Lovely Old Clay Pots Hiding In Your Garage
Do you have some lovely old clay pots hiding away at the back of your garage or garden shed? Or, maybe you just picked up a handful from a garage sale down the road. The good news is that you can give these pots a new lease of life by cleaning them with baking soda.
Make a cleaning paste by mixing some baking soda with water. You want a pasty consistency similar to a body lotion. Using a damp sponge, rub this mixture into your pots, taking extra care to work on any of the stubborn salt spots on the pots.
Once you’ve rubbed the pots all over with the baking soda mixture, leave them to dry without rinsing for around 20 minutes or so. When the time is up, give the pots a good rinse under clear water and right before your eyes, the pots should come out looking clean and lovely again.
16. Clean And Sterilize Your Potting Bench Or Table
If you’re like me, you probably do all your potting on a bench or table in the garage or garden shed. If you don’t clean this area on a regular basis, it can easily harbor diseases that you may have brought in from the soil in the pots.
Even pots that you’ve purchased from a garden center might have some sol-borne diseases that you simply won’t be aware of. That’s why it’s important to clean and scrub your potting table or bench on a regular basis.
Of course, you can use baking soda for this! Make up a mixture of 4 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 quart of warm water. Use a small scrubbing brush to scrub down your bench or table with this mixture. Then, rinse off with some warm to hot water.
17. Use Baking Soda To Control Weeds In Your Garden Beds
We already know that baking soda will kill the weeds that come up in your garden paths but you can also use it carefully to kill weeds in your garden beds.
As you’re doing this, you have to be careful not to get any of the baking soda on your treasured plants as it will damage them as well.
To treat the weeds only, just dampen them first with some water using a watering can or the hose. Then, very carefully, sprinkle some baking soda evenly over the foliage of the weeds.
Once again, take extra care not to spill any of the baking soda on your precious plants.
18. Make Your Own Garden Soil Testing Kit Using Baking Soda
While soil testing kits are readily available, you can easily make your own to determine whether your soil is acidic or alkaline. Soil pH is usually measured in the range of 0 to 14.
A pH level of 7 means that your soil is neutral while anything below this number means you have acidic soil and anything above 7 means you have alkaline soil. The degree of acidity or alkalinity will depend on how far up or down the scale the pH of your soil sits.
It can be really handy to get an idea of whether your soil is neutral, acidic or alkaline as certain plants prefer different soil conditions.
By using baking soda, you can test if your soil is acidic and with the addition of some standard household vinegar, you can check whether your soil is alkaline.
Here’s what you need to do to test your soil:
- Grab 2 clean cups and half-fill them with some soil that you’ve dug from your garden.
- Add enough water to each cup until you end up with mud.
- Add half a cup of vinegar to one of the cups and stir.
- If the soil in this cup starts to bubble and fizz, then you have alkaline soil.
- For the other cup, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on top of the soil.
- If you notice bubbles forming in the baking soda, then your soil is acidic.
If you don’t end up with any bubbling in either cup, then your soil is likely to be neutral. While this method won’t give you an accurate pH reading, it will certainly give you an indication of where your soil sits on the pH scale.
19. Get Rid Of Ant Hills
While ants are common in all gardens and they don’t really do any damage to our plants, having an ant hill in the middle of your garden beds or your vegetable garden can be quite annoying. Especially if you want to work in the garden bed or tend to your vegetables.
You can get rid of the ant hill by using baking soda. Just moisten the top of the mound with some water and then sprinkle the top with around two cups of baking soda. Leave this for around half an hour.
Next, pour one cup of white vinegar over the top of the mound. This should effectively get rid of the ants.
20. Make An Insect Repellant Spray Using Baking Soda
Do you have a lovely outdoor area that you like spending time in during the warmer months? Is your enjoyment spoiled by the number of mosquitos that like to invade your personal space?
You can make an effective insect-repellant spray for this area using baking soda, mustard oil and water. Here’s what to do:
Mix together one teaspoon of baking soda with one-third of a cup of mustard oil. Put this mixture into a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid and mix well. Store this in your garage or garden shed.
When you start to notice the mozzies buzzing around, grab a spray bottle and add 2 tablespoons of the baking soda and mustard mixtures and 1 cup of water that is warm. Shake the spray bottle to mix up the ingredients.
You can now spray this mixture all around your outdoor area to repel those pesky mozzies and any other bugs that might want to annoy you.
21. Clean Up Oil Spills In The Garage
If you’ve accidentally spilt some oil from your mower in the garage, you can quickly and easily clean this up using baking soda.
Just cover the oil stain with a thick layer of baking soda. Leave it like that for at least fifteen minutes or longer if possible. After this time has expired, use a stiff garden broom to sweep up the baking soda.
You might need to clean the stain a little more by making up a mixture of baking soda, salt and dish soap. Make this mixture into a paste and use it to scrub the stained area. Rinse well and the stain should be gone.
Want to know more about using baking soda in the garden? Check out this article:
Frequently Asked Questions
While baking soda is commonly used in the kitchen to make baked goods, here are some other uses you might not know about:
– It is used in fire extinguishers to create the foam
– It is commonly used as a household cleaning agent and can get water stains off sinks
– Baking soda is also commonly used in the manufacture of skincare products
When you add baking soda to water, it produces carbonic acid. This is just another form of carbon dioxide.
Baking soda is a natural product that is used in cooking as well as many other household applications. This means that it is completely toxic-free.
No, it’s unwise to add baking soda to the compost pile as it may slow down the composting process. If your compost pile is particularly smelly, it means that you don’t have the right mixture of green and brown materials. Check out my article on how to make compost to work out what you should be doing.
As you can see, there are many ways that you can use baking soda in the garden to deal with a range of pests, diseases and even weeds. Plus, baking soda makes a great cleaning agent for many of the things that you have around the garden.
I do hope that you’ve found all of these tips handy and that they help you to be more sustainable in your home and your garden.