Chicago Home and Lifestyles – Vinegar in the Garden

Vinegar is a great weed killer with no nasty chemicals. Do be careful, however. Vinegar is five percent acetic acid, so it will be absorbed into the weed leaves and will kill from the leaves down. Use vinegar sparingly and be careful to not get it on good plants or over wet due to its acidity.

The smell of vinegar is offensive to many animals and other pests we want to keep out of the garden. Soak old rags in vinegar and leave them around the perimeter of the garden. Replace the rags regularly, especially after a rain. It will repel deer, raccoons, rabbits, and even wards off snakes.

Slugs and snails can slowly devour your garden. Spray these pests with vinegar to dissolve them quick. It is a bit gross, so use the previous method to keep these pests away. 

Vinegar can hasten seed germination. Place your seeds in a bowl and barely cover them with water, add two tablespoons of vinegar, and soak overnight. The vinegar softens the hard shell around the seed, encouraging germination. Be sure not to soak over 12 hours. 

Another use of vinegar is to use it to clean your garden tools. Soak your tools overnight in a solution of half vinegar and half water. Rinse and wash with soap and water scrubbing with steel wool. Your tools will be bright and sparkling.

We know many flowering plants love acid. Hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons, gardenias, and hollies all can benefit from a dose of acid. Add one cup of vinegar to each gallon of water, then water as usual.

Vinegar is also antifungal. Black spots on the leaves of plants can indicate a fungus. This happens especially in areas that tend to stay wet. Add three tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a gallon of water. Place in a spray bottle and spray over the affected areas. 

Clean your garden bricks and dividers. Scrub the bricks with a solution of one cup vinegar to one gallon of water. This will rinse the lime and calcium away.

Clean the birdbath with a solution of one part vinegar to nine parts water. It is safe for birds as regular soap tends to strip bird feathers of their oil. More birds in the garden will keep the insect pests at bay as they are natural for birds.

Do you have any other uses for vinegar in the garden?