Hot peppers

Want to start an organic garden, but think it takes a lot of money and effort? Don’t be fooled by ads touting you need to buy the latest and greatest spray or must-have garden accessory. Some of the easiest ways to create an organic garden are also the cheapest — using items you already have around the house. These natural solutions will give you a bountiful organic garden with just pennies spent.


Use it to catch and kill slugs naturally. Put a small container (about the size of a glass or canning jar) into the soil so that the lip of the container is even with the surrounding ground. Fill with beer until about 1 inch from the top. When slugs notice the beer, they’ll make their way towards the container and fall down inside. Drunk slugs (sounds like the name of a band) equals healthier plants for you without using insecticides.


Not only great for adding nutrition to plants, but the jagged edges can ward off pests, too. Rinse eggshells to remove as much egg residue as possible. Crush the shells. One great way to do it is to put the shells between two paper towels and use a rolling pin to pulverize them in between the towels. Adding the eggshells to soil will release calcium to surrounding plants’ roots. Layering the top of the soil with eggshells will prevent crawling pests such as slugs and snails from getting close to the plant.

Image courtesy of Kathryn Elliott.


Not for use on plants that you want to keep, but feel free to spray weeds (such as in walkway cracks) and unwanted plants with common household vinegar. Apply in the heat of the sun and watch the vinegar’s acidity wither and kill the plants in just a few hours.

Dish Soap

Insects, such as common ants, can be stopped dead in their tracks with just a few drops of dishwashing detergent. Why? Insects have a waxy outer layer, which a small amount of soap can dissolve. Put a few drops in a small spray bottle, or for bigger bottles use 1 tablespoon of dish soap to about half a gallon of water. Spray directly on ants. Note that this method doesn’t work as well on fire ants or carpenter ants. Got a plant infected with some common insects? The same solution could work well by misting the plants with the soapy mixture. Just be sure to try out a test area, first, to see if your plant can handle the spray and if the insects are killed.


One easy way to prevent weeds is to put a layer of newspaper underneath mulch. The porous paper will allow water to seep into the soil, while preventing sunlight which weed seeds need to germinate. Add two to three sheets of newspaper (newsprint, not the glossy circular ads) underneath mulch. The paper will naturally decompose over the year, ready to be replaced with the next gardening season.


Fallen leaves are gardener’s gold, yet most people throw them in the trash heap. Smaller leaves can be raked and added directly on top of the soil as a mulch. Larger leaves, such as maple, should be shredded, either with a chipper or by running over the leaves with a lawn mower. The leaves will naturally decompose, adding much needed nutrients to the soil and saving money on mulch and compost.

Feature image courtesy of Jessica A. Tucker

By Kimberly Button

Kimberly Button is the author of The Everything Guide to a Healthy Home and the Editor-in-Chief of GetGreenBeWell , featuring modern, sane ideas for living a non-toxic life. A professional journalist for nearly two decades, Button has written for magazines such as Martha Stewart's Whole Living, American Airlines, AAA, Sierra, National Geographic Traveler, and Vegetarian Times. Visit for more information.