Ways to Use Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) in Your Yard and Garden
Whether you need an odor reducer or a sweetener for your growing tomatoes, baking soda is for you.
By Suzy Scherr
The Baking SodaCompanion(Countryman Press, 2018), by Suzy Scherr is filled with useful ideas for using baking soda. Scherr shares helpful cleaning tips as well as some unique recipes for many things other than baking. Find this excerpt in “Outdoor Uses for Baking Soda.”
Compost Bin Odor Reducer
When I finally decided to start composting, I’d already spent a lot of time thinking about it. After we’d left the city, I had fewer and fewer excuses for not doing it. We had the space, we would be sending less waste to landfills, our struggling- but- brimming- with- potential garden would surely become amazing, and we’d likely learn something from the process. The concept, while somewhat intimidating, seemed like it would be satisfying and felt like the right thing to do. I worried about the smell, though. Would my house stink? My yard? As it turns out, composting isn’t a big deal at all, and if you’re doing it right, odor isn’t usually an issue. We keep a small bin in our kitchen that we dump into a larger heap in our backyard when it gets full. Most of the time there’s no smell, although we do occasionally find that the indoor bin can develop somewhat of a funk, something that I’ve learned is easily overcome with the help of baking soda, which reduces the acidity of compost. To keep your compost smells at bay, try this technique:
Makes 1 packet
1 old sock
1/4 to 1 cup baking soda, depending on the size of your bin
1. Fill the sock with baking soda, then close securely with twine, a rubber band, or a twist tie.
2. Place in the bottom of the compost bin.
3. Replace every 1 to 3 months.
Rx for Grass that Pets Love
Growing up, our family’s dog, Senorita Bandita (Bandi, for short), loved to frolic in our backyard. She was a sweet dog, but she’d flunked out of obedience school, partly for her lack of social skills, so she spent a lot of time on her own behind our house. Frolicking. Alas, with happy dog frolicking comes happy dog peeing. And with happy dog peeing comes not- so- happy brown spots on a lawn. Dog pee, which is heavy in acid and nitrogen, actually burns the grass, which is unsightly, to say the least. There are several chemical solutions to this very common problem but I recommend a natural approach. Pouring a baking soda mixture directly on burn spots neutralizes the intensity of the ammonia and nitrogen that are in the urine and restores the scorched grass to green beauty. It’s effective for the lawn and healthy for frolicking dogs, who might otherwise ingest toxic lawn chemicals when they lick their paws.
For 1 use
2 tablespoons baking soda
1 gallon water
1. Dissolve baking soda in a gallon of water.
2. Pour the baking soda mixture over the spot where the pet has urinated. The baking soda will neutralize the ammonia and nitrogen present in the urine, preventing the grass from turning brown.
Tomato Plant Sweetener
Maybe it’s that they come in a rainbow of colors or that every variety is distinctive, but there’s something about homegrown tomatoes that makes me swoon. When they’re in season, I can’t get enough of their sweet deliciousness. But, contrary to popular belief, not all tomato plants give off sweet tomatoes— even homegrown ones. The actual flavor of a tomato comes from a combination of the plant chemistry and variables that are present in their growing location such as air temperature, soil type, and the amount of sun and rain in a growing season. Of course, some of those factors are within your control and some are not. You may not have power over the weather, but you can treat your garden soil to encourage ideal tomato- ness! When setting the scene for your next bumper crop of sweet and juicy tomatoes, try adding a bit of baking soda to the soil. It lowers the acidity level, giving you crops that are more sweet than tart.
Treats 1 plant
1/4 cup baking soda per tomato plant
1. When tomatoes begin to appear and are about 1 inch in diameter, lightly sprinkle baking soda on the soil around each plant, being careful not to get the baking soda on the plant itself.
2. Repeat when the tomatoes are about halfway grown.
5 more uses for baking soda in the garden:
1. Eliminate powdery mildew: Mix 1 tablespoon baking soda, 1 gallon water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and 1 tablespoon dish soap. Spray weekly on affected plants.
2. Refresh rose bushes: Water roses with 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon clear ammonia, and 1 teaspoon Epsom salt in a gallon of water.
3. Make a fungicide: Combine a gallon of water with 1 tablespoon baking soda, 21/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of castile soap. Spray on the foliage of diseased plants.
4. Test your soil pH: Wet the soil and sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto it. If the baking soda bubbles, your soil is acidic with a pH level under 5.
5. Repel garden pests: Rabbits, ants, silver fish, and roaches don’t like baking soda. Sprinkle it on the perimeter of your garden to keep them away.