Classic Reader Tips

Though common practice now, many of our readers' tips over the past 70 years were radical for their times.


classic gardening tips from readers of Organic Gardening MagazineCoffee Grounds (July 1947)

It might interest your readers to know that refuse coffee grounds make an excellent earthworm food. If you add old coffee grounds to a compost heap, earthworms multiply very rapidly. This, I feel sure, helps to accelerate the making of compost, not to mention providing a means for disposing of an otherwise useless product.

Philip H. Smith

Pawling, New York

Cabbage Butterflies (May 1952)

Cabbage butterflies are repelled by tomatoes, rosemary, sage, and peppermint, and the asparagus beetle by tomatoes. Such crops can therefore be used as protective inter-crops. Nasturtiums among the fruit trees will reduce destruction by aphids. The flea beetle shuns tomatoes and is driven away by shade, and dislikes a crumbly soil.

L.F. Easterbrook

Garlic-Pepper Spray Stops Bugs (January 1968)

To control insects, I use powdered garlic and black pepper in equal parts in a pint of hot water. Let it sit till it cools by about half, then strain through a dairy straining pad or something similar. This mix has done exceptionally well for me. It sprays easily from a hand sprayer and really stops the bugs.

Martin Stansbury

Tremont, Illinois

Shovel Sifter (October 1979)

A large aluminum snow shovel drilled full of holes is great for sifting soil over seedbeds. Simply scoop, shake, and watch the fine soil stream down as the shovel collects the rocks.

Treska Lindsay

Arden, North Carolina