Looking for a gardening material that is versatile, low cost, durable, reusable and can be composted? Try cheesecloth! With a multitude of uses, cheesecloth is handy to have around as you tend your garden.
The #1 source of cheesecloth of all grades, bleached, unbleached and colored, is Cheesecloth.com . They provided me with a wonderful sample of bleached/Grade 50 cheesecloth and the challenge to come up with as many garden uses for it as I could. So, I set to work. Here are some great ideas for trying cheesecloth in your garden, too!
Here’s an old-timey tip to keep critters from munching on your garden. Tie a strip of cheesecloth to a stake or stick and put a little ammonia on the cloth. Place the stakes in the affected area and renew the ammonia every few days or after rain. The smell will discourage those marauders from dining in your vegetable patch.
Make compost tea. You can mix up your own natural liquid fertilizer for watering the garden and houseplants. Just one trowel full of compost and a gallon of water will feed your plants for pennies!
Cheesecloth is a traditional row cover for starting plants and protecting them from the elements and insects. It is reusable and, when worn out, compostable! Extend the season in spring and fall by shielding your early and late crops with cheesecloth. Keep the plastics out of the garden and go natural with these light weight fabric row covers.
Young trees and shrubs sometimes need support as they get established in the planting bed. Soft cheesecloth strips are perfect for tying them upright as they settle in! Older shrubs heave during the winter? Pull them gently back into place with cheesecloth ties, too.
Need a screen and/or shade for your garden shed or greenhouse? Hang or staple cheesecloth inside the window to diffuse the light and keep bugs out.
Making your own Kokedama (Japanese bonsai planting form) is a fun way to use cheesecloth! First, select a small house plant such as a begonia, pothos or fern to work with. Then follow the easy directions below. Kokedama can be displayed suspended or on decor items. They make wonderful home accents and gifts.
Sprouting fresh microgreens to add to salads, shakes and other dishes is practically free, but they cost a lot at the market! Simply replace the top insert of a canning jar with a cut square of cheesecloth (or recycle a clean food jar and rubberband the cloth to it) for a quick homemade sprouter. Soak the beans or seed you choose overnight, then rinse twice daily by filling and draining the jar, until the sprouts emerge. Keep the jar near the sink so you remember to rinse but out of direct sunlight. In just a few days you will have homegrown sprouts, little power houses of nutrition! (Note: buy untreated seeds & beans for sprouting at a grocery or health food store.)
Cut two squares of cheesecloth slightly larger than the finished bag size desired, stitch up three of the sides and turn inside out. Your cloth bag is now ready to fill! Make your own reusable tea bags or bouquet garni herb sachets tied off with baker’s twine. Fill with homemade potpourri of dried flowers and add a pretty ribbon tie for freshening a linen closet or blanket chest. An aromatic bag of fresh herbs added to the bath is very refreshing, too. Best of all, the bags can be rinsed out and used again and again!
Here are some additional ideas for utilizing cheesecloth in the garden
- place a square of cheesecloth over drainage holes in pots before planting
- wrap strongly scented soap, such as Irish Spring, in cheesecloth and hang it on shrubs and small trees to deter deer
- lightly cover plants that don’t need pollination such as leafy greens, broccoli and potatoes to keep bug pests at bay
- support and protect melons and fruits as they grow
- use as a row cover/sunscreen for newly planted or sprouting seedlings
- shade delicate or newly planted perennials and shrubs from heat & drought
- bundle and wrap fresh cut herbs in cheesecloth and hang in a cool, dry place to dry
- strain crushed berries to make jams & jellies
- strain soup stocks & broths made with your harvest
- cover food items at your outdoor picnic
- decorate an outdoor trellis with cheesecloth and flowers for a special event such as a wedding or outdoor tea
You will really appreciate the variety of cheesecloth available at www.cheesecloth.com . They also have pre-made bags, rolls, boxed and colored cheesecloth as well as Rymple cloth, crinoline, muslin fabric and burlap for weddings.
Have you come up with an inventive use for cheesecloth in the garden? I’d love to hear it! Drop me a line!