Beer is, quite often, the solution, but not just to drink but also to use in your garden too. Here, db shares 10 inventive green-fingered hacks, gathered from horticultural sources, on how to use leftover Christmas beer in January to help your garden thrive in time for spring.
1. Compost jump starter
One of the single best uses for unfinished opened beer is as a compost pile jump starter. The sugars and yeast in beer are excellent for your compost pile. Simply pour it over your compost pile and then stir or turn it when required.
2. Fungi killer
Beer can be used as an effective fungicide for your plants. Just make a mixture of beer and water in a 2:1 ratio and use it to treat the affected area or use a cloth to apply it directly to the problem spot. Reapply every few days as required until the problem is gone. This is a great way to treat fungal outbreaks on weakened plant and tree limbs before it spreads.
3. Slug and snail killer
Snails love the smell of beer and are attracted to it, so all you need to do is leave a bowl or bucket of leftover beer near where they are known to congregate and they will crawl in.
The hops in some beers contain a lot of potassium, which is great for plant growth, and the yeast is full of nutrients that help promote healthy roots. Leave the beer open for a few days and then use it as a fertiliser by diluting it with water (about 1 part beer to 10 parts water) and pour it around the base of your plants. Try not to get any on the leaves, as this can cause brown spots, but if poured into the soil your plants will respond to the nutrients.
5. Grass greener
Take your leftover beer, anywhere from six to 12 bottles depending on the size of the patch that needs some attention and then add two to four tablespoons of molasses to it. Mix well until the molasses are dissolved. Pour this mixture into a garden sprayer and spray the solution over the patch of grass you wish to green up.
6. Wasp bait
Wasps and hornets are attracted to the smell of beer. Take 2-litre milk bottle and cut the top off just below the shoulder. Next, invert the neck, cap removed, and place it into the bottle, fitting it snugly and taping if needed. Pour some beer into the neck until it is about half full and set it or hang it outside near where you have seen wasps congregating or wherever they usually bother you. Make sure you take care when emptying it.
7. Butterfly attractant
Beer is great butterfly bait, only this time, we aren’t using it to trap and kill the helpful pollinators but as a way to attract then to your garden and keep it safe for them. Either leave the beer open for a few days or use non-alcoholic beer. All you must do is put it in a shallow dish and then tightly cover it with mesh or a coarse cloth. This will keep the butterflies from reaching the beer but they will quickly move on to visiting your other plants and flowers in no time. Try hanging the pan from a nearby branch or even affixing it to a fencepost for best results and keep it off the ground as butterflies don’t like to drink from ground level.
8. Remove rust from garden tools
Soak the rusted tool in beer for about 20 minutes to a few hours, or even overnight in the case of severely rusted tools, then scrub with a stiff brush or steel wool. The acid content will help to loosen and remove the rust while the carbonation works to dislodge it from nooks and crannies.
9. Spruce up ornamental plants
Mix one part of beer (well rested) with 10 parts of water and use it to water your plants as usual. The nutrients in the beer will help to perk up wilting or yellowing leaves, giving your plants a healthy green colour.
10. Tree protector
Mix around six bottles or cans of beer with one cup of washing up liquid. Stir thoroughly and then add the solution to a garden sprayer. Then, thorou ghly spray the solution all around the base of your trees, making sure to get the mixture on the bark and exposed roots.This will create a barrier that pests will have a hard time getting past while also nourishing the tree. Reapply as necessary, especially after heavy rain or if you notice any new infestations.