Closeup of toothpicks in wooden container
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How A Toothpick Can Help Your Garden Seedlings Grow
It can be strange to see toothpicks sticking out of the dirt in a garden, but savvy growers know how helpful they are in keeping away pests and checking hydration levels.
Toothpicks are typically made of a natural, porous material, such as bamboo or vegetable starch, and are inexpensive, costing less than $2 for a pack of 500 at Walmart.
The porosity of toothpicks makes them helpful dew detectors through a process called hygroscopy. Water in the soil is attracted to the dry toothpick and absorbed into it.
Place a toothpick into the soil next to your plant and pull it out again. If crumbs of dirt stick to a damp toothpick, there’s a lot of moisture, and you can skip watering that day.
Toothpicks may also help keep cutworms away, according to some expert sites like the University of Minnesota Extension, though there’s little official research on the method.
Cutworms curl tightly around the stem of the plant it’s about to eat. Push one or more toothpicks into the soil parallel to the stem to create a barrier that will block them.