There are some moments in the life of a gardener that make the whole mucky process worthwhile.
Reviving a sick plant. Smelling some mint after the rain. And yes, of course, chowing down on a perfect, home-grown tomato (not to be That Person, but you really can never go back once you’ve tried the real deal).
Still, the plant can be a little fussy and tricky to grow. Frustrated gardeners have long turned to hacks to get their plants to behave, including everything from plucking off flimsier leaves to tapping the plant to release its pollen.
However, gardeners have increasingly been relying on an unexpected hack to produce “huge and insect-free” tommies.
Aspirin – yes, over-the-counter, regular aspirin – apparently causes the fruits to flourish.
Here’s why it works, and how you can administer the meds to your ailing (or maybe just less-than-spectacular) tomato plants.
So, why aspirin?
If you’ve dabbled in skincare, chances are you will have heard of salicylic acid.
The chemical is known for cleansing pores and clearing zits. But it also appears to be pretty great for plant growth.
Now, the active ingredient in aspirin is something called acetylsalicylic acid. This then produces salicylic acid and acetic acid when it is dissolved in water.
And another study by the International Society for Horticultural Science showed that salicylic acid increased tomato plant yield.
Because tomato plants produce their own salicylic acid when they’re stressed, some studies suggest that spraying aspirin on plants switches on their defence mode, making them less susceptible to diseases like blight.
“Scientists determined that using the aspirin solution reduced the occurrence of blight by 47 percent,” reports Delish.
Some gardeners, like Martha McBurney, a master gardener at the University of Rhode Island, say that using aspirin has helped to deter insects from her plants – though there aren’t enough studies on this yet to prove it.
So, how do I administer it?
In a way, you give tomato plants aspirin the way you would with a person – mix it with water and let ‘em ‘drink’ it down.
“Dissolve 250mg to 500mg of aspirin in 4.5 litres of water and spray plants two to three times per month,” say Delish.
You don’t need to go heavy on the spray either, so one bottle ought to last you ages.
I mean, for the fairly low effort of mixing some tablets into water and then spritzing some plants a couple of times a month, it’s got to be worth a go, right?