Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Your Garden ~ House Hold Fertilizers


    Now that you have your garden planted and it's starting to grow, you need to make sure the fruits of your labor are realized.  There are multiple ways for you to fertilize your garden from items you can find around your home.  The three we are going to focus on today are coffee grounds, banana peels and egg shells.

    I recognize that not everyone drinks coffee and even if you don't, you can still use grounds from your local coffee shop or diner, just be sure to ask them to collect them for you.  Before we closed our coffee shop, we did this for a patron and ourselves and it worked out great.  Now we just use the grounds we create from serving guests at the bed and breakfast.  We have a collection bucket outside that we toss the used grounds into everyday.  That way it's ready to use when we need it.  

    Why use coffee grounds on your garden?  Coffee grounds work as a natural fertilizer.  Applied directly to the garden area, it can help with drainage, adding microorganisms and the attracting of helpful earthworms.   If you have gone so far as to start your own compost pile to create your own "brown gold" the addition of coffee grounds will help introduce nitrogen to the material as it composts down.  Be sure to place your grounds around the appropriate plants, not all plants like the acidity of coffee grounds, especially tomatoes, sunflowers and carrots.  You can also use the coffee grounds to create a pest repellant for pest such as slugs.  I have noticed some slugs around my greens, so we will be adding grounds to those plants.  

    Egg shells are another very easy option to add to your garden.  Almost everyone eats or cooks with eggs in one way or another.  We collect the egg shells in an old mushroom container and let them dry out, squash them down and add more.  Once they can no longer be effectively squashed down and are dry enough, we grind them up to make an egg shell powder.  The egg shells add calcium to the plants and can help prevent rot on the blossom end of tomatoes, for example.  

    We also used egg shells on our indoor plants to help keep away little flying bugs.  The shells worked similar to diatomaceous earth and collect on the exoskeleton of the bug and kill them.  We blend up the shells to create a powder because they break down into the soil quicker than whole shells do.  You can add the ground shells directly to the soil as an amendment or to your compost pile to add calcium back into your soil.

    Banana peels have some many wonderful uses in the garden and I think are one of the most prolific of choices for fertilizer, insect replant and overall soil health.  Our first choice and how we prepared our banana peels for this is a banana peel tea.  We soaked our banana peels in water for at least 48 hours, and then discarded the peel, into the compost pile, and watered our plants with the new banana peel tea.

    But wait there's more.  You can directly sow your banana peels into the soil.  Chop them up into smaller pieces and mix into your garden bed directly.  The peels will break down and release the nutrients into the soil for your plants to use and flourish.  Why is potassium important to your garden's health?  Potassium is important for root and seed production, as well as support to tolerate extreme temperatures. With that Texas heat right around the corner, be sure to add in some peels to help your plants out with the change in temperature. 

    Our favorite and most effective way to use banana peels is to create a spray, using dried banana peels, egg shells, and Epson salt.  The banana peels are for potassium, the egg shells calcium and Epson salt is for magnesium.  Add your dried ingredients into a spray bottle and then top with water.  This spray is a step up from banana peel tea and can utilize fewer bananas but cover more plants.   You can quickly dry your banana peels in a 140 degree oven, set on a cookie sheet without the pieces touching.  Leave the oven door slightly open and the peels inside until dried.  

    Either way, don't throw your left over items into the trash but make something out of the waste from your kitchen.  No matter if it is egg shells, coffee grounds or banana peels, help Mother Nature out with a little bit of kitchen recycling, and watch your garden grow even better.  Just remember a little bit goes a long way and not every plant will enjoy every choice, so be sure to know which plants need what for optimal growth.  

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