Self-sufficient gardeners avoid the use of pre-packaged fertilizers and soil from the store. But chances are you have plenty of items in your house that can be used to fertilize your garden, saving you money and time – and giving your vegetables a healthy boost.
Let’s take a look:
1. Coffee grounds. Do you start the day with an overflowing cup of coffee? Those dried coffee grounds add nitrogen, potassium and magnesium to your garden — all vital nutrients for the growth of your plants. Just remember that coffee grounds can change the pH of your soil, possibly affecting plants that need a delicate balance.
2. Tea bags. If you aren’t a coffee drinker, tea bags have a very similar effect on the soil as coffee grounds. Remove the tea grounds from the bags and allow them to dry before application. Many gardeners notice tea grounds are particularly beneficial around tomatoes.
3. Egg shells. Your chickens can contribute to more than just breakfast. Egg shells are a fantastic calcium source.
After breakfast, wash out the shells and let them dry. Break the shells into smaller pieces and put them in the ground when planting tomatoes. You also can add them around the base of already-planted tomatoes. Tomatoes require more calcium than other plants.
4. Fish scraps. Early Pilgrims had trouble growing crops when they arrived in North America, mostly because of nutrient-lacking soil. The Indians who came to their aid, including the famous Squanto, taught the Pilgrims a trick – burying fish with the seeds. You don’t need to plant multiple fish inside of your garden, but using the scraps can help.
If you have an aquarium, don’t dump the water down the drain. Use this water to hydrate your garden beds and potted plants. The fish waste provides vitamins to the plants without any extra steps for you! If you filet a fish, save the bones and scraps. Some gardeners like to puree them with water and milk, creating a strong fertilizing mixture. You could bury scraps, as well.
6. Wood ash: Those who have a wood stove or fireplace have a free source of fertilizer, adding potassium and calcium carbonate to the soil. Remember never to use the ash if you added anything else! Ash is an easy way to increase your soil pH, so don’t use it if your soil is alkaline. Ash also can keep slugs away from your plants.
7. Bananas. Do you have kids who eat bananas like candy? Don’t toss those peels! Putting them in your compost pile is a good first step. You also can put them right into your garden to give the soil a quick potassium boost. Peels degrade fairly quickly, and they don’t produce a nasty odor. A benefit of using banana peels is that they repel pests!
8. Grass clippings. Free makes everything better, and you likely have an unending source of grass clippings. Yard waste is the perfect organic matter to add to your garden. Add them to your garden to work as mulch. Every time you mow and rake, continue to add more. As it decomposes into the soil, grass clippings release nitrogen.
Powdered milk. Do you have powdered milk in your cabinet that is past expiration? Don’t throw it away! You can mix one part milk into four parts water. (You also can use expired milk in your fridge for this.) Milk is a fantastic source of calcium for more than just humans! It also contains proteins, vitamin B, and sugars that improve the overall health of the plant. Plants that are failing to grow to their full potential can benefit from a boost in calcium. Milk also helps with blossom end root, commonly ailing squash, tomatoes and pepper plants.
What would you add to our list? Share your gardening tips in the section below: