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What Else Can We Put In The Garden?Master Gardener Scoop – Oct. 14, 2015

Master Gardener Scoop.pdf

By Majo Bates,

Master Gardener

We have looked at coffee and eggshells as a good source of kitchen scraps to put on our gardens or in the compost pile. Let’s look at a few other things that I have researched.

I use banana peels to fertilize my roses. I chop the peels up and pile them around the base of my roses and then cover them with a layer of pine needles. Many people are excited to find out they can use banana peels as fertilizer. Using banana peels in compost is a great way to add both organic material and some very important nutrients to your compost mix. Putting the whole banana peel in is probably not the greatest thing to do as it takes longer to break down, so I would cut them up. Just remember this is actually FREE! Next time you are enjoying a healthy banana snack, making banana pudding or the like, remember that your compost pile (and eventually your garden) would appreciate getting the banana peels that are left over.

Let’s look at human and pet hair. I have read that it is a great fertilizer for tomatoes and flowers. The hair contains many nutrients, mainly keratin, and is valuable protein that helps plants establish strong root systems. Hair breaks down slowly, which makes for a great slow-release fertilizer. Just plop a tuft of hair into the hole when planting and you are on your way. I would cut it up so that the roots have a chance to dig down and establish a good stand.

You know the stuff that comes out of the vacuum cleaner bag? It makes for some good fertilizer. Yes, really! The stuff that your vacuum sucks up is full of nutrients that come from hair and dead dust mites–good for your tomatoes and flowers.

I’ve read where Tums are not really a fertilizer, but it has been used to help boost calcium in the soil. I have heard of people dissolving Tums in water and then pouring it around tomato plants and their flowers. Personally, I have never tried this and prefer to raise calcium levels, if needed, in other manners. But it is an interesting idea.

Fish or fish scraps including the bones can also be useful. Put fish scraps and bones in a blender and puree. Combine two cups of the puree with water and one cup of milk for a supercharged fertilizing concoction. The ground-up fish scraps will provide some powerful nutrients, while the milk will provide disease control. I remember my dad putting a whole fish in the row when he planted corn seed. I’ve read where the American Indians used fish and fish parts to fertilize their gardens. I had a neighbor here in Irvington that used small fish in her garden.

Used tea bags have a similar effect as coffee grounds. They are a great fertilizer and mulch around plants. Make sure to remove the tea grounds from the bags and dry out the coffee grounds before using in the garden.

And then there is human urine. I read where there have been studies that show human urine is a superb fertilizer for tomatoes, most other vegetables and flowers. Fresh human urine is said to be sterile and, therefore, bacteria free (unless you have a urinary tract infection, at which time you should not use urine as a fertilizer). It might be a great fertilizer, but I don’t think I want to use it anytime soon!

I am very intrigued by all of these unusual items I’ve used and read about to fertilize my garden. If you have some unusual ideas, I wish you would contact me. I’d be glad to share them and try them.

I like to end my articles with: God started it all in a garden! I just like that whole idea. Enjoy yours!

What Else Can We Put In The Garden?