It’s true – you don’t have to pay extra money for the best fertilizer around. Here’s why and how to make some from common leftover scraps that most people throw away.
Why: Eggshells nourish the soil by providing a steady source of calcium. Half a teaspoon of dry, powdered eggshell contains approximately 400 mg of calcium. “Calcium is important for division and elongation of cells, the metabolism of nitrogen and the permeability or the ability of nutrients to enter the cell walls, according to the University of Wisconsin. With this in mind, we can understand that plants need calcium to allow plants to absorb nutrients and to grow. Calcium cannot be absorbed into or moved throughout a plant without a transport medium or water, thus the need for adequate moisture for your plants“(Calcium for the Garden).
How: As you use your eggs, set the shells aside and store in the refrigerator. When you have a dozen or so, boil them for about 10 minutes. When boiled, let them dry completely. You can speed the process along by baking them at 2oo degrees for about ten minutes, or until dry. Next, grind them into a powder using a coffee grinder. Add these to your coffee grinds and fish scraps, spreading your mixture evenly around on the soil. If your garden is already started, leaving it on top of the soil is suffice. If not, mix it at least 6 inches into the garden beds.
Why: Coffee grinds are high in nitrogen and, according to Kitchen Gardener Magazine, plants need nitrogen more than any other element. “Nitrogen is the fuel that makes plants go. It’s used to synthesize amino acids, proteins, chlorophyll, nucleic acids, and enzymes“(Kitchen Gardener Magazine).
How: As you drink coffee, save the grinds in a container in the refrigerator if still moist, or in a container out on the counter if they have dried out. Add these to your powdered eggshell and fish scraps, spreading your mixture evenly around on the soil. If your garden is already started, leaving it on top of the soil is suffice. If not, mix it at least 6 inches into the garden beds.
Why: Long before chemical fertilizers were being made, whole fish is what was used to provide nutrients to the soil of a garden. A whole fish is still great to use today, though your scraps are just fine too. When I say fish scraps, I mean the bones, along with any skin and meat you may be discarding with it. Of course, you want your soil rich in nutrients and not heavy metals, so make sure that the fish you are eating and using in your garden comes from safe waters, and is not farm raised. Fish, especially the bones, provide the soil with nitrogen, calcium, trace elements and a good amount of phosphorous. According to Organic Gardening, “plants need phosphorus to develop healthy roots, to bloom, and to form fruits and seeds.”
How: Just chop up whatever scraps you have, including bones and mix with the powdered eggshells and coffee grinds. Obviously you don’t want the fish scraps around in your house for too long, so it’s best to use up your grinds and eggshells when you have the fish. You can also just bury the fish parts in your garden among your plants.
In addition to the above nutrients, gardens need plenty of H2O. Make sure that the water you give them doesn’t contain unnecessary chemicals, as discussed in this post about Garden Hoses.
Compost with kids! Here’s some great resources for teaching children about composting.
Composting Book for Kids View the entire decomposition process
Please note: I serve as an affiliate for Amazon. Any monies earned help me to run and maintain this blog. I only ever recommend items that I have in my own home.