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Green Acre #432: Garden Remedies From the Kitchen


By Stephanie Cavanaugh

ON THE EIGHTH day, the Lord sayeth, My jungles appear withered, the hibiscus hath ceased its bloom. With a firm hand He reached for the Miracle-Gro™ and seeded the clouds, which drenched the greens, and lo! the flowers burst forth in multitudes. And the Lord looked upon his work, and it was good. 

You don’t really think they fertilize the jungles with Miracle-Gro, do you? I’m certain you don’t. 

Jungles grow quite happily without interference from manufactured fertilizers, though I’m only now giving this serious consideration.

The storms that promise to blow through this afternoon and tomorrow are perfectly timed for an early summer bout of fertilizing, bringing the wished-for bumper crop of flowers. 

However, this morning I found myself searching fruitlessly for my jar of Jack’s Classic Blossom Booster. This plant elixir came highly recommended on some website or other, promising bananas, hibiscus, and other tropical plants growing to vast scale and heaving off flowers the size of Aunt Ruthie’s poitrine, which was very generous. 

I assess no blame for the missing stuff, though it wasn’t my saw, leaf-blower, stash of bike parts etc. that have no business in my potting area. (Condemning the little foibles of others is not my thing). 

My tetanus shots are up to date. Just saying. 

Anyway, the missing Jack’s (and several other potions) got me to thinking about God and jungles and what else I could use on my plants that’s around the house and doesn’t require Amazon or a trip to the garden center.

While several sites caution that home brews don’t work with the dazzling speed, or promise of such, of prepared plant foods, they are cheap, safe, and will gradually improve your soil, flowers, vegetables, and fruits. Specifics are in the links.

The Magic Potion. Per home-improvement guru Bob Vila, a mix of Epsom salt, baking soda, and (just a touch of) household ammonia will boost leaf growth, ward off a host of blights, and promote healthy roots. Easy to mix and costing just pennies, the mixture, he says, works brilliantly on most plants.

Coffee grounds. Acid soil lovers like azaleas, hydrangeas, blueberries, and lilies thrive on a sprinkling of fresh coffee grounds. It makes a nice mulch too. According to gardeningknowhow.com, coffee grounds will also keep slugs and snails away—and keep the cat out of the flower bed. Cats don’t like coffee. There was no mention of dogs.

Bananas. Wisconsin is into bananas as well as cheese, it seems. Wisconsinpollinators.com suggests chopping the bananas up and burying them in the garden or in flower pots. As they decompose they release potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and various minerals, all of which make plants happy. You can also dry the skins, then grind them in a processor or coffee grinder and bury them directly in the garden.*  

Eggs.  Adding whole eggs to the garden sounds like a rotten idea. In fact, eggs’ nutrients are in the shells. Crush them and mix with soil for an organic fertilizer that balances the pH and boosts calcium. As a bonus, wild birds are attracted to the shells too.  

 Fish water. Aquarium water accumulates nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and ammonia, plus beneficial micro-organisms; same goes for fish ponds. The nutrients are already diluted and can be added directly to indoor and outdoor plants. If you eat canned tuna, sardines, and salmon, the left-over juice they float about in is nutrient-rich: Add it to your watering can. If you can stand the smell. Also, this may attract cats. 

Vegetable water. Don’t dump the water from steamed and boiled veggies: It’s a fine source of nitrogen, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Cool it down and use it on house and garden plants for a free boost. 

* My Prince stuffs the peels from his morning bananas in a jug of water, which becomes infused with nutrients. He scoffed that I’m even mentioning this since when I use it, I never top up the water after dumping it on plants. This is correct! He does it so much better than I do.


2 thoughts on “Green Acre #432: Garden Remedies From the Kitchen

  1. Mary K. says:

    So many good ideas! And love the banana peels story – he stuffs the peels in the water; you pour it out. Sounds like good teamwork to me! 🙂

  2. Carol says:

    Great ideas!! Our county collects stuff for compost once a week, but I may save my banana peels and egg shells for my plants! I remember about the veggie water too, will try to not forget…

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