We all know that throwing food scraps in a compost bin is a great way to fertilize our gardens but not everyone has room for a compost bin or enough scraps to fill it. Luckily, there are a few items that you’d normally throw in the trash that can be added to garden beds on their own.
Used coffee grounds can be added to potted plants or any plant bed. Coffee is high in nitrogen, which plants crave, but it isn’t as potent as most fertilizers, which can easily burn plants if you add too much. Acid-loving plants like hydrangea, roses and azalea will particularly appreciate coffee grounds but any plant will love the extra boost in nutrients. In addition, a fresh layer of coffee beans added to a potted plant gives it a rich look. Just be careful, as coffee grounds can begin to mold if they are too moist. If you aren’t a big coffee drinker, some coffee shops set out their used grounds for the taking or are happy to give you as many as you need on request.
Banana peels not only give your plants an extra boost of nutrients, some say they will keep the aphids away. It is best to cut up the peels into small pieces so they break down easier. You can save banana peels over the winter by chopping them up and freezing them until you are ready to use them in the garden. Adding some to the soil near roses and other plants may help keep the pests away.
Get tips on making your own compost bin >>
Corn cobs and husks
Planting a layer of corn cobs with your plants, especially those that require a lot of water, can help hold in moisture and keep it available for when the plant needs it. They function almost like a sponge. Break up old cobs and bury them near the root systems of your plants. Worms are particularly attracted to corn cobs, and happy worms make for happy gardens. Corn husks break down easily and are a great source of nutrients for the soil.
If your spices have passed their prime, or you just have an abundance of some you don’t use regularly, try putting them in the garden. Spices like cinnamon and chili powder are known to keep a variety of pests away, from ants to rabbits. You’ll have to apply them frequently, as they wash away easily when it rains or blow away with the wind. Thyme or rosemary can also be infused in water or oil to make a great insecticide to spray on your plants. A line of salt is often used to keep ants and slugs away from certain areas as well.
Eggshells are rich in calcium, which is great for plants, but they also have another benefit: The sharp edges are thought to keep slugs and similar pests away from your plants. Rinse eggshells to remove the egg residue and then break them up into small pieces. Sprinkle the pieces on top of your soil or mix it in when you are planting.