Apr 11, 2018

Green in the garden: Earth friendly fertilisers and pesticides

Your breakfast can help your garden grow! Used coffee grounds are rich in nutrients like potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, copper, and even magnesium.

To extract the goodness add some water to your used coffee, put the mixture in the sunshine for a while, then dry the grounds off (either naturally in the sun or pop them in to the microwave) and you'll be left with a natural fertilizer to use around the base of plants or to mix into compost for an extra boost. Plants that will benefit include tomatoes, blueberries, roses, evergreens, and camellias. Old, untreated coffee grounds also make an instant, eco-friendly ant deterrent.

Egg shells are largely made of calcium carbonate which is great for plants. Wash out your egg shells and when they're completely dry, grind them into a powder using a blender, and sprinkle around the base of your plants. Egg shells also make great seedling pods. Fill a clean eggshell with soil and pop in your seeds. Once they've sprouted, put the whole bundle into the ground. The egg casing will continue to feed the young plants as well as protect their delicate roots in the early stages.

Save your rubbish from landfill by making your own compost. Get a compost container and throw in coffee grounds, eggshells and egg cartons, as well as fruit and veggie waste that you might otherwise have thrown away (no meat leftovers or bones though please). You can also put in grass cuttings, twigs, and leaves from clearing up the lawn. Keep the mixture very moist with water and turn it all over once in a while. In about six weeks time you'll have cultivated a rich, organic compost to use to fertilize your beds and pots.

If you burn a log fire in the winter then you're generating eco-friendly composting material! Wood ash is full of lime and potassium and some plants love a sprinkling of it in the springtime. You can mix it into your home-made compost for extra goodness, too. The trick is not to use too much as it can actually change the pH level of the soil and not all plants like it. Wood ash also contains salts which can help to control soft-bodied pests like slugs and snails.

Vinegar has long been known to be a potent weedkiller. Spray undiluted pickling vinegar directly on to weeds and watch them wither away. While it doesn't kill the roots (try boiling water for that) you can keep unsightly patches to a minimum if you use it regularly. You can also mix in some lime juice to make a child and pet friendly pesticide.