Most of us are trying to live a more natural and healthy lifestyle by cutting out most of the chemicals in our lives. But a lot of us don't think about this when we are planning and maintaining our gardens and lawns. It is just so easy to buy that commercial fertilizer at the local Home Depot. But with a little thought and creativity, you can make your own for far less money and save the planet while you're at it.
For the last couple of years, I have been researching and using natural methods for fertilizing and getting rid of pests in my garden. My neighborhood is filled with elders that have been gardening for many years of their lives and have gardened when there were not chemicals to put on your lawn or garden, A lot of the recipes I will be giving to you are ones that they gave me. Most of these are made from every day, things that you would normal throw away or have on hand.
I am going to start with some easy fertilizers that you might not have thought of.
Put into an old plastic bottle what is left of your morning coffee. Add to 2 gallons of water and spray it in your garden once a week.Your plants will get magnesium, potassium and nitrogen from the coffee waste. Rose Food can be made from coffee grounds also, you will need to dry the coffee grounds on a cookie sheet on paper toweling or newspaper. Sprinkle the grounds around the base of your acid-loving plants. Azaleas, roses, rhododendrons and blueberries are just some of the plants that will benefit from this treatment. Be careful not to overdo it with the grounds. Even acid-loving plants can get too much acid.
Fish Tank Water
When doing a tank cleaning, save all the water to go into your garden. Used fish tank water is full of nitrogen and other nutrients that plants need to thrive.
Manure Tea or Top Dressing
Do your kids have a bunny or guinea pig? Have them clean the cage into a big bucket and add water. Use this to spray directly on your garden or use with your houseplants. Yes, it is going to stink but as the bedding breaks down, it will become rich with nitrogen and other needed elements for your plants. Rabbit manure is considered a cold manure so it can also be use directly on your garden. The old soiled bedding will act as a mulch. Your plants will benefit from the extra water retention and all the nitrogen in the manure.
Eggshell Top dressing
Save all those egg shells from your big Sunday breakfasts. Wash thoroughly and let dry for a day or two. Grind in your food processor or in your blender to a fine powder. Apply to your plants. Eggs shells are made up almost entirely of calcium carbonate, the main ingredient in agricultural lime.
Fireplace ashes can be used to replace garden fertilizer and lime. They are also high in potassium. Sprinkle your fireplace ash over your garden beds, and work into the soil.
Note: Fireplace ash should not be used if your soil is alkaline, or be used around acid-loving plants.
Do not throw away your banana peels. Use these peels for your rose plants and see them flourish. These are also full of potassium and help roses to grow.
Tea waste is especially useful for orchids. You can use your tea bags and tea waste, in summer and spring, to nourish all the plants in your garden.
Milk, mixed with water in the ratio 1 to 4, will give your plants nitrogen building protein. You can feed your plants with milk once every week. Great way to use that old milk that is starting to spoil.
Epsom salts contains sulfate and magnesium, which are good for plants like potatoes, tomatoes, roses, etc. One tablespoon of Epsom salt should be mixed with a gallon of water. Use Epsom salt once a month for your plants.
Garden Pest Sprays
These are recipes for getting rid of the pests in your garden:
They can be killed safely by pouring boiling hot water down into the nest in the ground. Fire Ants can be nasty and a real hazard to small children and pets. The only way to get rid of an infestation is to kill the queen. Wait until right before the next rainstorm. Sprinkle instant grits on the fire ant hill. The workers will carry the grits to the queen for her to eat. She'll eat the grits and when it rains, she'll drink. The grits will expand in her stomach and she'll "bloat" to death. Once she's out of the way, the leaderless ants will die off.
Diatomaceous earth kills earwigs, ants and box elder bugs. It can kill beneficial bugs too so be sure to only apply it just to the ground surface where you think insects at their worst.
Fruit flies can be killed with cheap wine left out in a small container.
Easy Insect Spray
Combine 1 Tbsp. of dishwashing detergent and 1 cup cooking oil into a gallon jug or plastic bottle. This is your master mix as this will make more than one batch of insect killer. Add 5 Tbsp. of the detergent and oil mixture into a gallon jug of warm water. Shake the jug to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Transfer the mixture to a garden sprayer and apply to your plants.
Mix 3 Tbsp. of natural apple cider vinegar in one gallon of water. Spray during the cool part of the day for black spot on roses and other fungal diseases. Adding molasses at 1 Tbsp. per gallon will again help.
Bugs Off All Purpose Spray
Take 1 garlic bulb and 1 small onion and chop in a blender. Add one 1 tsp. of powdered cayenne pepper and 1 quart water. Let steep for one hour. Strain through some cheesecloth. Add 1 tsp. of liquid dish soap to help your mixture to stick to the leaves of your plants. Store in a cool place or in the refrigerator. Always be careful when using on plants this mixture can cause leaf burn. Do a check beforehand.
Back off Jack Insect Spray
Puree 1/2 cup of hot peppers (the hotter the better) with 2 cups of water. Strain the liquid through some cheese cloth. Apply for 5 to 7 days or until the pests are gone.
By Debra Frick