How to improve your soil with 5 common kitchen ingredients.

I have written a post about how to make compost here

Not everyone has room in their garden for a compost bin so here are 5 common kitchen waste products that you can use to improve your soil and enjoy healthy plants.

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Add Eggshells to your soil.
  1. Egg shells
    • Dry the eggshells in a bowl on a sunny window sill. Once they are dry they crush really easily.
    • Crushed eggshells add extra drainage and calcium to your soil. I find they also prevent rot in tomato plants.
    • Work the crushed shell into the soil or add crushed shell to the base of plants to help deter snails and slugs. They don’t like the feel of the crushed shell so should avoid your young seedlings or plants. See my post about deterring these pests organically

here

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Add banana skins to your garden for improved drainage.

2. Banana skins

  • Adding cut up banana skins to your soil will help improve drainage as they encourage worms. They rot down quickly leaving lovely crumbly soil.
  • Banana skins add calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorus, potassium and sodium to your soil which are needed for healthy plant growth.

3. Epsom Salts

  • Magnesium is incredibly low in many people’s diets and has been declining in our vegetables since the 1950’s. Magnesium is needed for enzyme reactions and is a basic requirement in maintaining healthy body functions. Adding Epsom salts to our soil where we grow vegetables will help this.
  • Add Epsom salts to the base of your vegetables; especially cabbages, broccoli, lettuce and peppers.
  • Add to your tomatoes for healthy fruits.
  • If your plant leaves are curly, it may be due to a magnesium deficiency so give Epsom salts a try.  Epsom salts can be added to the watering can too but make sure to water the base of your plants not their leaves.
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Coffee Grounds are great for Acid loving plants.

3. Coffee Grounds

  • I empty my coffee pods of their coffee grounds and add this to my compost bin. You can also add coffee grounds straight to the soil as a general fertiliser adding Nitrogen.
  • Coffee grounds are particularly good for acid loving plants such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas,  heathers and blueberries.
  • Coffee Grounds work very well as a mulch around plants. Earthworms love them but slugs don’t tend to.

5. Tea Bags

  • Snip open dried tea bags and use their contents in your garden.
  • Use them in the same way as coffee grounds to improve soil.
  • Pop them into your watering can and water the plants with your tea water.

There we have it! I hope you have found these tips useful.

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The Old House garden round-up: Flopsy Flowers and caterpillars!

So far, August has been very wet and cold in Wiltshire. Today was the first day for a while that we could enjoy the garden as it was lovely and sunny. I decided to quickly take some photographs of the garden so that it looked gorgeous in the sun however this was what we have enjoyed since Saturday!

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Rain, rain and more rain!
Of Course, this really took it’s toll on the garden; especially the flowers. It also made everything grow like crazy!

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The tower of beans fell down in the wind but there is still lots of beans to harvest!
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The pumpkins are developing well.
My pumpkins, although developing large fruits, have also got mildew on their leaves and I’m worried that it will spread so I have removed the infected leaves and have my fingers crossed! It’s due to all the rain and humid conditions. The tomatoes, beetroot and peppers all seem to be happy as they are now producing fruits.

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Cabbage White caterpillars
Now vegetable lovers will shake their heads at me but I actually planted these cauliflowers hoping to attract butterflies! I’m not too keen on cauliflower but I do love butterflies so am pleased that the cabbage white has laid her eggs on them! There are also some on my nasturtiums too but they have self seeded from last year and again, I planted them for caterpillar food!

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Caterpillars on the nasturtiums
This seems to be a theme in the old house garden as we also have sawfly larvae on a small patch of roses….

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Sawfly larvae on my roses
Although incredibly annoying, sawfly larvae are great food for ladybirds and I have seen many ladybird larvae eating the sawfly larvae so they can stay. I garden organically so I could take these little pest off by hand but I’m hoping the damage will be limited by encouraging natural predators.

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The Rhubarb is now monstrous!
The rhubarb we planted last Spring is now enormous so we are hoping to harvest from it next year.

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The apple tree is groaning with apples this year.
Now for the rest of the garden…

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The meadow continues to be in full flower.
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Zinnia
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I love these Love-in-a-mist (Nigella) flowers. I found them as seed pods by the side of the road and planted them as seed straight into this area.
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Tiger enjoying the garden. The grass has grown really long in places and is full of tiny frogs!
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The cottage border is still in full bloom but the flowers are all flopsy from all the rain!
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The Japanese Anemone are coming into full bloom. I love these as they are so pretty!
I replanted this plant stand last week, adding Dahlia and Hydrangea. I think it looks stunning and I’m really pleased with it.

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My plant stand by the back door.
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Dahlias
Lastly, here is a photo of my dear little Dottie dog taken with my new camera. I’m really pleased with it. Happy August everyone……in the next round-up there will be some changes to the Old House Garden. x

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Dottie dog
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