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8 Gardening Hacks That Save You Money And Make Plants Healthier

Put kitchen scraps and food that is going bad to good use outside in the compost pile.

Put kitchen scraps and food that's going bad to good use. 


By Rebecca Straus, Rodale's Organic Life

[post_ads]You know food waste is a problem, but even your best efforts to use everything in the fridge can’t take care of it all. Stuff like oyster shells and coffee grounds are still destined for the garbage can, unless you can think of another way to use them up. Your compost pile is a great solution for unwanted scraps, but it’s not the only one and sometimes not even the best one. We’ve got eight ways to put food scraps to use in the garden instead of the compost bin.


1.
Milk
Have some milk that’s starting to turn? You can spray it on plants suffering from mildew or mold to beat back fungus.
          
 
2.
Eggshells
[post_ads]You might already know that tossing eggshells on the compost pile gives it a calcium boost but don’t stop there. Eggshells are the perfect size to Start Seeds On Your Kitchen Table, provided you plan ahead and crack the egg near the tip to allow for a bigger planting vessel. Use a pin to poke a small drainage hole in the bottom before adding soil and seeds. You can store your eggshell starters in egg cartons for a convenient tray until planting time. Then simply crack the bottom of the egg to allow roots to escape before planting directly in the ground.

But that’s not all eggshells are good for. If you’ve got a slug or snail problem, scattering crushed egg shells around the base of your plants may help keep theses pests away since slimy critters don’t like crawling over the sharp pieces. 


3. 
Banana Peels
Cutting banana peels into small pieces and letting them decompose at the base of plants can prevent aphid infestations while doing double-duty by adding phosphorous and potassium to the soil. Phosphorous promotes root growth and spurs plant maturity, while potassium is essential for key plant functions like respiration, transpiration, and nutrient absorption. Roses will particularly benefit from these nutrients, so stick pieces of peel around their roots whether you’ve got insect trouble or not. They also make the perfect bait for capturing yellow jackets in a DIY Yellow Jacket Trap.

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4.
Oyster Shells
Oyster shells are about 95 percent calcium carbonate, so they’re sometimes used as a substitute in organic fertilizer for a soil amendment that contains a lot of calcium and typically comes from limestone. Crushing and mixing oyster shells into the soil can give your plants a calcium boost, as well as help balance the pH of soil because calcium is alkaline. A calcium deficiency can cause blossom-end rot when growing tomatoes—this is when the fruits get brown and rotted on the bottom, so adding crushed oyster shells to each hole when planting may help prevent this problem. Sprinkling larger oyster shell pieces around the base of plants can help keep slugs at bay, too. 


5.
Orange Peel
Aphids are a common headache for organic gardeners, but placing orange peels at the base of afflicted plants can help. Limonene, a major component of the oil found in citrus peels, destroys the aphids’ waxy outer coating, causing them to suffocate, according to master gardeners at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  

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6. 
Avocado Seeds
You can actually Grow An Avocado Tree At Home if you plant the pit. The key ingredient here is patience, since it can take anywhere from 5 to 13 years before you see any fruit. In the meantime, you’ll have a beautiful tree to enjoy.


7. 
Coffee Grounds
Coffee grounds will give your compost pile some added nitrogen—a component of chlorophyll that is essential for photosynthesis—but you can also use them for mulching. Just be sure not to layer the grounds too thick because too much can prevent air and water from getting down to the roots. There’s some evidence that scattered coffee grounds can deter snails and slugs, too.


8. 
Lettuce Hearts
Regrow a used-up head of lettuce by placing the heart in a jar or cup with about a half-inch of water. Keep the jar on a windowsill or somewhere that gets a lot of light and change the water every few days. Once the lettuce heart starts to sprout, you can transfer it to a pot of soil to give it more nutrients. You can re-grow scallions and leeks in water, too, provided you save the roots and 1 to 2 inches of the white bulb. 

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Lifestyle Magazine: 8 Gardening Hacks That Save You Money And Make Plants Healthier
8 Gardening Hacks That Save You Money And Make Plants Healthier
Put kitchen scraps and food that is going bad to good use outside in the compost pile.
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