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Posts Tagged ‘coffee grounds’

Like people, vegetable plants need certain nutrients to grow and thrive. The big three are nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. There are, of course, other nutrients needs like calcium and magnesium that help plants.

Most commercial fertilizers have some mix of the big three, plus other micronutrients. We have a small garden, so I’m always unsure of the proper amount to add even with directions provided. Also, it’s much easier (and makes me more comfortable) adding natural ingredients to our garden and not relying on mixes.

There are plenty of things you can add to help give the soil a boost and most are probably on hand. While I’m sure there is some scientific formula to figure out exactly how much of each nutrient these add to the soil, we’re focused on the primary one these contribute.

  • Nitrogen. This is a big need for almost everything and too much can be just as dangerous. We mostly use coffee grounds because they won’t add too much to the soil, and it’s easy to adjust. They stay separate from compost stuff anyway because it makes the container a soggy mess.
  • Potassium. Bananas are a great source of potassium for humans, and the peels can be just as effective for plants. We just cut up the peel and bury it a couple inches under the soil. As it decomposes, the peel will add this nutrient.
  • Phosphorous. So this isn’t really a natural additive, but matches supposedly work well. My mom told me my grandpa, who always had an amazing and productive garden, would put matches in each planting hole for his peppers. Don’t use the wooden matches, they have to be the cardboard sticks in a small matchbook. We forgot to put these in the pepper holes, so I buried a few next to all our pepper plants.
  • Calcium. We had a really big issue with blossom end rot on our tomatoes last year, and I later learned a lot of this could be attributed to calcium deficiency. One of the easiest ways to correct this is with eggshells. We rinse out the shells and let them dry in the sun. When they’re ready (or when we need them), they’re laid on newspapers and crushed, usually by stepping on them. Then, the powder is sprinkled around each tomato plant.

We’re trying this all for the first time this season. If it works, I’m sure it’s something we’ll keep doing each year.

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One of our goals this year is to be more diligent about checking our plants for pests or diseases. So last night we took a stroll to check on the vegetables in the ground. I was particularly concerned about the broccoli plants because they’re in the same family as Brussels sprouts, and the cabbage white butterfly decimated those last year.

These two small slugs did quite a bit of damage to the broccoli leaf in just one day.

These two small slugs did quite a bit of damage to the broccoli leaf in just one day.

I was checking the undersides of the leaves for their eggs when I noticed some chew holes. We ripped off the affected leaf but didn’t find any evidence of the butterfly. What we did find was two small slugs.

Last summer we set beer traps around our yard to lure the slugs into an alcoholic death trap, and it was a resounding (but disgusting) success. Looks like we’ll need to buy some more tiny pie pans and a case of cheap beer and get ahead of the problem before it gets worse.

In the meantime, I spread some coffee grounds around each plant because I read that it helps. We keep those separate because it makes the kitchen collector for our compost too soggy.

Here’s a website that has some pretty interesting and natural ways to deter/kill slugs. This one also has some cool tips.

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