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Garbage in, Garden Out, The Recycling Gardener, More Garden Elements from the Home

Updated on January 26, 2015

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In SIngapore.
In SIngapore. | Source

Broken Eggs

I have writing in other articles about items that can migrate from the home into the soils to their benefit. There is much more to say.

Speaking of eggs: Drop an egg, or a dozen eggs? Don't tell me it was a whole flat of eggs!

Haven't we all dropped eggs? Hmm, the last time in our house was this morning when three or four hit the floor. Last night we threw a few out that were cracked. Out where? This is about the garden!

Scoop them up and dump them into a small hole in the garden for sulfur and protein. Dump them into the compost pile or in the worm bin.

Animal proteins break down and add become a slow source of nitrogen for plants so choose a spot with a weak plant. The shell is calcium carbonate and very good for the soil and for plants.

I put mine into the compost pile. The worms love the eggs.

When you have eggshells, from using the eggs or dropping them, soak the shells in water for a few hours to leach the calcium carbonate out then water your house plants. Use a small amount of vinegar< say, one teaspoon per 8 ounce of water to acidify the water and take much more of the calcium out as well as adding potassium to the mixture. If you do this, let the water stand overnight to extract the calcium. Then water the plants and use the remaining shells in the mulch pile.

WHile you ate at it, you could bury the egg container of it is paper as most are nowadays. The paper is reduced to water conserving fibers and humates which are very good for the soils and plants.

I'm pretty good at this...Just Sayin'

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Desiccants

You open a package of something, almost anything now days, and there is a little package of desiccant.

Most of these in non-food items are silica and you can simply dump it into the garden where it helps a very little bit to absorb moisture, or, if you know the secret from the chap in Australia, you could make “Coke Bottle Opals” but I doubt you do.

If the desiccant is in a food items, it is likely to be an iron oxide, and/or a number of fine clays, or possibly gypsum, all of which are good for the garden. These can be sprinkled on houseplants as well, they need minerals also. The soils used in greenhouses when they are growing commercial plants are very poor, formulated to be lightweight to reduce costs and injuries from moving them, not for long term growth without added nutrients.

Epsom Salt

We hardly thinks about Epsom salts. We buy it once in a while for soaking our feet and then throw it down the drain.

But what exactly are you throwing away?

Epsom salts are magnesium sulfate. Both magnesium and sulfates are used by plants for various functions. Sulfates are also acids and so benefit most soils. Some time ago rose gardeners learned that if they throw out the Epsom salts into the rose beds, the flowers seem to be brighter last a bit longer, and are a little larger.

Fruit growers will notice that the fruits taste better and again, the colors are brighter.

Epsom salts for brighter flowers, alkali soils, for healthier stronger fruits.

Let you think I do not practice all of this, I opened and emptied a bag of Epsom salt on my garden this morning! In San Diego we have rather alkali water and the acids I add are useful for transporting minerals into the plant.

Ingredients for healthier soils

  • Eggs
  • Limestone
  • Gypsom
  • Epsom Salt

Gypsum

When you are speaking of calcium for the garden, gypsum is really hard to beat. For the ground, for composting, for tomatoes, for mulch and every other place in your yard is a great and inexpensive way to get both calcium and sulfate, a nutrient all plants need.

Gypsum is helpful in clay soils also. It helps to penetrate and break up the clay making it more useful in the garden.

If you have any water penetration problems, even if it is a hard sandy layer, gypsum can be a helpful solution.

There are different grades of gypsum, some is whiter than other, some granny, some very fine. You really don’t care which you use in the garden. Yes, the white kind is prettier, but you want to improve your soils and the white gypsum will soon disappear into the soil.

Besides, how do you make something like gypsum white? You refine it by taking out impurities. What kind of impurities do you have when you mine gypsum? Other minerals!

Your plants can use those minerals.

Yes, it looks cleaner, because it is, but again, you are putting it onto your soil.

What have you put into your garden?

What household items have you put into the soils?

See results

Limestone

Limestone for plants, Calcium carbonate, especially ferns really appreciate limestone as a source of calcium and also carbonate, the preferred source of carbon for roots.

If you happen to be lucky enough to live in an area with limestone around you, simply pick up some from the limestone broken down at the base of a cliff or rock pile and sprinkle it around the yard, especially in shade loving areas.

Limestone is used for other things as well you might not have thought about, such as children’s chalk. I was in the hardware store shopping one day and saw a small 5 pound bag of limestone in the garden section for $10. A few minutes later, I saw filed line chalk used for ball fields, and it was also $10, but it was in a 50 pound bag. The same material, refined a little more, was one tenth the price!

Can you imaging which one I took home? You bet, it was the field chalk.

It was spread around the yard, and even added to my mulch pile just before the last time I turned it over to enrich the calcium content of the mulch. This made its way into this year’s tomato planters.

Tomatoes love calcium. They need a good supply and reasonable consistent watering to prevent blossom end rot on the fruit.

© 2015 Ronald A Newcomb

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