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planting, soil, gardenJupiter Images; Getty Images

Don't throw away your tea bags, banana peels, egg shells, and other organic trash. Use them as nutrient-rich fertilizers instead!

I love getting to work on my flower beds every year, caring for my perennials and planting my annuals. It's such calming and fulfilling work. But I know it's not just the planting and weeding that's important. Fertilizing the soil is also crucial for adding nutrients and making plants strong enough to combat damage from pests and their environment, not to mention boost root, leaf and flower growth.

All you DIYers will be happy to know that you don't need to run to the store every time you want to fertilize your soil. You probably have some great, all-natural fertilizers right in the house. You can either add them to your compost -- or, if you're not the composting type, you can add these ingredients on their own. Then watch your garden flourish!

coffee groundsPamela Moore, Getty Images

Coffee grounds add acidity to soil. After you brew a pot of coffee, sprinkle the grounds on the soil around any acid-loving plants, like azalea, hydrangea, and magnolia.

For plants that thrive in more alkaline soil -- such as yarrow , delphinium, and pink carnation-- sprinkle some fireplace ashes (if you happen to have any hanging around this time of year) around your plants.

newspaper, sugar, fertilizerGetty Images (2)

Nitrogen is a natural fertilizer and is produced in the waste of all garden creatures. Feed the creatures and you feed the soil. Worms love paper, so rather than sending the whole newspaper to the recycling bin when you've finished reading it, bury some around the base of your plants. The worms will eat it and help the soil to thrive.

Those beneficial garden insects will eat sugar too. In addition to sprinkling pure sugar in the soil on the soil, you can add foods that are high in sugar. Sugary cereal crumbs, for instance, have both sugar and other nutrients, so sprinkle the crumbs from the bottom of the box around your plants. Another easy sugar source is an energy drink. It will give you a one two punch: first, it feeds the organisms in the soil and second, it adds potassium -- a really important nutrient for plants!

banana peelJupiter Images

Another great source of potassium is banana peels. They're especially good for roses. Simply bury them at the base of the rose bush and watch those flowers bloom!

tea bag, egg shellJupiter Images; Getty Images

Used tea bags buried in the soil will release nutrients and the paper will decompose easily and feed those pests to help your plants thrive.

Eggshells are composed of calcium and magnesium. Simply crush them up and sprinkle them around your plants. Not only do the shells infuse the soil with nutrients, but plant-eating slugs don't like to crawl over the sharp shells and will stay away.

How to Make Compost

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  • Tess

    These are some really good ideas! Http://

  • Paula

    I love this idea for fertilizing my garden. Http://

  • n

    I love The flowers Vegetables In a garden, and,those are marvelous ideas. but ...... I am one of those people who can't stand to garden.

    I have a serious PHOBIA when it comes to ALL insects whether the flying or crawling kind.... I wish I didn't, but alas I do,>>>>>> and I have had this annoying phobia since I was a child >>>>
    Probably need to be hypnotized for this problem. ~~~~~~ sigh~~~~~ ;0(

    I JUST LOVE my PETS...that's it ! ;0))

  • anneliese

    Have the same problem.. freaked out when a Praying Mantis jumped on me in my vegetable garden.. never thought of hypnoses as a solution...maybe throw in flying too!

  • anne

    no new ideas here. glad to hear that new people are composting though. makes the best gardens. Banana peels are reserved for my roses...all other compost goes into the compost bin and used for future planting.

  • Maxine Cranford

    I tried composting & it was too much trouble. I started burying my table scraps about a year ago. It's so much easier and it has helped my flower beds. I also put newspaper around my tomatoes to keep the grass out. I live in the country so I try to bury it where there is no plants in case animals dig it up.

  • bev

    This is nothing new. I have been putting coffee grounds in the soil for yearssssssss, especially around my tomato plants as I am planting them. It keep worms and other insects away.

  • LJ

    I live in the desert climate of AZ. Found that coffee grounds will cause my lantanas to bloom like crazy, but they aren't good at all for the Mexican Bird of Paradise plant, didn't kill it, but kind of weakened it. Be selective about where you use them.

  • jim davis

    Coffee grounds will also kill fire ants.

  • ruth

    great ideas coffee grounds also help to keep the neighbors cat from using my flower beds for their commode

  • krs

    If you've a problem with kitties doing their thing in your garden, try investing in a large can of black pepper flakes. Sprinkle around the garden where you notice the animals doing their thing, being careful not to inhale any into your own snoot. Non toxic, gets the message across. Replenish after rains.


    i use the used coffee grounds to keep bugs away from my home. it repells them.

  • Sam

    Thanks for the tips. I already compost all of my organic kitchen waste, but i hadn't heard about using eggshell to keep pests away from plants.

  • John F.C. Taylor

    To headline the link as unusual implies that this is something that has just been figured out. Well, it certainly isn't anything new. I'm 60 years old and I remember my parents recycling organic waste like this 50 years ago. I remember it because the pile was always a good place to get worms for fishing.

  • Richard

    Coffee grounds also keep kitties from using your garden as a potty

  • margie

    oh come on. This isn't news! People have been composting for centuries. Don't you remember the stories about how the native american Indians tought the pilgrims to put fish in each hole when they planted corn?

  • Theresa

    I use all of these and more in my compost tumbler (I have a Back Porch ComposTumbler). I also compost fruit rinds, vegetable peels, overripe fruit, cut flower stems, cut grass, fall leaves (I shred those so they break down quicker). If it's organic, I compost it. I've reduced the amount of trash I have to take out to the curb and I'm amazed at how quickly everything reduces and breaks down into compost. My tumbler is like a bottomless pit. A word of caution - be careful how much wood ash you use - it's very alkaline. Here's a great list of good compost ingredients plus things to avoid from Organic Gardening magazine:,7518,s1-5-21-829,00.html

  • Tom

    These are really great ideas for the soil and plants. I used to use my tea bags and coffee grinds and egg shells but I for some unknown reason got away from using them. I never did use the banana peels. I will be using all your suggestions again, starting with todays garden work. Thank you so much for the wake - call.

  • Sharyn

    Tomatoes love the acidity in coffee grounds! I did as the one poster said, buried my kitchen scraps and i had all new plants coming up! That year I got potatoes, garlic, onions, and cantaloupes! All from the trimmings and scraps of kitchen waste. My daughter had watched a kids' show where they were composting and the narrator was telling the kids that if it comes from the earth, it should go back to the earth.

  • Michael

    Please forgive me, but AOL has us censored and I must say that the fellow who wrote about
    Route 66 is wrong, it is more than nostalgia, it is of many fond memories from my dad relling us things on the road,a service station attendent said this child looked like Richard Widmark, I will never foret that, and as a man I drove it myself when going to to Marina del Ray in California
    with a beautiful Woman. Route 66 was Magic then as it is now.

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