Want to save money in your garden and grow healthier plants? One of the easiest ways to do this is to make your own free DIY fertilisers with organic materials and household food waste, including banana peels. A sustainable solution!
Tips for How You Can Reuse Bananas
Like all plants, bananas contain important nutrients. You can recycle these back into your garden to build soil and plant health.
Bananas are rich in minerals including:
- Potassium. This mineral helps promote general plant vigour; build up resistance to pest and disease; is necessary to help fruit develop; is involved in regulating around 50 enzymes in a plant; and relates to the turgor (or uprightness of stems and the thickness of cell walls) i.e. plant strength! This is extremely important for plants like staghorns which literally hang onto tree trunks in nature and vertical vegetables like spring onions, leeks and fruiting crops.
- Phosphorus. This mineral strongly influences fruiting and flowering; is essential for good root and shoot growth; pollination; and is very important in seed germination and viability.
- Calcium. The most important mineral in the soil and known as the ‘trucker of all minerals.’ Calcium is the ‘ingredient’ of cell walls concerned with root development and growing stem points. It also helps ‘open up’ soil to allow more oxygen.
With such important roles to play, these macro nutrients are vital for plant health and wellbeing. However, there are many other nutrients plants need too (NOT just N-P-K)!
Slow Release Organic Fertilisers
A balanced slow release organic fertiliser with vital trace elements will supplement those not present in bananas. These types of fertilisers are usually in a fine powdered or pellet form that quickly dissolve and become plant available. That means they dissolve and can be absorbed by microbes in the soil and fine plant root hairs.
These organic fertilisers can be sprinkled directly onto the soil, slightly dug in or sprinkled into the foliage basin in the middle of plants like ferns.
Seaweed or kelp liquid organic fertilisers also supply your plants with loads of macro nutrients. Kelp also helps build pest and disease resistance. A regular monthly foliar spray (on the upper and lower side of the leaves) early morning will keep your plants in good health. So back to the bananas!
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Why Feed Banana Peels to Staghorns?
Feeding banana peels to staghorns, elkhorns and other ferns is not an old wives tale. There are valid reasons why many people use this DIY fertiliser!
Staghorn and elkhorn ferns are epiphytic perennials or “air” plants. Because they don’t make contact with the soil, they get their nutrition substantially from the air. Quite an amazing concept! Bananas contain a relatively high level of potassium that helps displace sodium that can be harmful to salt-sensitive staghorns and they have many other benefits too.
4 Ways to Use Bananas as a Plant Food Supplement
- 1. Banana Water: Soak a fresh banana peel in water for a day or two. Then use the water with the leached nutrients in it to water your staghorn (or other plants). Don’t let the peel go to waste though!
- 2. Add Peels to your Soil or Worm Farm: Chop up banana peels and add to your compost or worm farm. The microbes will help turn this nutrient-rich organic matter into plant food. Or dig it into the soil around other plants to build up the organic matter and attract worms. Lift the mulch around your pot plants and add the peel on top of the soil or potting mix. Then replace the mulch. This method of fertilising is known as ‘side dressing’. You can add the peel to any potted plant under mulch to slowly release nutrients.
- 3. Chopped Dried Banana: If your staghorn is indoors or close to the house and you are worried about the banana peel attracting fruit flies, you can dry out the chopped banana pieces in a slow oven and then use them. Or put the chopped dried banana out in the sun under a strainer to dry out for a day or two into ‘banana chips’. Scatter dried banana pieces in the centre of the plant and water them in. You can also bury these in pot plant soil. Or you can also mix them into the sphagnum moss if you are replanting or starting out with a new staghorn fern. Each time you water or it rains, they will provide slow release nutrition.
- 4. Banana Peel on a Trunk or Backboard: If growing a staghorn, elkhorn, orchid or similar plants, put a whole banana peel between the plant and the backboard or tree trunk it is supported on. By placing it in this position, the banana peel will gradually decay and slowly release nutrients when the plant is watered or it rains. I also toss mine into the centre of birds nest ferns every month or so.
5 Tips for Using Bananas as a Free Organic DIY Fertilisers
- 1. Have over ripe bananas you won’t use up? Don’t waste whole bananas or the skins – freeze them! When you have time to work on your garden, defrost the banana and add to the soil around the base of your plants.
- 2. Store bananas or peels in a self-seal bag in the fridge until you are ready to use them. Ideally, sprinkle some bokashi grains onto the chopped up peels, so the breakdown process is already getting started. These beneficial microbes help accelerate decomposition.
- 3. Spray the chopped up banana and/or peel with diluted seaweed or kelp. This provides additional ‘food’ for the microbes that will help break down the fruit faster so the nutrients can be absorbed by the plant.
- 4. Use with other homemade DIY fertilisers such as crushed eggshells and coffee grounds for greater effect.
- 5. Use bananas (whole/peels) as a soil amendment. They are a rich source of organic matter so they add valuable minerals. The decaying organic material attracts beneficial microorganisms (microbes) and earthworms which help create air pockets in the soil and add their free fertiliser (worm castings).
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Hope this advice is useful and helps you get the most out of your plants and bananas!
Want to know more? Check out Frugal Gardening for more money saving tips; 9 Foods You Can Regrow From Kitchen Scraps; How to Grow Your Own Food from Seed; Harvesting Vegetables & Herbs and Garden Maintenance for more ideas.
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