Want to save money in your garden and have healthier plants? One of the easiest ways to do this is make your own free fertilisers with organic materials and household food waste.
Tips for How You Can Reuse Bananas
Bananas are rich in minerals including:
- Potassium – helps promote general plant vigour; helps build up resistance to pest and disease; necessary in fruit development; 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 vegies like shallots, leeks and fruiting crops.
- Phosphorus – 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;’ is the ‘ingredient’ of cell walls concerned with root development and growing stem points and helps ‘open up’ soil to allow more oxygen.
With such important roles to play, these macro nutrients are vital for plant health and well-being but there are many others that are needed too so a balanced slow release organic fertiliser with other 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. These 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!
Why Feed Banana Peels to Staghorns?
Feeding banana peels to staghorns and other ferns is not an old wives tale – there is 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.
Ways to Use Bananas as a Plant Food Supplement:
- 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!
- Add Peels to your Soil or Worm Farm: Chop up peels and add to your compost, worm farm 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 side dress as a slow release food, then replace the mulch.
- 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 them out in the sun under a strainer to dry out for a day or two. Scatter dried banana pieces in the centre of the plant and water them in. You can also mix them into the 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.
- Banana Peel on a Trunk or Backboard: Put a whole banana peel between the staghorn 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.
Tips for Using Bananas as a Free Organic Fertiliser
- If you have bananas you won’t use up (whole or just the skins), don’t waste them – 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.
- Alternatively, 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.
- 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.
- Use with other homemade fertilisers such as crushed eggshells and coffee grounds for greater effect.
- Use bananas (whole/peels) as a soil amendment. They are a rich source of organic matter so they add valuable minerals and 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).
Hope this advice is useful and helps you get the most out of your plants and bananas!
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© Copyright Anne Gibson, The Micro Gardener 2010-2013 – http://www.themicrogardener.com. All rights reserved.