Give Now

Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Beginner’s Guide To Gardening: Recycling In The Garden

Can you think of a better lifestyle than living at one with your environment from start to finish?

Grounds For Your Garden

Photo: Dianne Venetta

Through Starbucks' Grounds For Your Garden program, customers receive a complimentary five pound bag of used coffee grounds to enrich garden soil.

Old News In Your Garden

As your garden grows, consider ways to integrate your wonderful recycling habits into your garden. Just as there’s more than one way to chop a good salsa, there’s more than one way to use old newspaper.

Tossing yesterday’s news into the recycle bin is so yesterday. Instead, how about using it for weed paper in the garden? It works like a charm and biodegrades to boot. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Mind you, you’ll need to weigh it down with a mulch of sorts or else your neighbors will scribble your name on the list of “nuisances.” You know who I’m talking about: the neighbors everyone else in the neighborhood is complaining about?

Yes, those. You definitely don’t want to join that illustrious list, so mind your manners and don’t let your paper turn into fly away scrap like morning rituals gone amuck!

My Morning Cuppa

While we’re on the topic of morning rituals, how about putting those coffee grounds to work? Your acid-loving plants will thank you, and the whiteflies will avoid you and the old stale coffee you sprayed on their favorite leaves.

Have you seen the price of coffee these days? It’s become a downright luxury. So, think of recycling as a discount on that cup of coffee you just bought. Coffee as fertilizer and pesticide — I like it!

Let’s Get Corny

Now that you’ve put your morning ritual to its highest and best use, what about your harvest? I’m talking about old corn husks.

The corn will be ready soon and when it is, try saving those husks for later use as stake ties for your tomatoes. Green tape is great, but as someone so kindly suggested, wouldn’t it be great if it were biodegradable?

If corn husks can be rolled and formed into dolls with arms, they sure as heck can be rolled and formed into ties around tomato plant stems! I’m game. How about you?

worms in dirt with newspaper

Photo: Dianne Venetta

Worms do wonders for the health of the soil in your garden.

Fertilizer Helpers

Speaking of game (the garden variety type of wild game), how about delving into the wormery business? Wriggly and cute, they do wonders – make that miracles – for the garden soil. I’m talking Miracle-Gro nature’s way!

I learned this little tidbit of wisdom from the kids at school. As we planted their school garden, the students heaved hand-fulls of worm poop fertilizer into the soil around their seeds. At the time, I mildly lectured them about “waste not, want not,” though a lot of good it did me.

I’m not ashamed to admit (envious, but not ashamed) that their vegetable plants proved more robust than mine. Actually, they completely outshone mine at home. But that’s fine with me because we learned a lesson. We’re never too old and never too wise!

Worm poop is one of the best organic fertilizers.

Next time you’re standing by admiring your garden, think of new and fresh ways to reuse what you have for a complete and total return to your roots.

More: Next week, I stop to smell the roses and enjoy the beauty of my garden.

Dianne Venetta

Dianne is an author, entrepreneur, and mother. She writes the blog BloominThyme and volunteers as garden coordinator for her children's school garden. At the end of the day, if she can inspire someone to stop and smell the roses (or rosemary), kiss their child and husband goodnight, be kind to a neighbor and Mother Earth, then she's done all right.

View all posts by this author »

  • Marianne

    Loved your ideas!  I have been using the newspaper  for a few years, great for weed control.  Rose bushes are real coffee lovers! Will have to give the corn husk a try – like the idea!  Have heard about the wonders of worm poop, just haven’t tried that one. ty

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Earth Eats:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Earth Eats

Search Earth Eats

Earth Eats on Twitter

Earth Eats on Flickr

Harvest Public Media