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I recycle the following waste/garbage into my outdoor garden. Keep in mind that some of these items will attract fruit flies and bugs and can also be kinda smelly, but ALL of these items are beneficial to your plants and are earth friendly. Also, it's not always that pretty, but going green isn't mainly for beauty. I recommend you google what certain plants like and don't like before throwing everything into your garden, but as a whole, this is so earth friendly and is natural fertilizer for your plants! I throw them right on top of the soil of my potted plants too. Vegetable and fruit waste also attracts earthworms which aerate the soil and add more nutrients to your soil through their poop! (Gross, but cool and good to know)
Used coffee grounds - great for the lawn and garden! Roses love them too. (Starbucks in Hawaii will give me free giant bags of coffee grounds just for the asking; check with yours.)
Used Tea bags - If it's paper bags, they go in whole. If they're fabric I cut it open and remove the tea leaves.
Egg Shells - Crushing them up a little and making a circle around the base of the plant is also a deterrent for slugs and snails. It hurts their soft bodies. They also add nutrients to the soil
Vegetable & Fruit peelings or produce that has gone rotten - I recently had a rotten watermelon so I chopped it up and threw it into several potted planted and my garden.
Newspaper - I don't do this, but I know someone who been using newspaper as mulch for years! Shred and spread. I have used brown paper (the kind that comes in shipping boxes as filler.) It keeps the weeds down and biodegrades over time. Wet it a little so it won't fly away.
Hair - yes, I know some folks who use the clippings from their kids' haircuts as mulch! Again, I don't do this one, but some swear by it.
Milk cartons, yogurt containers, strawberry containers, old plastic cups and tuperware and the like all make great planters for smaller plants or to start seedlings in. The 1 lb. strawberry containers with the transparent lids with holes all over are perfect mini greenhouses. Just make sure you poke a few holes (half the size of dime is fine and throw a smaller layer of rocks in the bottom if you have them) for proper drainage. And don't use the lids unless it's transparent and you make holes for air as well. I have used these for years!
Also, be adventurous with old fruit and veggie seeds. Let 'em dry in a dark area for a week or so and stick 'em in a homemade planter filled with dirt. My kids love and I love to try growing things and you can grow your own organic produce and save lots of money or even make money with them. We have grown the following plants with seeds we saved from a fruit or veggie: payapa, lemon, lychee, tomato, melons, bell pepper, cilantro. It's a fun, easy and inexpensive hobby. You can also sell the seedlings or gift them. My son grew a bunch of herbs and used them at a school bazaar. His plants were a huge it and sold out quickly!
And just to let you all know, I have very small yard and most of the plants I have are potted so this doesn't require tons of space. Just regular sunlight and water. Apartment dwellers could do this from a porch, rooftop or balcony.
Those are my tips for now...
Last Edited on: 7/3/11 6:03 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
We do all of these - the children love to toss their hair out for the birds to use in making nests. We also put the items into the compost piles, and they make freshh compost for healthier plants.
Hair can help keep wild animals away but it has to be reapplied frequently. When I gardened near a woods I used it.
I'd be hesistant about newspaper on food plants. I don't trust the chemicals. Around non-food plant certainly!
If you want to compost without the smell a combination of 1/2 leaves and 1/2 rotting vegetation mixed together will take care of the smell. it decomposes into a lovely organic soil that is usually pH balanced.