Convert ordinary stuff into perfectly good soil mix! Especially useful to recycle things into useful potting mix for beautiful plants.
Soil mix is usually one of the first things you purchase when getting serious about gardening. Did you know you could recycle many things around the house into excellent potting soil mix material?
Make use of lots that would otherwise end up in the trash. Both nutrient content and soil mix structure can be increased with these common home items.
- Remember to work with a little soil mix or garden soil for best results.
- Recover some from plants as you repot them and mix these into it.
How to recycle household waste into soil mix
These items are nutrient-rich and will break down over time. No need to use fertilizer for months after setting a pot up with these easy to find items!
- used coffee grounds – slice up those capsules! Maximum proportion is 20-25% in volume. Remove the aluminum from pods, of course. Tea leaves and the content of tea bags are also very useful.
- old spices – dig deep in those cupboards and pull out any spices you haven’t used over the past year or two. Most will have lost their taste by then. Chili pepper won’t kill plants, but don’t touch your eyes after gardening if you add some!
- nut shells (peanut, walnut, chestnut…) – perfect way to repurpose those seed hulls. Walnut and hazelnut can be a bit sharp, mash them to square bits with a hammer. Note: in the case of salted sunflower seeds, rinse the salt out thoroughly beforehand.
- bark and wood dust – shake out the logs in your firewood storage, anything you sweep up is excellent for soil. And if you’ve got logs or pellets made from compressed wood shards, rejoice! Set a one or two to sit in water for a couple days. They’ll swell and it’ll be easy to shred them apart.
- Don’t add ashes directly, though. It’s too alkaline to use as a soil base. You can use small amounts for fertilizer, though.
- Crush dry bones and add them in the mix, too. It does take a few weeks to dry them well, however. On the other hand, simply wait for a day and you can crush eggshells into the soil mix.
- charcoal (wood) – Agreed, not every kitchen uses charcoal. But having 5 to 10% charcoal in the mix will help keep mold away.
Better soil structure with filler materials
- cotton rags, pillow fillings & old clothes – whatever is too ruined to donate will make excellent structure in your new mix. Cotton, wool, and natural feather is best. Synthetic materials will also work, but keep those for ornamental plants (not edibles).
- moss and dead leaves – gather these from rooftops, windowsills, etc. You can also remove moss from your lawn, too…
- fibrous kitchen waste – corn cobs, artichoke leaf leftovers, asparagus stems… chop these up and dry them out. Crush and mix in with the rest. Add in any extra pineapple leaf heads that you haven’t yet set to sprout.
- cartons and cardboard – chop up into half-inch squares (1-2 cm) or ribbons. Make sure you don’t put more than 10 or 15% of this or everything will turn into soggy mush.
- corks – a pair of pliers will help you shred these into smaller bits. Great for soil structure. Even greater to keep children busy.
- broken terra cotta pots and ceramic shards – Important: sand the edge off these shards with sand paper. It’ll take a while, but you’ll save a lot on wound dressings and ever-so-needed alcohol disinfectant…
- wood chips and sawdust – around 30% of this is acceptable. If you cut your own firewood or work wood as a hobby, you’ll have plenty of these!
If you’ve any other suggestions, please add them in the comment section!
You can easily double or triple the volume of your regular soil mix in this manner.
Why extend or add things to soil mix?
Today’s world is shifting away from hyper-globalization and relying more on local things.
- Gardening during lockdown is where this got real for many of us.
Not only is it important to find local sources for everything, it’s also important to deal with waste locally, too.
People are having more trouble traveling abroad already – how much less should our trash be sent around the world!
Most of our waste is actually perfect material for soil mix. The simple fact of looking at how we can transform waste and trash into nutritious vegetables or beautiful plants makes sense however you choose to look at it!
Additionally, you’ll save on many cost centers:
- less trash to pay for in areas where collection fees depend on volume or weight.
- no need for soil mix from the store.
- less travel back & forth to stores or dump sites.
Each of these steps to make more soil mix from household materials helps. It’s actually what professional soil mix producers do at their own scale, too! They get in touch with farmers, forest growers, and food processors. They strike deals to recycle waste into healthy, quality soil mix!
- Read also: garden without leaving the house
Smart tip about extending soil mix
If you’re up to it but your neighbors aren’t, even better. Instead of haughtily chastising them for not doing it, offer to recycle their stuff, too!