It is just about planting time for the garden at the farm. Well, actually, it already is for some of our Heirloom Seeds and Plants like our onions, sugar snap peas, cabbage and potatoes – which all went in the ground this week. But in a few weeks we will be planting the remainder of our big summer garden crops of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini and more – and as always – coffee grounds and egg shells will be a big part of the process.
I am amazed every year at how much more fertile our soil has become using simple, sustainable and organic practices. By utilizing cover crops of annual rye each fall, and adding in generous amounts of compost to our growing rows each season – the soil has become dark and rich – and more importantly – easier to work with each passing season.
As we turned a few rows of our annual rye cover crop over this week – the soil lifted easily and teemed with hundreds of worms and dark organic matter underneath.
It is always such a neat contrast to see the bright green color of the annual rye cover crop mixing into the dark, rich soil.
But when it comes to planting time – there is one more practice that we have employed each year that really helps provide extra protection and a big growing boost for our plants – and it comes straight from the breakfast table.
That practice is using egg shells and coffee grounds when we plant – both in the planting hole and around each plant.
Crushed egg shells add much-needed calcium to the soil as they break down – which can help prevent blossom rot in tomatoes. Blossom rot is better known to most as “those dreaded black spots” that form on the end of tomatoes, peppers and squash that can all but ruin a crop. It just so happens that blossom rot is caused by a lack of calcium in the soil – which crushed egg shells can help to add back.
Along with those egg shells we add in a few tablespoons of coffee grounds to the planting hole as well. Coffee grounds release nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and other minerals as they break down – acting as a great natural slow-release fertilizer to the plants.
After we finish with the planting hole – we crush a few more egg shells and add a few more teaspoons of coffee grounds around the base of each plant as well.
Again – they will add nutrients to the soil as they break down – but they also help to control any slug populations that may try to get to the plants – as the crushed shells can deter the slugs with their sharp edges.
It really is a great feeling to know that there is simply no need to use synthetic fertilizers or sprays to have a great garden. Beyond all of the obvious health benefits – it is extremely inexpensive – making it a win-win!
So sit back, and enjoy a cup of coffee and a few farm fresh eggs, and know that not only is it delicious – but the leftover egg shells and coffee ground will have a second life in helping your garden this summer!
To find out more about our planting and gardening process – you can check out a few more popular garden hints and tips articles here:
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Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary!