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Let's Talk Garbage
February 25, 2013

Get pumped.

Only ten more months til Christmas.

I had thought about doing this letter in a Christmas theme, but thought better.

I didn't like the idea of being strung up by my thumbs, or run out of town.

A reason to celebrate .....................................

Three and one half weeks until the official first day of spring.


A simple word that warms the soul and puts a smile on your face.

Yes, I can feel you smile.


Until then, winter still has center stage.

Cabin fever is an issue for me more often than not these days.

How are you handling winter?

Do you participate in any activities that help pass the time or keep the heart pumping?

Days are growing longer, and you may even notice certain birds are beginning to sing a bit more.

I am hearing Northern cardinals, Tufted titmice, and Black-capped chickadees break out in song.

Yes, romance is in the air.

The 'Great Backyard Bird Count' is over for another year.

I hope you were able to participate.

Through out the course of a day, House sparrows are dominant.

I could however, pick certain times of the day where Cardinals and Mourning doves reign superior.

I could've made sure that the 60 plus Mallards that I feed were in the count, but I didn't count toward sunset when all of these birds are present in great numbers.

Maybe I should have.

Taking time to count for a few days, gives a person a better perspective of what birds do indeed visit and live near you.

Start Saving:

Your garbage that is.

We all know that garbage is added to compost piles or tossed into gardens.

However, banana peels, citrus peels, and egg shells are beneficial for certain plants and other uses.

Garbage or bi-products you can save now or even distribute right now.

Bananas Peels:

Rich in Phosphorus and Potassium, both of them important macro-nutrients for the plants.

Potassium in particular is responsible for the new formation of flower buds.

Bananas and the peels also provide Iron, Magnesium.

Not only are bananas the near perfect fruit, they make a mighty fine fertilizer.

We toss banana peels around the roses and plant with tomatoes and peppers.

You can toss peels now or save till the soil is workable.

Frozen peels break down fast.

Chop them, blend them, make a tea.

No matter how you look at a banana peel, it has nothing but good in store.

Besides having strong bloomers and fruiting plants, there is something about banana peels (and bananas) that keep aphids from attacking.

And if that's not enough for you, consider these tidbits.

Soothing Ulcers:

Bananas reduce the stomach acidity that results from various foods.

Their ability to perform as a natural antacid by neutralizing acidity helps to eliminate heartburn.

They also provide a protective coating around the inner walls of the digestive system and so reduce irritation and promote intestinal health.

And, they also relieve constipation.

Iron Replenishment:

For people suffering from a deficiency in iron, bananas help to give your body the iron that it needs.

The iron content in bananas promotes hemoglobin production, which can treat anemia.

It also promotes normal blood clotting, which is important for healing injuries.

Mosquito Bites:

Rub the inside of a banana peel on a mosquito bite to reduce itching and swelling.

After these tips, you'll have plenty of peels for your plants.


Eggshells are full of Calcium.

It is the fifth most abundant element (by mass), found on earth.

Calcium in the soil, because it is relatively insoluble, tends to not leach away either, thus keeping the soil pH more alkaline if there is an abundance of calcium.

A soil test will show if your soil lacks or has plenty of Calcium.

All living things need Calcium (including you and me).

Plants need calcium for cell wall development and growth.

Pathogens attack weak cell walls to invade a plant, and stronger cell wall structure avoids this.

So why use eggshells if Calcium is everywhere?

Crushed and ground eggshells are a slow release form of Calcium.

Too much Calcium and your soil becomes to alkaline.

If you grow in containers as I do, soil nutrients are slowly leached out with every watering.

Ground Eggshells continue to replace the calcium.

Many time a year I get questions about blossom end rot on tomatoes.

While blossom end rot is often a lack of calcium, it is more of a hydration issue.

Your plants aren't getting enough water, which in turn transports nutrients throughout the plants.

If there is poor circulation (for lack of a better term), then the plants draw Calcium and other nutrients from the fruits, and this causes blossom end rot.

ground or crushed, eggshells work wonders for many plants and a few other odd jobs.

Crushed eggshells are an important part of a bird's diet, especially during mating season.

Eggshells make a wonderful grit (birds need grit to help with digestion).

Birds need more calcium when laying eggs and raising a family.

Crushed eggshells also work wonders at keeping slugs and snails away from you prized plants.

The abrasive edges of eggshells slice open the tender undersides of the slimy beast.

Make an eggshell tea to water with.

Use your cooled down water from hard boiled eggs as a source of Calcium.

Remember, all potted plants require an extra boost.

Some civilizations use the ground eggshells as part of their diet.

Yes, 100% of an egg is consumable.

It is possible that Calcium plays more roles in the overall health of both the plant and the soil than any other nutrient.

Citrus Peels:

Not as much has been written about or mentioned on the values of citrus fruits and peels as a beneficial product for gardens.

Citrus fruits and their peels have relatively high acid content, which can disrupt your compost pile's decomposing action if used in great quantities.

High acid environments are also disruptive to worms, both in conventional compost piles and vermicomposting (worm beds).

It is recommended however, if you need to compost citrus fruits and peels, do so in moderation, adding only a few peels at a time.

Avoid adding other high-acid materials at the same time.

Citrus fruits also contain a substance called d-limonene.

This antiseptic chemical is located mostly in the fresh peel of the fruit, and decomposes over time.

It also works as an insect repellent and insecticide when used in large quantities.

Composting lots citrus peel could irritate or sicken beneficial invertebrates, including earthworms.

The acid and d-limonene in citrus peels breaks down over time.

By leaving citrus peels out of your main compost pile or bin to decay separately can allow you to compost greater quantities of citrus.

Once the citrus peel has developed green or gray furry mold, most of the problem substances have decayed, making the orange peel easier for your compost pile to deal with.

I will say this much.........

Research shows, over the course of time, your compost will still be pretty much at a neutral Ph.

You may consider a small compost pile dedicated for citrus.

More on composting Citrus:

All compost piles require a good carbon to nitrogen ratio to encourage the growth of composting organisms.

Most compost piles need a carbon to nitrogen ratio of 30 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen.

Most fruit waste, including citrus, is about 35 parts carbon to 1 part nitrogen.

If you intend to compost citrus and other high carbon materials, increase the amount of grass (high in nitrogen).

Decrease the amount of leaves (high in carbon).

More food waste will increase the amount of nitrogen in the compost, creating better conditions for bacteria, fungi and other decomposers.

Again, I simply cut into smaller pieces and sprinkle them around my acid loving plants.

In the winter months, I simply toss them under the Holly, Hydrangea, and other acid loving plants, and allow the winter weather to break down.

Will they turn a pink Hydrangea blue?

That is yet to be seen.

I do know my acid loving plants aren't complaining (healthy looking), and they do help with pest insects.

Scrape some lemon zest, spray your plants and enjoy the sweet smell as you walk by.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

As the body needs physical exercise in order to remain in fit condition, man's spirit also requires the spiritual exercise derived when he confronts his problems and combats life's vicissitudes.

William Sahakian and Mabel Lewis Sahakian, describing the philosophy of Epictetus

Personal trials and tribulations are required to build character and faith. While no one lives without troubled times, and some seem to have more than their share, they serve a purpose.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12

Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance.

Romans 5:3

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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