Eggs, Bananas and Coffee!
- Describe the nutrients available in common kitchen scraps
- Describe ways to use soil amendments
Most people peel a banana to get to the delicious flesh inside without any thought for the nutrition that is contained in the peel itself. Now, eating the peel isn’t the best idea – I know I wouldn’t do it! – but that nutrition could be unlocked for the benefit of the garden. The same goes for spent coffee grounds and eggshells. All three of these common kitchen scraps can be used as soil amendments, nutrient boosters, and can even serve as natural pest control in the garden. The key is knowing how and when to use them.
Gardeners have been composting kitchen scraps to amend soil for as long as modern agriculture has been around. But composting isn’t always necessary. Sometimes it’s enough just to drop crushed eggshells into the hole before the young start is planted. There are times when simply sprinkling coffee grounds on the surface is warranted.
Edible plants have a broad range of needs. Additional potassium, calcium, magnesium, and an assortment of other nutrients are needed at various stages of plant growth and development. Knowing where to find those nutrients and how to make them readily available to plants will make you a better gardener.
Tools & Materials
- Kitchen shears
- Kitchen scraps - collect in advance
- 3 containers (banana peels, coffee grounds, eggshells)
- Composting in place
Introduction (10 minutes)
Begin the lesson with a review of the three featured table scraps, their nutritional benefits, and the ways to prep them for use in the garden. Give the Students a few scenarios where these scraps might be used to amend the soil in the garden or raised planters.
Activity (20 minutes)
Have the Students prep banana peels, eggshells, and coffee grounds for the garden. Use a dedicated container for each. Gallon ice cream tubs can be upcycled perfectly for this lesson. The Students should cut the banana peels into small pieces using the kitchen shears. They can use their hands to crush the eggshells once they’ve been rinsed and dried.
Have the Students apply the three natural soil amendments to the garden, flower beds, and raised planters where possible. Coffee grounds and crushed eggshells can be sprinkled on the surface of the soil. Banana peels can be added to the prepared holes before planting new starts.
Discussion (10 minutes)
Review the specific nutrients that are provided by each of the three scraps and the plants that would benefit from those nutrient boosts. Discuss what each of the nutrients does for plant development by quizzing the Students as a group.
Assessment (5 minutes)
Use the following questions to assess the Students before and after the lesson. Tally the responses of the group in the Assessment Tracking Log for comparison:
- By a show of hands, how many of you knew that common kitchen scraps could be used in the garden?
- Now that you know how to use kitchen scraps as soil amendments, how many of you think you could explain this to your family?
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