The magic of banana peels

According to an old Chinese proverb, the best fertilizer is the gardener’s shadow. But adding some extra plant food, such as banana peels, won’t hurt. Unfortunately, the poor dears’ amazing qualities are sadly unrecognized and all this because the slippery banana peel trope severely tarnished their reputation. A most unfair state of affairs when these lovely many-talented yellow envelopes are, amongst other things, fabulous fertilizers.

These marvels are bursting with minerals – potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and lots more – plants absolutely adore, and so do we! These musaceae girls are the ultimate health food. Before your start working in the garden, to keep you going with a smile, eat a banana and save the skin.

Only buy organic bananas. Regular bananas are one of the most chemically intensive crops grown with dangerous pesticides potentially carcinogenic and neurotoxic.

A couple of months before planting time, start freezing bananas peels to make sure you don’t run short. On D day, place one or two peels or a spoilt banana into the bottom of each hole dug to welcome your eggplants, cucurbits, tomatoes etc. Ditto for your flowers: bulbs and roses are particularly fond of them. Add the soil back into the hole to cover the banana peel. Place your seed, seedling or small plant on top of your covered banana peel and cover with soil. You can mix it with another banana peel, chopped into small bits. As your vegetables or your roses grow, bury more banana peels or perished bananas into the top layer of the soil or simply place them near the plants. They’ll decompose rapidly, adding valuable minerals to the soil. The decaying organic material attracts beneficial microorganisms and earthworms which air the soil and contribute their own fertilizer.

Banana peel strips make fabulous mulch for the vegetable garden in winter and for rose bushes all year round. Just throw them a couple of inches around your rose bushes. They’ll release good nutrients, discourage aphids as well as other unwelcomed little parasites and, as a bonus, they’ll attract butterflies, bees and birds, all crazy about their sugar.

On the compost pile, earthworms and microorganisms feast on them, especially if you chop them up to speed up their putrefaction.

Another way to cheer up your plants, is to give them banana water. Put 1 fresh banana peel in a pot, cover with 1 litre water and leave it for a week. Filter and mix the banana water with plain water – 1 volume banana water for 5 volumes water – and distribute to your roses, passion fruit flowers, tomatoes and peppers in dire need of an energy drink.

Combined with coffee grounds and/or egg shells, banana peels are even more powerful.

For other unusual uses of banana and other fruit peels and unexpected garden fertilizers such as spoilt jams and preserves, baking soda, vegetable cooking water or frying oil, dig in:

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