- Sustainable living
How orange peels can boost your plants
- Written by Aksana
Oranges are one of my favourite fruits. The smell or sight of oranges makes my mouth water. But what do you do with the leftover peels? I’m a plant lover who dislikes waste, so I researched possibilities and tried some out. It turns out oranges are not just super healthy for you, but also for your garden and house plants. They add nutrients to the soil and keep pests away. Here are some creative tips on how you can put your leftover peels to a good use:
Make your own natural pesticide
Orange peels contain a chemical called d-Limonene which is an active ingredient that is used in many environmentally friendly bug sprays. You can place peels around plants that have pest problems or you can make a spray. If you want to make a spray, boil a half a cup of peels in water for ten minutes then strain out the peels. Add this liquid to a spray bottle and spray your plants once a week. It’s a more natural, chemical free way to repel bugs and it’s totally safe to use on plants. The orange peel spray keeps ants, aphids, whiteflies and other soft-body garden pests away from your precious greens.
Make your own budget friendly fertiliser
Did you know that orange peels are full of nitrogen? Nitrogen is essential to a good fertiliser. The peels will release the nitrogen and the result is a nutrient rich soil that your plants will absolutely love. The peels also contain sulfur, magnesium, calcium and other nutrients. For a simple nutrition boost, dry the peels (preferably in the sun, or in the oven at 100 degrees for about 2 – 4 hours) and grind them up. I usually put them in a food processor for super fine fertiliser, because it’s aesthetically more pleasing. If you don’t mind bigger chunks you can crush it up with a hammer – works too! Did I mention that it smells amazing? Once you have your crushed orange peels, place them in an airtight container or a recycled jar until you are ready to use them.
Create the ultimate orange peel fertiliser
This fertiliser can be used to repel pests as well as a foliar feed. Here is the recipe:
What you need:
- A large jar with a sealable lid.
- Orange peels (you can also use other citrus peels, fresh banana peels or pineapple rind if you want to).
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
Enjoy your orange to the fullest and save up the peels. You can either dry them or freeze them while waiting for you to have enough to make this recipe. Fill ⅓ of the jar with peels, add 1 tablespoon of brown sugar and fill up the jar with water. Shake well. Place the jar somewhere warm and dark for 1 month (with banana peels I usually only let it sit for 48 hours without the sugar). Check the jar at least once a day to see if you need to ‘burp’ your jar by opening the lid and allowing the air pressure to release. Set a notification on your phone so you won’t forget. The natural yeasts on the fruit peels will start to ferment and consume the sugar. This will create carbon dioxide gas as it ferments, if you forget to burp the jar it could break.
After a month you can stop checking and leave it to ferment with the lid screwed on loosely for a further 2 to 3 months. During this time it will convert the alcohol to vinegar and activate the enzymes in the mixture. Once the 3 months are up, you can now strain out what is left of the lemon or orange peels from the compost tea mixture. This remaining organic matter can be added to your compost or dug into some soil around your garden plants. It’s a great way to use up your kitchen waste. Be sure to always dilute this orange peel fertiliser with water before using it, because it is very potent and will burn your plant‘s leaves and roots if you use it undiluted.
Think twice before tossing away your orange peels. They can make your garden and house plants shine. ✨
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