All of us, in developing our green thumb, have received from grandmothers, aunts and various friends, a series of tips, sometimes very bizarre, and often we have also put them into practice, sometimes not because we understand their usefulness, but just not to contradict the old woman who suggested we put the leftover coffee grounds in the vase, or the tea leaves.
But, coffee grounds in the pots, ashes in the garden, sowing the spinach with a waning moon, cleaning the leaves with water and milk ... we never wondered if it was only urban legends, or if instead the ancient folk wisdom, besides that being founded on the practice of centuries also has a scientific value?
Let's try to consider the most common remedies suggested by the grandmother to have a beautiful garden and a beautiful garden, and let's try to understand how much these suggestions can help us or not with our plants.
Clean the leaves with water and milk
Apartment plants tend to get dusty, especially those that have large glossy leaves, such as ficus elastica or monstera; in addition to accumulating dust, tiny particles of oil and other substances are also present in the home air, especially if the plants are placed in the kitchen or nearby.
For this purpose there are various polishing products on the market, generally in spray; these are often mixtures of very diluted mineral oils, sometimes with the addition of chemical products similar to hairspray, which make the foliage very shiny and beautiful to look at.
The products that contain other than vegetable oils are certainly to be avoided, as through the leaf lamina the plants breathe and ooze, and anything that stands in the way of the normal activity of the plant over time is harmful; in addition to this all the products contained in spray cans are to be avoided, because the temperature of the gas we spray on the plant is decidedly very cold, we can feel it trying to spray the product on a finger: such a thermal shock, to be practiced directly on the leaves, is harmful, and can ruin them.
In fact, these products should be used only with a certain amount of skill, if we go to any florist and we have a "polish" on a ficus, we immediately understand that professionalism is not water: the leaf spray polishes must be sprayed on the plants holding the can at least 35-55 cm from the leaves, and making short sprays, so as not to accumulate tons of product on the leaves.
There are excellent polishing products on the market, in gas-free spray, made of oils, minerals or vegetables, some of which are definitely not harmful at all.
If we don't want to buy anything, we can use water and milk without problems, mixing three quarters of milk with a quarter of water; preferably whole milk is used, and it is used by soaking a soft cloth, in cotton or microfibre. The mixture of milk and water contains more or less the same amount of fat contained in professional mixtures of water and various oils.
In addition to this, a small percentage of fat can also remove those insects, such as the cochineal, which are covered with waxy shields, completely impermeable to water: in essence it is a kind of cleansing milk with white oil, homemade , which removes dust and insects, keeping intact the thin lipid film that covers some leaves.
This type of products and the cleaning method are not suitable for those leaves covered with a thin hair, which should be cleaned simply with a water shower.
Put coffee grounds in the earth of the pots
Coffee grounds, used tea bags, egg shells, definitely put in a compost bin are excellent constituents to get a rich compost, very useful for the garden; the coffee used contains mineral salts and has a consistency that helps improve the mixture of the garden and garden soil, making the very clayey soil softer.
Clear that preparing a moka from twelve people, and, while sipping coffee, turning the filter directly into the vase of geraniums on the terrace, is not the suitable method to use this precious garden ally.
First of all we must consider that as soon as the coffee is ready, the bottoms in the coffee pot are hot and humid, if placed in the pots as they are they can be easy and fast rooting ground for molds and fungi, which would then also damage the plants. So the funds should be kept aside, possibly in a box placed in a sunny and ventilated place, so that they can cool and dry; only dry powder can be used in pots, in the garden on the lawn.
Obviously we avoid to exceed, it is a product rich in mineral salts, so if we fill a jar, the plants placed in it will find excessive amounts of mineral salts, and most likely will come from these burned.
In addition to this, excessive enrichment of coffee can lead to a lowering of the pH of the soil, and not all plants are acidophilic.
The best method is to spread small amounts of coffee on the ground, and then lightly hoe it, so as to mix it with the earth already present.
It seems that snails, ants and caterpillars, hate the penetrating odor of coffee grounds, and many gardening enthusiasts use a thin splash of coffee as a pesticide, even in pots on the terrace.
In addition to coffee, many natural “scraps” are used, such as egg shells and tea leaves, which must however be used well cleaned and chopped, and always remembering that every component we put into the soil enriches it with something, which is certainly useful in small quantity, but harmful in large quantities. Egg shells, for example, are rich in calcium, so they tend to make iron in the soil not very available to plants, and especially if they are acidophilic plants, it can become a problem if the shells are present in large quantities.
We have many examples of recycling waste products in the garden, many of the soils we buy contain a certain percentage of compost derived from the composting of organic waste; in many substrates for orchids we find bits of coconut fiber, or roots or bark of plants; the same barks that are used for the flowerbeds are a waste of woodworking, and in some places they are also used for the processing of grapes (skins and pips shredded together), or for processing chocolate (the shells of the broad beans) cocoa).
Grandma's remedies: In the land of the vegetable garden the ash is a panacea
Those who live in a country town will often have seen their neighbors work the vegetable garden by spreading on the manure and ash beds of the fireplace; this practice is certainly used as soil improver, but it is always good to be careful when adding something to the earth, the possibility of exceeding is always high.
The ash is a real fertilizer, even if a little particular, as it does not contain the macro element that characterizes most of the fertilizers, or nitrogen; therefore a soil with added ash will still be enriched with nitrogen, as does our neighbor who adds ash and manure, a fertilizer very rich in nitrogen.
The ash, however, contains a high degree of potassium, a good quantity of phosphorus, magnesium and calcium; an excess of ash in the soil leads to high doses of mineral salts in the same, which in large quantities are not decidedly suited to the life and development of plants.
It is generally advisable to spread just under two hundred grams of ash every square meter of garden soil, unless we obviously consider providing additional potassium or phosphoric fertilizer; therefore in essence with the ash it is not necessary to keep all the ash produced by our fireplace during a long and cold winter, just have a few handfuls, and our garden will have enough.