Vietnamese Square Sticky Rice Cake (Banh Chung)

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Always on the hunt lớn reduce food waste, I saw a bunch of people giới thiệu about banana peel compost tea (or liquid fertilizer) on social media. Intrigued by this little food waste reduction experiment, I tried it, and I will never bởi vì it again. Read on for more about my disappointing experience with this trendy soil amendment & why I think there are so many better alternatives.

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A few months ago, we bought this Vitamix blender & have been eating lots of smoothies for breakfast. This mango and banana green smoothie is my favorite, & I make some version of it nearly every morning. As a result, we have an excessive number of banana peels piling up in our compost bucket.

I know they will go to good use in my compost pile, but I have a growing collection of indoor houseplants that I wanted to lớn feed too. Enter banana peel compost tea fertilizer (a liquid soil amendment). If banana peels make a compost bin happy, surely they would make soil happy, right?

Nope! Stop right there. Please skip the banana peel compost tea fertilizer (at least the simplified version that’s popular on social media). Let me explain.


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Banana Peel Compost Tea Experiment Planning

A couple of months ago, with plenty of banana peels at my disposal, I decided to lớn try making banana peel tea fertilizer for some of the plants in my house. It was popular on social media, after all, so why not try it? (Note to self: social media popularity alone is not a good reason lớn try something new…)

I’m a houseplant newbie. I dove headfirst into houseplant territory just about a year ago with my Succulent Studios subscription and have been steadily adding to my indoor garden. But I’m far from an expert on the deep science of soil, so a bit of due diligence was in order.

I did a little research to ensure I would not burn the roots of my plants or cause other damage with my banana peel fertilizer experiment. Admittedly, I didn’t dig that deep into the archives of the internet, but I didn’t see any immediate red flags. Planning complete.

What did I have to thất bại besides a couple of small houseplants that became my experimental ground?

How to lớn Make Banana Compost Tea Fertilizer

After cutting up a few brown bananas khổng lồ put in the freezer for smoothies, I chopped up the peels và shoved them into repurposed glass jars. I have (probably) too many repurposed glass jars, so I made a few batches of this supposedly miraculous liquid fertilizer & perfected my patience.

The trendy banana peel compost tea fertilizer is a cinch to make (which is probably why it’s so popular on social media). The bright yellow peels pop on a pretty Instagram feed too! It all just makes social truyền thông sense. I’ve included the simple recipe at the bottom of the post, but it goes like this:

Ingredients + Materials

3-4 banana peelsQuart-sized jar – we use repurposed pasta jarsWater – to fill the jar

Step-by-Step Instructions

Add chopped banana peels khổng lồ the jar.Fill the jar khổng lồ the vị trí cao nhất with water, enough khổng lồ cover the banana peels.Close the jar và allow it to lớn rest for a few days or a week.Remove the peels và water plants with the banana peel tea fertilizer.Watch magic happen!

Because I got carried away with life, I let it sit for a couple of weeks in the jar. Then I watered a few of my houseplants with the fancy water & waited.

Update: Since initially posting this, I’ve received several (mostly well-intentioned) emails suggesting the recipe is incomplete. Specifically, readers have recommended using aeration tools and/or straining the compost tea khổng lồ prevent any fruit chunks from ending up in the soil.

If you choose lớn make banana peel compost tea, I assume these additional steps would create a better final product. That being said, I’m still not sold this is the best way khổng lồ fertilize plants (which I explain in more detail below).

Furthermore, I used the recipe above to kiểm tra the common, simplified version I’ve been seeing on social media. I included the recipe so you can see what didn’t work, và then decide for yourself if another banana peel compost tea recipe might be better.

In my opinion, as a regular ol’ lady on the Internet, this simplified version doesn’t seem khổng lồ work. But telling you my recipe didn’t work without actually sharing what I did doesn’t seem particularly useful. So… recipe details are included.


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Banana Peel Compost Tea Epic Fail

Things started lớn get murky pretty quickly.

As soon as I opened the jars, I didn’t have a warm & fuzzy feeling about the banana peel tea fertilizer. It smelled suspiciously sweet (like it would attract bugs), & the whole process was kind of messy.

Immediately, I noticed stains on several of the leaves of my plants. While the stains appear to be permanent, they don’t seem lớn have caused harm. But who wants lớn stain their beautiful plants when they water them?

Also, the soil continued khổng lồ smell lượt thích a combination of sweet & somewhat rotting banana peels for many days after watering it. This made me nervous about the lasting effects.

Within just a few days, the real problem began. I started noticing little gnats flying around the soil. I’ve had several plants in my trang chủ for over a year. I’ve had no persistent issues with bugs in my home… until this banana compost tea situation.

Hindsight is 20/20, but I soon realized that I forgot to lớn research other potential side effects. I started lớn dig a little deeper into the science behind why banana compost tea might work or not work and found some opinions about its lack of efficacy that were quite compelling.

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I threw out the remaining banana peel compost tea and continued watering the plants at regular intervals with tap water. Over the course of a couple of months, however, the fungus gnat problem grew, và they began spreading through the rest of our house.

Little gnats flew into our faces while on Zoom conference calls. They buzzed in our ears as we fell asleep at night. They even showed up in our bathroom, & are flying in my face as I write this post. It’s gross! & now I don’t know how lớn get rid of them.

After some further research, I’ve come lớn believe that the sweet remnants of rotting bananas with which I watered the soil attracted the fungus gnats & became food for their families. They continue to lay eggs in the soil, and I’ve got quite the project ahead of me to lớn stop the reproduction cycle khổng lồ get these guys out of my house!

Update: We eventually resolved our fungus gnat issue. First, I watered the plants as infrequently as possible (without killing them) lớn limit the moisture in the soil that attracted the gnats. I also sprinkled food-grade Diatomaceous Earth on the soil of each plant lớn help get rid of fungus gnats. Many readers recommended it, and it worked quite well.

Then, I placed these glue board traps near the plants. They caught a lot of fungus gnats to lớn slow the reproduction cycle. Be careful with these traps. They are incredibly sticky, as you can imagine, so keep them away from children and other small animals.

Why Would Banana Compost Tea Fertilizer Even Work?

In retrospect, and after doing quite a bit more research, I applied my knowledge of composting lớn this experiment. I’m not a scientist or compost expert, so I’m not purporting lớn have all the definitive answers on banana peel compost tea. I’ve never done any replicable or peer-reviewed research on which to lớn base formal conclusions about the efficacy of banana peel compost tea.

But the more I think about how it might work & why it might work, the more I think it’s relatively useless. I think banana peel compost is only popular because it looks pretty on Pinterest và Instagram.

P.S. Banana peel compost tea is trending on Pinterest this year, so banana-fanatics beware.

Additionally, I followed up my experience by reading the book Compost Teas For The Organic Grower by Eric Fisher. Despite going into great detail about many types of compost teas, different aeration systems and recipes, and a whole lot more information about why various types of compost tea are best for certain gardening situations, the author never mentions banana peel compost tea. In fact, he doesn’t even mention bananas in the book as far as I recall. If banana peel compost tea is so great, wouldn’t it have been in a book lượt thích this?

How Does Banana Peel Tea Fertilizer Help Plants Thrive If It Even Works?

The lore goes that bananas are good for plants because they provide a lot of potassium, and potassium is an essential element for plant growth. Potassium helps plants grow strong roots, use water effectively, & resist drought. It also enhances fruits and vegetables, so it can be particularly helpful for growing edible gardens & food crops.

If soluble potassium (or potassium that plants can access through water) is deficient in soil, plants may experience stunted growth or other symptomatic issues that cause plants to be weak and more vulnerable to unfavorable conditions.

Did you know that potassium is a mobile nutrient, meaning a plant can reallocate potassium throughout itself? As a result, older (lower) leaves on a plant tend to lớn show signs of potassium deficiency before the younger (higher) leaves because the plant sends what little potassium it has lớn the younger, developing leaves. Isn’t this a neat function of how plants look out for themselves and their future health? I digress…

To the extent potassium from the peels decomposes in the jar & becomes water-soluble, it only makes sense that plants that love potassium would love banana peel soil amendments. Right? Even humans eat bananas for their potassium. All plants need some level of potassium, & it helps plants more effectively absorb other nutrients in the soil as well.

But there are a few key points where the xúc tích và ngắn gọn breaks down (unlike the banana peels in my airtight jar of water).

Plants don’t eat bananas; plants absorb nutrients from the soil.Plants need more nutrients than just potassium; they want a balanced diet.Bananas aren’t the best source of potassium, so why do they reign supreme on the potassium pedestal?

Let’s address each one individually.