The Elemental Garden

Carla Allen
Published on April 12, 2012
Shelly Rae Wood has a great idea for using up pennies. She’s glued them to the surface of an old bowling ball, resulting in a real conversation piece for the garden.

The Canadian penny will be withdrawn from circulation this fall. Businesses will be asked to return them to banks but the copper coin will retain its value indefinitely. You'll only be able to use them for payment in 25-cent bunches however. A better use for them may be in the garden. Copper barriers have long been used against slugs and snails. Their slime interacts with the copper to produce an electric shock.

Shelly Rae Wood has a great idea for using up those pennies. She’s posted a photo of her copper penny gazing ball on her blog. The pennies were glued to a bowling ball in a geometric pattern, resulting in a real conversation piece for the garden. The ball can be used simply placed on the ground or placed on a stand in the same way as old-fashioned gazing globes.

Copper gardening tools have become more popular as of late and for more reasons than just their attractive appearance. They're light, stay free of rust and deliver minute amounts of copper to the soil.

 Most of us are familiar with the importance of the three essential nutrients - Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. These are what the vast majority of fertilizers are composed of. But other elements are also important.

Known as micronutrients, these sometimes unlock the capabilities of soil to receive other benefits.

For instance, most soils do not contain enough copper. Too much can be toxic to roots and leaves, but the right amount can create conditions that are beneficial for micro-organisms.

Some advocates say that copper increases the flavor and sugar content of vegetables and fruits. It's said to also increase the color intensity and yield of carrots, spinach, onions, corn and cabbage.

Copper deficiency can show itself as crinkling, cupping and inward rolling of young leaves, or stunted vines. In onions, not enough copper in the soil can result in thin, pale yellow outer scales.

Other important minor elements include calcium, magnesium, iron (which is essential for making chlorophyll), zinc and boron.

Long before microorganisms were discovered, the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Aztecs used copper-based preparations to treat sore throats and skin rashes, as well as for day-to-day hygiene. Copper's also promoted as being able to combat the growth of pathogenic organisms in drinking water and ventilation systems.

All of these uses certainly elevate copper to a higher level, however it looks like the lowly penny might be best suited to enriching our gardens with its appearance and through the release of minute amounts of copper.