Tossing your kitchen scraps into the compost pile is an effective way to repurpose them. But, at the risk of sounding like a homesteading heretic, composting is necessary and boring part of moving toward zero-waste. Sometimes, we like to have a little fun growing new plants from bits of vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Also, kids really enjoy learning how to grow plants from kitchen scraps, too. We use some plants as a source of fresh produce. Others we only enjoy as free houseplants. Organic produce is best for these projects. Frequently, commercial growers treat conventional produce with chemicals that prevent sprouting. To get you started, this is How to Grow Vegetable Plants from Kitchen Scraps.
Green Onions or Leeks
Let’s start with the easiest scrap to grow. Next time you’re cutting leeks or green onions, save the bottom two inches of one. You’re going to put it in a glass with water. Only the roots need to be covered with water. Change the water every couple of days. When the plant has at least four inches of new growth, you can harvest the new growth and leave the roots to grow another plant.
You also can use a glass of water to start a basil plant. You need a cutting about four inches long that hasn’t flowered. An inch or two of water in your glass is enough. Remove any leaves that would be below the waterline. Grow the cutting in a sunny spot. The water needs to be refreshed at least every three days.
It may take up to a month for your cutting to grow a couple of inches of roots. Once you see that root growth, your cutting is ready to be planted in the garden or a pot. It needs about 6 hours of sunlight every day. You can harvest leaves as soon your plant is at least six inches tall. Always pinch flower buds as soon as they appear.
You need half of a sweet potato, toothpicks, and a glass with water. If you have a sweet potato that’s too old to eat, great! You can grow a plant with each half.
The toothpicks are going to hold up the sweet potato in the glass. After you cut the potato in half, evenly space three or four toothpicks around the potato. Place the sweet potato cut side down into the glass. Leave your sweet potato in a sunny window. For those of you who want to grow a houseplant, remember to change the water a couple of times a week and that’s it.
You have a little more to do to grow sweet potatoes. After a few days, sprouts should appear. When the sprouts are at least four inches long, gently twist them off. Put each one in its own container of water. Once a sprout has one to two inches of roots, it’s ready to be planted in the garden. Harvest time comes in about five months.
It’s easy to grow peppers from seeds. You can gently brush the seeds away from the membrane with your fingers. Although pepper seeds can be planted directly into your garden, starting seeds indoors makes them more likely to thrive outdoors.
Start your seeds in a pot or clean container you’ve repurposed. You can plant up to three seeds per container. Pepper seeds need a sunny spot and moist soil. The seedlings can go in the garden when they’re about three inches tall.
More Creativity with Kitchen Scraps
This is just the beginning. We hope these projects have inspired you to experiment with your kitchen scraps. Since they’re free, the only thing you’re risking is your time. Even when you don’t manage to grow free produce, you could end up with a beautiful (free) houseplant. Before you know it, you’ll be able to tell someone else how to grow plants from kitchen scraps.
Do you want to be more sustainable at your homestead, especially in your garden? It is very easy to get discouraged when our projects don’t work as quickly as we want. Adding these few items into the rhythm of your daily life will encourage sustainability for the environmentally friendly gardener. Check out these 3 Must-Haves to improve your Environmentally Friendly Gardening:
Cute bin, Dirty business
This 1.3-gallon compost bin on Amazon is not only affordable but has a five-star rating. It will most definitely accommodate the needs of an average size family’s food waste. This bin will add a classy touch to your kitchen counter because it made of stainless steel. Additionally, the activated-charcoal filter keeps your house from smelling like what you’re collecting. If you treat the filter well and clean it, it should treat you well up to six months.
Papa Bear Bin
If you have a compost bin in the house, you best have a compost bin outside. Your indoor compost bucket is merely the middle-man, transporting food waste to the larger container before it makes its way into the garden. Several outdoor composting options are available for environmentally friendly gardeners. This sizable container is more budget-friendly and gets the job done, while this option offers a nice price and allows you to turn the compost without having to employ much elbow grease.
The Magic Ingredient, Water
To tie it all nicely together, what would compost be without cool, clean water to help the nutrients infiltrate the soil? Unless you live where the rain falls at perfect intervals and your garden never needs watering, this sensible rain barrel should come in handy. Fifty gallons will help you water a small garden until the next rain event.
In your homesteading quest for zero-waste glory, each of these products will assist you in your mission. Starting in your kitchen, food waste makes its way to your tiny bin. Then from the tiny bin to the papa bear bin and ultimately to those hungry baby plants in the garden, only to be watered in with the heavenly rain you have collected.
Happy composting! And we hope these 3 Must-Haves to improve your Environmentally Friendly Gardening gave you some great new ideas!
A compost pile is not attractive and is usually quite smelly, but it is highly useful to anyone who grows any kind of crops. Compost is essentially decomposed organic material that earthworms have broken down naturally over time. What remains is an extremely nutrient-rich material that is not a replacement for soil but is an excellent fertilizer to add to it.
Creating a compost pile will make anything you grow healthier and more prolific. But best of all, composting will cut down on the quantity of trash you produce. Growing crops can leech nutrients out of the soil over time, so adding compost is an effective way to rejuvenate it. Here’s how to get started.
Gather Your Materials
A compost pile needs three primary materials: organic material, moisture, and worms. If you build your compost pile on bare soil without weed shield or anything underneath it, the worms will come on their own. You simply need to pick an area and start throwing organic material there.
For your compost pile, you will want to choose an area close to your garden to cut down on hauling work, but also far enough from your home that you won’t catch a whiff. By placing it near your garden, you also ensure you can regularly water it as well, since it will need it.
Starting a compost pile is easy, you just pile things on and let them rot. Some people use old wooden pallets or chicken wire to toss materials inside. Whatever you decide, you’ll end up with what looks a lot like rich soil. Just spread it on your garden or mix it with your soil. As for what to put inside the compost bin or pile, the following are all great additions:
- Grass clippings
- Spent plants from your garden
- Egg shells
- Vegetable and fruit trimmings like strawberry tops, banana peels and orange rinds
- Animal manure and dirty straw from their pen
How to Manage Your Compost Pile
Every time you add a new layer, you should water your compost pile. Do that at least once weekly during dry periods. Also, move the compost around with a pitchfork occasionally to ensure full decomposition.
You can build a compost tumbler out of old trash cans. A tumbler makes stirring easy and can help control the smell. However, you will need to add earthworms to encourage decomposition. Some towns and cities provide compost tumblers and bins at a reasonable price. Contact your local extension service or town recycling center for more information.
Regardless of what type of bin or area you use, you should have usable compost within six months of adding the first substantial amount of organic material. There are many ways to use it in the garden, and most households provide plenty of material to keep your compost pile going for a long time. You’ll have more plentiful and hardier crops while helping to save the planet, too. It’s a win-win for everybody.